As Queen Beatrix of Holland steps down and her son Willem Alexander becomes the new King of Holland, Holland’s Heroes takes a moment to recognize and congratulate a monarchy that has over the years shown courage, decency, and integrity towards all its people.
Monthly Archives: April 2013
The original purpose of Holland’s Heroes was to make people aware of the book “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland”. The website has developed into a place designed to increase Holocaust awareness, address important issues of the day, and show the connection between the past and the present.
If you appreciate my writing, feel a connection to the Jewish people, or both, I urge you to read the book “Jew Face”. Here is why. In this book, the story of the experiences of my parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen in Holland between 1940-1945, I make every effort to convey a larger picture than that of what they experienced. I was always taken by Steven Spielberg’s style in movies about eras in history. In Amistad he tells the story of one trial as a basis to convey his take on slavery in America. In Schlinder’s List he tells the story of Oscar Schindler as a basis to tell the story of the Holocaust. What I attempt to do in the book “Jew Face” is use the story of my parents as a basis to tell the story of the Holocaust, specifically the story of what took place in Holland.
What sets this book aside from many other Holocaust related stories is the positive and inspirational feeling one gets from reading about the strength and courage of a number of people, starting with my parents. This book is without question a love story of two people who came together during the worst of times. I am proud to say that my writing reveals the great love and respect I have for both my parents, my father of blessed memory who passed away on June 13, 2007, and my mother, who at 92 is Thank God, alive well, and someone who still provides love and support to so many, including me.
Are you inspired by courage and decency? This book is for you. Are you a romantic? This book is for you. Are you into history? This book is for you. Are you Jewish? This book is for you. Are you reading this post? This book is for you.
I want people to know this story, and I can say with complete confidence that those who already have read it have been inspired and moved by the experiences of the people in the book. If you like my writing style, thank you. However the greatness of the book is in the people I was so honored to write about and would love to share with all of you.
As everyone tries to make sense of the Boston Marathon bombings, I sit and wonder why people refuse to accept the reality of the situation. I maintain that the refusal is based in fear. Maybe it is fear of the bad guys and the perception of what they will do if you openly hold them responsible for the destruction they are bringing to our planet. Or maybe it is fear of coming across as too radical. After all, everyone cares what their friends think about them. Don’t believe me? Just check Facebook or Twitter. Maybe it’s the fear that the truth is just too hard to swallow. What truth do I speak of? The fact that that there are modern day Nazi-style regimes either in place or springing up all over the world. Except this time they are masquerading as so-called religious, more specifically Muslim nations and organizations.
First I will explain the legitimacy and importance of the comparison to Nazi Germany. The best way to understand the comparison is to look at today’s Germany. Although no nation is perfect, the Germany of today is a civilized, tolerant, peace-loving society. Germany did not import new people into their populous after 1945. However, after the Allies defeated Hitler’s regime, Germany rebuilt, and the basic decency that exists in most human beings became more prevalent than the morally corrupt, evil principals of Nazi Germany. It is hard for some to believe that Germany could ever have become a good country after 1945, but the fact is that it has. The point I am making is that in general, it is not the people who are bad, it is their leaders. And although it was not only justified, but necessary to kill Germans before Hitler’s government fell, many of those killed could in fact be deemed victims as well; as is the case with a large percentage of the world’s Muslim population today.
Hitler rose to power by feeding off the discontent of the people. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, the Treaty of Versailles was instituted as a means to control and punish Germany for their aggression. With no desire to make their lives better, Hitler used the people’s subsequent hunger, bitterness, and desperation as a way to not only gain power, but to control their actions. Anyone Hitler hated, most notably the Jews, was responsible for the plight of the German people, and by making the people believe that not only was their misfortune their fault, but that by eliminating them things would improve, he successfully created a power source that was responsible for mass murder unlike the world had ever seen. The same formula is being used today. Except today’s governments and leaders are going one step further. They are actually creating the misfortune. I am by no means saying that Hitler was a better man. I am merely stating that he did not have to crush the morale of his people. That had already been done prior to his ascent to power, and arguably with justification. These Muslim regimes have drained the life from the very people they claim to care for the most.
