Tag Archives: America

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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Marcel Groen’s words on the Effects of Immigration on Real Lives

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The following was written by my brother, Marcel Groen.  Marcel is the Chairman of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania.  He is a son, a husband, a brother, a father, a grandfather, and friend and colleague of many.  In this short but poignant piece however, he represents himself, the son of Holocaust survivors, more than anything else, as an American.  It is my honor and pleasure to share my brother’s words.

 

In the winter of 1942 Marcel Rodrigues went to the embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands, to apply for a visa for himself and his son, Bram.  He applied for the visa because he felt that America was the only country in the world that could provide him with hope, safety and freedom.

He was right. His visa was denied, He chose not to try to come here as an illegal immigrant. Oh do I wish he had. Marcel and his son  were murdered in Auschwitz on August 13, 1943, ten months later.

If only he had tried to get here as an illegal immigrant-he might not have succeeded, but if he had been successful he would’ve lived. There was no one else or place to go.

Marcel was my grandfather and Bram my uncle.

Americans should never forget why people come here, sometimes legally, sometimes not, but millions have come. They came because America represented opportunity, safety and goodness,  in a world that was neither good nor safe. We represent that wonderful experiment called democracy, where we make room for all and provide safety and opportunity for all who come here. Without those immigrants we would be nothing.

We are not perfect as a society. We have a long way to go, but we can and must continue to work towards those lofty goals we believe in.

When we crush those dreams; when we close our borders to those in need; when we forget where we came from and where we want to go;  then we will lose our place in the world, than our experiment will have failed. We cannot let that happen. As a people we are too good for that.

There are times when good people must stand up regardless of the consequences. JFK’s Profile in Courage comes to mind.

This is one of those times.  

Marcel Groen

 

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Open Letter to N.Y. City Mayor Bill de Blassio regarding comparison of Syrian and Jewish refugees

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Dear Mayor de Blassio,

I just finished reading how you compared the plight of Syrian refugees to the plight of European Jews fleeing the Nazis.  While I actually believe your intentions are good regarding this matter, I also believe you are making some gross misjudgments in your comparison, I believe these misjudgments need to be addressed, and to reference one of the most famous sayings of all time, I believe these good intentions may truly pave the road to hell.

Mr. Mayor, let me be very clear about something. This is not a racial issue, it’s a safety issue.  I am opposed to bigotry of any kind.  I consider myself to be a decent and compassionate person.  However, I also believe that each and every one of us has an initial obligation to the safety of our own people before we choose to be the saviors of another.  Being reckless and kind does not make us good people. During the recent outbreak of Ebola, our screening of people flying in from Africa was so detailed and so specific we even authorized taking a passenger’s temperature at the airport if they had symptoms of the disease. If they showed any signs of the disease they were subject to quarantine.  Two people died on U.S. soil at the peak of the outbreak. We treated the disease like a disease should be treated.  We prioritized prevention even if it seemed extreme.  There were many who felt our government overreacted, but since political correctness and world opinion didn’t play a large factor in our actions, we took aggressive and decisive measures to contain the disease. These actions may or may not have saved many American lives, but since the safety and well-being of the people already residing here took priority, these actions were deemed justified.

Prior to WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took no action to increase the quota on Jewish immigrants coming into the country due to what some felt was a reluctance to antagonize Germany a nation we were not yet at war with.  Many Americans did not want a large influx of refugees fearing that their needs would only add economic burden at a time when the economy was already depressed.  Subsequently many Jews were not able to enter the country and ended up dead in concentration camps.  Yet for many history tends to forgive the FDR administration, even though the Jewish people themselves posed absolutely no threat to American society.  If even 1% of European Jews were parts of groups sworn to the destruction of America, the comparison would be valid. Instead there had never been the slightest hint of any animosity from the Jews of Europe towards the US, and certainly none prone to influence by radicals sworn to its destruction.

