Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff stopped in at the Jewish War Veterans meeting on the morning of May 21, each speaking about their stances on defense and veterans issues as they continue their way toward the June 20 runoff election for the 6th Congressional District seat.

About 60 people attended the Jewish War Veterans meeting on Sunday, May 21, at the Berman Commons assisted living facility in Dunwoody to hear from Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff. (Dyana Bagby)

The meeting was not open to the general public, but members of the media were invited. The candidates also did not appear together. Rather, the format allowed Handel to speak first for about a half-hour and after she left the building Ossoff came in and made his pitch to the group, also speaking for about a half hour.

Each candidate spoke for nearly 20 minutes before they answered questions asked by Robert Max of the Jewish War Vets. Max read the questions from index cards filled out by attendees before the presentations; the questions were also limited to just defense and veterans issues.

Handel, 55, read from a prepared speech and shared some of her personal story as a way to show how she handles battles. She said her sister, who is nine years younger than her, was born with serious health issues and not expected to live. Her sister, however, is alive today, Handel said, thanks to prayers and skilled surgeons and “is one of the most amazing people I know.”


But as a teen, the emotional and financial stress of her sister’s health concerns took a toll on her family, especially her mother, Handel said. The strain eventually “literally broke” her mother, she said.

At 17 and a senior in high school, Handel said she was forced to make tough decisions and rather than pursue high school extracurricular activities she worked two part-time jobs. She also left home, she said, and was completely on her own when she was still shy of her 18th birthday.

“When things went from bad to worse, I left home for good,” Handel said. “And here I was completely on my own. … But I’ve never been a person to give up.”

Handel said she was able to graduate high school with her classmates and started her career as a clerical typist for the AARP.

“The point here is … I never gave up,” she said. “I never gave up. I kept fighting. My perseverance and my tenacity that have been a driving force in my life will drive me on your behalf” if elected to Congress.

Handel cited her past work as chair of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, the chair of the Fulton County Commission and as secretary of state as giving her the experience needed in Congress.

She went after the Affordable Care Act, said it was “collapsing” and praised the House Republican’s recently passed bill to repeal it. She acknowledged the House bill was “not perfect” but part of a process and was better than letting the system collapse. She also promised to work on simplifying the tax code and “job killing regulations.”

When it comes to national defense, Handel said she would vote in favor of the Taylor Force Act, a bill that would stop the U.S. from funding the Palestinian government if it continues to pay salaries and benefits to families of those who kills Americans and Jews in Israel.

She also denounced President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, calling it “unconscionable” and a failure to stand with U.S. ally Israel.

In Ossoff’s comments, he said the country needs “fresh leadership” in Congress because the tone of today’s leadership is “dangerous and divisive.”

Ossoff, 30, noted that both his grandfathers – one in Australia and the other in the U.S. – fought in World War II and their dedication to public service was something he aspired to as well.

“That tradition of service in my family is something I’m proud of and something I seek to live up to in my life,” Ossoff said.

“That commitment to public good … is inspiring … and I think both my grandfathers would be disgusted by the tone in politics today,” he said.

In addressing national defense, Ossoff said it is important to not forget the millions of lives at stake in armed conflict.


“There is a real human consequence here. It is not a game,” he said. “Career politicians forget we are talking about real human lives.”

He called ISIS a “reprehensible organization” and said only its complete destruction is acceptable. Ossoff said he would support air power and limited special operations in defeating ISIS. He also said he would oppose any proposal to increase the deployment of ground troops into the Middle East.

Ossoff expressed his strong support of NATO and called for a complete and transparent investigation into Russian interference in the American election, saying the issue was “above partisanship.”

He also called for redoubling the U.S. commitment to Israel and work to ensure Israel has a military edge against multiple hostile states such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

When asked about his support of Obama’s Iran deal, Ossoff said the purpose of the agreement is to restrict uranium enrichment by Iran.

“The monitoring of compliance should be strict and uncompromising. If Iran violates [the agreement], sanctions should snap back immediately that truly punishes Iran’s economy,” he said.