Now fast forward to the 1960s and the formation of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). The PLO was a group that portrayed itself as freedom fighters, fighting for the rights of the displaced Palestinians with the sole purpose of creating a homeland for its people and destroying the State of Israel. It’s weapon of choice, terrorism against Jews worldwide. Although tragically successful in murdering people, the PLO accomplished one thing over everything else it claimed to want to accomplish. It made Yasser Arafat a very rich and powerful man. And rich he became, owning Hotels in the Swiss Alps and amassing a fortune while his people suffered under the misconception that it was the fault of guess who? The Jews. I wonder how many people took the time to facetiously thank Yasser Arafat, the founding father of modern terrorism for the bombing in Boston. He not only set the stage, but he was complicit in the creation of the new blueprint.
The attacks on September 11, 2001, or as we now refer to it, 9/11, were attacks organized by Osama bin-Laden, but perpetrated by Saudi Arabian nationals. Saudi Arabia, a nation so wealthy that the royal family recently gifted its people $36 billion in the hope of placating the population enough to avoid uprisings similar to so many other Arab nations since the start of the “Arab Spring”. Like so many other corrupt governments, the Saudi royal family has managed to keep its people down, creating a segment of the population that feels its only future and purpose is to destroy those responsible for their life’s deficiencies. What was once only Israel’s fault is now also the fault of the entire western world, mainly the United States. They convince their people that the reason things are so bad is the dominance of the corrupt, non-Muslim infidels of Israel and the United States. By doing this they believe they strengthen their power base and maintain control of the government and yes, more importantly the money. After all, happy people tend to gravitate towards Democracy, a dangerous concept for these people.
As other nations and organizations use this same model, they teach their children that murdering people is OK, as long as you do it with a purpose. If the Jews and Americans are evil, anything you do to hurt them makes your life worthwhile. The fact is that these children are victims as well. They are victims of a violation of Human Rights unprecedented in history. They are being made into terrorists. If Hamas and Hezbollah truly value the lives of their people, would they teach their young to blow themselves up? If these children were given a chance for a life do you truly believe they would want to be part of this despicable behavior? Of course not. As some would like to believe that the reason the Palestinians and Israelis do not live in peace is the creation of Jewish settlements, the real reason there is no peace is because the beginning of peace marks the end of Hamas, Hezbollah, and ultimately even regimes such as the current Iranian government and the Saudi monarchy. I find it ironic how I once loved Pink Floyd because the music was so intelligent only to find myself now having trouble listening to their music because their front man Roger Waters has shown such ignorance and stupidity in calling for boycotts against Israel. Is he really that stupid? Or is he too afraid of the truth. The truth that in order to maintain their power over their people, these leaders manufacture terrorists, and do so at such remarkable efficiency that they have now begun to do what so many other successful manufacturers do, export their product, as seen last week in Boston. You see now they have found a new method. Target young Muslims anywhere in the world and if they are fortunate enough to be malcontents, teach them how their life can have meaning by killing innocent people.
I know that seeing the United States give financial aid to Egypt’s new government is a hard pill to swallow seeing how the Muslim Brotherhood’s rhetoric is as bad as the other’s, but the truth is that supporting the governments that arise out of the Arab Spring may just be the last peaceful option. If somehow these new governments would provide their people with real purpose and a hope at a decent life, the hope would be, albeit it unlikely, terrorists would no longer have such a significant breeding ground. If however it does not work, the only way to eliminate it will be by powerful force, force that will most likely cause loss of life we have not seen since World War II. The problem is, using the analogy of cancer, when force conquered Nazi Germany and their allies in World War II the cancer was a series of highly recognizable cancers in specific parts of the world body. Today’s cancer has spread so intricately worldwide it will be much harder to eliminate. And don’t look to the United Nations for help. The reason the UN has not only recognized, but supported terror groups and evil regimes over the years is because of one thing, money.
And finally, before anyone reads this and thinks this is an anti-Islam rant, know that the motivation for writing this is the very pleasant interaction I regularly have with an Egyptian street vendor. I look at him and realize the people are not the problem, their leadership is. Sadly, should anyone rise up from within their ranks and attempt to lead the people in a better direction, a direction of peace and at least the potential for prosperity, that person’s life would be in immediate and grave danger. After all, anything that stands in the way of their manufacturing process, the one that manufactures terrorists, would be something they would need to eliminate. If you are frightened or saddened by this harsh reality remember this. Not facing it will ultimately lead to a worse one. One that should be unacceptable to any civilized human being, whether or not that human being is a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or any other believer or non-believer.
