The Tragic End of Aron & Elizabeth in 1942 Holland

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The following is an excerpt from the book “Jew Face: A Story of Love and Heroism in Nazi Occupied Holland.”

Jacques shook his head slowly from side to side, the anguish evident in his face. Leendert opened his mouth and in saying the two names, formed the question all three in the room knew needed to be asked. “Elizabeth and Aaron?” The names came off his lips, the dread evident in his tone. Jacques put his head down, not able to look at his in-laws’ faces, and just said, “They’re gone.”

Read the Story of AronAndElizabeth

 

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How being the son of Holocaust survivors made me who I am

Yom HaShoah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach Yom HaShoah and remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, I can’t help but think about how being the son of 2 survivors helped make me into the person I am today.

In comparison to so many, I am a very lucky man.  I enjoyed having both my parents around till I was 45 when my 87 year old father passed away almost 8 years ago, and still have the blessing of a wonderful relationship with my remarkable 93 year old mother. Although they experienced their own brand of hell between 1940-1945 in Holland, they were fortunate enough that it did not reach a level that prevented them from moving forward and enjoying their life after the war.  Even with that said, the experiences of my parents made them who they are, which subsequently made me who I am, both for good and for bad.  But more significantly as I write this today, a day in which we remember those who did not survive, the deep emotions transferred to me and my siblings impacted every one of us.

Even when I was more moderate than I am today, I’ve never had tolerance for anything that resembled a lack of respect for Jewish life.  Of course as a normal human being I value all life, but I am always on the alert for any indication that the Jewish people are being attacked.  I won’t listen to Pink Floyd or Bryan Adams anymore.  I don’t like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs merely because he once did the quenelle, a modern-day reverse Nazi salute in France, in a picture with a well-known anti-Semite even though he insisted he didn’t mean it to be anti-Semitic, and I almost got into a fight with someone at work who did the Nazi salute because he thought he was being funny.  He said he didn’t realize what it meant till his girlfriend told him later in the day.  That didn’t stop me from standing in his face and saying “never do that S#%#%t in front of me again.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no claims to be a tough guy, but my Dad of Blessed Memory was as tough as anyone, and my mother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  I was raised by strong people who brought me up to be proud to be Jewish, and most relevant in this discussion, they always honored the 6 million.  As long as I can remember and as long as I was able to have a conversation I always knew about the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.  And I have always tried my personal best to honor them.

Never Again, a phrase that often stems from or leads to political discussion may be 2 of the most important words in my life, as I am sure it is to many reading this as well.  However today is not about politics, it is about remembrance and honor. Something I learned from my parents, and thank them for from the bottom of my heart, for in the process they made me a better person, one that often stops and realizes the Jewish souls once sacrificed, and the importance of never forgetting them.

 

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Open Letter to Carl Maziali, VP of Media Relations at USC Regarding his acceptance of a faculty member’s mockery of the Holocaust

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Dear Mr. Maziali,

I find it hard to believe that I even have to write a letter of this nature to the Vice President of Media Relations of an established and respected university.  I’ve heard many anti-Semites spew their filth the direction of my people, so when an Iranian mocks the murder of 6 million Jews I’m no longer surprised, but when a representative of an institution such as USC excuses and sanctions his behavior I realize our society has reached new lows.  I also believe someone has to answer for it and be held accountable.

I am referring to the professor in your school by the name of Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, who in a series of tweets made it very clear what he thinks about the Holocaust. It all started when Professor Tababajabadahut defended Iran’s Holocaust denial cartoon contest by asking what is anti-moderation about holding such a contest.

It went on further when Tabababumble was confronted by Noah Pollak, Executive Director, Emergency Committee for Israel on twitter:

@alirezat I mean, do you think a million were killed, or around 6 million, or in between? Just curious as to how you think about it

@NoahPollak I really don’t know. I should read about it. Why?

@alirezat bad analogy. This wasn’t a murder. It was a genocide carried out in the name of anti-Semitism. Try again.

@NoahPollak Logically, I cannot say “antisemitism” and “denial of the Holocaust” are necessarily equivalent.

 

For me to address Tababuthead’s comments would be giving him more credibility than he deserves  and it would imply that I think you need me to make you aware of the despicable nature of his comments, which I am sure you don’t.  Your response when confronted on his comments was, “professors can say whatever they want.”  Interesting.  So does that mean it would be acceptable in your opinion for a professor to say something along the lines of slavery was no big deal, or all people who get AIDS deserve it? Since you are not debating the morality and ethics of the comment, merely the professors’ right to say “whatever they want“, one can only infer comments such as these would also be acceptable under your interpretation of USC’s guidelines.

