Our connection to the departed and a Yom Kippur Message

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This past week, having just celebrated the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in the same city where my parents are buried, I found myself inclined to do something I generally don’t feel an inclination towards doing. That would be to make a visit to their gravesites.  Now don’t misunderstand where I am coming from.  I have the highest level of respect for both of my parents and their memory.  In fact, my actions in honoring them and remembering them in the synagogue and in thought and discussion are not anything to be ashamed of.  I truly do my best to reach the highest level of honor and respect for both my mother and father.  It is merely the fact that although I believe in showing the utmost respect to cemeteries and individual gravesites, I personally do not put a lot of spiritual meaning into the physical location of the remains of our loved ones.  A feeling I know I share with others.  And yet, the day after Rosh Hashanah, without encouragement or even suggestion, I found myself wanting, almost needing to visit the graves of my mother and father.

I did not come away somber or haunted by my visit, in fact I’d be more likely to describe it as comforted and fulfilled, but I was intrigued to the point of inquisitive.  So I looked up the reasons why it is customary to visit our loved one’s graves between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and found all the answers I would expect.  The fact that it is a time of self-examination, soul searching and a time where we address God’s choice of who lives and who dies all would make sense in being a factor as to why it is an appropriate action during this time.  For me personally it didn’t explain why the urge came to me to do something I previously never felt the urge to do.

Whether you call it metaphysical, spiritual or hocus pocus nonsense, there are those of us who believe in what could be described as other worldly impacts or events.  I for one believe in the connection between the living and the dead, and as someone who believes in God, I believe in God’s involvement in at the very least, steering the souls of the living and the dead together.  Although I unequivocally respect everyone’s personal belief, regardless of how different it may be to mine, I find it to be particularly clear to me during this time of year that there is significantly more going on than just being born and when the time comes, dying.  If prayer is a conduit to another being or another realm, it stands to reason that a successful plea during the time of prayer would increase that connection and possibly lead to thoughts or feelings we otherwise might not have experienced.  I maintain that my desire to visit the place where my parents were buried is something to be grateful for, since it may very well mean my prayers were at the very least, somewhat acknowledged, and that maybe I was lead in a direction that will strengthen my physical and or spiritual future.  Regardless of whether or not the specifics are clear to me now or ever.  As I stood at the graves of my beloved parents I said the following words to myself.  “OK, I am here and listening. What is it you are trying to tell me?”

I know some reading this will say that what I am speaking of is more psychological than spiritual, but the fact remains that just as I can’t prove my theory, so too someone who thinks things just don’t work that way can’t prove it wrong.  I guess my question to those feeling that way is, why would you need to?

So as Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar approaches, and many who do not spend much time in synagogue will show up for Yizkor, the service honoring our departed loved ones, I leave you with this message for the coming year.  Wherever you need to go to find guidance, support or answers, be it God, your living friends and relatives, or those you remember with love and honor, let no one tell you what works best for you.  Just make sure that if you are asking questions, you keep your ears, heart and soul open to the answers.

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Open Letter to Demi Lovato

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Dear Demi,

In light of recent attacks against you from all sides, I write this to you as a voice of reason and support.  While many jumped at the headlines, I took a few minutes to read what you did, what you were criticized for, and how you subsequently reacted on Twitter.  As a Jewish American and a Zionist,  I find it incumbent on me to write you this letter of support.

Not surprisingly, the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish mob came right after you.  For what? For doing nothing other than visiting the holy land, having a very spiritual experience, and thanking those who welcomed you and took care of you while you were there.  Since nothing less than a land without Jews is acceptable to those who ambushed you, they predictably made every attempt to shame and intimidate you.  Since I am not one to speak to another’s feelings, I do not know if they were successful or not in their efforts.  I do know that it is very possible and very forgivable if your reaction was something along the lines of  ‘I don’t need this shit. I was just taking a vacation’, and since it is not what one might call ‘your fight’, you did what you felt was the decent thing and apologized to anyone you might have offended.

A pet peeve of mine has always been when people go after the wrong people. This is one of the reasons I am taking the time to write to you.  I believe almost nothing exists in a vacuum.  I recognize the fact that you are not far removed from personal issues that put your life at risk and I respect and appreciate the fact that Israel was a place you chose to visit as part of your healing process.  Regardless of whether or not you and I share the same religious beliefs.  I also know that in this situation you are the victim.  These people who came after you do so from the position of one of the most disingenuous and corrupt false narratives ever perpetrated and come after you in an effort to use you as a pawn in their self-serving, Jew hating, power driven agenda.

