Author Archives: davidgroen1

Follow Up Open Letter to George Clooney: Post Marriage

PAY-George-Clooney-and-Amal-AlamuddinDear George,

I admit I am a hopeless romantic.  I love it when two people get together, have the fairy tale love affair and get married in a beautiful wedding.  It brings joy to my heart.  But I’m not feeling it this time my friend.  What is usually the beautiful scent of romance in this case is replaced with the putrid stench of a disingenuous, political, self-serving union.

There are many who feel you and your Jew-hating bride are of little consequence.  Of course I would love that to be true, but the problem is that I think you may turn out to be a dangerous man.  For starters, the fact that you are “just an actor” doesn’t make me feel much better.  It is often mentioned that you have political aspirations and Americans have already shown they’d be willing to elect an actor to the highest office.  If you were as good of a man as the last actor to reach great heights in American politics I’d have no problem with that, unfortunately, not only are you not as good of a man as Ronald Reagan was, you’re not even as good of an actor.

As opposed to when I wrote my first letter to you, this time I’m convinced you share your wife’s views on Israel and the Middle East.  What I also now know is that you are a political coward.  You sit there and say nothing while your new anti-Semitic relatives do all the talking.  Your new father-in-law has declared your marriage is “very good news for the Middle East”.  I wouldn’t get too excited George,  I’m sure he always thinks it’s good news when two people who hate Israel get together.

I am sure I will be reprimanded by some for accusing you of something you never said, but let’s be real here.  By keeping quiet as often as you do, while your rabidly anti-Semitic wife and father-in-law speak,  you’re already making your statement loud and clear.  Of course coming right out and saying it might derail your political career, since after all, everyone knows the Jews control everything, right George? Just ask your new family.  They’ll tell you.

Unlike so many others out there I have no intention of congratulating you. Like I said, I’m a romantic.  I usually love this sort of thing.  But what usually is a fairy tale has the potential to be more of a scary tale, because like most dishonest people who wind up in politics, you are clearly going to try to hide your true feelings from the general public as long as possible.   Let me just tell you though, it’s going to be a lot harder to pretend you’re cool now that you’ve married into a family that hates Jews.  And if you do run for president one day you may have just lost New York, even if you did just win Michigan.

I would leave you with a Mazal Tov just to make you and your bride’s skin crawl both, but I just wouldn’t mean it.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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It’s Not God’s Fault

Blaming-GodAs hard to believe as it might be, this is my second attempt at writing this article.  Since I started this blog approximately 2 1/2 years ago,  I have made 457 posts. It was not till today, after I wrote an article titled “It’s Not God’s Fault”, did I actually have an instance where an article vanished in between my writing it and posting it.  As much as I would like to say that this incident is actually God’s fault, and how chillingly coincidental it is that this of all posts is the one that vanished, chances are I just hit a wrong button.  But who knows? It certainly is food for fault.

When I originally wrote this piece, the point I started with was that potentially the two most dangerous people are the ones that believe in God too little and the ones that believe in God too much.   I know many people who either do not believe in God or have serious doubts that God exists.  They are some of the best people I know.  They are kind, considerate, function well in society and have good families.  It’s irrelevant that I feel their inherent values come from guidelines given to us by God.  What’s relevant is that they believe or highly doubt there is an all-powerful or almighty force controlling events or monitoring behavior.  However, for anyone who has blatant criminal or harmful tendencies, if they do not believe in God, they are not at all inhibited by fear of God’s wrath.  Often the only thing standing in the way of their committing criminal or heinous acts is avoiding human detection. On a larger scale, the most dictatorial of Communist regimes, controlled by people who did not believe in God, pushed the idea that all the control rested in the hands of the citizens, and that there was no higher mystical power in control, even if the citizens actually had very little control themselves.

