Monthly Archives: October 2014

Open Letter to Amos Shocken:Publisher of Haaretz

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Dear Mr. Shocken,

It was my hope that this letter would not be necessary.  As a Jew and as a Zionist, I wanted to hide my head in the sand when I originally saw this cartoon published by your paper. My plan was to ignore it and hope it would go away before it attracted too much attention.  Unfortunately that ended up not being possible.   Although one could say that since I was far removed from this cartoon I should not feel such a tremendous level of embarrassment, I am someone who believes and hopes for the unity of the Jewish people, so when an Israeli publication does something, be it good or bad, I feel at least somewhat connected.

Although I know many people who feel Haaretz is a publication too far to the left in the political arena, and some even feel too sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, I’ve never felt compelled to address anything I’ve seen from the paper until now.  To me, whether I agree with it or not, the ability to have a newspaper that has a more moderate viewpoint is merely an expression of the freedom and democracy that makes the modern State of Israel a shining light in the darkness that is the Middle East.  However, despite the fact that freedom and democracy allows for irresponsible and insensitive behavior, that doesn’t make it good.

I don’t feel I need to rehash the events and consequences of the attacks that took place on 9/11.  I live in New York and as a New Yorker experienced one very bad day.  People who live in Israel may not have experienced days as tragic and intense as 9/11, but cumulatively one could make the case that they have experienced conditions just as bad if not worse.

I could have handled an editorial criticizing Netanyahu.  I would have even said nothing to an article giving the entire blame for the strained relations with the United States on Netanyahu.  What I can not accept and be OK with is this irresponsible, unfair and detrimental depiction of what Netanyahu is guilty of doing.  Although I personally support the Prime Minister 100%, I accept that there are those who are not fond of his actions and methods. Again I say that I can appreciate the right of a democracy to criticize and if enough people wish, replace their leaders.  What I can not appreciate is depicting an Israeli Prime Minister as being of the same makeup as terrorists that hijacked planes and murdered 3,000 innocent souls.  What I can not appreciate is the insensitivity this cartoon shows for the relatives of those who were murdered on 9/11, and what I can not appreciate is irresponsible nature of this cartoon. It adds fuel to a fire already being fueled regularly by supporters of terrorists. Terrorists that would murder the creator of this cartoon as quickly as they would murder me.

Like anything in life, whether you agree or disagree with someone, there is a way of doing things with class.  This was not only done with no class, it was done with a brazen lack of respect for the very people Haaretz claims to care so much about.  The innocent.

I’m not sure I even know what I want to see happen.  It is already out there and unfortunately in some ways it is already too late to take anything back, but I hope that the editorial staff at Haaretz will reexamine what it does in the future and realize that it has a responsibility to do more than make a point.  It has an obligation to show understanding and compassion.

I leave you with one question.  Since I believe this cartoon was put there to bring attention to the publication at all costs, when you assess the consequences of your actions the question I have for you is this.  Was it worth it?  I hope you answer it honestly.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to the Administration Official who called Netanyahu a ChickenSh*t

bibiDear Anonymous,

I purposely address this letter the way that I do because it speaks so well to the cynical irony of your criticism.  The very fact that someone who will remain nameless calls anyone a chickensh*t speaks for itself. The fact that you irresponsibly resort to name calling when expressing displeasure towards the political leader of one of America’s most loyal and important allies is another problem entirely.

Since you, someone without the intestinal fortitude to go publicly on record called out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, let me tell you a little bit about this “chickensh*t”.  This “chickensh*t” is of course a former member of Israeli Defense Forces.  He was a team leader in Israel’s special forces unit.  He fought in the War of Attrition against Egypt.  He was part of a numerous missions including the mission to rescue hostages of a Sabena Airlines hijacking in 1972 during which he was shot in the shoulder.   This “chickensh*t” studied at MIT and Harvard, neither of which necessarily makes you brave, but the point is that we know this about him while all we know about you is that you remain anonymous.

