Last week, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA suspended the membership of Ben-Ami Kadish, ex-commander of Post 609 in Monroe. The 84-year-old, accused of passing classified military information to Israel more than ‘5 years ago, is out on bail. He hasn’t been tried, and he certainly hasn’t been convicted.
But does that matter to the JWV?
No. JWV national commander Lawrence Schulman has begun organizational court martial proceedings to drum Kadish from the ranks. "There is no place in our organization for those who would seek to defend the interests of any country above those of the Unites States," Schulman proclaimed. "The alleged actions of Mr. Kadish must be condemned in the harshest of terms."
The alleged actions? Okay.
Kadish himself? Not so fast.
The JWV, it seems, couldn’t wait for the wheels of American justice to turn. Already, national headquarters has Kadish tried, convicted, and "executed." Unfortunately, it has chosen not to stick to the American credo "innocent until proven guilty."
So you may well ask, "Where is the U.S. Constitution the members of the JWV swore to uphold when they joined the armed forces and continue to do so in their own by-laws?"
I know men in the JWV who put their lives on the line to defend U.S. democracy, my own husband among them. I know JWV members who are so dedicated to their fellow veterans and the principles upon which this country was founded that they go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a veteran’s good name and the good name of the country they love. I know Jewish War Veterans whose lifelong commitment to democracy and their fellow man has caused to them volunteer both their purse and power to further that commitment. For those men and women there are not enough accolades. The same cannot be said for those on the national level who have convened this untoward kangaroo court and unilaterally condemned a longtime JWV member, past post commander, and recognized active member of his community without benefit of due process.
It has long been the slander of Jews in the United States, since the creation of the state of Israel, that Jews must share dual loyalty between the United States and Israel. This canard is especially prevalent in veterans’ organizations, often bastions of small-mindedness and pseudo-patriotism. And so, I guess, this action by Commander Shulman is the JWV version of the Patriot Act, which did away with the Constitution in the name of "security." Right now, the JWV leadership, it seems, is more concerned with political expediency and looking like good patriots rather than decent democrats. And this is because they are afraid of being accused of that dual loyalty. Because they often support the Israeli government unreservedly, this means the national office of the JWV will do what makes the organization look good instead of doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing in this case would be to wait for the outcome of the Kadish trial and, depending on the verdict by a jury of his peers (or a judge), then take appropriate action.
Jeanette Friedman-Sieradski is a freelance writer and editor living in Bergen County. She is the founder of Second Generation North Jersey and has served as president of JWV Post 498’s Auxiliary.