Author Archives: davidgroen1

Help me! I’m suffering from Anti-Trump Fatigue!

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It will be interesting to see how many people see the words Anti-Trump in the title and conclude that I am complaining about the President-elect’s victory and upcoming administration, when in reality I am doing just the opposite.

Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t all of a sudden become a Trump supporter.  What I have become instead is tired.  Tired of continuously litigating the same things people chose to ignore before the election.  Tired of talking about his behavior, what he meant, what he tweeted and what is in his heart.

It’s safe to say that many of us who publicly shared an opinion about either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton before the election did so in the hope that something they would say would make a difference.  They hoped, albeit in most cases naively, that their words would either influence many or cascade into support behind their viewpoint and help elect their personal choice for president.  Now that the election is over there is no influencing anyone’s vote or impacting any outcome regardless of the popularity of the words written or spoken.  Now all it is to most people is a lot of hot air.

I’m not saying we don’t have a right or even the obligation to keep the next president and his administration honest, but do so moving forward.  Do so in assessment of his words or actions starting on January 21st.  Even if one makes the argument that it’s important to know who you elected, how do we know with any certainty that Donald Trump even showed us who that was?  I for one am far from convinced that the persona displayed in order to be elected is the man we are actually getting as the next president.  In fact, I dare say it’s possible that people like me, people leaning towards the left on many issues, might be pleasantly surprised by what comes next.  But if not, we need to deal with it then.

Not that I expect any credit from my right wing friends for telling the naysayers to keep quiet for now, but it is the first time in a long time I dare say that we see eye to eye on any issue other than Israel.  The question is, will they be tired of the combativeness just as I am, or will they continue down their favorite road of belittling those who have different ideas than they do?  If they truly feel as I do, they will have reached a point where the same criticism of the same people over and over feels like nothing more than an exhausting exercise in futility.

It’s time to move forward people.  Pay attention, speak out and be active if that is your choice, but move forward.  It’s better for everyone involved, and a lot less tiring.

 

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I didn’t vote for Trump, celebrate Inauguration Day and why you should do the same.

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I didn’t vote for Trump.  Given the opportunity I wouldn’t vote for him again.  So you get my point.  I don’t particularly like him.  But you know what I do like?  America.  Part of America and what makes it great is the peaceful transfer of power.  So for all of those like me who are not fans of the President-elect, I have the following message for you.  Enjoy Inauguration Day and celebrate it.

I expect Democratic lawmakers to challenge the incoming President and hold him accountable for his actions.  That is part of democracy and no matter how many Republicans try to shut Democrats up I am 100% in favor of them doing their job, which is to represent those who voted them into power.  But the inauguration is a different story. It’s not about the individual you support for president rather your support for the office of the president.  Boycotting, disrupting, or attempting to ruin the inauguration in any way is not partisan politics, it’s unpatriotic.  Inauguration day is not dependent on who is elected, it’s the step that takes place after that individual is elected.  Inauguration day, like election day, is an American institution.

The irony of protesting against or boycotting the inauguration is that it turns it into something it’s not. Partisan.  It is not a Republican institution and when Democrats or Independents use their voice by trying to put a damper on the the inauguration, their efforts backfire.  So do the right thing whether you celebrate who is becoming the next President of the United States or not by  celebrating America’s democracy and enjoy and celebrate inauguration.  It’s not the Republican or Democrat thing to do, it’s the American thing to do.

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Open Letter to John Kerry regarding UN Vote on Israel

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Dear Secretary Kerry,

It took me less than 5 minutes of listening to your speech earlier today to get a very good idea of where the disconnect is between you and the administration’s approach and those of us who proudly and unapologetically support the State of Israel and its government. Since the problem is more in the method and approach than it is in the desired outcome, I am willing to assume, albeit reluctantly and mostly for the purposes of making the more important point,  that your intentions are at the very least meant to be fair to both parties.

Mr. Kerry, Israel is not your child and you are not its father.  I do not believe you have the right to sit in judgment over what she does as a sovereign state to protect her borders and the lives of her citizens.  The philosophical discussion of whether or not a two state solution is the only way to guarantee the continuing existence of the State of Israel is a discussion that can be had by any party coming to the table with legitimate and peaceful intentions.  The building of settlements, on land conquered by Israel when her very existence was threatened by hostile neighbors working towards her destruction, is an issue that can be legitimately addressed. However, like so many other things in life, things must be done at the right time, in the proper manner, and most of all prioritized correctly. The point being, until Israel’s rights are recognized and they can have an open and equitable discussion with a sincere partner in peace, discussions of Israeli policy and actions taken on any land falling under Israeli rule is not only inappropriate, it is hypocritical and immoral.