Whoever you are, and for all we know you might be a high-ranking official in the current administration, as long as you remain unnamed you are the actual chickensh*t.  I know this administration is at odds with some of the policies of the current Israeli government and I, like so many other supporters of Israel are not happy with the disagreements taking place.  Be that as it may, there is a professional and unprofessional way of doing things.  I would not be considered a politician by any means, but I know enough to realize that calling an important friend a chickensh*t and being too much of a chickensh*t to reveal yourself is so far beyond unprofessional, especially coming from an administration official, it is downright scary.

So Anonymous, whoever you are, show some guts, tell us who you are  and apologize to the Prime Minister of the only democracy in the Middle East.  If you don’t, it is fairly clear and obvious who actually is the real chickensh*t.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to Shia Labeouf from a Proud Jew

shiaDear Shia,

Thank you.  You helped crystallize an opinion I’ve had for quite some time. In leaving, or I should say believing you’ve left the Jewish faith, you made the statement that you just couldn’t cut it.  It’s important that I make something very clear.  If someone’s faith makes them a better person I respect them for the religion they are following.  However, as a Jew, and  I know I am not alone in this sentiment, someone who says they are leaving the faith I feel is at least to some degree a bit of a traitor.  Proud Jews believe we have something special going here, and when you Shia Labeouf choose to take your manifestation of faith elsewhere, you are, in the eyes of many, saying it’s not good enough of for you.  But I see it differently. I believe you are saying it is too difficult for you.

It is somewhat ironic that I write this letter.  You see, I am not such a great Jew.   Of course when I say this I am referring to my level of observance.  How good or bad I am is something left for God to judge, but there is no debating that my religious practice leaves a lot to be desired.  So when I seemingly go after someone for running from Judaism’s challenges, the irony is that I do that every day.  There’s one difference.  I don’t go elsewhere because I think it is easier.

You might say that I am out of line.  I’m sure I will even hear that from some fellow Jews who read this letter.  After all how can I make the assumption that you left the religion of your birth because it was too tough for you.  I make this assumption because I know that to many of those lost souls wandering around aimlessly,  it is a lot easier to choose a system where they believe that all they need to do is declare their faith. Being a Christian by your perception in what you so spiritually referred to as a not in a  F-ing Bulls*t type of way, doesn’t involve all the restrictions and daily commitment being a Jew in a not F-ing Bulls*t type of way does.  I’ll even go along with your premise and admit that I often behave in ways that makes it seem like I believe in Judaism in a F-ing Bulls*t type of way.  I rather admit my flaws and practice poorly than run to something else where I can appear religious without really doing anything.

I have Christian friends.  I respect them and admire them.  I don’t believe in all the same concepts that they do, but since they respect what I believe in as well our differences don’t matter.  And to be very honest, I have no issue with anyone who chooses Christianity over the faith of their birth unless it was Judaism.  You see Shia, I have a great fondness and pride for what I am.  I know it is tough being Jewish.  There are lots of restrictions, many responsibilities, what sometimes feels like unfair expectations, and with the amount of people who have wanted to kill us over the years and still do to this day, what often feels like a big target on our backs.

There are some who believe that Judaism makes it too hard for people to join the faith.  They believe that conversion should be made easier.  The opinion you helped crystallize by your declaration of conversion is that one of the reasons for anti-Semitism is the way we Jews who are even marginally traditional Jews feel we’re an exclusive group which people have to show real dedication to if they wish to join.  I think it causes many to subconsciously feel, if you can’t join em, beat em.  I myself have struggled with this very question, Does Judaism make it too difficult for converts?  Maybe so.  But I guess it’s because we rather not have someone claim to be Jewish and then be a Jew in a F-ing Bullsh*t kind of way.  It’s usually required that they believe in it in the kind of way that goes beyond just saying in an interview to a magazine that they’ve been saved.

