Special focus on Antisemitism

By Ken Greenberg, National Executive Director

JWV is in a unique position to have a special focus on antisemitism. JWV opposes all forms of discrimination and bigotry but is especially outspoken on antisemitism. During 2023, JWV leadership participated in numerous roundtables and called out individuals for hate speech and antisemitism. JWV will continue to be a strong voice to combat antisemitism wherever and whenever it occurs.

As the only Jewish VSO, we issued statements condemning antisemitic events and speeches at the University of Pennsylvania “Palestine Writes Literature Festival,” the City University of New York law school graduation, the Goyim Defense League hate flyers on Long Island and remarks by a Member of Congress in Chicago. As instances of antisemitism across the country increase, JWV asks all Americans to be vigilant, learn, and educate our fellow citizens. JWV’s full statements are provided in this article.

JWV Calls on University of Pennsylvania Leadership to Prevent Hate Speech on Campus
September 20th, 2023

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) remains deeply concerned that the Palestine Writes Literature Festival will be held on campus September 22-24, 2023. The festival coincides with the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and takes place next to the location that Jewish students will be holding high holiday worship services. JWV National Commander retired US Army Colonel Barry Lischinsky stated, “University leadership should be sensitive to the needs of Jewish students and faculty and not provide a venue or platform for hate speech of any kind on campus.” Lischinsky made clear, “The University must be responsive to its students and increase security around Jewish activities and move the festival to a different location, preferably off campus grounds.”

JWV urges alumni and others to write University President M. Elizabeth Magill to disapprove of the “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” and to prevent the University from providing space to those that promote hate speech, bigotry, and antisemitic remarks and events on campus. Lischinsky reiterated that “JWV will continue to stand against hatred, bigotry, and combating antisemitism wherever and whenever it occurs.”

Most “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” speakers have little to do with celebrating Palestinian literature or promoting the culture of Palestinian writers and artists. Guest speakers have published antisemitic statements in the past which conflict with the University of Pennsylvania’s antisemitism policy. Speakers have previously given anti-Jewish speeches which are clearly “hate speech” and are again in violation of the university policy and the U.S. Constitution related to freedom of speech.

Members and patrons of the Jewish War Veterans and others have fought, and many have given the ultimate sacrifice, to preserve the rights covered by the U.S. Constitution. While there is nothing illegal about the University of Pennsylvania event itself, the event speakers’ anti-Jewish hate remarks should not be allowed on campus.

Antisemitism Curricula in California Schools
JWV signs and stands in support of the coalition letter the AMCHA Initiative wrote to the California Legislative Jewish Caucus asking for their help in preventing the implementation of widespread antisemitic curricula in California high schools.

JWV Denounces Antisemitic Remarks by Representative Jayapal
July 17th, 2023

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) expressed outrage at the remarks of U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA) given on Saturday in Chicago stating that Israel is a “racist state.”
JWV National Commander Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF (Retired) denounced the comments of Congresswoman Jayapal (WA) as “insensitive, hurtful, and just wrong.” As antisemitism is on the rise, remarks like hers only fuel the fires of hate and bigotry. “JWV continues to stand in support of Israel as we have since its rebirth as well as vehemently oppose antisemitism, wherever and whenever it occurs, as we have since our founding in 1896,” said Mellitz.

JWV Calls on New York Law Enforcement to fully Prosecute Individuals Responsible for Goyim Defense League Hate Flyers
June 19th, 2023

“Flyers recently distributed by the Goyim Defense League in Nassau County, New York are extremely antisemitic and filled with hate. They are despicable and threats to any Americans must be dealt with swiftly,’’ said Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF, retired, National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV).

The flyer singles out current and former Jewish Members of Congress and contains a weapon in the upper left corner with a Star of David placed on the foreheads of elected officials from several states. Mellitz “implores New York law enforcement officials to fully prosecute the individuals responsible for the flyers.” Law enforcement confirmed the flyer was found at a Jewish house of worship and at several residences in the Plainview, NY area.

JWV Condemns CUNY Law School Speaker’s Comments and Calls on CUNY Leadership to Denounce Antisemitic Remarks
June 4th, 2023

Jewish War Veterans National Commander Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF, Retired, expressed outrage at the hate filled graduation speech delivered at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School graduation by Fatima Mohammed.

Jewish men and women have served in the U.S. military in greater numbers than their percentage of the total population, since the founding of our great republic to preserve the right of free speech. The Fatima Mohammed anti-Jewish hateful graduation speech is a direct attack against what we have fought so hard to preserve for almost 250 years. “Her comments are extreme, inflammatory, filled with anger and have no place in any setting in the United States,” said Mellitz.

JWV calls on CUNY and the law school leadership to take immediate action to denounce her antisemitic remarks and assure that students are not provided a forum to promote hatred and antisemitism in the future.

Coalition Building

JWV is strengthening our efforts by partnering with organizations like Combating Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS). They are more commonly known as Stand Up to Jewish Hate or #BlueSquare. We have carried our message to Congress and asked Members to join us in combating antisemitism targeted at veterans and military servicemembers. We partnered with CAM and six Jewish Community Organizations for a forum with ten Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. We are working with FCAS to expand outreach to include Jewish Federations and JCCs across the county. We connected with StandWithUs, to take our efforts to combat antisemitism on college campuses. JWV is a resource in helping to educate Americans. Education is the key to reducing antisemitic actions and incidents in America and around the world.

National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

In a High Holidays call with American Jewish leaders before Rosh Hashanah, President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to “condemn and combat antisemitism at every turn” and said his administration had “started aggressively implementing” the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism it unveiled in May of this year. VA’s representative is Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs and he continues to consult with JWV leadership for issues related to the veteran and military community.

At our Convention in Jacksonville, Karen Barall Associate VP of the Jewish Federation of North America briefed JWV on the National Strategy. She highlighted four pillars of the document that focused on:

  1. Increase awareness and understanding of antisemitism, including its threat to America, and broaden appreciation of Jewish American heritage.
  2. Improve safety and security for Jewish communities.
  3. Reverse the normalization of antisemitism and counter antisemitic discrimination.
  4. Build cross-community solidarity and collective action to counter hate.

Chet Edwards Speaks Out on Jacksonville Shooting

“JWV is uniquely powerful and an important voice in the fight against antisemitism in our country. Thank you for being that voice. America is a better country today because of your voice and we will be a better country tomorrow. As we are here in Jacksonville, I would be remiss not to say what we all know. What happened here three days ago was an unspeakable, unconscionable, tragic assault, not just on African Americans in Jacksonville. It was an assault upon our country, the very soul of our country, very heart of our country. I think it’s also important for all Americans to understand that that young terrorist, that the killer had etched Nazi swastikas on his A-15. I think that is a message that needs to go out across this country. Let me also add that as a lifelong Methodist and the son-in-law of a Baptist minister, I feel a responsibility to be a partner with you in the fight against bigotry and antisemitism. All Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must join in the fight against antisemitism because antisemitism diminishes our country and what you were willing to give your life for. So, when I leave this convention today, I will double my effort to be a voice with you against antisemitism.” August 29th, 2023.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023