This is not a chicken and egg situation.  Before there was any violence or settlements, the very same United Nations that condemned Israel last week for the building of said settlements, approved the creation of the Jewish state that this same governing body now chastises.  The very same organization that once had Syria on its human rights commission, has done very little to protect the persecution and murder of Christians by ISIS and has repeatedly taken the side of terrorist organizations against Israel, now claims some high and mighty moral imperative.  The reality may just be that what it is actually doing is the bidding of the very wealthy Arab states that see Israel as a Jewish thorn in their proverbial sides.  This is the United Nations that you Secretary Kerry and the rest of the Obama administration have chosen to side with.

I have heard the argument that a large percentage of Israelis are against the settlements. Regardless of whether or not this is true, it is irrelevant, and frankly not the business of anyone outside of Israel.  In fact, and understand that this is coming from someone who has voted Democrat far more often than Republican, I find it particularly distasteful because of the recent evidence of Russia tampering in America’s elections.  How can we genuinely scream and shout in disgust over Putin’s actions when our leadership chooses to insert its influence over matters that speak to the very root of Israel’s existence?  The settlements may or may not be a moral or wise course of action, but they began with actions of self defense by an Israeli government, and unless an outside nation intends to put its citizens in danger, have their young men and women fight, or risk their very survival, what right do they have to dictate Israeli policy?  I do not question that the United States has done a lot to help Israel, but that means they are entitled to expect a fair and equitable friendship and alliance, not the right to control her destiny. It would be like my best friend saying that as a result of all he does for me he can determine how I furnish my home.  It’s unethical and the reality is that it just doesn’t work that way.

Mr. Secretary, I started the second paragraph by saying that Israel is not your child and you are not its father.  I use this analogy to make the following point.  There are only a few people I feel have had the right to speak out over how I live my life.  One of them was my father of blessed memory.  If anyone else felt they had the right to speak to my actions as my father did or mother does, I would have every right to react in a very harsh and critical manner.  Israel is America’s best and strongest ally, certainly in the Middle East and very possibly in the entire world.  That fact does not give you or anyone else the right to decide how they move forward in protecting their people and territory and representatives of Israel’s government are correct for their negative and critical reactions.

Finally I leave you with this thought.  When referencing all America has done for Israel, a fact I not only do not dispute but appreciate as well, understand the following important fact.  America’s friendship towards Israel has always been a way of strengthening her security and insuring her existence, not a bargaining chip to be held over her head.  Once the United States government takes the stance that because of its support they have the right to make demands, that friendship turns into something completely different.  It turns into a tool of power and control, something no Israeli leader, no matter how inclined to the left he or she may be is likely to respond to positively.  Something  I am even more thankful for. The actions of the current administration in showing support for these actions have been anything but friendly, and sadly and ironically have done more damage to the peace process than any action taken by anyone or any government in quite some time.  That Mr. Secretary will be most likely be your Middle East legacy.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Never Defend the Indefensible

World Leaders Gather In New York For Annual United Nations General Assembly

I have spent the past year, over the course of the US Presidential election cycle speaking out against the concept of what many might call the concept of defending the indefensible.  I take pride in being anything but a hypocrite.  So much so that I sometimes have views that are not in line with where I appear to stand politically. Therefore I can no longer keep silent regarding the current administration’s recent stance regarding Israel and the United Nations condemnation of the only true democracy in the Middle East.

This piece is not about Donald Trump, so I will only refer to him this one time, merely to make a point.  Those who have read my work over the past year or so are fully aware that I did not support him.  I found it bizarre and a bit scary when his supporters defended words and behavior many of us saw as indefensible. I can not be sure of what kind of person he actually is, but as president, to be blunt, I just don’t like him.  That being said, when I speak of dislike, my feeling towards the United Nations is on a different level.  So as I sit here and realize that my president, a man I voted for, has chosen as one of his last acts as leader of the free world to align himself with this bastion of corruption, I find myself in the position where I can not and will not defend the indefensible on a level far greater than any over the past year.

Ironically the issue, at least in my opinion, is not so much in the details.  There are many people in Israel who are opposed to the settlements.  There are also many people who believe the only real solution to the conflict is a two state solution.  But that’s not the issue. What is more significant here is the condemnation by the United Nations and the lack of loyalty and support the United States has shown to Israel in not only not obstructing this condemnation, but very possibly being a driving force behind it.  The United Nations has made a very lucrative business out of criticizing and condemning the Jewish State.  While nations have murdered and tortured their citizens, while terrorist groups have begun to form in various parts of the Middle East, and nations like Iran have called for the death and destruction of Israel and the United States, the United Nations has encouraged and arguably promoted the idea that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.  For any United States government to do anything other than oppose this, truly falls in the category of indefensible.