Then there are those whose religion makes them fanatical. Many people use religion as a moral guide and subsequently are very good people.  However, there are some so-called religious leaders that use religion as a means to motivate the masses behind them to commit acts of violence and evil.  I am of the belief that these leaders are people motivated far more by personal gain and power than they are by anything genuinely religious or Godly.  What they do is gather support under the guise of something holy, claiming it will make people’s lives better.  They preach a fanaticism that tells people that any action they take is permissible if it is in the name of God and that God wants them to do whatever it takes to spread his word.  They convince them that these actions regardless of how heinous they may be, are God’s will and will make their life or death something better than it otherwise would be.  Using this premise the most unimaginable atrocities can and sometimes do take place.  We’ve seen it on a relatively small-scale till now.  As the numbers grow, so too will the frequency.

Extremism on any level is dangerous.  I believe this entire discussion in itself is proof that it really has nothing to do with God.  Decent people who believe in God use that belief as a means of improving their lives and the lives of those around them.  Decent people who do not believe in God live their lives in pursuit of the same things that will improve their lives and the lives of others. They just don’t believe an all-powerful entity is involved in the process.

As one who believes in God it is impossible for me to comprehend how one can manipulate that belief to do evil.  What causes people to do bad, be it environment, genetics or unfortunate circumstances is something I’m not smart enough to determine, certainly not on a mass scale, although it often has to do with something as basic as economics.  One thing I know for sure. It’s not God’s fault.

 

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Open Letter to Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen (10)Dear Viggo,

I recently had the displeasure of reading the comments you made regarding Israel and FOX News.  I probably would have left this alone if you had done nothing other than accuse FOX News of lying, but since you followed up with distorted and dishonest comments about Israel it had an almost natural and immediate relevance.

As I normally do before writing a letter, I looked up your history. You’ve spent a lot of time in Venezuela, Argentina, and most recently Turkey.  All places so well-known for their history of free government.   Since you are someone paid to act as opposed to think, let me clue you in.  That last comment about the freedom in those countries was sarcasm.  Incidentally I’ve seen some of your films, and you get paid far too much for your acting.  But in fairness, I probably have as much knowledge of what’s fair payment for an actor’s performances as you have for, let’s say, international politics.

Your pearls of wisdom (more sarcasm) came in the form of the following comments.

When asked how you feel about FOX News you replied:

They lie—that would be the word for it.

I normally don’t defend FOX News, merely because they are a news agency and to disagree or attack a news agency is something that often doesn’t do heinous damage to them.  In fact sometimes it makes people watch them more.  But let’s face it.  If you are an intelligent and compassionate thinker as opposed to an ignorant blowhard, you don’t come out with a blanket statement like “they lie”, when referring to FOX News.  It shows personal bias and a disingenuous agenda particularly when followed up with blatantly biased and untrue statements about Israel.

When questioned about Israel you said the following:

Sadly, very little has changed in terms of the free rein that the government of Israel is given by the U.S. and other influential governments in terms of their handling of the Palestinian question. Sadly, too, the violent acts from a small minority of Palestinian terrorists also continue unabated. No one in the media seems to have a problem with anyone criticizing Palestinian terrorism, but if anyone dares express any objection to the Israeli government’s acts of state terrorism against Palestinian civilians, one is rapidly vilified and censored. Truly even-handed reporting and diplomacy are the only way to peaceful coexistence, in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near seeing either of these happening in the mainstream U.S. or European media as regards the state of Israel and its behavior.

Wow!  Where do I start?  I must compliment you.  You are very economical. You’ve managed to put so much nonsense in such a short statement.  Hugo Chavez, your deceased Venezuelan buddy, would most likely have been very proud.  Abraham Lincoln once said,  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Israel is given free rein? Seriously?  No country on the planet is more unfairly scrutinized, criticized and vilified than the State of Israel.  The United Nations might as well change its name to the United Nations against Israel. I wonder what you would want done to them to take away what you call this “free rein”.

This next comment is actually my favorite.

