Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Plea for Unity

Jewish-unityWhen I got into this activism mode a few months back, I did so to fight the enemies of the Jewish people. As I feel more and more like the debate is turning into Jew against Jew it becomes increasingly exhausting for me.  I am by no means afraid to confront ANYONE, but I reserve the right to show more tolerance for Jews than I do for others sharing opinions I feel incorrect or even damaging to the Jewish people. We speak of 6 million dying at the hands of the Nazis. What would happen if we found out that 1.5 millions were so liberal and overly tolerant that they wanted to try to negotiate with Hitler. We know they’re wrong, but do we alter our discussion? Do we only truly mourn 4.5 million slaughtered Jews once we know this? As I love to do I quote these wonderful words by my father Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory:

“We may in the course of it meet people who, for whatever it’s worth, may be portrayed as heroes, while others are cowards, pacifists, or activists.They are all the products of mankind. For them, there will always be a place under the sun (with the exception of the traitor). But being as we are a homogenous society, no one can ever be left out. And as it is by the very
inclination of the human race, the dark shadow of the wicked will play an overpowering role in leaving behind the marks in the way of scars brought upon them by society.

If the worst could ever be turned into good, the only lesson to be learned of that is, never ever forget. For in the past lay the present, and in the present the future. Without that, we will be repeating our mistakes and shortcomings, and as a result the world will not be the place it was created to be.

In order to live, you still have to be able to somehow believe in the goodness of mankind.”

 

Whenever we pray to God for forgiveness we hope our worst actions will be understood as being a result of weakness or stupidity.  We turn to God and hope he will accept the failings that coincide with our humanity.  I am not saying we tolerate someone who puts us in clear and present danger, I am merely saying we allow the same courtesy to decent albeit misguided or weak people that we ourselves beg from God.

And as my father, a man who lived a good life till the age of 87, a man who worked against the Nazis in the Dutch resistance, saved the lives of innocent people, fought in the Dutch Marines and then served the Jewish community as a Rabbi for decades and was anything but naive once said, “In order to live, you still have to be able to somehow believe in the goodness of mankind.”

I’m all for standing up for one’s principles, but my first priority is to fight against those that want to do harm to the innocent and harm my people.  I am not here to fight Jews.  There are enough people who want to do that.  I refuse to be one of them.

 

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Open Letter to my fellow Jews

me2Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What’s this I am hearing? Many of you support a deal Iran? A large percentage of you like Obama better than Netanyahu? This whole line of thinking creates all kinds of issues.  Not just regarding those of you who do think this way, but regarding the way other Jews address you.  It’s really quite complicated and to be very honest, more than a little disturbing.

For the record, I am absolutely opposed to any type of agreement with Iran.  Their open desire to murder Jews is the most open one from a country of any significance since Nazi Germany came into power in 1933.  I am also someone who prefers Netanyahu to Obama.  I believe Netanyahu cares about the well-being of Israel and the Jewish people while unfortunately I am far from certain Obama has anything close to the same concerns.  I’ll elaborate more on this later on in the letter, but first I want to address what I consider to be an even greater concern of mine.

The second Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was mainly destroyed because of one thing.  Sinat Chinam, which means baseless hatred, referred to the hatred of Jew towards one another. I fear that we as Jews are dangerously close to reaching that same level today.  Caught in the ongoing schism between Conservatives and Liberals in American politics, Jews find themselves at odds against each other in some very important issues. Issues that impact our very survival.

I personally feel very strongly that these statistics I am reading about reflect a misguided and dangerous shift in Jewish public opinion, but I also feel that it is just as dangerous to attack every Jew who feels differently than I do as being a self-hating Jew or traitor.  There are certain people with influence and a following who have anti-Israel sentiment, some of which openly feel a disconnect to the Judaism they were born into who may be considered borderline if not complete traitors, but to put this title on all who hold contrary views is unfair and dangerous.

