Author Archives: davidgroen1

Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump

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Dear Mr. President,

I hesitated in writing this letter, partially because I questioned whether or not it would make a difference and partially because I realized I may anger or offend some people in the process.  I chose to move forward regardless out of an obligation and responsibility I felt to the history and memory of all those lost in my family and other Jewish families in the Holocaust. Although I take issue with much of what I see coming from your office, I recognize and respect the office of the President of the United States and will address you appropriately, even if I often question whether or not you share that same respect.

I am one of those rare few who is willing to break from his position if he feels it is the right thing to do.  I did not vote for you, and do not support much of what you appear to stand for, but will speak positively about you when I feel the situation merits it.  For example, I supported your tough talk directed towards the leader of North Korea.  I believed it was an example of not trying to be reasonable with an unreasonable person and felt that a show of strength was necessary in this instance. I also have come to the conclusion, one shared by many of my fellow Jews, that you do indeed like the Jewish people.  I recognize that many people who lean to the left as I do felt differently, but that is not what forms my opinions. My opinions are formed by my personal history, my family’s history, and the values instilled in me both by my parents and my understanding of the world around me. Sadly I find you to be heading down a path that puts you progressively on the wrong side of history.

I find myself wondering if you have a clear understanding of what the Nazi Party was and what people who suffered under their rule, primarily Jews, went through during that time.  Unlike many others who are not fans of your presidency, I do not underestimate your intelligence.  So I must ask myself, are you detached from the reality of what this all means, do you not care, or does your very large ego lead you to believe you are smarter than everyone else?  No matter how bad some protesters on the left may behave, protesters that represent the Nazi philosophy have chosen to represent brutality unlike anything the world has ever seen. I know your supporters that see this letter will come back with all kinds of information about how bad certain liberal elements are, but no matter what they come up with it will not justify any defense or the establishment of a false equivalency with the Nazis that marched this past weekend in Charlottesville and the fanatic that killed an innocent woman. Your supporters may choose to sell their soul in the name of what they call Conservatism, but make no mistake, supporting you when you do not make the clear distinction between the KKK & Nazi marchers from the marchers on the left is indeed the selling of a soul.

You debated with reporters as though you represented the groups on the right. What about the Alt-Left was your retort?  You spoke of what you called “violence on all sides”. Would you have condemned “violence on all sides” after the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose up and fought against their Nazi oppressors?  I am a Jew and a Zionist that takes issue with what I see as a hijacking of the left by the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian block looking to push their occupation agenda. That being said, they are no more comparable to the Nazis than you are to Hitler.  I have disagreed and debated with many who have chosen to compare you to him since you exerted yourself into the presidential race and ultimately the presidency.  I find the comparison to be  unfair and unjust. I still do.  I even debated it with my late mother who passed away this past April. She would refer to you as “another Hitler”. My response very simply was, to be compared to Hitler you have to be a murdering fascist, something you are not and I believe never have any intention of becoming.  That being said Mr. Trump, because of your lack of desire to rid these modern day Nazis of oxygen, on the contrary your words have given them life, I actually found myself happy my mother was not alive to see this.

Maybe this is not entirely your fault.  After all, you are only human. You too feel empowered when you can say anything, no matter how unethical or immoral and get no push back from the holier than thou Mick Huckabees and Mike Pences of the world. These men who claim to be so devout and so committed to God and decency are notably silent when it comes to criticizing you at times when you deserve criticism.  But they too have sold their soul, finding whatever financial gain or acquisition of power available to them is worth forsaking their values for.

I’ve tried as hard as any person on the left to give you the benefit of the doubt.  That being said, there is no compromise or acceptance coming from me when Nazis are involved, and to any of my fellow Jews, that includes your daughter and son-in-law, that feel there is compromise, shame on you. Shame on you for allowing even the slightest bit of life or existence of a group who would kill you at their first opportunity. Frankly Mr. President, I suspect that by Hitler’s standards and rules you would also be killed.  After all, you are the father and grandfather of Jewish children.  Maybe you should remember that the next time you wand to say, “what about the Alt-Left?”