Despite the perceived tone of this letter, I do wish you spiritual peace.  I also want you to know I still consider you Jewish whether you do or not.  You see, I was raised to believe it’s a lifetime membership whether you feel you can handle it or not.  And if I am right you’ll have to answer to God big time.  Then again so will I.  But at least I accepted what he gave me from birth.  You felt you knew better, or found an easier answer.  Good luck with that.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Muslim Stop and Frisk Video:Hoax to “Create Awareness”

hoaxTwo bloggers in New York posted a video  showing a New York City Police Officer stopping and frisking 2 Muslim men in what appears to be a blatant example of racial profiling.  One problem.  It never happened.  (CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO) The 2 men fabricated the whole thing to, as they put it, “create awareness”.   Naturally The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) ran with this and tweeted the video without verification so they too could of course help “create awareness”.  Far too often we see the Muslim community more focused on creating a comfortable environment for everyone, including those who commit acts of violence than on stopping the perpetrators.  This result may not always be the intention, but in attempting to curtail the actions of law enforcement at this point in time, that is exactly what it is doing.

This once again speaks to the major problem existing within elements of the Muslim community.  Within days of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Ottawa, and New York City, killing a 3 month old baby, a 25-year-old Canadian soldier, and seriously wounding a NY City police officer, these men are focusing on what they call unfair treatment of their fellow Muslims.  Although I personally am very pro-police, live a day without them and then come talk to me, I am also aware they are far from perfect.  I realize that like any other established group there are bad people within their ranks.  However, if these 2 bloggers were really concerned about the common good they would work harder on creating awareness within their own community.  Maybe then they could help create an environment more pleasant for everyone, not only Muslims.

If they want to help their community, they should organize a rally against terrorism.  They should help the police identify radicals and terrorists.  They should speak out against anti-Americanism anti-Semitism.  For them to make their focus today be on how police treat Muslims is not only missing the point, it’s making a negative statement.  It’s a statement that the comfort of their community take precedence over the safety and well-being of the overall community.

 

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Terrorist Denial:Not as Cynical as Holocaust Denial but maybe as dangerous

islam_holocaustAfter my last article addressing the tragedy in Ottawa titled,  Canadian shooting: What we know–and RATHER NOT know–a day later, someone in social media responded to me with the following statement: “David, again you hit the nail on its shank. You rather not know. It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims. If you actually look at the facts and circumstances of these two villains, they both had failing lives, they were unproductive, dissatisfied with life and recent converts to something that gave them a chance to “check out”. Years ago it would have been the KKK, or the doomsday survivalists or the tea party. They didn’t want to give meaning to their lives, otherwise they would have become Buddhists, Sufis, humanists or any other altruistic belief system. They converted to something they knew would end their life. ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam. We don’t use the KKK as the calling card for Christianity.”

Naturally out of respect for this individual I won’t use his name, and those who would be able to identify him possibly already saw it next to his name so I personally am not revealing it. I normally have no issue with criticism, however, I found the comment so disturbing that I felt compelled to address it further.

In addressing me he says. “It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims.” Yes of course.  I’M the problem.  On a day when a 3 month old Jewish baby gets run down by a Muslim and a young Canadian soldier doing nothing other than standing guard gets shot in the back by a Muslim, I am the one who is wrong for stating the fact that it was Muslims who did this.  I am the problem because most of the military conflicts going on in the world involve Muslims. I have said it before and I will say it again.  I know the majority of Muslims are not violent, but most of the violence taking place today involves Muslims in one way or another.  I know there are Muslims who want no part of this, but I also know that not enough of them are stopping this from taking place.  I know that just as Hitler wanted to do during the reign of Nazi Germany, there are people today that want every last Jew on the planet killed.  Most of these people are Muslim.

“ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam.” So does Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, to name a few. We’re not talking hundreds of people here.  We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe he is right.  Maybe they are all psychopaths and losers, but unfortunately they are also all Muslim.  I don’t enjoy saying that, but it’s the truth.  I know Muslims that I like and if I meet someone who is Muslim I don’t immediately assume the worst about them, but that doesn’t mean I am going to run from the truth.