Let me reiterate.  I believe any compromise, recognition, or negotiation with the Islamic Republic of Iran is dangerous, naive and ultimately suicidal.  I’ll shout at the top of my voice to anyone who will listen to get them to see how misguided it is to consider it a viable option to deal with this dishonest government of murderers and liars that want to destroy the State of Israel and ultimately rid the planet of Jews, before and or while they attempt to destroy the United States of America.  Simply put, Iran is evil and there is no negotiating with evil.  I  will also reiterate that I believe in Benjamin Netanyahu and feel his priority is to protect Jews in Israel and around the globe.  I believe Jews in the diaspora must support the Israeli government.  I believe the Obama administration’s policies and rhetoric is increasingly antagonistic and damaging to Israel and subsequently can’t relate to the thought process that causes one of my fellow Jews to prefer Obama over Netanyahu.  But just as I believe comparing Obama to Hitler is irresponsible and harmful, so too I believe calling someone a self-hating Jew or traitor because of these opinions is damaging and divisive.  I don’t think my fellow Jews who feel this way are bad, I just think they drank the Kool-Aid, and I take it upon myself as being one of I hope many people who will help them to see the truth.

To those reading this who feel anger and even hatred towards their fellow Jew for what I know to be misguided viewpoints, I ask the following question.  Are they really the enemy?  I think not.  I propose that you see them as brothers and sisters as I did when I addressed this letter.  Protect them, don’t exile them.

To those of you I am calling the misguided I will not apologize for what you may see as an arrogance in my approach.  I believe you are supporting causes and ideas that would lead to your death as well as mine.   However, I also don’t believe that is your intention.  I believe you want what I want, a safe and happy future for the Jewish people and all the good people of the world.  I just believe you are wrong and that I would be just as wrong if I didn’t let you know how I feel.   However, I also feel I would be equally wrong to hate you for it, when what the Jewish people need now more than ever is love and unity.

I wish all of you all the best.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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In Defense of Nicki Minaj

"The Other Woman" - Los Angeles Premiere - ArrivalsAs everyone knows, I have no problem going after anti-Semites.  I am also not an apologist.  Bryan Adams sang my favorite song of all time and I went after him. George Clooney has been an actor whose work I’ve enjoyed and I’ve gone after him twice for showing no signs he disagrees with his anti-Zionist/Anti-Semitic wife.  I used to think Penelope Cruz was beautiful and now I can’t even look at her.  If I am convinced someone is against the Jewish people, I want no part of them and I am not shy about saying so.  That is why it may come of some surprise to those reading this that I am choosing to defend Nicki Minaj.

There are two reasons I’m defending her.  First of all, personally, I just didn’t see it when I watched the video, which I did from start to finish.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I wrote a book about what my parents went through during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  I am proudly sensitive to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment.  I personally did not see the connection to Nazi symbolism in the video other than to the extent I was looking for it due to the reactions it garnered.  That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good video nor do I think the feelings of those it offended should be ignored, especially since many of those it offended are people just like me, proud Jews.  All it means is that in the name of honesty I can’t sit here and pretend to be offended by something that personally did not offend me. Incidentally, this is why I remained silent on the subject yesterday.  That and one other very important reason.  I wanted to see how Nicki Minaj would react to the criticism.  Which brings me to the second reason I am defending her.

Yesterday I wrote an Open Letter to Peter Gabriel.  In this letter I made the following point in regard to what motivates me to write these Open Letters.

“My philosophy, when it comes to writing one of these letters, and you can look it up and verify it if you wish, is that I write them primarily based on the words one utters.  In some instances I will address someone’s silence, but that is only when that silence indeed speaks volumes.  When someone expresses an opinion to me that someone is on what I consider to be the wrong side of the fence, I look for evidence to back it up.  Nothing provides better evidence than the words one speaks.”

Minaj made the following comments on Twitter regarding the controversy caused by the video.

“I didn’t come up w/the concept, but I’m very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone.  Both the producer, & person in charge of over seeing the lyric video (one of my best friends & videographer: A. Loucas), happen to be Jewish.  I’d never condone Nazism in my art.”

Although after watching the video I might disagree with Nicki Minaj on what is called art, she makes it very clear in her words that offending Jews and glorifying Nazism was not the desired effect of the video.  I for one believe her.

Many months ago in one of my posts I made the statement that there are enough outspoken and proud anti-Semites that we really don’t need to be spending our time going after someone who openly says they are not anti-Semitic.  In my opinion this is a prime example of what I was eluding to when I made that point.

One last thing.  I never have and never will be one of those people who believe it is a problem if you offend everyone else except for the Jewish people.  With that in mind, despite my defense of Minaj and the fact that I personally was not offended, if she does want to show that “full responsibility” she was referring to and achieve what I think should be seen as a slam dunk in the Jewish community, pull the video.  Show the respect evident in your words, acknowledge the sensibilities of the Jewish community and make a statement of great significance, for it offended enough people to be a problem.  Pull the video and leave little doubt as to your true intentions.

