Tag Archives: 6 million Jews

Does it make a difference?

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In speaking with my mother, a Dutch survivor of the Holocaust, I have learned that Holocaust Remembrance Day is like any other day set aside for commemoration of an event.  In some ways it’s not really necessary.  Every day is, to some extent at least, a day in which the Holocaust is remembered.  For those who honor their parents as they should, who really needs Mother’s Day, right?

Maybe not.  Yes it is something that sticks with so many of us on a constant basis, but the question we really need to ask is what is the real purpose of a Holocaust Remembrance Day?  Especially one sanctioned by the United Nations of all things. An organization that has repeatedly shown disdain for, and prejudice against Israel and the Jewish people has a day in which they are saying everyone should remember the victims of the Holocaust during the reign of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party.  Is this day a day designed to strengthen world morality in order to see to it that no similar atrocity ever happens again?  Consequent actions and behaviors by the UN over the years certainly wouldn’t back that up.  Is it a satisfaction of guilt for a so-called world organization that does far less than it should to protect innocent people?  Or is it part of the farce that is the United Nations image that allows it to continue its worthless existence in which it does more to make corrupt people rich and powerful than it does to care for the weak and persecuted?

Whatever it actually is, if the results of this day set aside to remember does indeed increase awareness somewhere and with someone, who knows what type of positive ripple effect it could have.  I wrote a book about what my parents went through in the time of Nazi occupation.  Was this something I did as a totally selfless act?  The honest answer to that question is no.  Any success or achievement I have or will get out of the book certainly satisfies me on a personal level, but that does not negate the fact that nothing is more satisfying to me than inspiring or enlightening someone when it comes to the events that took place.  Now magnify this and imagine how many people may never have known that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis if it were not for a Day of Remembrance.  If any of these people are inspired to the point that they actually do something to make a difference in the future, then no matter how disingenuous the formation of a memorial may be, it does some good, and in a world with so much bad, and in a world where hating Jews is becoming more and more in fashion, we need all the help we can get.  Even if it comes from a reluctant source.

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To Properly Remember is to Always Know

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As I sit here with my limited understanding of what it means to remember those that gave their lives for the State of Israel, I realize that my personal obligation and responsibility is relatively easy when put side by side with those who have sacrificed so much.  In just a few words I will try to convey my feeling as to the basic effort I believe is incumbent on all of us who love Israel and the Jewish people.

I lived in Israel for 3 1/2 years.  Although that was many years ago I fell in love with the place. For me, someone raised in a strong Jewish household and the son of Holocaust survivors, I grasped the importance of the State of Israel at a young age.  That being said, I never had to do what so many others have done and continue to do to ensure its existence and security.  All I have ever been is a beneficiary of other’s sacrifice.

Having been  raised by 2 wonderful parents that suffered through the hardships of Nazi occupation and woke up to the horror of losing their family and friends, the concept of remembrance has always been paramount in my mind.   I write a little, speak a little, and try to show as much honor and respect as I can, but in the end I have personally concluded that there is only one way for me to truly show honor and respect.  That is to always remember.  Not just on Yom HaZikaron but every time I think of the blessing of the State of Israel.  Every time a member of the Israeli Defense Forces “IDF” is lost in battle, every time I meet a former member of the IDF, and every time I read or hear the tragedy of another lost soul to a terrorist attack.  I try to do more than just remember on one day, I try to make it part of my consciousness.

It is not easy to live with certain knowledge when that knowledge is painful or horrific, but when comparing oneself to someone who experienced it personally, to always be aware of what took place is a small price to pay.  For all those who have sacrificed so that we as Jews can have country we call our own, I am fortunate that all I need to do is always know the sacrifice they made for me.  In that way, in some small manner, I try to honor them every day.

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How being the son of Holocaust survivors made me who I am

Yom HaShoah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach Yom HaShoah and remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, I can’t help but think about how being the son of 2 survivors helped make me into the person I am today.