Your approach is a disgrace, and to make it seem as though you are hiding behind some sort of free speech concept is cowardly and weak.  USC is not a government institution, it has rules, and these rules need to be enforced, regardless of whether or not you personally like Jews.

This needs to be addressed and corrected or brought to the attention of as many people as possible.  That choice may very well be yours to make.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Time to Change the Liberal Discussion

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I am not a Liberal.  Maybe I was once, but with my views on foreign policy as they are today I just don’t fall in line with what has become the “liberal” way of thinking.  Sadly, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the liberal way of thinking has been hijacked by those with self-serving devious agendas who have no willingness to truly advance a liberal viewpoint.  What they are doing instead is manipulating the minds of those who think being liberal means listening to anything new, even if it means hurting the innocent.

I’ve been very bothered in recent weeks by one question.  When did the Palestinian cause become a liberal anti-Israel cause?  If a liberal is to say that all they care about is peace at all costs, and they are against anyone who opposes or obstructs that peace, I would be happy to accept any logical conclusion that might come from that position. But when looking at Israel and its ongoing conflict, a true analysis of the situation should result in that liberal being anything but against Israel’s position.  To be liberal is one thing.  To be partisan at all costs, or even worse to be ignorant and stupid, doesn’t justify a misguided stance on a very serious situation.

There are both Liberals and Conservatives out there that are outspoken and loudmouthed who consider themselves smarter than everyone else.  If a Liberal is to take a strong stance on the situation in Israel and oppose Israel, he or she may think they’re smarter, but their very position shows stupidity and ignorance.  Anyone who looks at the situation with a clear and open mind will see 67 years of evidence to prove that Israel has always wanted peace.  Just because that desire has translated more often into strength than weakness does not mean that desire is not there.  A liberal stance may be to back the weak, and that is fine, but does that mean it should oppose the strong, especially when the strong are doing more to pursue good than bad and more often than not merely defending their right to live in peace?

The Palestinians are weak. But is it really Israel’s fault?  Money has been plundered by Palestinian leaders for decades.  Yasser Arafat, “the statesman”, died a very wealthy man.  Statesmanship clearly has its privileges, especially when you take billions of dollars meant for your people and keep it for yourself.  Similar “privileges” have been taken by the leaders of Hamas.  Meanwhile the Palestinians are taught by their leaders to hate Israel and the Jewish people, to some extent at least to make sure the profit remains in “statesmanship”.   After all, if you teach Palestinians to hate Israel, they may never realize where the money is really going and who it is that is actually keeping them down.

If I am to be as objective as possible I would say I have compassion for a people who don’t know better because their leaders keep them from the truth.  But people in the western world need only to open their eyes to see the truth, and the truth is that Israel’s government’s may not have always done everything right, but they do not hold most of the culpability for the Palestinians’ plight.  Yet somehow organizations like the BDS Movement and terrorist groups like Hamas have hijacked the narrative and led those either too lazy to research the truth, too dumb to understand, or far too willing to distort it into believing Israel stands for everything intolerant in the world.  That distortion of reality doesn’t make it a true liberal position, it makes it a destructive one.

If you are someone opposed to right-wing governments, and you are a liberal in another country, than be sincere about your efforts. Realize that as right-wing as you might conclude Benjamin Netanyahu is, he is still a democratically elected official in a free society.  If you have chosen to stand against Israel in favor of its enemies, you have somehow come to a choice that is diametrically opposed to one of the most important things you claim to believe in, the right to a free society.  I always thought that to be liberal meant to be tolerant, sometimes to a fault.  If the debate of the Conservative against the Liberal is over what one should be tolerant of or not, that is fine, but both sides need to be true to their position. Israel is a country where women are treated as equals, where gays can live openly and politicians are elected democratically.  Israel had a great woman as Prime Minister before many young people with the new distorted liberal stance were even born.  To oppose Israel in favor of totalitarian governments and societies just because you believe what is written and said by devious manipulators doesn’t make you a Liberal, it makes you a fool.  If you really want to forward a liberal agenda than do so with some semblance of intelligence.  Not all will have the brilliance of an Alan Dershowitz, but that doesn’t excuse the stupidity of so many today who claim to be liberal.  We all have a lot more to gain if the argument is between the Conservative and the Liberal as opposed to what some want to turn it into, a debate between the educated and the ignorant, all to suit their ultimate goal of dividing what would otherwise be primarily decent people.