I met you once many years ago in the Plaza when you were married to Marla Maples. I too was married at the time, and my then wife who was normally very shy, asked if she could take a picture with you and Marla.  Before you left I asked you if it would be tacky if I gave you my business card.  Your response was, “yes, but do it quickly I am on my way out”. As funny as that was it told me something about you that possibly applies to what is happening here today.  It tells me that  just because something is tacky or even wrong, you still might be willing to do it.  That is all good and well when taking my business card, but that doesn’t fly with me or much of the country when it comes to dealing with Nazis.  You owe it to too many people, including your own family to do better, before it’s too late.

I realize that to you I am no one of significance.  Sadly I believe it possible that only your supporters are significant to you.  That being said, I am an American, I am a Jew, and as a voter I am not happy with what I am seeing.  You may find that many people who did not once feel as I do, may feel that way now. You should see that as significant.  In the meantime I urge you to put your ego and sensitivity aside and lead this country as it is meant to be lead, with decency and deference. After all, as President of the United States that is your sworn oath and responsibility. Whether you like it or not.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Honoring & Remembering my Mother

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About 6 weeks after her passing, my mother Sipora Groen still received honors for the great work she did, and as the certificate says, helped to “Protect, Preserve, and Perpetuate A living Memorial through Education” She remains an example of what we need more of in this world today.

 

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Open Letter to Nassau Coliseum Senior Vice President, Booking – Keith Sheldon Regarding Upcoming Roger Waters concerts

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Dear Mr Sheldon,

Although I am not certain you are the correct person to address regarding this matter, I will start with you and go from there depending on the response.  As I am sure you are aware, there are a large number of people, not only from Long Island but from all over the tri-state area, and the entire world for that matter, that find Roger Waters to be an offensive anti-Semite with views riddled with hypocrisy and hate.  While I agree with the concept of keeping musical performances separate from political ideology, in essence meaning an entertainer can believe whatever he or she chooses to believe without having concern for their right to perform, in the case of Roger Waters this very issue is what makes it imperative that his upcoming concerts at the Nassau Coliseum get cancelled.  Please allow me to explain why.

As a Jew and a Zionist my personal views for Roger Waters are anything but positive.  His unrelenting attacks on the State of Israel, much of it through his activism in the BDS Movement, attacks that border on obsession, are so filled with a one-sided hate for the Jewish element in Israel, I would believe that alone would be enough to have him unfit to perform at your venue.  I do not sit here writing you this letter to make an argument for Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians, but I will make a point of saying that anyone who refuses to even entertain at least some culpability on the part of Palestinian leadership is clearly biased in one direction.  Since that bias is directed towards the Jewish leadership in Israel it is clearly more than just anti-Zionism, it is unquestionably anti-Semitism.  In allowing his shows to go on, you are allowing an individual filled with hate to represent himself on your stage, a stage located in the midst of a vast Jewish population.

All that being said, there is a far more basic and solid reason to be made against his performance.  To quote his very own words, words he spoke in response to hearing of the efforts to stop his shows from going on,  Waters said his shows would not be cancelled, “insisting a performer’s rights should not be under attack because of his or her beliefs.”  This glaring hypocrisy from a man who has attacked and harassed some of the most established and successful musicians in the world for performing in Israel.  Here are a few examples of comments he made to fellow musicians.

 To Bon Jovi:

“You stand shoulder to shoulder with the settler who burned the baby. The dead can’t remind you of the crimes you’ve ignored.”

 

To Thom Yorke of Radiohead

“My answer to people who say we should go there and sit around the campfire and sing songs: No, we shouldn’t. We should observe the picket line.  Anybody who’s tempted to do that, like our friends in Radiohead, if only they would actually educate themselves. I know Thom Yorke’s been whining about how he feels insulted, people are suggesting he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

 

To the Rolling Stones

“Regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.”