When these same people, the supporters and activists of the BDS movement came after the Rolling Stones for performing in Israel, guess what they did? They added another concert.  When they came after Paul McCartney he basically told them to shut up and leave him alone.  When they attacked Lady Gaga for having the time of her life in Israel she ignored them.  And if they criticized Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez for their trip to Israel, it was drowned out by their praise of the country.  But in fairness, the celebrities I mentioned are significantly older than you are and are more seasoned in responding to attacks from various people and at least on the surface seem to not be recently overcoming battles to face personal demons that almost cost them their life.  Of course nothing would make me happier than for you to stand up to these people,  but in light of what you’ve recently been through and what you are fighting to overcome, I have no trouble understanding why you do not want to be in the middle of a political firestorm over an issue you never intended to be involved in.

So Demi, I am glad you had a wonderful time in Israel and when the time comes that it enters into your mind to go back and visit once again I hope you won’t let those who master intimidation and fraud stand in the way of what you want to do and I believe know is right.  I wish you good luck in all the battles you face in the future and a wonderful time on all your future trips.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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A Rosh Hashanah Message

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Being very flawed myself, I make every effort to avoid ever sitting in judgment of others for behaviors that can be considered nothing short of human.  Human behavior allows people to make choices not everyone else will agree with as well as permitting people to do that one thing we all do.  Make mistakes.  So since I try my best not to be a hypocrite or cross the line, I am not going to spend any of my time criticizing my fellow Jews that make the choice not to live in accordance with Jewish law.  Having come pretty close to making that choice at certain points of my life, I get it. I also believe these choices to be between man and God only.  The issue I want to address is pride in being Jewish. Or lack thereof.

I am not afraid to call someone out if I feel there is blatant self-hatred, but since this post is directed more to the many in that grey area I realize it is important to be careful about stepping over a line.  If I am to address a subject that goes after people for something as reprehensible as being ashamed of who you are, I need to speak in generalities.  After all, I may have an opinion, even one shared by many, but even so I do not know what is in someone’s heart.  Let’s just say that if what I am to say applies at all to you, or wakes you up to a different perspective, then maybe I’ve done something right.

It should not be a surprise that much of this discussion comes back to the Holocaust. Specifically in regard to the main issues I wish to address.  The first being support for the State of Israel.  Support does not mean blind agreement in all policies and actions of whatever government is in place. There are many people who have done more for Israel than I may ever have the opportunity to do that are much more opposed to the decisions made by the Israeli government than I am.  This is not about stifling opinions.  This is however about being balanced and fair as well as addressing the disingenuous motives of the BDS movement.

Fair and balanced means if you are to criticize Israel for its actions, you don’t fail to mention the years of dealing with a Palestinian Authority showing no indication of being a willing partner in peace.  It means if you are going to go after Benjamin Netanyahu for a hard line approach you also recognize that he is not only dealing with officials that reward terrorists financially for killing innocent Jewish residents of Israel but in many cases officials who once lead or performed acts of terrorism themselves.  And it means that when you criticize Israel for collateral damage that leads to the death of innocents that it happens when targeting enemies not looking for peace but preaching the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  So yes, criticize Israel if you feel it is appropriate, but realize that if you do so in a vacuum that ignores the actions of the other side that you are not only wrong for doing so, you are part of the problem.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, aka BDS, had proven time and time again that it is not about helping Palestinians, it is about ridding the land of Israel of Jewish people.  It is a movement designed to cripple Israel economically regardless of who it hurts, Jews or Palestinians.  If an organization is to claim that its purpose is to advance the cause of a people, what does it tell you when it causes the closing down of factories employing the very people it claims to be helping.  But don’t take my word for it.  Just look at the name of the organization. It is all about hurting the Israeli government with no mention about helping the Palestinian people.  Partially because the people running the organization work hand in hand with the leadership that has for decades pocketed and misappropriated funding desired to help Palestinians and use hatred against Jews as a means of motivating the masses, much like Hitler and the Nazi Party did in Germany.  So if you are Jewish and support the BDS movement you need to know that the goal of the organization is to destroy a country created to keep you safe.  A country born from the ashes of 6 million murdered Jews.  Which leads me to my final and most important point.