 

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Open Letter to Peter Gabriel

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Dear Peter,

After hearing how another once popular entertainer all of a sudden cares about the people of Gaza, I am to be quite honest, somewhat exhausted.  It seems to be the same nonsense time after time. Don’t get me wrong.  I respect anyone who genuinely cares about the well-being of others.  The problem with your sudden expression of compassion for the Palestinian people is that it seems to be anything but genuine.

You see Peter, the problem lies with the very words you use to express this heartfelt concern.  Let me first give you a brief background both of my own personal philosophy and of what is really happening on the ground.  My philosophy, when it comes to writing one of these letters, and you can look it up and verify it if you wish, is that I write them primarily based on the words one utters.  In some instances I will address someone’s silence, but that is only when that silence indeed speaks volumes.  When someone expresses an opinion to me that someone is on what I consider to be the wrong side of the fence, I look for evidence to back it up.  Nothing provides better evidence than the words one speaks.  In your case the words are very clear.  But I will get back to that in a moment.  The second thing I wish to address are the real circumstances surrounding the issue you’ve chosen to make your latest cause. The reason your concern reeks of being so disingenuous is because as far as I can tell by research I’ve done, you’ve been so quiet till now, not just about the plight of the Palestinians, but about the plight of the Jewish people as well.  I know you have been an activist, so this is not your first venture into this arena, but I can’t seem to find where you spoke up against the actions of terrorists blowing up entire families in Pizza places in Jerusalem.

Now to those words of yours that motivated me to write this letter.

“I am certain that Israelis and Palestinians will both benefit from a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”

Are you really certain of this Peter?  On what exactly do you base this certainty?  Is it the desire Palestinian leadership has shown to work with the Israeli government? Maybe it’s the terror tunnels Hamas built with money provided for humanitarian assistance that convinced you of this.  Or was it recently when a Palestinian terrorist, or as you might call him a freedom fighter  drove his car into a crowd of Israelis killing a 3 month old baby.  If Palestinian leadership would show one iota of willingness to be a partner in peace I would accept the possibility, but under the current conditions to state that you can be certain of the benefit to Israelis is stupid nonsense coming from a man who has never been called stupid by anyone.  I’m sure you know better.

You went on to say, “We have watched Palestinians suffer for too long, especially in Gaza.”  Is that so?  If that’s the case why have you been quiet till now?  If that’s the case why have you not said anything about the misappropriation of funds by Hamas, the corruption of leadership, and most of all the starting of wars by the very leaders claiming to protect the Palestinian people.  The same leaders who proudly declare their young men to be future suicidal terrorists.  Do you have nothing to say about that?  Or is that just not the popular statement of the day?

You end your words of compassion with this grand finale.  “I am not, and never was, anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic, but I oppose the policy of the Israeli government, oppose injustice and oppose the occupation… I am proud to be one of the voices asking the Israeli government: ‘Where is the two-state solution that you wanted so much?’ and clearly say that enough is enough.”

I could write 2 pages on those words alone, but since I believe the problems in this statement are relatively obvious, I’ll do it in one paragraph instead.  Let’s be honest Peter, someone feeling the need to say they are not anti-Semitic while making these comments is not unlike a known liar leading with the question, “may I be honest with you?”.  The need to make the point shows where one of the core problems lies.  If Jewish blood mattered to you the rest of the statement would have been very different.  You oppose injustice?  Is it just to constantly send a barrage of missiles into population centers?  Is it just to kill a 4-year-old boy while he plays in his house?  Is it just to use your civilian populations as human shields?  Why didn’t you speak up about any of this? I’m also curious as to what you actually call “occupation”. There was no military presence in Gaza till Israel discovered tunnels designed to commit acts of terror against innocent Israelis.  Tunnels built from money given to Gaza to help the very people you now seem to care about so much.

You’re right Peter.  Enough is enough.  We’ve all had enough of seemingly intelligent people all of a sudden becoming stupid when it involves being fair to Israel.  We’ve all had enough of terrorists being legitimized by people who claim to care about the future of the human race.  And we’ve all had enough of entertainers using the platform given to them by their fans for the popular cause as opposed the correct one. Yes indeed, enough is enough.

