Monthly Archives: March 2015

Open Letter to Oren Ben-Dor Regarding his Part in Organizing Anti-Israel Debate at Southampton University

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Dear Professor Ben-Dor,

I am sure there are others who I could address regarding this matter, but the tragedy of your involvement is so enormous in my eyes that it must supercede the matter of all other party’s actions.   As I am sure you know, I am referring to your part in coordinating a conference at Southampton University challenging Israel’s right to exist.

It always baffles me when educated people display high levels of ignorance. Your very status is a result of Israel’s existence.  You, as a Jew, most likely thrived within Israel’s structure that consisted of freedom, opportunity, and a moral structure non-existent in most of the region.  Yet somehow you have made it important to turn your back on the country and the people who made you who you are today.

I wonder if you ever use your intellectual abilities to investigate the murderous regime in Syria.  Do you ever take time out of your busy day to research the treatment of women or homosexuals in Israel’s neighboring lands?  How about the squandering of funds in the Palestinian Authority or Gaza? Or Hamas using civilians as human shields? Spend any time worried about how ISIS rapes women, beheads people and burns people alive? You may be sick and tired of hearing the same old argument from us Zionists, but I assure you we are even sicker and more tired of hearing the manipulated garbage spewed out by you and your buddies hiding behind your self-proclaimed academic prowess.

I do not know much about your personal history, but to be quite frank with you, I have no interest in knowing more than I do.  There is a word to describe an individual that is a word I do not throw around easily, but in your case I am comfortable doing so.  The word I am referring to is traitor.  What makes you a traitor is your willingness to not only turn your back on Israel at a time when it is under a consistent barrage of unjustified attacks by its enemies, but to actually aid and abet these enemies.

I have no doubt you will either make a claim that the attacks are justified, or you will try to see the attacks as a way of supporting your case.   So-called intellectuals such as yourself who put so much of their energy into hating Israel may claim they are doing so based on factual knowledge, but the truth is that this pursuit is driven by emotions, not facts.  Even in the worst assessments of Israel’s actions, if only facts  were being used as a motivating force, no objective party would utilize their position for the purposes of challenging its right to exist.  Instead, the motivations are mostly hate or fear.  In your case I am betting on fear.

Naturally this is a claim you will deny, but with England’s growing Muslim population gaining influence, and not only Israelis but Jews everywhere being threatened to a degree not seen since the rise of Nazi Germany, I am guessing you are looking to gain favor in the eyes of those that would wage attacks on our people.  Just remember the lessons we learned from those traitors who supported Adolph Hitler.  When their purpose was served, they were murdered as well.

If you bother to answer me, something I would not expect from a coward and a traitor, I am sure you will try to make some intellectual case supporting your argument.  I am also sure you will do your best to prove how much smarter you are than I am.  The funny thing is, even if you are technically a brilliant man, your approach towards Israel is so devastatingly stupid, I wouldn’t trade with you in a heartbeat.  I just hope you stop for a moment to recognize how your actions are so immoral that if they don’t haunt you in this life, I have little doubt as to whether or not you will ultimately suffer the consequences of your actions.  Regardless of whether you are successful or not.

If you can live with that, so be it.  I would just hope you no longer identify yourself as an Israeli or a Jew, because I am sure I speak for many when I say, feeling as you do, we prefer to not be associated with you in any way.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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47 Wrongs Didn’t Make this Right

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Anyone who has read anything I have written till now is aware that I am completely opposed to any negotiations with Iran’s current regime.  I have, and will continue to oppose any deal with a government that sounds frighteningly similar to Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  That being said, the recent actions taken by Republican lawmakers in which they sent a letter to Iran’s government was not only wrong, it was dangerous.

In my post titled Unity or Destruction. Pick One, I discuss the importance of a unified front against evil.  It’s not really a challenge when everyone has the same political opinion and strategy or approach.  So for those who will say they support the letter because these Republicans are right about Iran and the administration is wrong, I offer you the following response. It’s irrelevant.