You can find Jewish practice antiquated, pointless or even wrong, but make no mistake. You can’t hide from who you are.   You might try, but history shows us that our enemies don’t care how you feel about being Jewish, they care that you are and want you gone.  And with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year approaching I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this question. Why would you want to hide from it? The Jewish people have major global impacts on education, science, medicine and pop culture. And for those of is who believe in it from a religious perspective, it has given us the Torah, a moral compass of how to live a good and productive life, regardless of how precisely or traditionally one chooses to interpret it.

Finally I want to wish all my fellow Jews a happy and healthy year ahead. Whether or not you believe or not, and even whether or not you accept who you are or not, I wish you blessings in the coming year.  I may not like how you think and I will call you out, but that very thing you want no part of is the very thing that teaches me to wish good upon you.  And when all is said and done, only you know what is truly in your heart.

A Happy and Healthy Year to all.

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Open Letter to Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride

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Dear Ms. Mcbride,

Although you recently apologized for using the offensive term “Jew her down”, I find there to be 2 peripheral issues that are very possibly a bigger problem than the usage of the term itself.

The first issue is the wording you used in your apology. Your words were as follows:

“I am apologizing to the community at large. Because in my position you cannot make anyone feel insulted or you cannot be insensitive to any ethnic backgrounds, so I am apologizing to the community at large.”

To be blunt Ms. Mcbride, I find your apology to be insincere, cleverly worded and clearly motivated by your desire to put out the fire, not in true contrition.  I base this opinion on the wording you used.  It may be lost to some but not to me that you do not actually apologize to members of the Jewish community.  On the contrary, the term “community at large” is a very clever way of appeasing your colleagues and constituency while avoiding an actual apology to the people you insulted. The Jewish people. It identifies the fact that not only do you not see anything wrong with the term, it gives the impression that you don’t particularly care for Jews in general.  I don’t read anything in your apology that indicates you understand why the term is offensive.  But why not look at your own words to clarify my point?

“I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down for $22,000 with pins in her knee that can never, ever be repaired.”

So since you and some of your supporters play dumb as to why it’s an offensive comment, let’s play a little game.  Let’s replace the word “Jew” with the word “bargained”.  Does that change the point you are making in your statement?  The point that you in essence felt that a woman got the shaft in a settlement of a lawsuit following an accident.  So “Jewing” someone down is clearly not a term of endearment. It’s a reference to that very old anti-Seimitic trope, the one implying that Jews are cheap and always looking for a bargain, be it fair or not.  But let’s be honest here. You know that and don’t care. You just wanted the controversy to go away. That is why you apologized to “the community at large”.

The second very troubling factor was the defense given to you by fellow council members, George Muschal and Robin Vaughn.  Vaughn’s defense was that “the comments weren’t anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people.”  If I am to give the benefit of the doubt to Vaughn that it is not about hatred, something I am not so apt to do, I do have to wonder why it’s only a problem if it is hatred.  Do we have to tolerate insults even if they are not motivated in hatred?  Would she tolerate that towards the community you come from Ms. Vaughn?

Muschal’s defense was even more troubling. He said: “You know, it’s like a car dealer. They wanted $5,000, you Jew ’em down to $4,000. It’s nothing vicious. The expression has been said millions of times.”  Well Mr. Muschal’s response is so preposterous all I can say to that is that there are many terms and words that have been said “millions of times” that are unacceptable.  Words and terms  I would have enough respect not to use.  Not even in this letter to make my point.

So you see Ms. Msbride, your comments are more important than you may be willing to admit.  You have a responsibility you are shirking.  One not only to the “community at large” but believe it or not to your personal history.

On May 14, 1958, the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said the following in an address to the National Biennial Convention of the American Jewish Congress.

There are Hitlers loose in America today, both in high and low places… As the tensions and bewilderment of economic problems become more severe, history(‘s) scapegoats, the Jews, will be joined by new scapegoats, the Negroes. The Hitlers will seek to divert people’s minds and turn their frustration and anger to the helpless, to the outnumbered. Then whether the Negro and Jew shall live in peace will depend upon how firmly they resist, how effectively they reach the minds of the decent Americans to halt this deadly diversion.

