Jewish War Verterans on Military Ban

From: (Michael Lax)

The following is a fax I received from the Jewish War Veterans:

12/24/92 - Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

From Ira Greenspan (asst. to Col. Herb Rosenbleeth)

The following is in response to your letter of Dec 22 1992. All members of JWV are encouraged to speak out at all post, department and national convention.

JWV is a democratic organization. All resolutions and policy are decided by majority vote.

*Below are excerpts from National Commander Warren S. Dolny's response to Rabbi Schindler:* (concerning homosexuality in the military)

Although many Jewish organizations support your position, being Jewish does not require conformity to the ideals of one particular group. I doubt that you would find such conformity on this position from every Jewish organization. I can probably say with some certainty that the Orthodox Jewish organizations, who for the most part, do not consider groups such as the one you represent as being part of the Jewish world, would join with JWV in opposing homosexual participation in the military....

The National Resolutions Committee was overwhelmingly in support of this position, and the resolution passed on the convention floor by a wide margin. As JWV is a democratic organization, in which our members determine its direction, the majority position was enacted as official policy...

The beauty of the American Jewish community is our ability to disagree, yet remain a strong, united presence against those who wish to defeat us. Conflicts within our community must be expected, and should not be seen as signs of failure of moral courage or societal decay.

The following is Michael's response to this excerpt:

Dear Colonel Rosenbleeth:

Your form response, which completely ignored my letters, relies on the assumption that ignorant mob rule supports sound decision-making. The democracy you speak of allows people to make decisions based on lies and propaganda. Would you support prayer in school if the majority of people in this country supported it? And have you forgotten that Hitler was elected and his policies supported by the overwhelming majority? As I have pointed out repeatedly, the majority of JWV members support a destructive policy based on hateful lies and bigoted misinformation. No compromise can exist for such a position, unless you suggest that gays and lesbians should accept the same standard of living that Jews had in Germany during the beginning of the Nazi era.

You speak of a disagreement as if talking about seating arrangements at a dinner party, rather than intentionally destroying the lives of thousands of people simply because you feel uncomfortable with the reality of their existence. The time has come for you to tell your members the truth about gays in the military, apologizing for your lies and bigotry. That a Jewish organization would use precisely the same tactics against another oppressed people as those used against the Jewish people appalls me.

I again look forward to your prompt, reasoned, response. I will be home this Monday and Tuesday and would certainly enjoy having the opportunity to talk with you and Albert Schlosseerg.

The following is Michael's first response to the JWV resolution:

Dear Colonel Rosenbleeth:

In a world where the Ku Klux Klan and an African-American church openly share their bigotry of gays and lesbians, the resolution adopted at the Jewish War Veteran's 97th National Convention should not surprise me. Its blatant ignorance and pure bigotry should not make me sick to my stomach, for the lies and deceits you regurgitate have existed for centuries. I will do my best to respond to the hateful speech which your organization signed its name to and which compares favorably to Mein Kampf in its maliciousness.

"Beyond the insidious effect which the effort has upon the morale of men and women who serve in our nation's armed forces,... "

I am curious what "insidious effect" you refer to. The ignorance of heterosexual personnel? Or perhaps the fear that you will have to teach them the truth. There is certainly no evidence to support this statement, and plenty to dispute it.

"... it has been confirmed that 42% of soldiers testing HIV- positive had homosexual sex, in direct violation of the policy of U.S. armed forces."

A number of questions arise from your data. Over what period of time? What is the sample based on? How was the percentage derived (i.e., by what means was the data collected)? There is also the relevance of this question to the issue of gays and lesbians serving in the military. What has HIV/AIDS got to do with excepting the existence of gays and lesbians in the military? Gay men did not cause AIDS. They do not account for the majority of cases; worldwide, AIDS is most definitely a heterosexual virus. More importantly, reported AIDS cases amongst gays is down, while going up for heterosexuals. Of course, this statement ignores lesbians, who are amongst the lowest-risk group in the country. It also makes the irrational assumptions that being gay means having unsafe sex and HIV, while being heterosexual means not having HIV; while your own data states that the majority of those with HIV are heterosexual, it ignores the fact that the vast majority of heterosexuals consistently practice unsafe sex. That the UCMJ forbids homosexual sex between consenting adults is an anachronism that must be changed as well.

"The cost of caring for each HIV-positive military person, verified by DoD records, was $200,000. It was further stated that in the last ten years DoD has expended $3 billion dollars on AIDS infected military personnel."

An interesting statement. Again, however, I fail to see its relevance in forbidding qualified personnel from joining the military. The risk of AIDS amongst the lesbian community is qualitatively non-existent, while the risk of AIDS amongst gay men is going down. Or perhaps would you suggest that those with a family history of heart disease and cancer should be barred from military service? These diseases cost more than $200,000 per individual to treat. Given the skyrocketing cost of giving birth (delivering and caring for a premature baby can cost as much as $500,000), perhaps we should bar married couples from military service as well. Never mind the cities and major companies (Lotus) which have provided domestic partner benefits for their gay and lesbian employees with little or not increase in their insurance risk. And how can a people motivated by compassion for others suggests that we would be better off if people with AIDS were disposed of more quickly and efficiently. Perhaps the Jewish War Veterans would like to bring back the showers?

"In light of the diminution of the DoD budget, it is imperative that the DoD enforce regulations which forbid homosexual acts amongst U.S. military personnel."

Once again, your first statement fails to connect to your conclusion. Why not have the DoD educate military personnel about safe sex? Indeed, in light of the need for qualified individuals, perhaps the DoD should stop spending at least $30 million a year trying to fight a war that does not exist.

"Jewish War Veterans of the USA urges our membership to communicate this urgent message to the appropriate governmental authorities."

You can be assured that my mother, and her friends who are members of JWV, will speak out loudly concerning your attempt to malign those gays and lesbians who proudly serve in the United States Military. That you have ignored the facts and distorted the truth is an insult to the Jewish people, as we have suffered by those that would lie about us. Long before Hitler, Jews were accused of killing children to bake matzoh, of being miserly, and feared because no one knew who was Jewish. You now use the same type of lies and fear to maintain the hatred and discrimination of another oppressed people. That such an action would come from a Jewish organization is contemptible.

I again look forward to your prompt response.