I base this letter on your words.  You, the musician who once used his talented use of language for lyrics, is now using language to promote the very injustice you claim to fight against.  We’ve heard it all before, and quite frankly, I am sure you know better.  That is what makes it so egregious.  Then again, with how people seem to be today, I doubt even the monkey is shocked.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to John Kerry regarding the State Department Approach towards Israel

John_Kerry_second_Secretary_of_State_PortraitDear Secretary Kerry,

Although I am a Jew and a Zionist, as an American I am fully aware that when we vote for our leaders we are electing individuals whose job is to do what they perceive as best for the United States of America.  I am fully aware that despite the importance Israel has to me and millions of other Americans, your job is to do what you deem as strategically beneficial for America first.  I respect that, and to be frank as an American voter, even expect that.  With that in mind, despite my admitted personal bias, I still have serious issues with the actions of this administration and as I write this letter, primarily with the State Department.

I will begin to make my point by asking an important question.  What is the difference between negotiating with terrorists and legitimizing them?  I understand the Israeli/Palestinian issue is a complicated and troubling one.  I personally no longer hold a moderate view towards how it should be handled, but I know many of my fellow Jews and Americans who are more moderate and even optimistic that a two state solution is possible.  I know of many people who believe in what is best for Israel while opposing the building of settlements in the West Bank and questioning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies.   I tell you this to emphasize that despite the fact that I strongly disagree with these people, I know many of them love Israel as much as I do. The issue however is the importance of making a clear distinction not only between innocent Palestinian civilians and Palestinian terrorists but in properly addressing who is responsible for the problems they, the innocent people face.

I think it is fair to say that when Jen Psaki speaks in the name of the State Department, she is doing so with your approval and under your authority.  To be frank, if this is not the case that would represent an entire different set of problems.  But assuming she is indeed doing so, it seems more and more clear that there is an unfair balance as to the amount of criticism and expectation put on Israel by the Department of State.

I’ve heard the argument that Israel, as the democracy that it is needs to be held to a higher standard.  I also know that despite some of the problems currently between Israel and this administration there still exists a positive working relationship.  What I believe to be at issue here, and can not be justified by the rationale of diplomacy, is the fact that Israel gets pressured and criticized by the State Department in ways that imply it is fighting against an enemy of equal legitimacy.  If you wish to concern yourself with the well-being of the Palestinian people equally to that of the Israelis, I will quietly understand and accept that as a fair premise.  However in doing so, besides how morally incorrect it is,  you are defeating your own purpose if you manifest this into equal treatment of Israel’s government and Hamas.

I am sure the response would be that the State Department has condemned Hamas on occasion and that should be enough, but it’s not enough if you don’t properly address the fact that it is indeed Hamas and those factions within the Palestinian community that discourage peace with Israel and encourage violence and terrorism from their able-bodied men that is mostly responsible for the problems the innocent Palestinians are facing.

One more important point I wish to make, going back to my original statement, is that this approach which not only legitimizes but emboldens terrorist organizations is an approach that has the potential to cause serious harm to the United States and its allies.  If nothing else motivates you to rethink your strategy, I certainly hope that this does.

It would be wonderful to receive a sincere thought out response to this letter, one which details how the current actions are beneficial to all legitimate parties, but to be quite frank I’m not expecting one.  Please however be aware that many people feel as I do and are disillusioned and losing faith in the current administration’s ability to handle the serious events taking place around the globe.  Seeing that there seems to be more of an emphasis on satisfying the concerns of outside parties than the concerns of the American people, the State Department may want to reconsider its approach.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Inspirational Interview with 92 year old Holocaust Survivor, Sipora Groen

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For those of you looking for inspiration, hope, and valuable life lessons, the following is a radio interview with my mother, Sipora Groen discussing her experiences as a Dutch Jewish woman in Holland during the Nazi occupation together with my father, Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory. I’m in the interview from time to time as well, but the show is worth listening to because of the stories and accounts given by my mother.  I would like to thank my good friend Richard Solomon for putting us on his show “Taking Care of Business”, Click here to learn more about TCBRadioWCWP, with honorable mention and thanks to Richard’s brother and my friend Paul Solomon.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW WITH SIPORA GROEN.

 

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Open Letters Page Update

Clooney8Bobcat Goldthwait, Robin Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holland’s Heroes Open Letters Page has gotten a long overdue update. Included are Open Letters to Robin Williams, Ray Rice, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Ben Affleck, and follow up letters to George Clooney, Russell Brand and many more. Click here to go to Holland’s Heroes Open Letters Page.

 

 

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