Monthly Archives: March 2016

Understanding the way many are Fighting and Supporting Terror at the same time

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It’s somewhat encouraging to see the free world attempt to unite in its battle against ISIS. On the surface it would appear the world is serious about stopping terrorism. Unfortunately, if you look a little more closely, and you really don’t have to go that deep, you will realize that the same people claiming to battle terrorism are actually tolerating it, or even worse, supporting it.

All over the world there are governments claiming to take the fight against terror seriously while simultaneously opposing Israel in its fight against terror.  European governments, now frantically scrambling to defend themselves, reward Palestinian terror by calling on Israel to withdraw from the territories.  The contradiction is a glaring one that is rationalized away by a disingenuous  concern for the plight of the Palestinians.  Without delving into the topic of whether or not the Palestinians are treated fairly as  people, as long as the world’s reaction to innocent Jews getting mowed down by a car or stabbed in the street is a call to Israel to make changes, the message it sends about terror is a damaging one.  Terrorism is terrorism. It’s never freedom fighting or armed rebellion if it’s not a battle against other soldiers.  When people with weapons attack innocent men, women and children, saying it’s different than what ISIS is doing doesn’t make it so.

The two most guilty parties in this tragic comedy of errors is the United Nations and the U.S. Administration.  When the UN files a report, in today’s world, and calls Israel the world’s top human rights violator, the message it sends is twofold.  First of all, it shows a clear bias against Israel, something very counterproductive to fighting worldwide terrorism, and secondly it shows a tolerance for those countries truly involved in human rights violations.  The UN is the type of organization that would offer ISIS land to call its own, accept it as a nation, and as long as they are at least willing to lie about treating its citizens fairly, declare the Islamic State more of a champion of human rights than the democratic State of Israel.  The United Nations is an ongoing farce and doing more to lead the world down a path of terror and destruction than towards a path of freedom and safety.

The other main culprit is the current American administration.  To make a deal with Iran, any deal, is in short, making a deal with terrorists.  As much as President Obama and John Kerry go on and on about how this deal stops Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the message here is frighteningly clear.  The message is that this United States administration is willing to deal with terrorists.  The Iranian regime has funded and trained terrorists for years.  It calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.  It is a nation responsible for the murder of men, women and children.  Rather than send the message to the entire world that terror will not be rewarded with negotiation, this administration not only chose to negotiate, but chooses to release billions of dollars to a nation using its money to support and train more terrorists.  Then the administration takes this to an even more grotesque level by actually being proud of the accomplishment of making a deal with a nation that represents everything we claim to be fighting.  The only way the President might have been right when calling ISIS the JV Team, would be if he simultaneously referred to Iran as the Pro Team.

If terrorism is to be defeated, it can only be done without the interference of fear, corruption, and bigotry.  If any of those factors get in the way, the enemy will know this, laugh in our faces, and gain tactical and political strength.  If we are truly going to show intolerance towards terror, we must show equal intolerance towards those allowing it to grow, regardless of whether or not they claim to have our best interests in mind.

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By not calling out Islamic Extremism, President Obama is actually hurting innocent Muslims

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I have friends from all walks of life.  I don’t pick friends based on race, color, religion or lifestyle.  I pick my friends based on common interests and how they are as human beings.  That’s assuming they even want to be my friend.  I’ve always maintained, and when you look around you’ll see it to be generally true, that the person who is not a racist or bigot is more comfortable criticizing someone regardless of what they are.  To put it in more basic terms, it’s never shocking to find out that a white man who never says anything bad about black people is actually a racist.  I’m not saying criticizing someone of a specific race is a prerequisite to treating people equally, but I am saying that overcompensation in one direction is often a red flag that something is not right about someone’s thinking.

