There is a topic I feel to be of paramount importance in the world we live in today. It is the issue of unity. Specifically Jewish unity. Although I feel it to be very important for all decent people to be unified against evil, I believe it to be critical that the Jewish people be unified if they are to combat growing worldwide anti-Semitism.
First of all let me be very clear on an issue many have already discussed. I openly admit this statement is not an original thought. It does not however diminish its importance. Anti-Zionism is modern-day anti-Semitism. This doesn’t mean good old-fashioned Jew hatred is gone, what it means is that in addition to combating direct attacks on the Jewish people, we now have to combat indirect deceptive attacks. Fortunately the Jewish people are not as gullible as they once were. Many lessons have been learned and the Jewish people say NEVER AGAIN.
But this time we shout it out to the world to hear. This is not only about the Jewish people just as it was not only about the Jewish people in 1933 when Hitler rose to power. The safety of the entire world hangs in the balance. We all know this.
If you read the Foreword of my book, the foreword written by my late father, Rabbi Nardus Groen, he says the following words:
“we may in the course of it (telling the story) 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).
So what is a traitor? I believe my father, who was a brilliant man, nailed it. He separated people, for the purposes of discussing Holland during Nazi occupation, into these categories. Heroes, cowards, pacifists, activists, and lastly, traitors. This implies that if you are one of the first 4 you are not a traitor per se. Let’s examine this. The term hero is self-explanatory. At least from a positive or negative standpoint. Who indeed is identified as a hero is open for discussion, but someone who puts their life on the line to save innocent people is generally accepted as being one, and is certainly not a traitor.
My father’s words imply intent. Meaning if one cowered in fear, even if their contributions were not positive, that still did not make them a traitor. If one was a pacifist, even if to the enlightened it was clear that only force would conquer that evil, their intentions were still positive and certainly not the intentions of a traitor. And the activists my father referred to were those who opposed the occupation and did what they could to contribute, be it heroically or marginally.
A traitor was very specific. This was someone who for whatever reason took action against their own people to gain favor in the eyes of the enemy. People who worked for the Nazis and believed that in doing so would be safe. Their behavior was so deplorable that their motivation was irrelevant . But these were not people who held opposing views or even made political decisions that were questionable or even clearly wrong. These were people who actively participated in the killing machine of the Nazi party.
History does not look at Neville Chamberlain favorably, but it also does not see him as an evil man. Rather it sees him as a misguided fool.
The Jewish people have people who fit into all the categories my father spoke of. Do we alienate everyone who falls into any category other than hero or activist? Not only do I say no, I say God forbid.
Yesterday a woman, who happens to also be a friend of my brother joined the Facebook group called Global Coalition for Israel. After reading through the posts she made the following statement. I paraphrase:
“I see this group is not for me because it appears that in this group that if you love Israel you are required to hate Obama, someone I support wholeheartedly.”
As much as I don’t feel as she does, I was somewhat mortified with the reactions of SOME people. She was called an idiot and a self-hating Jew. A few months back I had a back and forth interaction with Haaretz publisher Amos Shocken over a cartoon I found offensive. The cartoon depicted a plane being flown by Benjamin Netanyahu on course to fly into a tall building that looked similar to one of the WTC towers. I vehemently made my points to Mr. Shocken, but there were 2 things I did not do. I did not insult him personally, and I did not alienate him. I can’t say the same for some of the people who responded to this woman yesterday. Why did I show Mr. Shocken basic respect? For 2 reasons. First and foremost he claims to care about Israel and the Jewish people, and there are enough people out there who are openly out to shatter the safety and security of the Jewish people that I refuse to try to decipher the intentions of those who claim otherwise, and secondly, what do I know about this man? For all I know he watched good friends die in front of him in battle defending the State of Israel. Maybe he donates money to the poor in Israel. I don’t know. And I am not here to judge his decency. But I will debate his policies. With civility and respect.
I do not do this to be nice. I do this out of principle. Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” It would be the epitome of arrogance and devastatingly miscalculating for us to believe we will be an exception to that rule. Whether it is a divided Jewish community or a divided America, we must stand together as a unified front if we are to destroy our enemies.
Of course it starts by properly identifying them. Neville Chamberlain is remembered in history as he should be remembered. As a man who was misguided, even delusional in his approach. But he is not remembered as being evil. Correctly I might add. Hitler was the evil. Chamberlain was the man who wanted to believe he could reason with this evil. I am not going to get into the similarities between Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain because until history plays itself out we just won’t know, but what I will do is speak of those fellow Jews and fellow Americans that either agree with the president’s approach and are opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu.
For the record, I love Netanyahu. I think he gets it. I think he is doing his best to protect Israel and the Jewish people and I trust his intentions. I am disillusioned and disappointed by President Obama’s behavior and treatment of Israel. Naturally I think I am right. I love America, I love Israel, and I love the Jewish people. And of all the personal opinions I just gave, the only one I can say that cannot be challenged is the last one declaring my loves. There are many people out there who love the same things that I do but are supportive of the president and opposed to Netanyahu. Obviously at this point I disagree with them. But do they have less rights in the community than I do? Am I a better person for my views? Am I a better Jew?
We all know the answer. I will debate these ideas and push my agenda without fear or hesitation. But what I will not do is sit in judgment like I am an all-knowing all-powerful God. Sinat Chinam, hatred of another was what destroyed the 2nd temple in Jerusalem. Today it can destroy the State of Israel and much of the foundation of civilization. We need to recognize that those with different views have them for a reason, and as long as that reason is pure we must not only allow them to be spoken openly, but we must look at them with an equal love and respect.
Otherwise we are destined for failure and destruction.
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