WASHINGTON (Feb. 16)
The Jewish War Veterans of the USA succeeded this week in blocking the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council from adopting a resolution supporting the right of gay men and lesbians to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
But its veto was immediately circumvented when the vast majority of NJCRAC’s constituent groups adopted the statement without the umbrella group’s imprimatur.
The JWV’s move took place Monday during a debate on various resolutions at NJCRAC’s annual plenum here. The issue arose because of President Clinton’s plans to overturn the ban on gays in the military, an effort the resolution explicitly endorsed.
It states that qualifications for military service should be “based upon individual military conduct and performance, rather than on the individual’s characteristics and beliefs.”
The resolution had received overwhelming support from NJCRAC’s 117 community relations councils and most of its 13 national member agencies. But any national agency has the right to veto resolutions, and JWV decided to exercise that prerogative, despite pleas from other groups.
As a result, the resolution will not be published as a NJCRAC document and must be circulated individually by the member agencies that signed onto it.
Aside from the JWV, all of NJCRAC’s constituents endorsed the resolution, with the exception of the Anti-Defamation League, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and Jewish community relations councils in New York, Chicago and Baltimore, which all abstained.
The JWV was the only member group to oppose the resolution outright, despite urging by the Orthodox Union to abstain.
“Sexual orientation is an individual right, not a civil right,” said Robert Zweiman, former national commander of the veterans group.
“Incest is also a sexual orientation,” he said. “Homosexuality is individual. That choice should not be imposed on those in the military.”
STRONG RESOLUTION ON BOSNIA
But the veterans group did not oppose a statement supporting the civil rights of gay men and lesbians that was adopted by NJCRAC’s executive committee last September.
The other resolution to be contested Monday on the floor of the NJCRAC plenum concerned proposed measures to halt the ethnic strife, torture and killing taking place in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A resolution that, among other things, urges the “use of limited air strikes,” if necessary, to enforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia received support from every agency in attendance except the JWV, which voted against it but did not exercise its veto power.
“The United States, as well as the U.N. and other governments, must do whatever is necessary to separate the warring factions, assist them in negotiating a peaceful settlement, and restore peace and normalcy to Bosnia-Herzegovina,” the resolution says.
It urges the Clinton administration, in concert with other governments and the U.N., to accelerate humanitarian relief efforts and, “if there is no progress in the negotiations to end the violence and establish peace, to lift the discriminatory arms embargo” imposed on Bosnia.
It calls on the United Nations to add rape to its list of internationally recognized war crimes, for an international investigation of war crimes in Bosnia and the “creation of a tribunal to bring those responsible for these crimes to be tried and punished.”
It also urges the U.S. government to establish a watch list barring Bosnian war criminals from entering the country, while allowing “refugees from Bosnia to enter the United States if they wish to come.”
A resolution urging that the Israeli servicemen missing in action in Lebanon be returned to their families was adopted unanimously.