It is my hope that those Conservative Republicans who are vehemently opposed to anything Liberal and Democrat will be put into a position to battle them based on issues that really are issues of how much tolerance is acceptable.  I believe both sides should be fighting against this for the following reasons.  Conservatives who love Israel more than partisan politics should want the discussion to change because it will unite people in support, and Liberals should realize if the discussion does not change, not only are they losing a lot of support, they are basically aligning themselves with evil forces that ultimately want their destruction.  So you see, it benefits everyone to change the discussion.  We just need to help everyone see how important it really is.

 

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The Bad Logic of a deal with Iran has little to do with the Specifics

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One of the arguments I’ve heard for making a deal with Iran is that there is no other viable option.  Those making that argument believe that bombing Iran sets them back a year at best and that enforcing sanctions tightens the noose around what would then become an even more aggressive regime subsequently hurting the Iranian population and driving them further away from reform.  They believe in a perfect world the agreement would delay Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions long enough to see a more tolerant government and an Iranian people unwilling to go to war.  Needless to say, we are not living in anything close to a perfect world, and the logic behind this agreement represents so much of what is wrong with the current U.S. Administration’s foreign policy.

First of all, an American government should never negotiate with terrorists.  Technically speaking some may want to make an argument that dealing with the government of Iran is not dealing with terrorists, but when you look around the Middle East and see all the terrorist organizations and regimes funded and supported by Iran, calling them anything other than terrorists is at best misguided.  Their ambitions have been very clear, and allowing them to move forward with nuclear energy only strengthens their ability to see these ambitions through to the end.

As a Jew and a Zionist, it has always been my personal view that no discussions should ever take place with any regime that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.  Iran goes many steps further when they not only call for Israel’s annihilation, they say that Israel’s destruction is something they deem as non-negotiable. This leads me to ask this question.  How can the president say he is “absolutely committed to making sure they (Israel) maintain their qualitative military edge”, while simultaneously strengthening a regime committed to her destruction? Make no mistake.  This strengthens Iran in all the wrong ways.  Besides the most obvious and potentially devastating way in which it allows them to maintain a nuclear program, the relieving of sanctions provides a regime of murderers to increase their funding of worldwide terrorism.  To make matters worse, and the significance of this may be lost on people, the perception of the Iranian people is that their leaders are heroes for making this deal.  Any hope of seeing this regime go away internally any time soon has subsequently been destroyed.  This is actually the most negative immediate result of the deal.  The other more devastating results would take longer to play out.

So for those who might say to me, it is easy to be against the deal and provide no alternative solution, here is what I propose. Political and economic pressure from as many directions as possible.  The immediate outcome of this deal almost proves why continuing sanctions is the best immediate choice.  Sanctions would put a stranglehold on the Iranian regime creating discontent among the Iranian population, making it more and more difficult for Tehran to continue exporting terrorism.  Although I believe war is inevitable, I also respect and appreciate every effort to avoid or at least delay that inevitably. That is as long as it keeps America and Israel safe, something I believe this deal does not do.  All it really does is lay the groundwork for allowing one of the most devious and evil governments in the world a place on the world stage.  A place they are less than likely to use for any good.

 

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Are we being Divided and Conquered?

 

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So you like to fight do you?  You want to go after the enemy? It’s very possible that many will not even pay attention to this post once they find out what it is really about. After all, a call for peaceful interaction between people isn’t any fun.  What’s interesting about that?  It’s a lot more fun to attack someone for their views.  Everywhere I look I see Jews attacking each other over their politics.  It is my view that the biggest problem facing the Jewish people today is lack of unity, and at this point, and I am sure this will raise some eyebrows, I don’t even care whose fault it is.  The bottom line is that it MUST stop.  If it doesn’t we will continue to play into the hands of the true enemy, the one that actually openly calls for our death, and in the process we will become more and more divided until we are ultimately conquered.