When you speak of the President of the United States, the general rules of behavior don’t apply.  Therefore when President Obama shows his consistent discomfort and reluctance to call out  Islamic extremists by name, he may not be revealing a bigotry towards Muslims, but he is doing exactly what he claims he does not want to do, and that is marginalize the Muslim population.   No matter how often the President refuses to say the constant barrage of terror is being committed by Muslim extremists, the facts are the facts and the whole world knows it to be true.  Paris, Brussels, Lahore, San Bernadino, various cities all over Israel, are all places where there are examples of recent acts of terror all committed by Muslim extremists.  There, I said it. Muslim extremists. But I did not say all Muslims are terrorists did I?  If anything, by calling the terrorists Muslims Extremists I am separating them from the rest of the Muslim population.  To prove my point, I could easily forward this piece to the likes of M. Zuhdi Jasser, a great Muslim American, without being concerned that I would offend him. Why? Because I am comfortable in making the distinction between him and the terrorists that happen to be the same religion as he and many more millions of Muslims who are not terrorists. When a President leaves a philosophical vacuum he leaves the door open for the less intelligent and thoughtful to make very broad, bigoted, and very often dangerous generalizations.  To be blunt, it is better to make the statement ‘all Muslim are not terrorists, but most terrorists these days are Muslim’, than it is to pretend none of the terrorists are Muslim.

When the President says the terrorists do not represent Islam, he may be making what he perceives as an ideologically positive statement, but the truth is that the IS in ISIS or ISIL still stands for Islamic State, and the followers of the terrorist organization identify themselves as Muslims.  To not distinguish members of ISIS from decent Muslims does not make that go away.  If anything it helps create the reaction some people will have when they read this, which will be to say, “there are no good Muslims”.

Yes Mr. President, there are many people who feel and speak that way.  Why?  Partially because they are extremists or radicals themselves, partially because some are just racist, but very importantly and not to a small part because of the vacuum created by your reluctance to call it by name.   If you look around the world, specifically the western world, other than the Pope, no one individual can impact people’s thinking with words more than the President of the United States of America.  By avoiding the terms Islamic extremism or Muslim terrorists, this President may just be doing the exact opposite of what he claims he wants to be doing, and the anger and hatred it may cause may do all of us more harm than good.

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Why it’s Too Late to Stop Terror

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It’s somewhat encouraging to see the victories taking place against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  Taking out their second in command and capturing the town of Palmyra are both significant accomplishments in the war on the territorial front. That part of the war can be won in somewhat conventional fashion.  The only question is what the best course of action is to win it.  Even the lesser military minds can see an end game.  The main questions are what strategy to use and how long it will take?  With the ongoing terrorist attacks in the west, operations have increased and have so far proven to be relatively successful.  The second war, the terror war being brought to Europe and as of yet on a lesser scale to North America is not a war that can be won any time soon, if at all.  The sad news is, it’s just too late.

It’s a harsh reality, one that may or may not ever impact people directly, but it’s a reality nonetheless.   Even if somehow ISIS would be wiped out in its various bases of operations, the exported terrorists, sitting and waiting for the best opportunities to strike are so spread out and in such large number, even if we were to just wait it out, be vigilant, and stop numerous attacks, there will are still likely to be numerous attacks that will be successful and wreak maximum havoc and suffering.  Just look at Israel, a nation dealing with terror for decades and arguably the most prepared and most adept at dealing with terrorism.  Yet despite the expertise there are still numerous terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

There might have been an opportunity a few years back to stop the growth of ISIS, but the sad fact is that until terror hits home, or close to home, western nations are far more accomplished in rationalization than in positive results.  Terrorist activities against Israeli citizens have been rationalized as a fight for liberation.  Attacks against Israelis, Iraqis, Libyans, Pakistanis, just to name a few, are not viewed by the west with the same anger and horror as attacks against the French, Belgian or American. Even today, after 63 people, most of them women and children were killed in a terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, CNN and FOX are providing minimal coverage and discussion.  In fact, a half day later, the terror attack isn’t even the top story.  That’s been changed to a story of how Donald Trump claims to be better for women than anyone and is accompanied by a picture of him kissing his wife Melania. Incidentally, the victims in Pakistan were Christians attacked by a splinter group of the Taliban and purposely done on Easter Sunday.  Iran, a nation with far greater experience and success in the development and exportation of terrorists is allowed to make a deal for nuclear energy and is somehow rewarded with the release of billions of dollars.  Even if somehow we do outlast what we say are hundreds but are more likely thousands of ISIS operatives ready to strike, if the entire approach towards terror doesn’t change, if we do defeat ISIS, we are likely to be left with another group, or even worse, country to fight.  For people who take the view that they can’t be worried about what happens to the “people over there”, they need to understand that it is the sons and brothers of those people the terrorists are radicalizing and mobilizing  against the west.