In comparison to so many, I am a very lucky man.  I enjoyed having both my parents around till I was 45 when my 87 year old father passed away almost 8 years ago, and still have the blessing of a wonderful relationship with my remarkable 93 year old mother. Although they experienced their own brand of hell between 1940-1945 in Holland, they were fortunate enough that it did not reach a level that prevented them from moving forward and enjoying their life after the war.  Even with that said, the experiences of my parents made them who they are, which subsequently made me who I am, both for good and for bad.  But more significantly as I write this today, a day in which we remember those who did not survive, the deep emotions transferred to me and my siblings impacted every one of us.

Even when I was more moderate than I am today, I’ve never had tolerance for anything that resembled a lack of respect for Jewish life.  Of course as a normal human being I value all life, but I am always on the alert for any indication that the Jewish people are being attacked.  I won’t listen to Pink Floyd or Bryan Adams anymore.  I don’t like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs merely because he once did the quenelle, a modern-day reverse Nazi salute in France, in a picture with a well-known anti-Semite even though he insisted he didn’t mean it to be anti-Semitic, and I almost got into a fight with someone at work who did the Nazi salute because he thought he was being funny.  He said he didn’t realize what it meant till his girlfriend told him later in the day.  That didn’t stop me from standing in his face and saying “never do that S#%#%t in front of me again.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no claims to be a tough guy, but my Dad of Blessed Memory was as tough as anyone, and my mother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  I was raised by strong people who brought me up to be proud to be Jewish, and most relevant in this discussion, they always honored the 6 million.  As long as I can remember and as long as I was able to have a conversation I always knew about the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.  And I have always tried my personal best to honor them.

Never Again, a phrase that often stems from or leads to political discussion may be 2 of the most important words in my life, as I am sure it is to many reading this as well.  However today is not about politics, it is about remembrance and honor. Something I learned from my parents, and thank them for from the bottom of my heart, for in the process they made me a better person, one that often stops and realizes the Jewish souls once sacrificed, and the importance of never forgetting them.

 

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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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Open Letter to Shirley Maclaine

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Dear Shirley,

Your recent comments regarding the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Europe were so ridiculous I originally chose to ignore them, but sadly like so many other idiots today you have an audience that actually cares what you say.  Therefore I am left with no other choice other than to address your most recent public display of insanity.

You asked the following question.  “What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before?”  I keep looking at this thinking I must be in some kind of twilight zone.  I won’t waste words asking you if you are out of your mind since the evidence supporting this is clear, but I will ask you this question. How dare you?  These weren’t 6 million fighting soldiers killed. These were regular people. Innocent people.  Not just young strong men but the elderly, the sick, women and children.  My mother worked as a nurse in a Jewish hospital in Amsterdam and watched as the Nazis took sick people on gurneys and transported them to gas chambers.  Do you honestly believe that any decent force in the universe would cause this to happen as a means of balancing out karma?

Would you like to hear my theory?  Besides the fact that you are just plain bat-shit crazy, you are so distressed over your own life, so angry over wrongs you felt done to you over the years, and so scared to go after the bad people, that you decided to do what all modern-day cowards with deep inner pain and an audience do.  You went after the Jews. Let’s be real here.  Despite the claims people like you might make about the barbarism of the Jews and the government of Israel, your life is not in danger even after you desecrated the memory of 6 million murdered Jewish souls.  It is this understanding that emboldens fools such as yourself.  The knowledge that you can say anything to the Jews and not put your life in danger is what makes you “brave”.  Quite frankly, I am proud that we are like that and hope it never changes.  I also hold no hope that people such as yourself will ever understand that very fact about our nature proves how wrong you are about your karma theory.

In closing I have this piece of advice.  Either seek mental help or change your therapist, for whatever you are doing now isn’t working and the more you speak the more all sane people realize how out of your mind you truly are. Either that or you are actually a reincarnation of a buffoon.  Regardless, in the meantime it would be great if you would just shut up.