Although I don’t know the number, nor do I care, let’s say for argument’s sake that 4 million of the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler were Liberal?  Would an angry Conservative say they only mourn 2 million because the rest brought it on themselves? Would an angry Liberal say that the 2 million caused the hatred of the Jews with their right-wing approach? Would we ever mourn someone more or less for their level of religious observance? Fortunately I’ve never heard anyone from either side say anything so heinous, but the way people talk today you would almost be led to believe that the value of each person’s life is directly connected to their political view. Maybe I’ve never hears it because in retrospect, when speaking against a specific enemy defeated 70 years ago it is relatively safe and there’s no reason not to attack those who deserve to be attacked.  But today, given a choice between going after the real enemy, a very dangerous one, or going after each other, sadly it seems people have chosen to go after each other.

It is the epitome of arrogance to believe that just because someone disagrees with you on how to keep Israel safe, that the same person cares less for Israel than you do.  Sitting with my family over Passover, I heard one person who believes in no compromise whatsoever and that the Palestinians should be part of Jordan, one that believes a two-state solution is critical but hates the deal with Iran and no longer cares for Obama, and one who was hopeful over the deal with Iran and believes the details were promising.  Every single one of these 3 people are strong supporters of Israel and proud Jews.  Yet if any of those 3 would post their views on social media, someone out there would call them an idiot, or even worse a traitor.  Ironically, the person who would attack them, very often does nothing other than come online and talk garbage, while these 3 individuals have done a lot more than just talk about supporting Israel.

Yet here we are thinking we are helping by berating each other. I do not claim to be perfect.  I am by no means a moderate. But I don’t believe someone who disagrees with me is an idiot or a traitor.  We need to start from one basic premise and understand that it is that premise that should bring us together no matter what.  The premise is the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people.  If we are to debate the strategy to achieve this goal, and we will, we must do so with a mutual respect and appreciation for those that want this goal achieved as we do.

Are we to sit in judgement over people whose viewpoints we find to be misguided or even harmful?  Can we not debate the argument without attacking the individual?  There are some who will see this post and immediately comment on how Liberals are tolerant for everyone but Conservatives, and Liberals that will call Conservatives vicious people with irrational views, and use that statement as a distorted way of supporting this piece.  Here is my absolute statement in response to anyone who does that.

If it is more important to you to show yourself to be better than your fellow Jew and fellow-man than it is to protect your fellow Jew and fellow-man, your very actions are an indication of your failure. If you are more concerned with showing a few dozen people how tough you are online than you are with doing something constructive, it is not Israel or the Jewish people you care about, it is only yourself and your ego.  I have an ego. Everyone reading this knows that I have an ego. I continuously write my feelings on issues and actually believe that what I am saying is important enough for others to read.  That is unquestionably ego and I am very willing to admit it.  But I can also say with confidence and a lot of evidence that I primarily go after people whose viewpoints are clearly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.  I don’t come on here to berate my fellow Jew and Zionist.  That’s easy to do.  All they are most likely to do is berate me back.  I much rather go after those who make no bones about being against me and my people.

It is time for all of us to do some serious self-examination.  Are we here to show how smart we are or are we here to make a difference for this generation and future generations.  If we are only here for the sport of arguing than have fun and while you are doing so, please stay out of my way.  I have better things to do with my time than argue just for the sake of arguing.  I rather do my little part in making things better.

 

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A Deal with the Devil

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Sometimes it is hard to say anything that hasn’t been said already.  When it comes to a nuclear deal with Iran, this may be one of those times. With that in mind I will try, while also making this short and not so sweet.

1-A deal with Iran is a deal with the devil.  Somehow this country has gone from not negotiating with terrorists to a day when we would be led to believe we should feel safer. We’re not.

2-Some believe this is the only viable alternative.  I still go back to the concept of negotiation with terrorists.  How is that viable?

3-Is this the beginning of a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East?  For all the talk of Israel’s evil imperial ambitions, other than Iran that makes no bones about wanting Israel wiped off the map, the unofficial knowledge of Israel’s nuclear capabilities didn’t cause one. It wasn’t till now that other countries in the region expressed any urgency for nuclear weapons.  That would tell people a lot, assuming it was something they would want to know.

4-If we lived in a world with any degree of common sense, rather than negotiating a deal with Iran we would be tightening sanctions.  I won’t sit here today and call for military action, although I do believe it will come to that, instead I would call for an attempt at strangling Iran economically.

Unfortunately today’s events take us in a different, one that opens the door wide open for global calamity.  Let’s hope it never comes to that.

 

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