Author Archives: davidgroen1

A Descendant’s Pride

baby

When I first came up with the idea for this post my intention was to title it “My pride as a son”.  To be a little less self-centered I was going to change it to “A son’s pride”, after all I am not my mother’s only son.  But then I had to consider any daughter involved, and I was all ready to change it to “A child’s pride”.  But as the series of events unfolded just a few days ago, and I was blessed with my 9th Great Nephew/Niece, which subsequently means the mother I am referring to was blessed with her 9th Great Grandchild, I realized that limiting it just wouldn’t do it justice.  Henceforth, 2 days after the birth of the newest descendant of my mother Sipora Groen and my late father Nardus Groen, and as my mother gets ready to share her story before a crowd of people, I present you with this small but hopefully meaningful piece.

Knowing my mother as I do, I know that at no point as my mother sat holding her oldest son Marcel in her arms soon after his birth, did she ever dream that one day she would experience a 9th Great Grandchild.    But as one person wrote when reviewing the book “Jew Face” in speaking about my parents,   “Not only did they survive but they reinvented themselves and contributed greatly to post Shoah Jewish life”.

All of us, be it a son, daughter, grandchild, great grandchild or even long lost cousin, take great pride in where we come from and who we have close within our inner circle.  God willing, this beautiful little baby girl born just a few days ago will feel this same sense of pride and connection to the great sacrifices and strength shown by her ancestors, manifest so wonderfully in a 92 year old woman, my mother Sipora Groen, with an amazing desire and determination to let the world know her story.

Sometimes all you need to do to have pride is to look and to listen.

 

 


Telling the Story

poster


Article in Sun Sentinel

9781468573909_COVER.inddThis is the article in South Florida’s Sun Sentinel.  Exciting stuff.  Thank you to my cousin Vince Van Hasselt for all your efforts.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/fl-wwii-survivor-nsu-20140321,0,6250203.story


Breaking News: Malaysia Flight 370 tells us we’re not as smart as we think we are

missing-malaysia-flight-370-plane-may-have-flown-into-indian-ocean-lead12 days have passed with 26 countries searching, billions of dollars being spent, and all sorts of resources being used, such as military and space technology, and still no sign of Malaysia flight 370.  Everyone has a theory, and of course we have all sorts of experts chiming in, but the reality is that we do not know where this plane is or has been since it disappeared.

There’s a trust factor we all try to have when listening to law enforcement officials.  After all, with their extensive experience and immense responsibility, if they are saying something publicly, it must be based in truth and reality, right?  The post 9/11 world has seen security precautions never before seen.  Nevertheless we find out that there were two passengers, Iranians no less, on the plane with stolen passports.  Thankfully, through the infinite wisdom of experts and security personnel, we’ve been assured that those two passengers were definitely not terrorists.  After all, Iranians with stolen passports are the last people you’d consider terror suspect, right?

We know the plane took a sharp left turn before it vanished off the screen.  Well I feel better.  Thank goodness our developed technology can show us that much, right?  Maybe I’m being unfair.  After all they have been able to narrow the search down to an area of a little smaller than the continental United States.  Also of great relief is the fact that so many intelligence officials think it is more logical that the plane is in the ocean than on land.  Sarcasm aside, when someone can’t find something, and says it is definitely not in a particular place, unless it is somewhere they never go, I always ask the same question.   If you have no idea where it is, how can you be so sure where it isn’t?

The whole point I am trying to make is that any uneasy feeling anyone is feeling right now is more than justified because of what we now know that most of us lay people did not know 12 days ago.  First of all we know that we can indeed lose a commercial airliner.  We know that a plane can fly long distances without being detected by flying below the radar.  We think we know there was foul play, which either means that Malaysia’s security is highly suspect, or that their airline had at least one crew member very organized and ready to commit an act of terror or mass suicide.  We know that passports can get stolen, reported and still used to board an international flight.   Most of all we know that with all our experts and costly intelligence and security mechanisms, we are just not as smart as we thought we were.

I would say we also learned that we are not all that safe no matter where we are, but I think most of us probably already knew that.  Even without the experts telling us.