Here’s some clichés and quotes for you: United We Stand Divided We Fall,  Divide and Conquer, and of course Abraham Lincoln’s:  “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand”, all apply here. Take your pick.  Just as I did not feel that Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech should have been turned into a partisan issue, and I called out the Democrats who made it one, so too I believe that the break from structure here is a damaging partisan move that hurts the country more than it helps the country.

Make no mistake.  This is more than just a break in protocol.  The entire structure of our democracy is impacted by this global show of a lack in unity within our governmental system.  Not to mention the damage to the office of the President.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with the individual and everything to do with the office. In other words, even if all the criticisms of the president are correct on this issue, insulting the office is never justified by elected American representatives.  That even applies to situations in which they wish to make the case that the policy of the president shows disrespect for his own office.  In other words, 2 wrongs, or in this case 47 wrongs don’t make a right.

When I try to predict some of the responses I might get to this article I realize that in many ways this is as non-partisan as anything I’ve ever written.  Both sides will make their claim.  Some will say the 47 were right for sending the letter.  After all, they don’t support dealing with Iran and feel the president is going against their wishes in conducting these negotiations.  On top of which the danger in dealing with Iran is so great that the ends justify the means. Personally I believe they are laughing today in Tehran and believing they have us just where they want us.  Fighting among ourselves to such a point that we’ve gone out of the family, so to speak.

For those who will say John Boehner did the same thing when he invited Benjamin Netanyahu I say this.  There is a big difference between 47 lawmakers sending a letter to a hostile country contradicting the president than there is in the Speaker of the House inviting the Head of Government of an important ally.

Too many people seem to be taking their eye off the ball and taking actions that are more political than beneficial.  Actions that hurt the structure of the American government impact everyone, and other than our enemies, not beneficially.  We need more elected representatives who stand up for what is right for the nation rather than what they perceive as right for their career or party.  The stakes are too high, and if politicians continue to play these silly games the results will ultimately be catastrophic.

If ever we needed true leadership, something I believe we are sadly missing, it is right now.

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Unity or Destruction. Pick one

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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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Open Letter to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

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Dear Congresswoman Pelosi,

For much of the day I debated whether or not to write this letter, but since I had difficulty purging my mind of your earlier histrionics I felt I had no other choice.  The histrionics I am referring to were the disrespectful and unprofessional reactions you displayed during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.  You went on to insult the Prime Minister further by making a point to leave the chamber before he did and then issued a statement that included the following comments.

I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.

Ms Pelosi, I ask of you the following.  Just imagine if the leader of a powerful nation had sat and negotiated with Adolph Hitler.  And then imagine if that same leader had determined that negotiations were not only the right approach, but that they were working as well.  Now imagine that this misguided approach empowered and gave extra time to an evil regime to establish itself and start a juggernaut of evil that would result in 60 million people dying as well as a genocide that would result in the murder of 6 millions Jews, and millions more people including Serbs, gypsies and homosexuals.

I won’t insult your intelligence, because I now see how sensitive you are to that, by presuming you do not already know my point and to when and whom I am referring.  One can have a long debate as to whether or not President Obama compares to Neville Chamberlain, but there certainly is no debating the fact that Iran’s intentions for the 6 million or so Jews living in Israel are basically identical to the intentions Hitler had, and sadly was successful in carrying out against the Jewish population of Europe.

I present to you this question.  With what is at stake for not only the State of Israel but the entire world, so what if Prime Minister Netanyahu did insult the intelligence of the United States?  Why exactly does this bother you so much?  And to be quite blunt, with so many members of Congress giving him a standing ovation and so many people respecting and appreciating what the Prime Minister said, do you truly believe you can speak for this country when making this claim?  I know of numerous people, very intelligent people who greatly appreciated this speech.  I am sure Congress consists of numerous people of above average intelligence and most of the one’s I saw watching his speech seemed anything but insulted.