No one in the media seems to have a problem with anyone criticizing Palestinian terrorism…

I’m sorry, should they?  The “liars” at FOX News certainly don’t.  You go on to compare Israel’s actions to these Palestinian terrorists you so passionately defend.  You call Israel’s actions acts of state terrorism against Palestinians. Did you lose your moral compass while shooting a film in Turkey by any chance?  After all, the politicians and journalists in Turkey seem to be a lot more careful about criticizing Palestinian terrorists.  The government actually supports them.  That should be right up your ally.  After all, Israel’s the real problem, right?

And then the coup de grace: Truly even-handed reporting and diplomacy are the only way to peaceful coexistence, something you say is not happening in the U.S. or European media as regards the state of Israel and its behavior.

Oh yes, because we all know that Israel is the media’s darling.  That’s why hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in a Syrian civil war get almost no attention compared to the 2,000 dead in Gaza.  Because the media isn’t concerned about Israel’s “behavior”.

Mr. Mortensen, I understand you are from Danish descent. I want you to see a quote from the diary of the late Christian X, King of Denmark from 1912-1947.

When you look at the inhumane treatment of Jews, not only in Germany but occupied countries as well, you start worrying that such a demand might also be put on us, but we must clearly refuse such this due to their protection under the Danish constitution. I stated that I could not meet such a demand towards Danish citizens. If such a demand is made, we would best meet it by all wearing the Star of David.

Your words, words of prejudice against the Jewish people, dishonor the people you descend from.  I am sure that like so many others you will say your views are anti-Israel as opposed to anti-Semitic, but in all honesty, when downplaying the acts of terrorists as well as the consequence of their actions, you show no value for Jewish life.   Maybe you should take an example from a great Danish king who once realized the value of Jewish life was directly connected to the value of the life of his subjects.  He likely would have realized that what Hamas wants to do to the Jewish people is eerily similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews.  I’m confident King Christian X would also have had no problem criticizing Palestinian terrorism and would never have seen self-defense against it as acts of state terrorism.

I’ll be honest, since I know honesty is so important to you.  I never liked you as an actor.   Until now at least, my opinion of you as an actor really didn’t matter, kind of like your opinion about Israel.  It does however mean you are one more actor whose movies I won’t pay to see, and I suspect I won’t be alone in feeling this way.

Good riddance “Mr. Honesty”.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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How the Boys changed Everything

img65649Recently I found myself more frequently engaged in discussion about the event that not so long ago changed everything. That turning point in one’s life that impacts how one thinks and even acts, very possibly for the rest of their lives. Although, as in this case, it is so often a tragedy, it can also be such a positive paradigm shift that it not only remakes the tragedy, but occasionally makes you feel a debt of gratitude to the victims.

The tragedy I am referring to is the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Naftali Frenkel,  Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar. So much has been written about the impact their loss had on the events that took place in the weeks that followed.  The evidence that Hamas was responsible for their murder, together with the ongoing barrage of rockets being fired into Israel, was the motivating force for Israel’s operation into Gaza this past summer.  As we know, the operation uncovered the terror tunnels built by Hamas to carry out potentially devastating terrorist attacks.  It’s widely been recognized, even by Naftali Frenkel’s mother, that the death of the boys, as tragic as it was, saved many lives.  That was the immediate impact.  What we don’t know yet is the impact their deaths will have moving forward based on the residual effect of the events that have taken place. We will learn that as time goes on. What I do know right now however, is the profound effect the tragedy had on me personally and many like me.

There is a major difference between turning to hate and no longer being tolerant of evil.  Granted it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two, but doing so is important.  Baseless hatred and anger can be and often is more destructive than beneficial.  However, being aware of what is happening around you, recognizing the truth no matter how harsh it may be, and knowing who your enemies are is something positive that can save lives today and in the future.  Tolerance for one’s enemy is not a good quality.  It’s dangerous, even life threatening.  Being a moderate in this day and age is a luxury we can no longer afford.  It is something I once was and now no longer am.  That ended when the boys were found dead.  When they were declared kidnapped I became involved like so many others did, getting behind the rallying cry of “Bring back our boys”. When they were found murdered, I had finally had enough.  My limit of tolerance had been exceeded and I was changed for what I believe is most likely forever.