Handel declined to participate in a Dunwoody Homeowners Association candidate forum on May 21, but a spokesperson for her campaign said she was able to make the Jewish War Vets meeting because it was held at a time that did not conflict with other scheduled events.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

13 replies on “Handel, Ossoff appear at Jewish War Vets meeting in Dunwoody”

  1. Thank you, Diana, for attending and reporting on this important event. My husband, Robert Max, Commander of the Atlanta Jewish War Veterans and Commander of the Southeast Region, was honored to host over 100 attendees yesterday. It was a rare opportunity to hear both candidates views on Defense and Veterans Services.

  2. This excellent article accurately stated what both candidates said. I hope there are more opportunities at larger venues to hear from both candidates together. An informed electorate is important for democracy. Third party ads about what she said and he said is not a better way.

  3. Allow me to add a bit more re Karen Handel:

    Karen Handel, a proud high school graduate, was elected Georgia’s Secretary of State in early November, 2006. But sensing political opportunity, she resigned that post – a post entrusted to her by the earnest citizens of Georgia – to seek the governorship. She failed in that bid, despite the enthusiastic support of Sarah Palin, who, as we all know, is scholar to Alaska’s polar bears, and can see Russia from her front porch.

    During the run-up to that race it was revealed that Handel had been a member of an influential group of (Log Cabin) Gay Republicans (2003; 2004). This was, at the time, a smart move given Log Cabin’s financial clout. Indeed, in this capacity Handel went so far as to affirm enthusiastic support for domestic partnership benefits.

    But as 2009 gubernatorial candidate, Handel’s Log Cabin membership and Domestic Partnership support were a political liability. Rather than excusing these as crass political opportunism, or as “the shameless indiscretions of a panderer”, Handel flat-out denied the revelations.

    These denials were bald faced lies…
    lies which were subsequently exposed by PolitiFact (June 9th, 2010.).

    Not one to be shamed by such duplicity,
    Handel cast about for some way to remain relevant
    until another political opportunity would presented itself.

    Enter, Komen.

    Handel accepted a prestigious position as VP for Public Policy with Susan G Komen For The Cure in April, 2011. Seizing this opportunity to burnish Komen’s credentials as a Jesus pal-around, Handel went all Hallelujah Chorus on Komen, politicized this extraordinary organization to her own ends, buffing her creds with the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party, and finally destroyed the wellspring of good will and funding that Komen had patiently and skillfully garnered since 1982.

    [ fyi/ Handel, here, connived to defund Planned Parenthood by cleverly rewriting the Komen funding rules to “…preclude organizations under Federal Investigation”. Then, citing the new rules which she had single-handedly contrived, she defunded Planned Parenthood. ]

    The ensuing firestorm brought Komen to its knees.
    At Komen’s insistence, Handel slithered out the door.

    Komen, fortunately,
    has since recovered from Handel’s malfeasance.

    As with her Log Cabin deceptions, Handel denied authorship of the rules changes; but three sources with direct knowledge of the affair (The Atlantic, 02/02/12) and emails uncovered by HuffPost (02/05/12) exposed Handel’s sole ‘authority’ in conniving, crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy.

    Summary: 1) Handel supported Domestic Partnership benefits for Gay and Lesbian couples until this became a political liability. She then lied to cover it up. 2) As newly appointed Komen Public Policy VP Handel rewrote the guidelines by which Komen dispenses $$$ for breast cancer research; this, with the specific aim of disqualifying Planned Parenthood. She then used these contrived guidelines as pretext for defunding that venerable and compassionate organization. She then lied to cover up her malfeasance. 3) Handel now asks to represent The Citizens of Georgia at the Federal level.

    Karen Handel:
    We’ve had quite enough of her!