Just as a lie of omission is  still a lie, an abstention by the United States at a United Nations vote of this significance is the same as a show of support for the vote.  I truly believe Israel will get through this, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a clear act of disloyalty towards an important friend, and if it is personal and based on the relationship between President Obama  and Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is far worse than that. It interferes in Israeli politics in a manner not too dissimilar from a foreign government hacking America’s political parties and possibly influencing the election.  It tells the Israeli people, I don’t like the person you elected through your democratic process and subsequently as a result I am turning my back on you as I walk out the door.

This is not about being a Liberal or Conservative.  Alan Dershowitz, a man as liberal as anyone in the public forum has spoken out against this without any filter, and clearly feels the same sense of betrayal so many of us do at this time.  This is about how to treat a friend and knowing and acknowledging the difference between right and wrong.  Israel is a nation of equality.  A nation where people of all religions, races, nationalities and orientations have the opportunity to live in peace.  If an outgoing president and an international body decide to end the year attacking Israel instead of going after the real manifestations of evil in the world, this becomes nothing other than a vendetta, be it political, racial, or as many believe in this case, personal.  Regardless of the motivation it is an act that is truly indefensible.

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A message on Thanksgiving: No One is Entitled

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On this Thanksgiving, when we stop and think of all the things we should be happy for, we need to realize that the things we overlook, the things we take for granted are the things we need to be most thankful for.  If we live a life without hunger, a life where we can move around safely in freedom, and where are worst complaints still have us living a life so many around the world would be thrilled to be living, we need to truly stop and be thankful.

The things we might call “ridiculous”, the inconveniences that frustrate us, those things we seem to forget are gifts, not things we are entitled to, those are the things that either we should be thankful for, or at the very least should motivate us for a general feeling of thanks.  There may very well be people who read this that truly have problems.  Poor health or poor health of a loved one, hunger, poverty, violence or death are all reasons to ask for a better life and a better world.  But for those who get upset when the air condition doesn’t work for a day, or the line in the supermarket is too long, the website you love going on is down for maintenance, or your boss was mean to you, take a minute to realize how lucky you really are to have these problems.  And be thankful for it.

If you scored a big payday, or had great things happen in your personal life, of course you should be thankful for this.  But on this Thanksgiving to everyone looking for things to be thankful for and missing the obvious right in front of them I say this.  These are blessings, not entitlements. Be thankkful for them.

Withing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Is ridiculing feelings like Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America

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We all know the saying, “As American as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”.  I always liked that saying, because although I’m not a car guy and Apple Pie isn’t my favorite thing in the world, at least those 3 things, I do like baseball a lot,  have the ability to contribute positively to people’s lives.  So if Apple Pie and Chevrolet are to be associated with things very American, that only stimulates and strengthens my patriotic impulse.  Unfortunately in the time passed since the election, it appears that a large segment of society thinks there is something else that is the American way, and that is the ridiculing of feelings.

I am white, I am Jewish, I am straight and I am male.  So in all fairness, as much as I genuinely am not pleased with the outcome of the election, the worst of Donald Trump’s campaign statements and his new administration’s potential upcoming policy agenda, at least on the surface won’t impact me directly.  So if I would speak constantly of ongoing sadness and despair, although I would have every right to feel it, I could see the rationale in calling me a cry baby.  But what about those, potentially at least, who feel they will be directly impacted?

The LGBT community has watched as the country has elected a ticket with a Vice President formerly in favor of using HIV funding for conversion therapy and once signed a bill to jail same sex couples in Indiana who applied for marriage licenses.  Are gay people whiners if they express concern and even fear?  Is the cast of Hamilton really harassing the Vice President elect as stated by the President-elect Donald Trump because they use their platform to first welcome him to their show and then call on him to be a public servant for all Americans? Are the feelings of people whose lives could get directly impacted by policy or attitude wrong for having feelings? Not in my America?

What about law-abiding, patriotic American Muslims.  And yes, for those of you on the right rolling your eyes and wondering how a proud Jewish man and proud Zionist could say such a thing, there are significantly more of those types of Muslims in the country than there are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.  Are they wrong for being scared?  Are they wrong for feeling fear of the backlash caused by comments by the President-elect  and his new National Security adviser during the campaign?  Are they wrong for feeling as though they are being made to feel less than welcome in what is also their America?  Is it OK to see them as a threat merely for being born into the religion they were born into?  Not in my America?