The Jewish High Holidays make many of us extremely reflective, and when I reflected on the change that had taken place in me as a result of these boys deaths, as sad as the event made me, I came to the conclusion that it made me a better person.  It made me care a lot more about the well-being of others as opposed to primarily caring about myself.  It made everything my parents taught me growing up blend together in a way it never had till now.  It made me feel that I no longer am happy not being part of the problem.  Now I want to be part of the solution.  I want to be one more voice for Israel and the Jewish people.  I want to be one more voice for humanity, for what is right.  When I reflected on this over Rosh Hashana, I wanted to thank these 3 young men for having such a profound impact on my life. Unfortunately, as we all know, I’ll never be able to express my gratitude to them directly.  But what I can do is tell their mothers and fathers that in more ways than they can imagine, their boys changed the world.  They changed my world.  They made me and so many others care more about the things that are really important. Their lives were far too short, but their lives had such deep meaning, and because of that they will never be forgotten.  Because their deaths caused others like myself to become better people, it may translate into saving more lives down the road, and I can’t imagine a better way to honor their memory and to bless their souls.

 

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Open Letter to God

Sunrise_in_Eilat_Israel_by_DelusionistDear God,

I know your plate is full, particularly on the eve of the Day of Judgment, but I have a few things I would like to ask you for in a more personal way than I will over the next few days as I read and sing out of books compiled by men many many years ago.

First thing I ask of you is to keep the good people of this earth safe.  I understand you have a plan, and my faith is strong enough to trust it, but people are hurting.  People are scared.  Many have a feeling that eventually it will be their turn to suffer.  I do not know what your plan is, but I wish it did not involve so much pain and suffering for so many.  It makes some people question or dispute your very existence.  Despite this however, there are so many people who remain devoted to you, and I often feel as though they deserve better.  But of course that is for you decide.

I naturally  have my own personal requests, but compared to the bigger picture, they are relatively insignificant.  Maybe you’re testing us, waiting to see who will make sacrifices and who will not.  It might all make more sense if it was not for one thing. Right now it feels like the bad guys are winning.

Personally, I believe in you and trust you.  But you are not making it easy.  Sickness, murder, war, poverty, these are not what people hope for when they turn to you in prayer.  I understand we are all accountable for our actions and I personally accept my accountability for mine, I just wish the world was a better place, and I fear the human race may not be capable of making that happen on its own.

That is why today I turn to you, on the eve of the day when millions of Jews will turn to you to ask you to not only help us, but help everyone turning to you for help.  I ask you to heal the hearts of those who hate us so much, but most of all I ask you for peace.  Not just for us, but for all humanity.  I know I might be asking a lot, but at least I know who to ask.

Thank you for allowing me to make it another year and thank you for all your mercy and kindness,

David Groen


My Hopes and Wishes for the New Year

111As the holiday approaches there are so many questions that remain unanswered in our lives.  Some of these questions are common to us all, while others are personal to each individual.  Everyone is looking for a sense of hope and promise that something better is in store for them in the future. It’s the common ground and beauty that is the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. As God gives us this extraordinary opportunity for redemption for our failings of the past year, we pray for the opportunity for a better year ahead. It gives us something to hold onto, and maybe even more importantly, something to look forward to.

We live in a difficult and scary time.  As we sit here today, no one knows what lies ahead in what is a very complicated and murky future.  We somehow need to find balance and peace.  Balance that translates into how we treat our fellow-man, and peace within ourselves and the world we live in. Tolerance is important.  It can truly makes the world a better place.  But tolerance for evil is misplaced tolerance and can and will put our future in serious jeopardy.   We need to know who our friends are, who our enemies are, but maybe more importantly, who is neither our friend nor our enemy.  If we know that, maybe we will focus our energies in the right direction.