As is the case with many of my fellow Jews and many pro-Israel citizens in the west, I have argued for years that there is not enough value put on Jewish life.  I still maintain that, but the difference now is that I believe there is not enough value put on any life lost east of Germany.  I am not making a bleeding heart plea for sympathy, rather a legitimate call to arms against global terrorism, not just the flavor of the moment.  ISIS is by far the most active and dangerous organization in the world, but it is joined by so many other groups ready to take over prominence if they get defeated that without a long term global strategy against terror, we are doomed to live with it for the rest of our lives and very likely see it continue for further generations.

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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I’ve lost count how many times during this election cycle I’ve said the following words, “I’ve never seen anything like this”, only to follow up almost immediately with, “no one’s ever seen anything like this”.  We all know that this is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in an American presidential election.  The behavior of the candidates toward one another and the reaction of the population to the different candidates is unprecedented in American history.  What’s been lost in the discussion is the passion generated among regular people and the schisms caused not just among friends and acquaintances, but even families.

The days of agreeing to disagree are crumbling at an alarming rate.  No longer is it enough to say you are not voting for someone.  If you don’t philosophically smash them into the ground, call them a racist, a criminal or a degenerate, you yourself may be attacked.  Like Donald Trump?  You must be a racist and bigot.  Like Hillary?  You support murderers and liars?  Like Ted Cruz?  You must be a fascist and religious fanatic? Like Bernie Sanders? You must be a Socialist or Communist?  Like John Kasich?  Well then , you’re just a waste of time.

No longer can you support someone and not be called names by those who oppose your candidate.  To make matters worse, everyone is right?  Just ask them.  And I don’t mean the candidates, they’re supposed to say they are right.  I am talking about the people you interact with.  Heaven forbid you say something bad about Hillary Clinton to a Democrat.  You’re likely to cause a venom and anger that could ruin the relationship.  And don’t dare call out Donald Trump for his behavior.  You might be seen by your “friends” as an ISIS sympathizer.

There was once a time when people would disagree on politicians and the reactions would not be personal.  But nowadays, if you hold a different viewpoint, friendships can disintegrate into thin air.  After all, if your friends like Hillary more than Bernie, how can they respect you?

So how did we get here?  3 reasons.  Reality TV, Internet, and tough times.

The Reality TV part of it explains the ongoing craving for drama and sensationalism. It’s very much a part of what makes Donald Trump’s candidacy tick.  It certainly is what has helped him get all the attention he gets.  That and of course the aforementioned internet and tough times.

The Internet might not make everyone happy, but it’s a reality not just in American politics but in everything happening in the world today.  Nothing illustrates it as well as the fact that ISIS relies on it for recruiting up and coming terrorists.  So with all the exposure and information available, we now know not only more than we used to know about candidates, but probably more than we would like to know as well.

Lastly, the truth is these really are very trying times in almost every aspect of life. These difficulties breed tensions, and these tensions breed passion.  The issue of who will be the next leader of the free world matters more to people than maybe ever before, so if you don’t agree with your colleague, neighbor or relative, this really can turn into a big deal.

All I can hope is that people stay as civilized as possible.  In the meantime I hope to maintain as many positive relationships as possible with friends and family while still maintaining the integrity of my viewpoints.   I wish all of you the same good luck.

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Time for the UN and the rest of the world to step up and call murder by its real name

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As the world heard the news of what happened in Brussels, Belgium, people were once again overwhelmed with feelings of horror, sadness and anger.  There is no question that most people are in agreement is that the death and destruction is an increasing reality that needs to be stopped.  Where the big problem starts, or should I say continues, is in the series of solutions proposed by the experts and politicians.  It seems everyone has an answer and solution.  However, in reality no one really knows exactly what to do.  That in itself may be the crux of why we are losing this war against terror.  To sum it up in one word, the biggest obstacle to preventing a global catastrophe is something ISIS and other terror organizations are not only counting on but causing.  That word is confusion.

Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, Hawk or Dove, most if not all politicians in the civilized world want the terror to stop.  Yet the philosophies and approaches differ tremendously.  Everyone thinks their solution is the correct one. Certainly most give the impression that they do.  But does anyone really have the answer?  Do we need to consider the possibility that in some ways it is just too late to stop this tidal wave of terror engulfing the world.  Some say Europe is already lost. The events of the past few days certainly lends credence to that argument.  Some in America, traditionally those on the left, believe a softer, kinder, less involved approach is the answer.  We don’t know for sure that this approach is the incorrect one, but should it fail, and considering the enemy we are facing a very strong argument could be made that it would, are we willing to accept the bleak future that would follow and be prepared to fight for our way of life and ultimately our lives?   Do we plan a strategy that does nothing other than postpone the inevitable or do we swallow the bitterest of pills and viciously and totally wipe out the enemy without concern for collateral damage?

The multitude of questions with even more answers is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the growing number of terrorist organizations across the world.  Earlier this week on CNN I listened to Michael Weiss, author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, as he explained how the terror organization’s specialty is not so much actual combat as it is manipulation and use of social media and its overall strategy in cleverly choosing what targets to hit and how to achieve the greatest bang for their buck.  It would be my personal assertion that other than totally destroying their command centers, nothing would damage ISIS more than a concerted and coordinated worldwide effort against them. Kind of makes you think the best leaders can’t only be the strongest, but must be the wisest as well.

In order to defeat terror, we much first recognize where it exists.  This sounds like it should be easy, but in reality it’s not only become the most difficult thing for the world to agree upon, it is turning into the foundation of the growing crisis.  With the United Nations taking sides against Israel in their fight against terrorists from all sides, American and European leaders willing to accept a deal with Iran, a nation that cultivates and exports terrorism, and a tolerance of hate worldwide, the chances of defeating this growing cancer are diminishing.   It’s not impossible, but without a unified army, be it a military or diplomatic one, we are destined to lose.  If ever the American public had the fate of the world in its hands it would be right now, for the next President of the United States may turn out to be one of, if not the most important person in solving this growing global crisis.

So assuming my assertion that everyone wants it to stop is accurate, the question remains, what do we do to actually achieve this Utopian goal.  It would be nice if for starters a zero tolerance for murder was recognized globally.  There will be instances when even the people we see as enemies may be able to claim self-defense, but why is it so difficult for people to agree that stabbings, mowing people down with cars, blowing up airplanes, setting off bombs in subways and airports are all examples of unquestionable murder.  Why did it take the world till just recently to say that ISIS was guilty of genocide when they have clearly been killing Christians indiscriminately for years.  If we are to defeat terror, it must start with a total agreement from every party involved in the fight that murder is unacceptable, period.  If Arab nations are not willing to recognize that Palestinians that stab Israelis are terrorists, than these nations will not be welcomed into the coalition.  Murder is murder.  If terrorists blow up cars in Baghdad killing dozens or blow up a Russian plane killing hundreds, or burn people alive in Nigeria, why is it more acceptable than a bomb in a European airport or subway?  I understand the poignancy and psychological impact of the Brussels and Paris attacks, but until murder is seen as murder, and the outcry and disgust is just as great when it happens in less chic places, nothing will truly be fixed.

So as a writer, and a person who would love to make a difference, I propose this challenge to the United Nations.  If ever there was a time to step up and truly matter in the world, if ever there was an opportunity to put all the corruption and inadequacies of this failing organization in the rear mirror, the time is now.  Let us learn from history. A precursor to the beginning of World War II was the collapse of an inept League of Nations.  In an era in which a different form of fascism is once again on the rise, the United Nations has an opportunity to wipe away its years of ineptitude on the world stage by truly uniting nations against evil.  But to do this they need to do a few things first.  Keep money from terror groups, even if it means temporarily holding back funds from people who may need it, make resolutions that clearly define and condemn any murder associated with terror groups or political extremism, and stop the biased attacks against Israel.  If the United Nations does this, they might actually stay in tact, make a difference, and help the world in the way in which they were originally designed to do. If not, they will likely fall apart, dissolve, and if history is to tragically repeat itself, be the lead into a full blown World War III.