Star like Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys and Neil Young have all been pressured by Waters to cancel performances in Israel.  Sir Paul and Keys even revealing being the victims of death threats and intimidation, all spurred on by the same Waters who insisted  “a performer’s rights should not be under attack because of his or her beliefs.”

You have an unprecedented opportunity here.  Rather than cancel his concerts, you can make them conditional.  Conditional on Roger Waters publicly declaring the same stance towards performers choosing to perform in Israel that he feels he is entitled to on Long Island.  That being as he said, the right to perform somewhere regardless of one’s beliefs. Should he accept the terms, he will be exposed further as the hypocrite that he is, but in doing so an enemy of the only democracy in the Middle East will no longer harass his fellow musicians. Should he refuse and cancel his own concerts, the message you will send to the people of Long Island and many miles beyond will solidify the Nassau Coliseum as more than just a building with a big hall, it will establish it as a place where true performers and artists are showcased.  It will unquestionably be better for business in the long run and will establish a close bond with the community.

I am sending this letter to you first, but also intend to attempt to work on having it signed and presented as a petition in the hope that the number of signatures gives you an indication of how important this is to many people wishing to be future patrons of your venue.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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The Trump Siddur(Jewish Prayer Book)

sachAs I have been doing on a regular basis for the past 3 months, I went to my local synagogue this past Shabbat( Saturday) morning. As I walked in I grabbed a Siddur, Jewish Prayer book, and a Chumash, the 5 Books of Moses.  When you open the Art Scroll Siddur, my personal Siddur of choice, on the right mostly everything is in Hebrew, and on the left mostly everything is English.  That is, usually it is. As I sat down to pray this particular prayer book had no English in it at all.  Where I usually read the English it was now replaced entirely with Russian.

After I made a double and triple take to make sure this was actually Russian and I wasn’t having a stroke, I decided to call this particular Siddur the Trump Siddur.  I then opened the inside cover and in my imagination at least, saw the words, Dedicated to Jared Kushner. Well not really, but I imagined it to be so.  I also imagined the second I put it back on the shelf a lacky from CNN was going to come collect it to see to it that it would be displayed as evidence on the next episode of Anderson Cooper 360.

Just before I stopped trying to be funny and got back to the business at hand of praying, I came to one conclusion.  Art Scrolls is clearly guilty of collusion.  That being said, until I hear evidence they influenced the election at all, I have every intention of keeping them as my Siddur of choice.

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Welcome to a World of Sociopaths

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I’m basically a Democrat. I have plenty of friends who are Republicans.  I often disagree with them, occasionally agree with them, and from time to time don’t want to even venture into a political discussion with them.  I’m not fan of our current president.  I have friends who love him. We will definitely disagree on how we feel about him, sometimes jokingly while sometimes with more intensity.  One thing we never do however, is physically hurt or attack each other.  Does that make us wonderful people? Absolutely not. It makes us normal people.  It makes us people who are not sociopaths. Unfortunately we live in a world crawling with sociopaths.  They can be Democrats, Republicans, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, man, woman, citizen or immigrant. But make no mistake. Sociopaths are all over the globe, be it someone who drives a truck through crowds of people in Nice, blows himself up in a concert in Manchester, mows down women and babies on a Jerusalem street with a car, goes on a shooting rampage at a baseball practice for American Congressmen, or on a lesser but still significant level a comedian who holds up what looks like a severed head of the President of the United States.

I believe and understand that everyone wants to be part of something.  I realize that so many people in the world are in search of a movement.  That being said, even those who choose movements, even those movements I hate and find damaging or hateful, are not sociopaths for being what I perceive as stupid or misguided.  Do they give a platform or strength to the crazy person that feels it is OK to hurt or kill?  Frankly I say no, and here’s why.

I am a somewhat liberal Jewish Democrat who does not like Bernie Sanders at all.  It would not be totally abhorrent to me to blame him for what happened in Alexandria, Virginia since the shooter was a Sanders supporter. However, as much as I dislike Bernie, he is not the reason the shooter, James Hodgkinson, was crazy enough to go on a shooting rampage at a bi-partisan baseball practice with children present.  Somehow this man felt that he could do whatever he wanted to do no matter how vicious, hateful or violent it was. It’s one thing when dictators preach violence and murder against a segment of society, it’s something entirely different when a politician speaks angrily against policies. What happened was not Bernie Sanders fault.  But it is critically important to note that it also was not Donald Trump’s fault.  It’s society’s fault.