Balanced Intolerance

1713I write this as a follow-up to the post I wrote about how being a Liberal doesn’t mean tolerating anti-Semitism.  In this post, CLICK HERE TO READ, I make the statement that anti-Israel sentiment nowadays is, for the most part, rooted in anti-Semitism.   As I expected would happen, the following question was put to me by a fellow Jew and old friend.

“What about Jews who are not Zionists?”

Here is the answer I gave him:

I anticipated this question might be asked when I wrote the article. If one is opposed to the policies of the Israeli government and as a Jew is genuine, unless they are self hating Jews they are not the problem. As a Jew, should one ever tolerate the murder of another Jew? If their view is that Israeli policy is the murder of Palestinians, my question to them is the one I stated in the article. Is the intolerance balanced? And even if there is evidence and statistics to back up their stance, do they look at the whole picture? Do they recognize the threats Jews have always faced? Do they recognize the fact that Israel had war waged against it just for existing? Did they get at least as angry at this? http://mfa.gov.il/…/Suicide%20bombing%20at%20the…And do they recognize that someone such as Roger Waters making it his life’s mission to go after Israel and ignore countries guilty of much greater human right’s violations is motivated by a hatred of Jews not the love of people?

 

Where I personally hit a disconnect with like-minded people is that I often feel there is more going on than meets the eye.  It sometimes becomes fashionable to call someone anti-Semitic when their overall actions  don’t necessarily confirm the assertion.  I rather go after those who leave no doubt, such as Roger Waters and Alice Walker.  There are many Jews who are not Zionists.  Most of them are ultra-Orthodox.  By no means does that mean that all ultra-Orthodox are anti-Zionist, instead it means that the majority of the time a Jew opposes the State of Israel it is rooted in religious belief rather than political belief.  Either way, they are not the people looking to see the end of the Jewish people, and in my opinion, they are not the enemy.  I wish they were, for that would mean there would be no one out there openly trying to bring about our death and destruction, and our biggest foe would be fellow Jews with an anti-Israeli government approach. It would be a problem, but one we’d all rather be fighting.


Being Liberal doesn’t mean Tolerating anti-Semitism

meeeThose of you who know my political views know that I am someone who has no problem declaring my liberal leanings.  I find myself being tolerant when it comes to issues that the more conservative of you find unacceptable.  Be that as it may I am here to say that as a Jew and a Liberal, the one area where there is no room for tolerance is regarding the matter of anti-Semitism.

For starters I find it odd that any Jew who would argue the importance of fair and equitable treatment towards another would keep silent at bigotry directed at his or her own people.  I pride myself in not having any unjust or bigoted prejudices towards anyone.   However, I worded that last sentence carefully because the reality that exists is that there are some groups that are either predominately hateful or have their own prejudices that exist towards other groups, such as Israel and the Jewish people.

Muslim extremists hold opinions that are somewhere between predominately or entirely anti-Israel and anti-Jewish and  have conducted such an excellent worldwide public relations campaign that this sentiment has spread to people in all walks of life .   Most clearheaded and honest people know that today’s anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feelings are usually one in the same, as I discussed in a previous post in which I addressed former President Jimmy Carter’s blatant anti-Semitism titled  “A Dishonor to the Jewish People”.  To be very honest, I don’t care if one claims there is a difference, because to be anti-Israel is as much an affront to my sensitivities as being anti-Jewish.  This is where the issue of being a Liberal, or at least using liberalism as a crutch comes into play.    

Anti-Israel sentiment has reached a new level of worldwide popularity. There are many people, fools masquerading as Liberals, who look everywhere for their next “cause”.  Some of these causes are real and justified.  Others are not.  The need to grandstand is one that exists with many people.  Unfortunately, some Liberals will jump on the nearest bandwagon and show how much they care about a certain group.  When these same people jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon, my question to them is very simply, “Why were you quiet when entire Jewish families, sometimes husbands, wives, and babies, were being murdered in vicious bomb blasts in a Jerusalem pizzeria?  Why were you quiet then?”  The answer is, because it wasn’t a popular cause.  But as a Jew I am sadly aware that defending the Jewish people has never been a popular cause.