If this all seems kind of grim it’s because the realities we face are extremely harsh. There is no longer room for misplaced tolerance.  The world needs to find a way to unite against evil and do so very quickly, otherwise all we will do is continue in a downward spiral towards death and destruction.  There is no more room for the kill them with kindness approach.  We are dealing with people who will merely laugh at us before they destroy us, and that means that as citizens we need to hold our leaders accountable and do so now.

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Remembering Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff

This is not my only website. Over the years I’ve dabbled with other sites which I’ve used to discuss various issues.  Holland’s Heroes is primarily used for discussions regarding the book I wrote about my parents experiences during Nazi occupation and articles I’ve written regarding Israel, the Jewish people, social injustices and all matters political. So when I sat down to write this, since it was going to be a short tribute to a soccer player, I originally intended to post it on my other site, The Daily Column.  But then I realized that I was about to write about a Dutch hero.  Not a hero made famous for saving lives, changing political discourse or impacting social development, but a hero known for how he lived and played football, aka soccer.  All that being true, the man I speak of is truly one of Holland’s heroes, and his name is Johan Cruyff.

I am the son of parents who were born and raised in the Netherlands.  I take a lot of pride in my Dutch background.  My first memory of anything soccer, albeit a very faint one, was the Netherlands losing the World Cup final to Germany in 1974.  This game, a fuzzy memory at best, was won by Germany on what the Dutch considered to be a questionable penalty kick.  Looking back, although the Dutch squad would have loved to have won the World Cup, something they are yet to do- many including myself refer to them as the best team to never win the World Cup- the most significant memory for me, particularly in retrospect, was the brilliance and global dominance of their on the field leader John Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff died to day at the age of 68.  Although the greatest heroes the world has to offer are those who are willing to sacrifice their lives or put themselves in danger to protect others, it can’t be denied that there are many different types and levels of heroe.  The true sports hero, someone who inspires a nation, brings joy to his fans, and encourages thousands upon thousands of people to strive for greatness, is a different type of hero, but a hero nonetheless.  For the Dutch people and all the fans of not only Dutch soccer but soccer worldwide, Johan Kruyf was that type of hero.  Here’s saying thank you to him and hoping he rests in peace.

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The Party may be cancelled but Purim lives on

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I’ve always loved Purim.  The whole concept behind it is a beautiful one.  It saddens me, as it does so many others, that the terror attacks and subsequent atmosphere in Brussels has caused the cancellation of Purim celebrations.  But make no mistake. With or without festivities, there is no cancellation of Purim and what it represents, especially in these times.

Purim is a holiday based on events that took place in ancient Persia, now known as Iran, during a time when Persian leadership sought to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the planet.  Sound familiar? It should.  Besides being something that tends to happen far too often, a nation looking to rid the world of Jews, modern day Iran is testing missiles decorated with the words “Israel must be wiped out”.   Hard to believe that a nation like Iran could not have evolved further from its hatred of over 2,000 years ago, yet here we are again.

Of course what makes matters worse is that the cancellation of festivities is not directly connected to Iran.  After the most recent brutal attack by ISIS and the attacks in Paris, it is a wise bit of caution to consider European Jews to be in some significant danger. That too should sound familiar, as I am sure it does.  Europeans need to wise up to the dangers facing them, because last time they took a “levelheaded” and patient approach to rising fascism and violence, the continent was left in shambles.

The most beautiful thing about the story of Purim for me was always the fact that it is a story in which the Jewish people did not have to suffer greatly before their redemption. It’s impossible to know how today’s travails will end up, but if history is to repeat itself, my prayer for this Purim, is that the establishment of liberty and freedom for all people in the world, not just Jews, can happen with limited additional suffering.  In the meantime to my fellow Jews I urge you to remember this.  Even when the celebration is cancelled, Purim never is.

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