These are the words of greatness.  If you want to meet your responsibility to the “community at large”, use words and phrases such as these rather than words of insensitivity followed up by self-serving words designed to get yourself out of trouble.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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The Danger of the Diluted Memory

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The view from my window on September 11, 2001

At about 1 AM this morning I was in my car and I began to realize how many memories I had filed away from 18 years ago.  There were literally tens of thousands of people whose experience that day was worse than mine, but like so many other New Yorkers who saw parts of it live and spent part of that day in Manhattan, the horrors of that day were very real to me.  Even so it took a mental jolt, one caused by a friend changing a picture on Facebook to bring me back to what I remember from that day, and to remind me of how important it sometimes is to remember the things we want to forget the most.

Everyone who was in New York on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a day that was originally an election day, will remember that the weather was so perfect, that in retrospect it was eerie.  When I saw Dick OIiver of FOX 5 NY first reporting an incident, I recall him saying that it had appeared that a twin engine jet had hit one of the Twin Towers.  Since at the time I was living on the 10th floor of an apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, I was able to see the towers from my window.  Seeing the smoke coming the first tower from the window made this all very real very quickly, but what it did not immediately do was make it clear to me that it was an attack.  There were many, including myself who initially thought it was a terrible accident.  Regardless, there was nothing that my staying at home was going to do for anyone so I made my way to the train which going through Manhattan would eventually get me to Brooklyn where I worked at the time.

Some of the images that stuck with me most on that day were the images of people whose expressions of panic and devastation implied they had people in the towers.  At least back then, whenever a major news or sports story hit, there were enough people talking about it on the subway for someone to get wind of what was happening.  So by the time the train was just a few stops in I knew a second plane had hit.  Within a few stops I saw 2 young women crying uncontrollably, looking as though they had a person or people they loved in peril.   When the train arrived at the 34th street and 6th Avenue station it was evacuated, the first car being the car with open doors while all the remaining cars, of which one was the one I was in moving towards the front.  When I got out into the street there were 3 memories that will remain with me forever.  The first one was the fact that the streets were filled with people, and that almost all of these people had one thing in common.  They were walking uptown.  The general feeling seemed to be more of a focused numbness than anything else.  There were no smiles, not a lot of talking and throngs of people doing the only thing that made sense at that moment.  To get as far away from downtown as quickly as possible.

The second thing I remember was standing in front of a store front and seeing the TV on what I remember was WABC NY, with the image of what would later be known as Ground Zero and the words, “Twin Towers, attacked and destroyed”.  Once again it felt very real.

The third thing I remember is something I rarely speak of, likely due to the incredibly sad futility of it and the fact that I will either never know what it was or worse, the fact that what it was would only be described as one of the saddest things I will ever see in my life.  On a side street there was a white car, with the windows down and the news blasting from its speakers, and outside there was what I am guessing was a Japanese couple most likely in their late 40s or 50s, the man pacing back and forth and together with his female companion sobbing almost to the point of screams.  All I could imagine was that their child was in one of the towers, and somehow they knew that he or she had been killed in the attacks.

I remember the fear I felt by the rumor that there were more planes unaccounted for, and knowing that being around the corner from the Empire State Building made us all vulnerable.  I remember walking to and over the 59th Street Bridge, looking downtown and seeing the trail of smoke, while walking next to people covered in the grey dust that covered anyone who was close enough to feel the effects of the attack.  And I remember the smell.  Everyone who was in Manhattan either on that day or days following remembers the smell.  The smell of burning, the smell of devastation, the smell of death.

The worst thing about everything I have just recounted is what I said way back in the beginning of this piece, and that is that compared to many on that day, I saw and experienced nothing.

So 18 years later, as impactful of a day as that was, it was not till today at about 2 AM that I started to remember these things.  And it dawned on me once again how important it is to keep memories like this alive.  It dawned on me that I am very likely far from alone in allowing the memory of that day to become diluted.  And it brought me back again to the importance of reminding people of the things they sometimes want to forget the most.  If 18 years and 3,000 people later the memory of September 11th is weakened to me, someone who does care, it’s even more clear to me how important it is to keep talking about 75 years ago and 6 million.

May the souls of all of those lost on or as a result of September 11, 2001 always be blessed and may we honor them by never forgetting what happened on that awful day.

