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Yesterday, President Donald Trump made a historic move to fulfill his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem – a welcome move for us here at the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.    For the past 20 years, U.S. presidential candidates have promised the American and Israeli people to move the embassy to Jerusalem upon their election.  However, once elected, Presidents have back away from their promises – fearing it would undermine peace talks and incite violence.

We cannot not be intimidated because of the possibility that recognizing Jerusalem will incite violence.  If violence results because of the move, it will be unfortunate, but it is also worth remembering that President Truman’s recognition of Israel was also met with violence – which ended with Israel having more territory than previously recommended in the U.N. Partition Plan.

Every president since President Truman has failed to bring about a lasting peace to the conflict.   For nearly 70 years, American presidents have been proposing the same solutions over and over again, while expecting different results.  It has clearly been shown that maintaining the status quo only emboldens Palestinian terrorism and leads to more bloodshed.

Whether the international community recognizes it or not, Jerusalem is both the ancient and modern the capital of Israel.  The Knesset, the Prime Minister’s offices and the bulk of Israeli government institutions are all located in Jerusalem.  Due to the historical connection between Judaism and Jerusalem as their capital, it is unlikely that Israelis will ever be moved to change the location of their capital.  Basically, having the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was not merely only a symbolic gesture to appease those that still question Israel’s legitimacy, but also, it is just a humongous waste of gas.

We hope that this momentous decision by the Trump administration will lead bring a lasting peace in the region.  It shows that America supports Israel’s legitimacy and its rights as a sovereign state, including its right to choose its own capital.  Here at Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., we commend President Trump on his move.  We know that whatever deal decided upon by the Israelis and Palestinians, there is one thing we know for sure – Jerusalem is and will always be the heart and capital of Israel.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, went on Israeli news over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend claiming that American Jews are a “people that never send their kids to fight for their country.  Most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq”.  As much as the Israelis resent American Jews meddling into their business, we Americans have the same reservations.

Hotovely’s comments were in relation to the growing American-Israeli divide, but there is something that she missed – it is easy to be a Jew in Israel, but in America, it takes work.  Israeli identity is ingrained in Jewish identity, and Judaism is a part of the culture.  Jewish Americans, on the other hand, have to make the decision of whether or not to be Jewish, and how their Judaism might affect their acceptance into the mainstream American culture.

I was not surprised to see that Lee Rogers, a columnist from the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, use Hotovely’s words against American Jews, “The last thing the Jews want are the American people waking up to the fact that they’re fighting wars for them even though few Jews serve themselves.”  Now, I expect a rabid anti-Semite to use anti-Semitic tropes against American Jews, but when the comments originate from a fellow Jew – albeit an Israeli Jew – that especially hurts.

Which gets to my next point – the idea of Jews not serving in proportion to their population is an old anti-Semitic lie that reached its heyday in Nazi Germany.  In fact, we again saw it used this year in Charlottesville when we saw Neo-Nazis chanting, “Blood and Soil” – which refers to the idea that only white Americans have spilled blood for this country.

We know that American Jews have fought and died for our country as far back as Asser Levy and his comrades in the New Amsterdam colony.  Since then, Jews have fought for America in every major war, and in World War II, Jews served disproportionately more than the rest of the population.  Thousands of medals have been awarded to American Jews, and to date, 27 American Jews have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

American Jews had raised their hands to enlist at a same rate as other Americans.  Thousands have fought in the 16 year long war which began with the 9/11 attacks, and currently, there are 15,000 American Jews serving on active duty and an additional 5,000 serving in the Guard and the Reserves.  In any case, I dare Hotovely to tell the parents of the 56 fallen Iraq and Afghanistan Jewish American heroes that American Jews don’t serve.  These Jewish Gold Star Families have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting America and American values.

Here at JWV, we invite Deputy Foreign Minister to come meet with representatives of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. and visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. so that she can learn more about Jewish American Military History.  We hope she takes us up on our offer.

This week, Representative Luis Gutierrez went off on a rant about Chief of Staff General (ret) John Kelly – stating that he was a “disgrace to the uniform” and likening him to white supremacists.  General Kelly recently assumed the position of Chief of Staff in the White House, and before that, he was the director of Homeland Security.

It seems that Mr. Gutierrez is placing all of his frustration with the Trump administration on General Kelly, who is a decorated General with an exemplary military service.  Gutierrez, who has never worn the uniform, thought it was acceptable to slander General Kelly’s military service over this partisan issue.

For those unfamiliar with the military, you can disagree with your commanding officer, but at the end of the day, they make a decision and you follow it.  It is not incongruent with General Kelly’s military service to execute a lawful order from the commander in chief.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.