Sincerely,
David Groen

 

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Open Letter of Appreciation to Benjamin Netanyahu

gif-leaders-netanyahuDear Mr. Netanyahu,

I am certain as I write this letter there will be at least one moment when tears will come to my eyes.  The things I want to say to you are so heartfelt and I believe shared by so many other Jewish people like myself, that I have no doubt I will have moments of intense emotion while saying them.

I wish to start with two very simple words.  Thank you.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors from Holland and my entire life I have understood the importance of the State of Israel, not only in Biblical terms, but in its role as a national guardian and protector of the Jewish people. Everything you do, each word you so carefully speak, and every life you so clearly cherish does honor to the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis.  As I sit here in New York, I feel safer as a Jew knowing you are working as hard as one can work, and with as much competence as one individual can have, towards keeping Jews all over the word safe from today’s version of the Nazis.

I do not have the honor of knowing you personally, but as a Jew listening to you speak of your desire to bring peace and quiet to the people of Israel, and the importance you have always shown for Jewish life, you almost feel like family to me.  It is natural and often justified for us to question the sincerity of politicians, but when you show anger or concern over harm done or threats made to the Jewish people, I never have the slightest doubt it is sincere.

I know you have critics.  You are the Prime Minister of a country where people are allowed to disagree with you.  I have no issue with those people because it is part of what makes Israel a great country.  However, what it does do is give me an even better understanding of how difficult your job is.  That coupled with pressure from the U.S. government and a world often working against you, the challenges you face on a regular basis are not to be envied.  Yet through all of these issues you conduct yourself with a graceful and strong leadership we so desperately need to have not only in Israel but throughout the world today.

Mr. Netanyahu, you are a true leader of the Jewish people.  You make so many of us feel safer during what is emerging as another dark time in our history. My mother who is 92 and lived in Holland during the Nazi occupation has told me this reminds her of 1938.  I challenge her on that statement saying that today is different because we have the State of Israel.  I would add that today is also different because of one other reason.  We have Benjamin Netanyahu.

In case you’re wondering, my first tears started way back in the beginning when I said Thank You the first time, something none of us can do often enough.

May God continue to provide you with the strength, wisdom and courage you need to see our people through these troubled times.

With fondest regards,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to Russell Brand

Russell-Brand-006Dear Russell,

Before writing you this letter I did a little research on you. Although no one, including myself ever thought you had it all together, I never realized how messed up you truly are.  ADHD, bi-polar, substance abuse, and bulimia?  Your accomplishments are astounding.  I guess that is what qualifies you as an expert in Middle Eastern affairs.

I’ve listened to your delusional rants and since you won’t stop talking I finally felt compelled to address you.  I guess when your biggest problem in life is should I fall off the wagon this week or next week and what movie should I suck in next, it is hard to relate to what is it like to live under the constant threat of terror attacks and missiles.  I normally make an argument in favor of my position when writing one of these letters, but for the most part I will make an exception in your case.  The reason being is that I am on to you.  This isn’t about your concern for the people of Gaza.  Those who care about the people of Gaza focus on their plight rather than regurgitate the usual nonsensical anti-Israel propaganda they picked up in Hamas for Dummies.  As you can see, despite the fact that I am Jewish and a Zionist, I am not actually heartless.  I don’t attack those who legitimately care about the safety of innocent people.  But that’s not you. What this is about Russ, may I call you Russ? No? Good.  What this is about Russ is your need for attention and purpose in life.  You sit and ramble from some dumb couch all cozy and comfortable, speaking about matters that are life and death for the people you speak about, but all you are really doing is looking for a way for an addict to feel important and some satirical way for you to promote yourself and some stupid home based show you think matters to people.  You appeal to idiots, because quite frankly you are one.

You are also a coward.  I say that because if you were so concerned about human rights violations and had any integrity at all you’d be going after ISIS, not Israel.  But you know, as do so many other cowards like yourself, that the worst you have to face when going after Israel and the Jews are economic consequences and letters like this.  If you went after Hamas or ISIS you might actually get hurt, and then you wouldn’t be able to sit on your couch chuckling like a manic moron waiting for the pills to take effect.