But no other group has been made to feel more deeply isolated and frightened by what has taken place during this election cycle than the Latino community.  Addressing those Mexicans who are murderers and rapists in a way that left it open to be interpreted as all Mexicans, rallying people behind the building of a wall between the US and Mexico, and most significantly garnishing support by proposing rounding up all undocumented aliens and deporting them, was all it took to create an atmosphere of fear and despair in much of Latino America.  This is about much more than Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric.  This is also about how so much of the American public took to the rhetoric.  Blaming undocumented immigrants for your poor lot in life is at best a precursor to a dangerous racist society, at worst the creation of it.   So I ask you, were Latinos who were shaking and crying the day after the election crybabies and whiners?  Not in my America.

I have often said that you can dispute facts but you can not dispute feelings.  Someone is not wrong for how they feel.  Their feelings may be based in the perversion of fact, but questioning the legitimacy of feelings is as illogical as saying someone is wrong for liking Pizza or Star Trek.  People like what they like and feel what they feel.  Furthermore, when a large segment of society feels a certain way, especially when those feelings are based on things they have consistently heard for over a year and a half, who is anyone to ridicule those feelings?  Are people who have been the basis and so much of the foundation of Donald Trump’s success wrong for feeling targeted?  Not in my America.

Just as we should not ridicule the feelings of those decent people who chose Donald Trump because they found him to be the best choice moving forward, so too we should not tolerate the ridicule of the people who are not happy with the result.  Particularly those who feel their lives might very well be negatively impacted.  You might say that protesting will do nothing positive and may just make it harder to move forward.  I understand that viewpoint. Rioting and causing damage to property and loss of life should be met with harsh and immediate punishment.  Without question I get that.  But is ridiculing feelings as much a symbol of this great country as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America.

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When Muslims save Jews

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An interesting thing happened today.  A predominantly Muslim country potentially saved the lives of many Jews.  Israelis no less.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Kosovo police thwarted an attack on Israel’s international soccer team reportedly planned by members of ISIS from Syria. This turn of events, one that causes a collective sigh of relief and for those who believe in a higher power a show of thanks to God up above, also has very relevant and majorly important significance in a country not directly involved.  That country being our very own United States of America.

Over the years I’ve been anything but moderate in my approach towards Islamic extremism.  I have no problem recognizing the danger of the aggressive and violent approach taken by too many elements in the Muslim world.  I have zero tolerance for those who are murderers in the name of a so-called cause and I recognize the vicious hatred and venom towards Israel from much of the leadership in the Muslim world. That being said, I also not only recognize, but believe wholeheartedly that the greatest majority of Muslims, regardless of how they actually feel toward Israel and the west, do not want any part in violence towards anyone and just want to live a peaceful and productive life.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that what took place in Kosovo is evidence to that fact.

Since the election of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States, the status of Muslims in America has been very much in the forefront.  I get it. I honestly do.  I have often said that although most Muslims are not terrorists, the majority of terrorist attacks are conducted by Muslims.  The safety of innocent people is a major responsibility of any government and actions need to be taken to see to it that all that needs to get done does get done.  However, an attack on an entire people or religion is not only immoral and reminiscent of tyranny from the past, it’s a bad strategy.  The events in Kosovo bare this out.  In the name of fairness and objectivity, when you listen carefully to Donald Trump’s words and proposals, he never goes after all Muslims.  What he does however is target the problem as being a Muslim problem, which if done correctly and with a degree of tact would possibly have tremendously positive effects, but when done with mere soundbites causes a large percentage of people to see the entire Muslim world as a threat.

I don’t make a habit of defending Muslims.  As a Jew and a Zionist I’ve had plenty of justified anger towards many Muslims over my lifetime.  However, I also don’t believe in going after one group of people merely because of what they are, and if only from a pragmatic sense, it’s stupid.  Setting aside the fact that I personally base who I like and who I call a friend on how they are personally, if the entire Muslim world gets alienated, even if it’s a result of interpretation of Trump’s words as opposed to their actual meaning, the rest of us are indeed not better off or safer as a result.  My fellow Jews who think otherwise need look no further than Kosovo, where a police force of a population mostly consistent of Muslims did the right thing and stopped a potential massacre of Israeli soccer players.

There is a middle of the road, and throughout history that middle has always achieved the best results, not an extreme ideology in any one direction.  There is indeed safety in numbers, and if there are large numbers of Muslims who want to live in peace, a fact that any reasonable individual knows to be the case, then working with them will get us a lot further than alienating them.  The argument that “Trump didn’t say that”, isn’t enough anymore. As President-Elect he has a responsibility to how his followers interpret his words, and if he does not recognize that, even if his intentions are good, the damage caused will result in him failing tragically, for everyone, including those that support him.

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