No one worth listening to is saying that every Muslim is a terrorist, but the percentages of Muslims influenced by ISIS and other terrorist organizations is far too large to ignore.  The opportunity for ISIS to plant operatives within large groups of refugees is an unfortunate reality.  Let’s say for argument sake that a group of 10,000 Syrian refugees would have 100 members of ISIS hiding in its ranks.  To put the seriousness of this in perspective we need to stop and realize that it took only 2 people, 1 man and 1 woman, to kill 14 Americans last week.  Imagine the devastation 100 would cause.  As much as I understand your desire to be compassionate and decent, this sort of risk never existed with Jewish refugees escaping the Nazis.  This is by no means intended to say one group of people is better than another, merely to state that one group has segments that pose tremendous risks while the other group never did.

I feel sadness for the helpless plight of innocent people, particularly women and children regardless of where they come from and what religion they are.  However, I do not believe any of us are better people if we allow our compassion to compromise our safety.  In the time of Hitler’s Germany, since Jews never that caused that compromise to take place, your comparison is dangerously inaccurate. Furthermore, for us as Americans to believe we are to blame if we do not help these people is one more error in our political strategy.  In accepting any degree of blame we are taking some of the blame away from the perpetrators of evil  making these people’s lives unbearable, and I for one feel that plays right into their hands.

It’s a sad reality of the world we live in that sometimes doing good is not the right thing to do.  People such as yourself who want to help the refugees may very well be well-meaning, kindhearted souls pained by the suffering of others.  What needs to be understood is if that causes you to take or support actions that cause the suffering  of those people you and other politicians are sworn to protect, it is my opinion you would have made a catastrophic and unforgivable mistake.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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While Israelis Suffer, American Jews try to learn the best way to be supportive

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Earlier today someone I know through Facebook made a special request to her fellow Jews living outside of Israel.  Her request basically was that her Jewish brethren recognize the difficult times facing the citizens of Israel and refrain from posting pictures of their enjoyment of trivial or recreational activities, she referenced a ski trip, while so many Israelis fear for their lives as they just go about their daily routines .

I’ve been struggling with this since I saw her post. The most significant emotion I have felt since reading it is sadness.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I use whatever forum I have to defend and honor the Jewish people and Israel according to my personal interpretation.  I consider myself a realist, very likely due to my parents relaying the stories of what they experienced prior to, and during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Compassion for my fellow Jews and the awful problems they currently face in the State of Israel is not a feeling I need to dig down deep to feel.  It comes naturally, as it does to so many others.  So my reaction to this person would be nothing but supportive and positive if I would address her directly. The problem I have is a more philosophical one.  Not because I passionately feel one way is right and one way is wrong, but in this case it is because I just don’t know.

From the perspective of supporting her and others like her I would certainly understand toning it down a little, but then the question becomes, where does it end?  I would like to reiterate that I am not making a case in one direction or another since I continue to struggle with this tremendously. If I go out on the weekend should I tone it down?  Forget Facebook, having once lived in Israel and appreciating what it means to all of the Jewish people, am I wrong for going out and having too much fun just days after an 18 year old boy got shot to death and a 21 year old woman got stabbed to death just for being Jewish in Israel?  Have I become so desensitized to the suffering of my own people that I am able to party on the weekend while my fellow Jews in Israel mourn the losses?

I honestly do not know the answer to this question.  Like the rest of you I don’t really have any real frame of reference.  I rationalize with thoughts of, the terrorists want to disrupt our lives so we shouldn’t let them or life must go on no matter how bad the circumstances.  Both of those arguments  are reasonable and by no means eliminate compassion and caring, but I still feel for my Facebook friend and others like her in Israel who might feel better if we expressed a pain more similar to theirs.  Let’s face it.  Although things aren’t getting better, living in America as a Jew is relatively safe and easy. It certainly is in the New York City area.  We can care and empathize all we want for those who live in Israel, but the reality of humanity is that unless you are living it, you don’t really feel it.