I offer this statement as an answer to most of these queries.  In taking this stance against America’s most important and most loyal ally, elements within the Democratic Party did exactly what they claimed they objected to the most. They politicized the speech.  And what made it even worse, and may very well be some of the source of your consternation, is that it did not make those who opposed the speech with vigor look very good.  Seeing as you were one of those people, I can see how you would be upset.

I want you to know that this letter comes from a man who has voted Democrat far more often than he has voted Republican and from someone who voted for Barack Obama.  This is not a letter from a right-wing Conservative.  This is a letter from a Jewish American man who loves the State of Israel, loves the United States of America, and loves peace and freedom.  And this is a letter from a man who can not for the life of him understand why anyone who loves any of those three would be insulted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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A Jewish Leader Tells the Whole World…NEVER AGAIN

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I started this piece numerous times and when all was said and done I decided to just sit back and write it entirely from the heart.  After just listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress I am so overcome by emotion that I want to hold on to this moment, even if only for myself.

Part of what makes us who we are is our history.  Having just finished listening to the speech I can’t help but think of my family’s history.  It was 60 years ago when the reign of Hitler’s Nazi party ended.  60 million people died in WWII and 6 million Jewish souls were lost.  Among those murdered by the Nazis was an estimated 104,000 Dutch Jews, 75% of Holland’s Jewish population in 1940. Included in that number were 3 of my 4 grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and numerous other relatives I would never know.  My parents went through life with pain I can’t even imagine having lived through one of the darkest times in the world’s history.

As far back as I can remember I have heard the words “Never Again”.  Today I watched Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who suffered in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, receive a standing ovation in the United States Congress.  Today the leader of the Jewish state of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, stood up in front of the nation and the entire world and basically said NEVER AGAIN with the words “The days in which the Jewish people stay passive in the face of genocidal enemies; those days are over”.

This is only about politics to those making it about politics.  What this is ultimately about is the survival of not only the Jewish people but the survival of our modern-day civilization.  Today a Jewish leader stood up in front of the world and told the world that the Jewish people will never again be led to slaughter.  For that reason, as the son of Holocaust survivors, as a Jew, and as an American, I found myself moved to tears and say thank you to the State of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

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Don’t let your politicians hide behind the President

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There are 2 correct ways to hold politicians accountable.  Either with your votes or with your money.  I am not happy with President Obama’s approach towards Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  How could I be?  But I also maintain that we must not allow the cowardly politicians turning their backs on Israel to hide behind the president’s policies.  Criticizing the president is not only justified, but in the United States where we have freedom of speech it is proper and correct if and when we choose do so.  However, let us not allow that criticism to deflect responsibility away from all the other politicians that deserve criticism as well.

Next time someone criticizes all those turning their backs on Israel and we see all the blame being put on Barack Obama remember this very important fact. All of these individuals are grown men and women responsible for their own actions.  I agree that the example set by the White House is an awful one, but these individuals could have made the choice to stand behind their only reliable ally in the Middle East had they shown the character and or wisdom to do so. This president will be out of office in 2 years while many if not all of these other politicians still have ambitions moving forward.  We must not allow any of them to deflect responsibility for their actions and hide behind the president.  If we do so we are not using the power we have either as voters or contributors.

Hold ALL of these politicians responsible.  Hold back your money and hold back your vote.  And let them know you plan to do so.

The following list is courtesy of CNN.com

Many more have said they’re undecided on whether to attend, and more defections could emerge in the coming days. A full list of the Democrats who have confirmed they’re missing the speech follows:

SENATE – 4 members

Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)

HOUSE – 30 members

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)

Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)

Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)

Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)

Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)

Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)

Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)

Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)

Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)

Rep. Kathleen Clark (Mass.)

Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)

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The Cowardice of Opposing Netanyahu

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I have a theory.  It is a theory that is certain to upset some people.  You see, although I realize that Benjamin Netanyahu is not always the most well-liked man, and has in the past taken a political posture some may see as offensive, I believe most if not all of the opposition to his upcoming address to the United States Congress is rooted in one very dangerous and unattractive character trait.  That trait is cowardice.