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What it means to me to be the child of Holocaust Survivors

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Not too long ago, a millennial of Asian descent asked me what it was like to be raised by Holocaust survivors.  The importance of indicating his background is to highlight the difference of his life from the life he was asking me about.  Although I think human beings are inherently the same when you break through all the superfluous crap, I recognize the impact environment and circumstance has on molding an individual.  So the question made me think about this topic more deeply than I had in quite some time, and in light of the events that have taken place in my life over the past 6 months I decided to share, in the hope that I help address issues of concern not just to people that fall into the same category that I do, but for people looking for answers about who they are and where they are going.

Since I am very aware that we live in a world where people often find sport in attacking the words that others share, let me make a few things very clear before you read on.  The information you are hopefully going to go on to read is not based on historically verified facts or scientific studies.  This is based entirely on my personal feelings and interpretations.  If your reaction is, “why should I care how he feels?”, that is fine with me.  Just like that same person can’t tell me I am right or wrong for how I feel, I can’t tell that same person what to care about.  But hopefully it is understood that at least part of my motivation is to help people that struggle with feelings they do not understand or even worse, understand but can’t deal with.

My initial response to the question was probably the most honest response I had ever given to any question regarding my parents and what it was like to be raised by people who lived through Nazi-occupation.  I called it 2 sides of the same coin.  On one side I recognized that there is an inevitable dysfunction to being raised by people who went through what my parents went through. On the other side of the coin, even before without addressing the special qualities my parents exhibited in their lifetime, being raised by Holocaust survivors almost forces you into seeing things that are more important than what is relatively superficial nonsense.

Coming out of the ashes of the war in 1945, it needs to be understood that not all Holocaust survivors had the same or even similar experience.  There seems to be a universal understanding among all decent people, whether they have a direct connection to Holocaust survivors or not, that degree of suffering is not a contest.  No one ever says to a Holocaust survivor that was not in a concentration camp that they were lucky in comparison to someone who survived the camps.  And while it is clear that had my father not helped my mother find places of refuge and do so much to keep her from being captured by the Nazis that she would have likely suffered horrors unimaginable likely followed by death, who is anyone to measure the devastation of seeing your world be decimated and the feelings associated with running for or fearing for your life for close to 5 years?  And who can understand seeing everything you know and believe in be wiped out as though it was a disease?  As soon as I was old enough to understand with some maturity what my parents went through, my value system was impacted by how I interpreted their life experiences.

I never felt guilt.  I was not made to feel that way.  Mostly because for as long as I can remember it was made very clear to me who the guilty parties were.  Nazi and Nazi collaborators were the mass murderers that murdered my ancestors, and living my life in a good and happy way would be more of a slap in the face to their efforts than it would be a disregard for what the Jewish people suffered through in my parents’ native Holland and the rest of Europe.  I have however always felt a responsibility.  It would probably take extensive therapy for me to understand to what extent I try to do good things and to what extents I follow Judaism based on the responsibility I feel, but I am honest enough to admit that it is certainly part of the equation.  I know that although in today’s very partisan political climate we can debate what is anti-Jewish sentiment or action, I do know that I have zero tolerance for those things I consider to fall into those categories.  This is about how I feel when I recognize that taking place in society or my environment.   I know that nothing feels more important to me than the survival of the Jewish people, but I also know I reconcile ethically by having the same intolerance for attacks on the survival of others, again, when I see it as taking place. This same factor explains why Israel is important to me.  Israel not only represents a safe haven for the Jewish people escaping persecution, but it also highlights the thoughts and ideas of those who have a disdain for the Jewish people.  That is not to say that any opposition to the positions of the Israeli government is anti-Jewish, but it does alert any honest individual to the fact that being anti-Israel is more often than not a code word for anti-Semitism.

So all of these viewpoints and philosophies are at least somewhat a result of being raised by Holocaust survivors.  But it would be hard to refute the idea that some of my flaws are not a result of that as well.  To know that for sure would be to know what degree of the imperfections of my parents were passed on to me are a result of their experience during the war was passed on to me.  I maintain that it may be close to impossible to identify that with any accuracy and I loved and respect my parents and their memory too much to pick apart whatever flaws they may have had, but I will offer up one fear I believe I inherited from my upbringing.  A fear, that to be brutally honest is very likely a contributing factor behind the time I have put into writing this piece and much of the other things I write.  It is the fear of not making a difference.  For my grandparents, my father’s parents who refused baptismal papers because they would only die the way they were born, as Jews, for my ancestors who were killed in the concentration camps, for the 6 million, and for my parents who felt the pain of that time until the day they died, I feel that I have a responsibility to do something that matters.  There is a fine line however between feeling a sense of responsibility and feeling a burden, and although I was not made to feel guilt, whenever that sense of responsibility has felt like a burden, a feeling of guilt sets in, because I know, that my “burden” is nothing compared to those that suffered during that time.  Nevertheless, it is a reality that sits with me and one I need to address from time to time.