What I wish for everyone above all else is to be safe, be healthy, and to try to become a better person.  If all of us do that, the world does get better, because some just might get there by trying.

May you be blessed with the sweetest of years.

Shana Tova, Happy New Year to you all.

 

 

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Open Letter to Peter Gelb-General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera

peter_gelbDear Mr Gelb,

You and I have something in common.  We are both the sons of Jewish immigrants from Europe.  I do not know you so I don’t know what meaning being Jewish has to you, but if you are anything like me it plays a major role in defining who you are as a person and as an American.  Although  the victimization of the Jewish people is hardly something I ignore, particularly as the son of Holocaust survivors, I am far more emotionally invested in the endurance of our people than I am in the tragedies of our past. Simply put, because of our strength and continuing contributions to society, I am very proud to be Jewish.  My question is, are you?

Yes Mr. Gelb, I am challenging you.  I am certain there are those who feel I have no right to do so, but under the current circumstances I believe every person of decency has that same right.  I am referring to your insistence on allowing the opera “Death to Klinghoffer” to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera.  My argument however, is different from many of the other arguments presented to you on this matter.  I have not seen this opera.  Although it appears by all accounts to be a distasteful and anti-Semitic opera, I wish to appeal to you from a different perspective.

We live in a society where Subway stores are taking ham out off their menu in an effort not to offend their Muslim clientele.  A football team, the Washington Redskins, is seriously considering changing its name to show sensitivity towards those within the Native American population that find it offensive.  Our society is notorious, or takes pride, depending on your perspective, for its political correctness.  Why would it not apply here?  I understand you do not find this to be an anti-Semitic opera, but what I am proposing to you is that your opinion is not the issue here.  What is the issue is that a large percentage of Jews feel otherwise. As a Jew, how can that not matter to you?  How is that in itself not enough reason for you to cancel this opera?  With all the concern our society shows for the feelings of others, how do you justify not caring enough about the feelings of your fellow Jews to do what is right for them?  And although I am sure you would insist that it would not matter if another ethnic or religious group was offended by an opera if you deemed it acceptable, as a Jewish man who sees my people often at the short end of the ethical stick, I am not entirely convinced.

If that is not enough reason for you, I offer the following thought.  The daughters of the late Leon Klinghoffer are actively opposed to this opera which they feel takes a sympathetic approach towards the terrorists that murdered their father.  Without having seen the opera I can not give an entirely fair assessment, but my inclination is to accept their word on this matter, not yours.  You see, as opposed to you, they gain nothing from having this opera performed at your institution.  All it will do for them is rehash the feelings of devastation and horror they must have felt knowing that their father, a 69-year-old wheelchair bound man, was shot and thrown overboard by a group of terrorists now being glorified in song at your institution.  In the name of compassion the right thing to do would be to cancel the performances.  Unfortunately, it is clear their feelings are only enough for you to allow them to make a statement, not enough for you to take a stand on behalf of your people.

Which leads me to one last thought.  As I said to open this letter, you and I have something in common.  We are both the sons of Jewish immigrants.  Do you know what that means Mr. Gelb? It means that under different, but hardly unimaginable circumstances, the man being shot and thrown overboard that day on the Achille Lauro could just as easily have been your father or mine.  Maybe you should consider that when making the decision as to whether or not to continue with what till now has been a display of very poor judgment on your part.

I urge you to look into your heart and soul and do the right thing regarding this matter.  I believe the long-term effects, either good or bad, may end up having more impact on your future than you are capable of realizing at this time.  You see Mr. Gelb, you are at a crossroads, and your legacy as a Jew, something that may or may not be important to you, will rest on the decision you make in the coming weeks. I implore you to make the correct one.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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