As a son of Holocaust survivors I believe it is my responsibility to acknowledge danger where I feel it exists even if it means offending some people.  To do otherwise would be like going back in time to 1938, knowing what is coming and worrying more about the good Germans than the large number either standing by while evil takes over or even worse, being part of the evil.  I can’t and won’t remain silent.  I owe it to the memory of the grandparents I never knew, the grandparents murdered by the “psychopaths and losers” of the last century.  Today a large percentage of Muslims are not terrorists, but an overwhelming percentage of terrorists are Muslim.  To deny this is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

 

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Canadian shooting: What we know–and RATHER NOT know–a day later

NCIf you read CNN’s website today the title of this piece will sound very familiar to you.  It is almost identical to CNN’s article titled, Canadian shooting: What we know–and don’t know–a day later.”  I purposely used this title and made the adjustment I made to make some important points regarding the media’s approach and to a large degree the American government’s approach towards the shootings in Ottawa and the general global climate.

What we know is that many media outlets seem to go out of their way to find evidence that this is not an attack by a Muslim extremist.  CNN goes as far as saying that what we don’t know: “The gunman’s motive in Wednesday’s shooting”..and..“Why he changed his name to Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, but two sources told CNN that he converted to Islam.”  The article first said the following in the “What we know”  category: “Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the attacker a “terrorist.”

CNN would do well to listen to Prime Minister Harper.  The implication that he said this was a terrorist but that it might not be, is part of a bigger problem. That problem falls into the category of the things we would RATHER NOT know.

We would rather not know that we live in a world where danger potentially lurks around every corner.  We would rather not know that all types of people from all walks of life are being targeted for Muslim radicalization.  We would rather not know that hate is growing exponentially.  Not the type of hate people complain about on social media that involves saying nasty things about races because they have evil within their ranks, but serious and dangerous hate. The type of hate that drives people to murder others brutally and think it is a thing of honor.  And we would rather not know that the murder yesterday of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was an act of a terrorist, but it was.  I am sure Stephen Harper wishes it wasn’t so, but as a real leader he knows that you lead people by telling them what is true, not what you think they want to hear.

CNN and others can continue to try to deny the truths until the end if they so desire, but I rather listen to the great Prime Minister of our great and strong neighbors to the north, the Canadian people.  The fact that they elected such a strong leader was not good luck, it was within character.  Canadians are strong and decent people, and part of their strength is in their willingness to accept the truth as it is, not spin it so people feel better now and suffer more later.  It would be like telling someone with Stage 4 cancer that they MIGHT have a tumor.  It’s not going to go away because you pretend it is not really there, but if you accept it and attack it, you have a far better chance for survival.

We don’t need to walk around scared, but we do need to accept reality.  Doing that might make the future a lot easier to handle.

 

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A Shaken World needs to Wake up Fast

ap_canada_shooting_1_kb_141021_4x3_992As someone who has recently experienced his first case of writer’s block in almost 4 months, it would stand to reason that today’s tragic events would have gotten my creative juices flowing. However, maybe it is because a terrorist attack in Jerusalem killing a 3 month old baby and a shooting spree by gunmen in Ottawa is so overwhelming that I found myself unsure where I should even begin.  After all, you start to ask yourself if the people who can make a difference are even listening. Or even worse, they’re listening but don’t care.

We know that Israel and the rest of the Western World wants to stop terrorism.  There is little doubt about that.  But while the world crumbles around it, the United Nations makes settlements in the West Bank its priority.  While bombs explode in Iraq, women get raped and murdered in ISIS controlled territory, babies get run over by terrorists in Israel, and the Canadian parliament gets attacked, people make excuses for all of this bad behavior.  Secretary of State John Kerry implies that Israel’s behavior somehow fuels Islamic extremism and when a woman gets beheaded in Oklahoma by a radicalized Muslim, U.S. government officials prefer to call it workplace violence.

We are either headed towards or already in the midst of a global catastrophe. It all depends on your perspective.  But one things is certain, we are headed in the wrong direction fast.  I hesitated to write something that could be construed as negative and pessimistic, but I believe I would be doing a far bigger injustice if I ignored the reality.  That reality is that the world is in big trouble, and as long as those in power refuse to openly face the facts that Islamic extremism is destroying the planet, it will only get worse.

It’s time the world woke up before it is too late.  Keep in mind that the fact that I am willing to consider the possibility that it might not be too late already is the only optimism I am willing to provide on what has been another very tragic day in a very dangerous world.

 

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