In the future, we hope that any lawmakers refrain from defaming the military service of any veterans in an effort to gain political brownie points.  General Kelly is in no way a disgrace to the uniform.  We recommend that Representative Gutierrez rescind his earlier comments and issue an apology to General Kelly.

 

When the new administration took office on January 20, 2017, they failed to appoint a special envoy to head the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.  Even after an 86% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first quarter of 2017 with over 145 bomb threats to Jewish institutions and multiple Jewish cemetery desecrations, the position astonishingly remained unfilled.  As of July 1, 2017, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is officially closed, ensuring that no one within the administration of President Donald Trump is specifically working on combating anti-Semitism.

“The State Department’s closing the office is both short-sighted and ill-timed.  Anti-Semitism remains a grim reality in today’s world and must be vigorously addressed.  I’m quite frankly surprised given the positive actions by Ambassador Nikki Haley in fighting anti-Semitism at the United Nations, one finds the State Department’s actions baffling.  I find myself asking if the ghost of John Foster Dulles is in the room,” said JWV National Commander COL Carl Singer.

After the Global Anti-Semitism Act of 2004 was signed into effect by President George W. Bush, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has laid out a working definition of anti-Semitism as well as kept a tally of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the globe.  This is particularly important because the new definition of anti-Semitism includes anti-Zionist activities that have crossed the line into anti-Semitism, which we all sadly know far too well can and does happen.

This year, a German court ruled that a 2014 bombing of a German synagogue was not anti-Semitic, but rather, it was anti-Zionist – even though the synagogue was targeted specifically because it was a Jewish institution and not an Israeli consulate.  Because of the definition set by the special envoy to the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, this kind of attack would be considered a hate crime in the United States, not a simple act of arson, and it would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

When questioned in June about the special envoy position, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was non-committal about appointing an envoy and he insinuated that having a special envoy was counterproductive to fighting anti-Semitism.  He explained that people who are responsible for implementing U.S. policy would somehow decide it was not their responsibility to fight anti-Semitism because someone else is already doing it – fighting anti-Semitism is everyone’s responsibility.

After the office was closed on the first, Shoshana Simones, a 29 year old Make-A-Wish “wish manager”, pulled into her home after her Fourth of July vacation to see a swastika and the word “Jew” spray painted in black on her home with her husband and young daughter in the car.  These types of incidents will continue to persist until this administration decides to make fighting anti-Semitism a priority.

Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. urges the administration and Secretary Tillerson to immediately appoint a special envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and have a working staff actively combating anti-Semitism.  As the philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” and good men are indeed doing nothing right now.  JWV is committed to fighting this evil as we have always done.  We ask people to write and call their representatives and senators, urging them to tell the administration to appoint a special envoy.  If you need help finding your representatives, please contact JWV National Headquarte

Member: Samuel Yudin

Post: Post 786

Current Residence: Long Beach, CA

Military Service: Iraq and Afghanistan

Member Since Year: 2018

  1. When and why did you serve in the military?

My decision to join the military is a long, complicated story centered on many chance encounters and a confluence of events and ideas.  While in college, I was curious about learning anything I could and reexamining all that I had come to know especially when it came to my Judaism.  I was reading, among other things, anything by Phillip Roth and Leon Uris.  The stark contrast of Jewish masculinity depicted did not sit well with me and I wanted to be a nice but tough Jew.  While studying in Germany I worked as a bartender on a US Army base and learned about the military language school which made me think that I could pursue one of my intellectual passions while serving so I could become that nice tough Jew.

  1. What was a special moment for you serving in the military?

In my almost 19 years serving so far there have been many special moments.  Each graduation of a special military school, competition, or each promotion are always memorable.  Every training exercise, mission, or deployment suffering in the inclement weather in some godawful place with your buddies is a special moment we all share which bonds us together like no civilian will ever know.  Out of all those special moments the most memorable was being promoted in a ceremony in front of friends and family by my friend and hero, Holocaust survivor, and Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Tibor Rubin.

  1. How did you get introduced to JWV?

When I first got back home from Active Duty I was curious to find other Jews like me who could understand where I was coming from.  I was told about JWV but was told it was just a bunch of old guys sitting around who did not want youngsters around.  I joined the Reserves and then the Guard but kept moving around so did not get involved.  Then a few years ago Corporal Tibor Rubin’s daughter Rosie told me I needed to meet Greg Lee the CA JWV Commander.  Greg got me energized to be part of JWV which has in turn got a group of several of us currently still serving to join JWV.

  1. What national issues are you interested in seeing JWV to fight for?

I am uneasy about organizations, especially Jewish ones, creeping outside their mission statements because that alienates some people they are supposed to represent.  I am interested in the JWV advocating for Jewish veterans, veterans in general, and getting the positive message of Jewish service out there.

