Monthly Archives: June 2016

In memory of my father

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9 years ago today my father, Rabbi Nardus Groen passed away.  Every year on this date I seem to wonder the same thing.  What would he have thought of the world today?  I am sure he would have been disgusted with the behavior of those who dare to call themselves human.  With all his outward toughness and despite his encounters with evil, my father believed in people and the promise they held.  He was a realist without being a cynic.  I have no doubt that he would have seen the acts of evil being perpetuated by our enemies today and would have made that clear connection with the evil he saw committed by the Nazis.  I hope and simultaneously believe he would not have lost faith in humanity as a result. The truth is, there are always more people who are good than there are people who are evil. The difference is that the evil always make more noise and are always looking to cause devastation.  I was blessed to be raised by 2 people who taught me to see the good in people and the good in the world, and if there is ever a way for me to honor my mother who is alive and well at 94 and my father who I remember today, it is for me to keep my faith in humanity in check.  In the process, despite the long and painful battle ahead,  we only increase our chances of coming out victorious.  Terrorists seek not only to frighten us, they seek to break our spirit.  If there is anything I know would not have happened to my father it is a broken spirit.  The Nazis didn’t do it and no evil today would have done it.  I use his memory as a source of strength and conviction, knowing how he would have looked at the world today.  Just one more thing to thank him for as I remember him.

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Now is the time to be unified, not point fingers

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Before all the information started coming out about the attacker in the nightclub in Orlando, who as of today is responsible for the murder of 50 people, the big question being asked was whether or not this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?  As authorities also arrested a suspect with an arsenal on the way to the Gay Pride parade in Los Angeles, the idea of calling it a hate crime became even more prevalent.  In reality the actual distinction between terrorism and what we call hate crimes is a misnomer, since terrorism is in essence the ultimate hate crime.

Civilization’s worst enemy today are Islamic Extremists.  They have made it very clear that they want to destroy everything the western world stands for and believes in. They want to at best, neutralize, at worst destroy all other religions.  Tolerance and acceptance are contrary to everything they believe in.  In short, they hate everything we are and all we value.

With all the criticism Democrats and Republicans have for the other side, we see today that America still is a great country.  The majority of Liberals and Conservatives, even if they vehemently argue about gay marriage or gay rights, mourn the attack without any hint of prejudice because it took part in a gay club. This is of no big surprise, because this is a country in which the majority of its citizens do no want to see harm come to others and see this is an attack for what it is, an attack on America, which subsequently is an attack on all of us.

That being said, I can’t help thinking about an episode of the show Friends in which the character Chandler starts smoking and the group are all over him about it.  What does Chandler do?  He brings up issues that cause them to fight among themselves and they totally forget he is even in the room, allowing him to smoke unencumbered.  Yesterday, when I saw the beginning of dissent among the American public and the first finger pointing, I could not help but think how much that played into the hands of the terrorists. Friends was funny.  This was not.  The more we fight among ourselves, the more we point fingers at what we think is the other side-the truth is we are really all on the same side- the more vulnerable we become to terrorism.  Naive? Maybe. But we must work together to preserve our freedoms and liberties.  Divisiveness is in itself a continuation of the terror attacks for it attacks the very core of who we are.

Not one person on either channel yesterday, at least no one I heard give their expert analysis was willing to say something to the effect of, “our leaders need to do more to recognize the enemy and there need to be stricter gun laws”.  As I have said many times, most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists today are Muslim.  That is not a statement of bigotry, it is a statement of fact.  I believe the administration makes a mistake in not clarifying that.  But to say that and ignore the fact that gun laws need to be addressed is not looking at the entire problem. Truth is that terrorists are criminals themselves, so no gun law will make a major impact on what they try to do, but if it was not as easy as it is to get a gun in this country it’s hard not to make a case that lives would be saved.  I believe in the right of every law abiding and mentally stable citizen to own a gun, but I also feel that someone who was investigated by the FBI and had a history of abusive and antagonistic behavior should somehow be prevented from owning one.  If that means a yearly psychological analysis is needed to continue to have a right to own a gun, then so be it. No mentally stable law-abiding citizen should have a problem with that. Inconvenient? So is going through the security checks at the airport, but it’s a necessity in the world in which we live today and something we actually need to appreciate.

The terrorist that killed the people in  Orlando was, sad to say, homegrown.  He was born and raised in the United States and somehow was filled with such hate for the way of life in America that he was willing to murder in what he felt was in the name of his religion. What this shows us is that regardless of what stances we take on immigration we still have a problem.  Borders are made somewhat irrelevant by the internet, allowing organizations like ISIS to infiltrate our society and influence the angry and disenfranchised.  Sure we can make things better by enforcing laws in all areas, including immigration, but the problem is more a reflection of the poor health of our society than the porous nature of our borders.

There are many issues that need to be addressed to see to it that our society is safe and prosperous, and although terrorism is an enormous threat, our division among ourselves may be an even worse threat, and to ignore that or let it be ignored for the self-serving needs of any politician or pundit is something we can no longer allow to happen.  If we do we then risk losing everything we hold dear as a nation and a society.

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Shooting in Tel-Aviv

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Reports coming out of Israel indicate a mass shooting in a mall in Tel-Aviv. As of now  the news is that 9 people were injured including one in critical condition.  The Jerusalem Post reports that at least 2 of the attackers may have been disguised as Orthodox Jews.

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