There are individuals who have as great of a love and connection towards Israel as anyone else but are presently going through a great time in their lives. Maybe their personal and professional lives are so in sync and successful that everything they would post at this time would be positive, and often an exhibit of pure and exuberant fun.  Are they insensitive if they share it with their friends?  Do they lack compassion? Do they care any less about Israel than anyone else?  I would certainly say that sharing their good fortunes and celebrations of life with people close to them doesn’t make that the case, but nonetheless I wind up back to my friend in Israel and the sadness I feel for her pain, and I wind up no less confused than when I started writing this article.

The answer may just be to take it as it comes.  I have all the respect for my friends’s request while having no negative judgment for the person who posted the picture of their ski trip.  All I can do is try to be as sensitive as possible to the feelings of my brothers and sisters in Israel, and pray very hard that peace comes to them very soon.

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Now is not the Time to Judge Our Own, Now is the Time to Get Down & Dirty

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Much is being written about the importance of maintaining our ethical behavior as westerners living in civilized nations. The issue of Syrian refugees has moved to the forefront and become a polarizing political issue. While the statements may be based in an unquestionable truth, to put too much focus on this now deflects attention from the bigger problems facing western civilization.  War is being waged against our entire way of life and to put too much emphasis on our behavior, be it in action or rhetoric gives those who want to kill us more time to implement their strategy and puts all of us in serious danger.   First we must deal with the enemy, then we can deal with ourselves.

I am writing this partially as an indirect response to an excellent article written by a friend of mine in which he discusses immoralities that we, as decent people have no right to commit.  The article shows his extreme decency as a human being and extraordinary intellect, however in my mind as much as I respect him for his words, I believe the timing of the message to be off. This is a message we need to save for when this war is over.

The reason I say this is because we are dealing with an enemy that knows no morality, no decency, and has no heart.  As much as I believe good ultimately triumphs over evil, that doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes you must fight fire with fire.  As is so often the case when I espouse this type of action, I feel a pang of guilt.  After all, I am likely not going to be one of those people committing what otherwise might be deemed as questionable acts or even atrocities.  That being said, I fear for our future and know that if we are, for lack of a better term too nice, we’re in very big trouble.

Maybe I am one of the bad guys after all.  I believe that if it us or them it’s an easy decidsion.  I recognize the tragedy in the millions of suffering people living in Muslim countries, and although I wish it were different, now is no longer the time nor is it once again the time for us to concern ourselves with their plight.  The time will come when we do once again have the prosperity of a peaceful life, but until that time comes once again, our priority must be protecting our way of life and even more importantly, keeping each other safe.  If that means becoming something that we do not want to become, as long as it is temporary, I believe it is something we must do.  A true victory means doing so under our terms as they exist today, not defeating the enemy and becoming like them in the process.  As long as we stay focused on what it is that needs to be accomplished, taking the harshest of measures to see it happen is acceptable.  If as a society we have to slip backwards morally, I am confident we can address and fix that later.

If leading by example, taking the moral high ground, not letting the enemy drag us into the mud could work, I’d be all for it.  Sadly we are dealing with animals and sometimes the only way to defeat an animal is to become an animal.  Once good triumphs over evil and we are free of the cancer plaguing our planet we can focus on demanding ethical behavior from each other and the rest of the civilized world.  Until then survival is paramount, almost at all ethical and moral costs. As well intended as those focusing on our behavior may be, our energies need to be applied to a ruthless and barbaric enemy, one that will only see our decency and morality as weakness and exploit it to a tragic end.  Preventing that from happening takes precedence over everything else, no matter how unethical it may seem.