We are all very focused on the behavior of radical Islamic terrorists and for good reason. That being said, we need to make sure to pay close attention to our own house, because while we sit back and focus our concerns on other nations, we are a nation with it’s very own rising population of sociopaths, and until we find a way to stem this very dangerous tide, I fear more and more people will get hurt or killed.  My suggestion, and if President Trump follows through on this and has success this will be his legacy, is to appoint a Mental Health Czar. This would be a man or woman entrusted with understanding and dealing with the psychological issues facing so many people today.

Someone said to me earlier today that James Hodgkinson shot up the baseball field because he was mad that Trump won the election.  But that’s not the case. The reason he went on a shooting rampage against Republicans at a baseball practice is very simply because he was a sociopath.  He somehow felt his behavior was acceptable or justified. It’s very easy to blame the “other side” for all the bad that happens, and that is acceptable when it deals with policy, but when it deals with violence it’s time all of us normal people, the ones who don’t believe injuring or murdering people is acceptable behavior, remember this one very critical thing. We’re all on the same side.  When we start looking at it that way we may be on the way to saving the future of our very fragile society.

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Words do matter

A man walks down a street filled with trees.  All he hears above him is the chirping of birds.   He smiles as he walks, thinks nothing of it, believing it to be nothing but noise in the background.  As he emerges from the street his clothing and hair covered with bird poop, he realizes this has turned out to be more that just a lot of noise and a minor annoyance.  This is now a big mess.  He stops in exasperation and a very stately and large bird flies in front of him, perches itself on a fence, winks at him and says, “this is what happens when you think tweets don’t mean anything.”

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Yell at the enemy, not each other

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When I heard about the Manchester terror attack, one of the things that went through my mind was that it was the first time since my mother passed away on April 19th that I actually felt ironically and sadly happy she wasn’t alive to see it. It would have broken her heart.  As it did for everyone decent with a heart. There are many people with many different political ideologies and strategies on how to handle terrorism, but the one thing I can say for sure is that the majority of them were devastated by what happened and despite the likelihood that it will be repeated in some manner,  hope and pray something like this never happens again.

But apparently that is not good enough for some people. There are many who feel if your solution isn’t their solution you are now part of the problem.  As is so often the case, it is easier to go after the people who would never hurt you than it is to go after the ones that would be happy to hurt you. Calling a liberal a name for not being what you see as tough enough or calling a Conservative a fascist for what you may consider an extreme position against terrorism certainly is a lot easier than  screaming and shouting at the real bad guys.  I am an open critic of President Donald Trump, but one thing I won’t criticize him for is calling ISIS a bunch of losers.  Is the language “presidential”? Maybe not. But first of all it is true, and second of all it is a lot better than coming out and ranting and raving about how this is the fault of liberals.  So in this instance I not only support him and commend him, I urge people to follow his example.

You may think someone is misguided for their approach, but should you be yelling and screaming at the person who bemoans that they want to see peace between all people and all faiths? Should you put down the more militant type that is so mad at the brutality and evil taking place that they want blood?  The answer to both questions is no, you should not.  It is possible that one side is very right and the other very wrong or that the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but one thing is certain.  Neither of these people from either side are the real enemy and to lose sight of this does more to help the terrorists than it does to hurt them.  Debate the other from whatever side you sit on, but do not lose sight of the fact that most people, even those on an opposing side from yours want exactly the same thing.  A peaceful and secure life.

When we fight each other we give the true enemy a significant victory, something mostly everyone who will read this, be they to the far left or far right does not want to happen. Remember that and who knows?  Maybe we’ll get a lot closer to finding a real solution rather than just shout at each other trying to prove how smart we are.

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