A few years back it was all Darfur.  A justifiable cause.  How many of these people even know what is happening today in Darfur?  How many care? They will of course say that they do, but in reality, caring is more than just saying, “I care”.  It requires at least some action or effort.

I am a Liberal.  I am proud to call myself one.  But I am just as proud to disassociate myself with anyone using the image of Liberalism as a misguided means of attacking the wrong people, particularly the Jewish people.  And as a Jew, this is something for which I personally have no tolerance.


How the Oscars Helped Show the BDS Movement’s Lack of Credibility

Omar_poster_croppedBy now I know I was not alone in cringing when a film from Palestine was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.  My personal discomfort wasn’t out of any objection that a film was made in the Palestinian territory, but rather for my immediate nervousness at the prospect of an acceptance speech.  When I thought about it further however, I was actually quite pleased by the nomination.  Not so much because I feel any personal investment in the growth of the Palestinian film industry, but rather because of the damage it does to the argument made by the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) Movement.

The movement, one that has influenced wealthy corporations and high-profile entertainers to boycott Israel, pushes the agenda that Israel is an apartheid state where Palestinians are persecuted with no hope for any sort of future.  Along comes a movie, “Omar”, a movie that tells a story of a young Palestinian man accused of being an accomplice in the murder of an Israeli soldier.  In the movie the man is beaten by an Israeli interrogator and convinced to collaborate with Israeli intelligence.  Having not seen the movie I can not speak to how good or bad it makes the Israeli authorities look, but I do know that in an apartheid state a film of this sensitive nature would never have been made.  This movie was made in Nazareth, in what is territory ultimately under control of the Israeli government.  It is hard to imagine a film like this would even get off the ground in China or Russia if a filmmaker from one of those countries showed either of those governments in a similar light.  So when the nomination of this film was read out loud for the entire world to hear, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was making the statement for those who needed to hear it that Israel is not only NOT an apartheid state, but a country where people can express themselves freely, be they Arab or Jew.

I don’t expect the anti-Semites who mold the BDS Movement to their agenda to be influenced by this at all, but I am hoping that the message was loud and clear to anyone out there who is objective and maybe not as educated to the reality of the situation.  For this I would like to thank the Academy.


I’m Jewish. I must be cheap.

1379505_10201629847641956_1291770149_nAs a proud Jew and son of Holocaust survivors, I always have my radar on for blatant or subtle anti-Semitism.  As an individual I try not to take myself too seriously, but as people who know me will verify, I am not always successful.  When these two factors meet, I sometimes find myself in a quandary.   How do I react to anti-Semitic remarks without falling into the trap of being too self-important and how do I distinguish between innocent, albeit misguided perception and unabashed bigotry?  Case in point, the “cheapness of Jews”.

If the comments were rare there would be nothing to speak about.  However, somehow the Jewish people have gotten the reputation of being significantly cheaper than other ethnic groups.  Partially because I don’t feel like doing the detailed research, but more importantly because I don’t think it matters at this point, I am not going to address the origins or accuracy of the perception.  What I will say is that for many people, even those who have never witnessed a Jew being cheap on a major scale, the statement, “Don’t be a Jew”, or “I Jewed him down” is what they would just refer to as a figure of speech.  However, it is unquestionably a racial slur.  The show Sponge Bob Square Pants has a character, Sponge Bob’s boss, whose whole character revolves around how cheap he is, and he is portrayed as Irish, not Jewish, because a cheap Irishman is not a stereotype per se.

Be that as it may, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable when hearing these comments and somewhat at my wits end.  To understand why I have no clue on how to address it, other than maybe moving to Israel and only living amongst Jews, here are three examples of what I, a very Americanized and modern Jewish man has had to listen to.

The first case is an African American friend of mine, and I call him a friend because his actions toward me have been helpful and seemingly genuine, when talking about a business deal he is in the process of making, consistently will make the comment, “I tried to charge him a certain amount of money but he kept Jewing me down.”  The irony is that this man is someone who generally lives by a high ethical standard and knowing I am positively Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, always seems to show and appreciation and respect for my background, except when making a comment that would get a news reporter fired due to its racially offensive overtone. 