Russ, I’m the son of Holocaust survivors.  That means my parents were not among the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, but that they did live through that horrific time.  I know people such as yourself tend to shake their heads when we bring that up, saying things like, “there goes a Jew whining about the Holocaust again”, but I genuinely don’t care if you like it or not.  What I do care about is the approach you take that if successful would contribute to the possibility of another Holocaust.  Of course you don’t see that because frankly, you don’t want to.  If your attempt at intelligent and original thought went beyond some big words most of your followers don’t even understand, you might see the Trewth, and then the Trews might have some credibility.  Now all you are doing is establishing another anti-Israel and anti-Semitic platform with no basis in fact and honesty.

I don’t usually say this to an addict, but I think you need to go full throttle back into the drugs and alcohol man. Chances are you’d do a lot less harm than you are now.  You’d like it more too.  After all, if you don’t know what you’re talking about anyway, you might as well do it under the influence.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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These things happened….

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These things happened,

The publishing of Ulysses by James Joyce;  The first swimmer crossed the English Channel; Calvin Coolidge became president; the first Winter Olympics took place; Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean; Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse; Herbert Hoover became president; the Stock Market crashed;Penicillin was discovered; the planet Pluto was discovered; Empire State Building was completed; Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic; Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party became ruling party in Germany; Social security was established; Golden Gate Bridge was opened; Japan invaded China; Germany annexed Austria; World War II;  Japan attacked Pearl Harbor; Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 60 million people killed in World War II;  6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust; Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier; the State of Israel was founded; United Nations was formed;  NATO was formed; Korean War; Elvis Presley; Polio vaccine created;  Disneyland Opened; JFK became President; I was born; Cuban Missile Crisis; JFK assassinated; The Beatles; Vietnam War; Star Trek series; first Super Bowl; Apollo 11 landed on the moon; Terrorists Killed Israeli Athletes at Munich Olympics; Watergate scandal forced President Richard Nixon’s resignation; the movie Star Wars; John Paul II became Pope; Iranian Muslim revolution; CNN was formed; AIDS discovered; Personal Computers were invented; Soviet Union collapsed; Apartheid ended; Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa; 2 different Bush’s became Presidents; Bill Clinton became president; the Euro currency was formed; 3,000 killed in 9/11 attack in New York; Iraq War; the Internet was created; Holland lost 3 World cup finals; Justin and Kim got married.

These things happened, in the 92 years between the birth of these 2 people, my mother Sipora Groen and my youngest family member and great-niece Jara.

If this doesn’t give you hope nothing does.


With Abbas it’s about Expediency, not Right and Wrong

abbass1Relatively quiet during this most recent crisis in Israel is the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  Abbas once again has been presented with an unprecedented opportunity, and rather than make the most of it, he did what he usually does, willingly and cynically disregard it. The opportunity of which I speak was for him to make believers of even the most extreme skeptic as to whether or not he truly is a worthy peace partner.  Instead, as always,  Abbas chose to take the easy and corrupt way out.

There are two types of dangerous politicians.  The evil ones whose intentions are to cause division or suffering, and the weak ones who make all their decisions based on their own personal standing and position.  Abbas, now a politician with a terrorist resume, has traded in his militant status to become one of the most transparent politicians in the region, if not in the world.  His every move is a calculated way of dancing between appearing willing to make a lasting peace with Israel and conning the world, while appeasing the hardliners not only within his ranks but with Hamas in Gaza as well.  His comments generally are indicative of the poor character of the man, as he does what so many of those who are truly his partners, the ones who do not want peace do, fabricate statements because of their expedience.   Case in point, his comparing Israel’s current military action to the Nazi death camps that killed 6 million Jews.  The ridiculous dishonesty of the statement surely can not be based in ignorance.  Does he not know that the Nazis openly stated their desire to wipe Jews off the planet?  Does he not know the Germany’s campaigns and raids targeting Jews were not attempts to provide a safer non-violent Germany, but solely to kill them?  Does he not know that the death toll of Palestinians is significantly lower than it could be because the Israeli Defense Forces make every attempt NOT to kill civilians, in sharp contrast to Hitler’s Germany that hunted down Jews and murdered them?  Of course Abbas knows.  But what good would it do politically for him to acknowledge that?  Where does he gain by doing what is right?  His place as head of the PA is dependent on motivating the angry mob and placating the ambitious terrorists in his midst.  What better way to do this than to demonize Israel once again at what he sees as another opportune time.  While Israeli politicians will speak out against and act against bad behavior of their constituency, Abbas makes excuses or distorts the facts for his.  It may not be right, it may not be moral, but for a politician with a poor character such as Abbas, it certainly is expedient.