  1. What displays of patriotism makes you the proudest?

My definition of patriotism differs from most.  I believe the best display of patriotism is living your life with the values and ideals that this country was founded on.  It is the same way I look at Judaism.  If I wave the flag and chant USA but am a miserable human being not living a life of American values than I am not patriotic.  I am proud of my Judaism and my country but I could have just as easily been born to different parents in a different country.  What I can choose is how I live my life.  Some of the most patriotic Americans I know are my Vietnamese and Cambodian friends.  They love this country because it saved their lives and they embody American values in how they live with love of liberty, freedom, and responsibility.

  1. What is the best military Jewish holiday story you got?

Chanukah in Korea is a reoccurring theme. I spent the one in 2003 on a hill top surrounded by North Korea on three sides.  It happened to be Christmas so they flew the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders up in a Blackhawk so got a nice picture with my menorah, my officers and all of them.  Arranging a Passover Seder in Kosovo two years ago was another great success.

  1. What is your favorite Adam Sandler movie?

I would have to go early Adam Sandler, so anything in the 90s; Airheads, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, or Waterboy.

 

 

By Ben Kane, JWV Programs Assistant

Like its competitor Battlefield 1, the immersive video game Call of Duty: WWII takes a step back from the exoskeletons and drones of future warfare, and marks the first game since 2008s World At War to take place during World War II. The game is not without its flaws, but where it makes a misstep in one area, it makes up for it in others.

As American GI “PFC Daniels” of the 1st Infantry Division, you trek through the well-known battlefields of Europe, fighting alongside soldiers who, while occasionally interesting, are ruined somewhat by being generic, stereotypical depictions of American soldiers. The game begins just before the Normandy landings, and the naïve feelings of the soldiers who announce that everything is going to be just fine and everyone will be ok quickly dissipate once the horrors of war become apparent.

Call of Duty: WWII tries to act like Battlefield 1 in another way, and shares a poignant brutality in the early portions of the game. These moments are well done and necessary, but are frustratingly few and far between, as you then promptly continue fighting through Europe largely as a one man army. I say largely because, in a departure from previous games, health is only restored through “health packs” obtained on the battlefield and from teammates, which makes them slightly above completely useless. Of course there are many moments where it feels like you can take on Nazi Germany on your own, but the game does feature the occasionally difficult moment that forces you to rely on your squad to an extent. However, I couldn’t help but think of how strange it was that often the last act of a German soldier who has been shot is to throw a health pack onto the ground for his enemies to use.

Infrequently, one is put in the driver’s seats of a fighter plane and a tank. The tank section was far more interesting to play than the dogfight, as the destructible environments and need to fire at the weaker sections of the tank provided more interesting game play than the fairly bland aerial combat section

The graphics are as decent as other installments, and the artificial intelligence (AI) is definitely nothing to write home about, as computer-controlled enemies often just stood over the bodies of their comrades in one of the several forced stealth sections, not alerting their fellow soldiers that one of their own has been killed. It would have been the mark of an evolving studio to have taken steps to improve the graphics and the AI, and make the player feel like an actual part of the world and not an outsider solely in existence to kill. As I’m sprint-hopping from tent to tent at the command points between missions, a soldier making a passing quip about my strange behavior would have been a nice touch.

Call of Duty: WWII is, not unexpectedly, not very historically accurate. However, there are several instances of historical accuracy that makes me think at least one writer did some homework. The members of the French Forces of the Interior, the French resistance group led by General and future president of France Charles De Gaulle, had armbands featuring the actual insignia of the FFI. There is also a cut scene and a segment that takes place in the largely and sadly unknown Berga concentration camp, where several hundred G.I.s were imprisoned and many were worked to death or shot. The cut scene portrayed camp commandant Erwin Metz, as well as a brief dialogue exchange that is known to have occurred at the camp. There certainly could and should have been more poignant and historically accurate moments, but the few they have are much appreciated.

Multiplayer gaming is business as usual for the series, with maps that favor players who run around with machine guns blindly and without strategy. It’s not great multiplayer, especially when compared with the terrific multiplayer of Battlefield 1, but it’s not overly unpleasant to play. However, the dropping of loot boxes onto Omaha Beach so other players can see you opening them is in immensely poor taste, the idea definitely should have been shot down during development

Despite the clichés and issues that have been prevalent in the series since the beginning, Call of Duty: WWII is a solid installment in the series. The game isn’t revolutionary, and it largely fails to live up to the potential that the time period provides, but it’s worth checking out, especially if you can get it at a good price.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being best, I rate this game at a 7.75.

Volume 72. Number 1. Spring 2018