The second case was when spending time with a friend who was somewhat intoxicated, he referred to a black co-worker who did a favor for him, and then charged him more than he originally agreed to, as a “Black Jew”.  In the course of his semi-drunken rant it was abundantly clear that he threw in the word “Jew” because he was calling the other man cheap and that it was unquestionably an attack on his behavior.  However, whenever discussing anything about my heritage with me, he’s been nothing but respectful.

The third case was a woman I dated.  Being someone who is frugal with her money, and not Jewish, I guess she felt she was bonding with me when she said, “I’m cheap.  I could be Jewish.”  And yet, she was someone who I witnessed showing respect to Jewish people and always seemed to show respect for who I was and where I came from.  Nevertheless, when the statement was made, due to the compounding discomfort I have from all of the people who refer to Jews as cheap, I was at a loss for how to react, and subsequently sat silently without reaction.

Some of you reading this may say that I just need to make better choices on who I spend my time with.  You may be right.  However, I am not only exposed to these statements in private environments, but in more public forums as well.  I am sure that many of you reading this have experienced the same thing that I have and find it as hard to handle as I do.  Part of what makes it so difficult to deal with is the fact that the people saying these things are often not anti-Semites, they are just unaware of the discomfort the comments cause myself and others like me.  The problem is that I hear it so often that a degree of fatigue has settled in that has resulted in me often remaining silent, especially when the comments are made by people I know as not being anti-Semites.

 

 


Remembering Harold Ramis

Click to see this great video of the late Harold Ramis discussing the metaphor of Ground Hog Day.

“I’m not comparing Groundhog Day to the Torah.  It’s more entertaining than the Torah.”

~Harold Ramis~


How Taking Jerusalem from the Jewish people compares to the actions of the Nazis

nazhouDespite the fact that I am not blind to the realities that exist, I am always reluctant to compare any individual or group to Hitler and Nazi Germany.  The murder and destruction the Jewish people dealt with during that time was beyond any reasonable comprehension.  Sadly today I come to the realization that there are steps in place to try to duplicate a particular activity by the Nazi party perpetuated against the Jews of Europe.

Yesterday in speaking with two family members who just returned from a trip to Israel, I heard about what a cosmopolitan and beautiful city Jerusalem has become.  When I lived there for 3 ½ years in the early 80’s, the city was already one filled with exciting diversity, beauty, and opportunities for enjoyment at every turn.  I am told that today what I remember was nothing compared to how amazing the city has become.  It still has that wonderful mix of religion and modernity one needs to experience to understand, and has become so developed that it now feels like a worldly metropolis.  It has become a beautiful home for the Jewish people.

In 1930’s Europe there were many beautiful homes for Jewish people.  Homes decorated with the most beautiful furniture, silver and gold jewels, and artwork at its best.  These were homes that Jewish people worked for, built for themselves and for their children’s future, and believed, as any normal person would, that they would own and hold onto for generations to come. 

The Nazis had different plans.  When the Jewish neighborhoods were ransacked and decimated, the end result being that families were at best displaced, but more often than not murdered in entirety, Nazi officers would move into these beautiful homes and live in them as if they were their own.  With the Jewish people being shipped to concentration camps and murdered in the millions, the Nazis who would move into the homes belonging to Jewish families with no remorse or conscience.  In comparison to torture and murder this was certainly not the worst thing done to the Jews of Europe, but emotionally it was destructive and it exemplified the disdain and hatred the Nazis had towards the Jewish people and their feeling that we as Jews were a subhuman race.

Fast forward to today and the State of Israel, whose capital is the beautiful and biblical city of Jerusalem.  A city rich with historical beauty and culture, built into a modern and wonderful city by a Jewish government as a home for the Jewish people.  As a peace process continuously stalls because of the Palestinian leadership’s desire to take Jerusalem from the Jewish people and as Iran’s leadership openly speaks of ridding Jerusalem of Jews, the parallel in approach to Hitler’s Germany is eerily similar.  Move into the home built by Jews and live there as though it was your own.  Of course the difference today is that an army exists that will fight as hard as necessary to prevent this, but the mere fact that such behavior has once again reared its ugly head is a sobering thought for anyone that looks at history from an honest perspective and one that should not be ignored.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54 other followers