And here in lies one of the biggest problems facing Israel.  Should by some miracle the terrorist organizations get eliminated from the equation they still have a major problem.  They are left with a so-called peace partner who is nothing more than a terrorist turned self-serving politician.  To put this in the harshest and scariest of perspectives, consider this point.  He’s seen as the good one.


The Importance of Zero Tolerance

w-41tonyparker-quenelle-123113Having been busier than usual recently I have not had the chance to post something in quite some time.  However, as I sit here knowing it is Yom HaHashoah, I decided to make the time to write something.  It’s the very least I can do on a day that sadly will always be important to the Jewish people.  The story I will tell is one of zero tolerance, education, and a positive outcome.

About a week and a half ago I was kidding around with a work friend regarding the impending NHL Ice Hockey playoff match up between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.  I have been a fan of the Flyers for a long time and I engaged in verbal battle with my work friend who is a long time fan of the Rangers.  In the heat of our spirited, and to that point fun debate, he stood  by my doorway and in conjunction with an insult towards the Flyers performed the Nazi salute.  Let me say at this point that us Jews who care, generally know who is an anti-Semite and who is not an anti-Semite.  I know with a great degree of certainty that the person I am speaking of is not an anti-Semite.  However, as a Jew, and son of Holocaust survivors, I was presented with a situation in which my reaction would be important regardless of his intent. I stood up, walked forcefully towards the door and with a degree of harshness I save for true and intense anger said “Don’t ever do that sh*t in front of me again.”  Somewhat taken aback by my tone and bad language the situation escalated slightly until we both chose to stay on opposite sides of the office.

That night he called me, and with admirable humility apologized profusely and without excuse saying that he messed up and knew he was wrong.  I accepted his apology immediately for a few reasons.  The first one and most important one being that I knew even as it happened that this is not a person who condones hatred towards the Jewish people in any way shape or form.  His actions were more those of an ignorance to the significantly offensive nature of the action.  And as Jew it was incumbent on me to make sure he would know differently and subsequently never do something like that again.  Something I am very confident is now the case.   Another reason I accepted the apology immediately was that despite the seriousness to me as a Jew, the action was nothing more than an individual making a mistake, something we all do sometimes, which meant that once he realized it and apologized, I was comfortable putting the incident behind us.  There is however one important point relating to this incident that I wish to emphasize.

As Jews witnessing a worldwide resurgence in anti-Semitism not seen since the time of Nazi Germany, we must take extra care in showing zero tolerance for anti-Semitic action of any kind.   When Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French “comedian” who is proud of his anti-Semitism does the quenelle gesture, the reverse Nazi salute, he does so with no concern over how much he offends anyone, particularly anyone Jewish.  As a result, no tolerance can be shown towards the action regardless of who does it and their claimed intent.  Case in point NBA star Tony Parker.  Tolerance and acceptance was something all to present in pre-Holocaust Europe and we all know where that lead.  Can our zero tolerance ultimately make the difference between our death and survival in the future?  No one knows the answer to that question.  But we have no choice but to do everything we can to make a difference.  We owe that to ourselves, the world, and the 6 million Jews we will always honor and remember.