To all those who hate America, disrespect America, under appreciate America, and betray America, my statement to you is a very strong one. We are not only the greatest country in the world but very possibly the greatest country the world has ever known. I am a very proud Jew. I love Israel. I am very proud of my Dutch background. I love Holland. I spent formative years in England and many of my closest friends are British. I love London. But America is the pillar on which civilization stands and the strongest line of defense against evil and brutality today. My America is a nation that stands together and fights the forces that want to destroy civilization. Ultimately there is no Blue State or Red State, Conservative or Liberal, Democrat or Republican. There is only the United States of America. The greatest country on earth. I say this with a loud and proud voice and with no apologies or inhibition. This is my America.
For those of us who take great joy in recognizing and celebrating Israeli Independence Day, the celebration was understandably interrupted and marred by the terrorist attack that occurred today in Boston. Today is the birthday of the modern Jewish State of Israel, and like any other type of birthday, there are different ways to honor and celebrate becoming one year older. One way to do this is to gain benefit from the lessons learned and subsequently taught from years of experience.
As a Jewish American, today was an emotional roller coaster unlike any I’ve experienced in quite some time. With all of us proud Zionists focusing our attention on the birthday of the Modern State of Israel, the terror attack in Boston held a tragically ironic significance.
I have been to Boston a number of times. It is a city I like very much. In fact, I was having dinner with friends a few days ago and part of what we spoke about was what a fun city it is and how great of a place it is to visit. I never wanted to associate Boston with the terror that took place today, but sadly because of the world we live in, from today on it will be part of what I think of when I do think of Boston. I never wanted to associate Israel with acts of terror either. I would have loved to grow up only celebrating the joy of a modern Jewish state and the knowledge that there is an entire government whose priority is my safety and freedom as a Jew. Unfortunately and sadly I have had to have the same association regarding Israel and terror attacks my entire life. But Israel has not only survived, it has endured, providing the bulk of its citizens with a homeland they love and enjoy. So today on Israel’s birthday, maybe the best way to celebrate its existence and growth is to have it guide and support an injured city in its time of need.
I have seen a number of people make note today that this is what Israel has gone through on a regular basis for a very long time. Each person who made a comment along these lines did so with respect and sensitivity for what people went through today in Boston. This is because the very core of Israel’s existence is a respect and appreciation for the value of human life and therefore true supporters of the Jewish state share that same value system, as do all decent people worldwide. With that said, the lessons of the State of Israel can be of great benefit, particularly today to the people of Boston, at a time when they need it the most.
Israel has suffered through some of the most horrific acts of terror imaginable. I remember one attack which took place in a Pizza place in Jerusalem that literally wiped out an entire family. If memory serves me, a husband, wife and their 5 children, the youngest being 8 months old were all killed by a terrorist’s bomb. There are so many stories similar to this one happening in different parts of Israel over the years, this is the one however that for me is symbolic of what Israel has had to endure on a regular basis for far too many years.
So how has Israel not only stayed strong but built a vibrant and growing nation? We all know of the military might it developed and maintained since its birth, deterring its enemies from wiping it off the map, but what is Israel’s greatest strength? Without question it is its undying spirit. Terrorists have been successful in their desire to murder Israelis, but they have never even come close in their desire to murder the State of Israel. This is because when you value human life so much that nothing is ever put before it, no cowardly despicable terrorist can ever take away your desire to live. When terrorists are unable to win that battle, despite the horror they cause, they have not won and will never win the war. Israel never has and never will let that enemy win. The collective body is damaged, but the soul is never crushed. As a Jew I can say that I feel that I have done so little for Israel, yet it has done so much for me. And today in celebration of Israel’s birthday, it does something for the town of Boston. It shows an injured city how to defeat the animals that violated its sanctity, by standing strong in spirit, in hope and in decency. There would be no greater way to honor today’s victims, comfort Boston, and to celebrate Israel becoming one year older.
On September 11, 2001 as a New York resident, I had tremendous gratitude for the support around the world and throughout the entire country. On that day everyone was a New Yorker. The support helped a city recover.
Today we are all Bostonians.
My posts are often somewhat lengthy essays, but today in honoring the memory of the fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks I have only 2 words I wish to say to those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live as a Jew in freedom.