There are some who may be in such disagreement and even so offended by this statement that they may have already stopped reading, but to me there is little to no question that this is the basis of most of the opposition.  We live in scary times.  Being afraid does not make one a coward.  My father, may he rest in peace, admitted without shame that during the years he was on the run from the Nazis he did indeed feel fear, despite the impression he gave to many that he did not.  I will say again that the emotion of fear is not what makes one a coward.  In fact I will go one step further and say, that it is one’s reaction to fear that can make one brave just as it is one’s reaction to fear that can make one a coward.  It is on this premise that I maintain that the reaction many have to the fear of the future, is what indeed makes them cowards.

I have met people who do not want to be involved on any level with anything political because of the fear they have for what lies ahead.  I am not judgmental of this approach.  If one chooses to avoid involvement because it frightens them too much, granted they may not be deemed heroic, but they also are doing nothing to actively obstruct or oppose those that do.  They just want to stay far away.  People who run away from danger should not be judged harshly, partially because they have every right to do so, and partially because none of us know when we will make the same choice, but mainly because they impact themselves more than they impact anyone else.  But those whose fear is manifested in the obstruction of what is right, in order to gain favor in the eyes of those who are wrong, are indeed dangerous and irresponsible cowards.

I have tried to find a reasonable answer as to why anyone who claims to love modern civilization would have a problem with the Prime Minister of Israel speaking to U.S. lawmakers about the incredible danger of conducting negotiations on nuclear energy with Iran.  It seems we’ve come a long way from not dealing with terrorists.  Unfortunately we’ve gone the wrong direction. Where we once were a nation with the policy of not negotiating with terrorists, now we have a government hell-bent on conducting negotiations that would lead to the nation sponsoring so many of these terrorists having the ability to possess nuclear weapons.  It is so bizarre that it defies all logic.  Enter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who understands and confronts this danger, and somehow he now becomes public enemy number 1. Somehow members of Congress that have very little to say about Hamas or Isis are emboldened and brave enough to boycott Netanyahu’s speech.  Why?  Because they are cowards.

They are not alone.  There is plenty of support in the press, from celebrities, and from the public as well. To put this phenomenon in simplistic terms, I believe the following mentality prevails.  If we go after the enemy of the bad guys now, maybe the enemy will show mercy on us later.  It’s a little like saying ISIS just needs jobs or the inability to call Muslims that commit acts of terror, Muslim terrorists.  If we don’t speak too harshly against them maybe we’ll be safer when the time comes.  After all, let’s be honest here. Benjamin Netanyahu won’t be sending Israeli hit squads to kill those who oppose him, but active opposition to Iran, Isis, Hamas, or all other equivalent elements of evil could indeed put one’s life in grave danger.  In some perverse way I believe the most high-profile opposition of Netanyahu, with the exception of his Israeli political opposition, is hoping they can establish some credit with the bad guys just in case their master plan of world domination continues on this dangerously successful path.  And all of this is being led by a President who at best is catastrophically misguided, at worst dangerously devious.  Or maybe he is just too scared as well.

I believe the individuals who hold the same level of disdain for Netanyahu’s upcoming speech are either ignorant to the truth and or just as cowardly. Again, anything one says to speak out against Netanyahu is likely to just fade into oblivion, but speaking out against the Ayatollah of Iran for example, well if the wrong person saw that you just might get hurt.

I know there will be those who will vehemently disagree with this theory, but I am almost arrogantly certain this to be the truth.  I will say that in many cases the fear and cowardice is almost subconscious and therefore not something I expect anyone to admit and in some cases even realize, but why else would people oppose anyone defending the future of freedom and modern-day civilization?  I know they will have their responses, claiming this is inappropriate political posturing on both Netanyahu and John Boehner’s part, but even if it is, how on earth could anyone not see that the message Benjamin Netanyahu is sending is so important that those other factors are just not enough to negate the need for his speech. Unless of course you don’t want to make the bad guys angry.  I for one would be far more afraid to oppose a person, in this case Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be asking Congress to protect the safety and security of every freedom and right we all hold dear, and I say without any fear that I support him 100%.

 

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