  4. Allow me to add on Jon Ossoff.

    Often what a candidate doesn’t say speaks volumes about his/her past. Ossoff worked for Congressman Hank Johnson for five years. The same Hank Johnson who termed Jews and Israeli citizens as “termites” based solely on the where they live. Yes, Johnson “apologized” but his voting record on Israel never changed. Ossoff’s campaign website shows names of many people whom he associates with and displays a picture with respected Congressman John Lewis. Hank Johnson, his mentor, is nowhere to be found!

    Ossoff as a journalist, sold films to many media sources, including Al Jazeera, known as “a mouthpiece for terrorists” and owned by the government of Qatar. They promote the Muslim Brotherhood and have an anti-western, anti-Israel agenda. While Ossoff’s relationship was legal, he chose profits over principle. Would he have also sold to a neo-Nazi or Klan publication? With 95% of his campaign funds coming from out of state, will he represent the money or the people?

    1. I get that you want to do a hatchet job on the Democrat, but you have strayed into an alternate universe to do it. Are you actually accusing the Jewish candidate of supporting vile anti-semitism?

      I have been in Israel with Hank Johnson who was traveling as part of a Jewish group I belong to. Hank Johnson is a supporter of the State of Israel as a democratic Jewish homeland for the Jewish people.

      Have you no shame!

  5. 1) Jon Ossoff disassociated himself from Hank Johnson.
    I applaud him for that decision.

    2) I invite readers to check Mitchell Kaye’s claims re: Jon Ossoff and Al Jazeera against the facts.
    Here’s a good place to start:
    http://www.politifact.com/search/?q=Al Jazeera

    2) Some pertinent information:
    a) The charge is spawned of an article in the American Journalism Review, entitled “The Al Jazeera Effect”
    b) PolitiFact explains how that “mouthpiece” charge is a blatant misrepresentation of article’s argument
    c) John McCain (R-Ariz) described Al Jazeera in glowing terms for its work during the Arab Spring
    d) The charge is cherry-picked dissembling
    e) To quote PolitiFact’s Summary Statement:
    “The ad’s description of Al Jazeera strikes us as particularly selective…
    We rate this claim Mostly False.”

    4) I note as well that the above-cited FactCheck explores Ossoff’s journalism & film background.
    Here again, charges are unwarranted.

        1. Hank Johnson is his mentor. Why doesn’t he mention his name on his website or show a picture with the congressman? Is he hiding something? Ossoff does have many pictures including one with John Lewis. If what I am saying is false, what other motive would he have in hiding his association with Johnson, the anti-semite?

  6. Derrick Are you Jon’s long lost brother or a campaign operative. It is hard to disassociate from someone you claim a close working relationship for four years and you use as part of your work experience. Hank is a long time back bencher who thinks Guam will sink if we add more Marines. Maybe Jon should have quit a long time ago.

    More troubling is the DNC’s massive financial support for Jon and bringing in carpetbagging operatives since local support seems to be dwindling. The DNC is run by Tom Perez who is primarily concerned with legalizing all illegal aliens without regard to gang membership, drug history or criminal record. His second in command is non other than Louis Farrakhan accolyte, Keith Ellison who has the worst pro Israel voting record in Congress.

    I doubt that Jon or any other inexperienced young man will maintain independence especially since 90% of his campaign has been funded by out of state Democrat sources and instead we will be getting Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer with a slight drawl.

  7. Jeffrey:
    I am neither Jon’s long lost brother, nor a campaign operative.
    I am merely an extraordinarily insightful citizen
    who distinguishes between sham and integrity;
    between hustle and talent;
    between cross opportunism and dedicated public conscience.

    Jon has earned the enthusiastic support of District 6 voters.
    and will serve us well.

    As for who runs which party,
    I’ll do you a favor and finesse the matter,
    lest it brings hot blush to your countenance.

    Forgive my chuckle.

  8. Don’t believe the Al Jazeera is a mouthpiece for terrorists line if you haven’t spent significant time watching their coverage. Across the Middle East, including when I was deployed there, Al Jazeera is easily the most watched and trusted news source for American commanders and forces operating in the region. Their coverage is second to none and generally much less biased than American outlets like CNN and Fox.

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