I do leave you with two very important points.  First one being that one of the reasons I am writing this piece is to hopefully help any other children of Holocaust survivors with unresolved feelings they may have difficulty dealing with, and the second one is to accentuate the most important factor in this entire discussion.  The Holocaust was a reality.  The enormity of it was so significant that it not only resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews but it still impacts the world and generations in so many ways.  The specifics being a discussion for another time.  Reality, good or bad, does not disappear just because you want it to.  It does not disappear because of perverse and distorted ideologies.  It needs to be confronted, something I will continue to do that for as long as I am able.  Sometimes it is my burden, but I am thankful to God for the fact that usually it is my responsibility.  One I accept without issue.

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Why we need to stop the misuse of the word “Nazi”

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In recent years there has been a growing and concerning trend in regard to a word as familiar globally as any other word.  That word is Nazi. The trend I speak of is in the use of the word in a descriptive, subjective form, as opposed to the literally specific form necessary to keep an understanding of the evil it represents.

A number of people who knew that I intended to write this piece have actually thanked me for doing so.  Any attempt to try to change the thought pattern of an anti-Semite or other form of bigot that uses Holocaust denial as a means of forwarding a perverse agenda is a waste of time.  A more worthwhile venture is to make sure those who have open minds and pure hearts are afforded the opportunity to know the truth.  The truth is that improper use of the word Nazi dilutes the horrors of what took place under the Nazi-occupation in Europe.

This post is neither a political statement nor an apology for those that misuse power.  This is more of a perspective check. Calling someone a Nazi because they do something damaging to other individuals, or even worse calling them one because it is your perception they are doing so, detracts from some critical facts.

Adolf Hitler’s Nazi war machine sought out and killed in staggering numbers.  According to jewishvirtualibrary.org the numbers break down as follows.

Jews: up to 6 million

Soviet civilians: around 7 million (including 1.3 Soviet Jewish civilians, who are included in the 6 million figure for Jews)

Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million (including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers)

Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million (including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish elites)

Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina): 312,000

People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000

Roma: 196,000–220,000

Jehovah‘s Witnesses: around 1,900

Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000

German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: undetermined

Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands (possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above).

As a son of Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivors, the Jewish number hits very close to home, as it does or has done for many others I have known or still know over the course of my lifetime.  The Nazis destroyed entire worlds.  They wiped out an entire Jewish civilization in a large percentage of Europe.  They tortured, they raped, they conducted experiments, made people dig graves before shooting them in cold blood, and put together one of the most efficiently cruel means of mass murder by gassing to death multitudes of people.  Frankly, although these facts are accurate, this does not capture the true horror of what took place.  For that one needs to research the numerous pictures and accounts of the events that took place.

And yet many people today refer to anyone with ideologies opposed to their own as a Nazi.  This is not a left and right issue.  This is also not a justification nor a means of disregarding dangerous viewpoints or ideologies.  What this is instead is a specific statement as to what separated Nazi Germany from much of what people refer to today as Nazi behavior.  I’ve seen people on the right call Barack Obama a Nazi.  I’ve seen people on the left call Donald Trump a Nazi.  You can criticize, even despise the Iran deal or the situation on the border, but neither of these facts put either president even close to being in the same category as Adolf Hitler.  Furthermore, even if one would feel strong critique for Israel’s handling of the Palestinian situation or feel a disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, invoking Nazi atrocities as a comparison to today’s Israel is nothing more than a disingenuous use of a term to promote a dangerous anti-Semitic political agenda.

None of this is to say that we should turn a blind eye to the dangers that exist both in our respective countries or abroad.  But it is important to note, that if one is to learn from history it starts by doing everything necessary to study it accurately.  What the Nazis did  between 1933 and 1945 is perpetrate an evil unlike anything the world had ever seen.  To improperly identify and remember what took place not only dishonors all those murdered, it puts us all in greater danger of seeing it take place once again.

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