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The Bad Logic of a deal with Iran has little to do with the Specifics

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One of the arguments I’ve heard for making a deal with Iran is that there is no other viable option.  Those making that argument believe that bombing Iran sets them back a year at best and that enforcing sanctions tightens the noose around what would then become an even more aggressive regime subsequently hurting the Iranian population and driving them further away from reform.  They believe in a perfect world the agreement would delay Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions long enough to see a more tolerant government and an Iranian people unwilling to go to war.  Needless to say, we are not living in anything close to a perfect world, and the logic behind this agreement represents so much of what is wrong with the current U.S. Administration’s foreign policy.

First of all, an American government should never negotiate with terrorists.  Technically speaking some may want to make an argument that dealing with the government of Iran is not dealing with terrorists, but when you look around the Middle East and see all the terrorist organizations and regimes funded and supported by Iran, calling them anything other than terrorists is at best misguided.  Their ambitions have been very clear, and allowing them to move forward with nuclear energy only strengthens their ability to see these ambitions through to the end.

As a Jew and a Zionist, it has always been my personal view that no discussions should ever take place with any regime that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.  Iran goes many steps further when they not only call for Israel’s annihilation, they say that Israel’s destruction is something they deem as non-negotiable. This leads me to ask this question.  How can the president say he is “absolutely committed to making sure they (Israel) maintain their qualitative military edge”, while simultaneously strengthening a regime committed to her destruction? Make no mistake.  This strengthens Iran in all the wrong ways.  Besides the most obvious and potentially devastating way in which it allows them to maintain a nuclear program, the relieving of sanctions provides a regime of murderers to increase their funding of worldwide terrorism.  To make matters worse, and the significance of this may be lost on people, the perception of the Iranian people is that their leaders are heroes for making this deal.  Any hope of seeing this regime go away internally any time soon has subsequently been destroyed.  This is actually the most negative immediate result of the deal.  The other more devastating results would take longer to play out.

So for those who might say to me, it is easy to be against the deal and provide no alternative solution, here is what I propose. Political and economic pressure from as many directions as possible.  The immediate outcome of this deal almost proves why continuing sanctions is the best immediate choice.  Sanctions would put a stranglehold on the Iranian regime creating discontent among the Iranian population, making it more and more difficult for Tehran to continue exporting terrorism.  Although I believe war is inevitable, I also respect and appreciate every effort to avoid or at least delay that inevitably. That is as long as it keeps America and Israel safe, something I believe this deal does not do.  All it really does is lay the groundwork for allowing one of the most devious and evil governments in the world a place on the world stage.  A place they are less than likely to use for any good.

 

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Defending our brother Alan Dershowitz

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Where are the Jews to defend Alan Dershowitz?  This is the question that was presented by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and to be quite frank, it’s a very good one.  Let me be very clear.  If there was clear evidence that Mr. Dershowitz was guilty of the accusations of sex with an underage girl, there would be no defending him.  However, if ever there was a time to invoke the great American principle of “Innocent until proven Guilty”, now is the time.

I am often disgusted by the mentality in parts of the Arab world that promotes accepting immoral behavior by those who share a common hatred for Jews and westerners.  It’s acceptable to treat women poorly, steal, rape and murder, as long as the core of your philosophy speaks to the destruction of Israel and western society. Jews don’t think that way.  If Alan Dershowitz is indeed guilty of this crime, his status in the Jewish community will drop significantly.  He can defend Israel all he wants, attack the enemies of the Jewish people till he is blue in the face, but if he is indeed guilty of statutory rape he will lose the respect and status of most of the community. And rightly so.  However, with all that he has done, with all the clearheaded defense of Israel, and his staunch advocacy of the Jewish people and Jewish state, we owe it to him to accept him on his word unless there is evidence to the contrary.

I do not believe in sticking one’s head in the ground and ignoring harsh realities.  However, it is a lot easier to accept that one person is lying than that many are lying.  This accusation comes from one woman making accusations against many.  Whether some or all of these accusations are true, there is no question that this woman has to be at least somewhat disturbed, be it from crimes committed against her or by her very nature.  I believe all the accusations must be investigated and that any and all guilty parties must be held accountable.  That does not necessarily mean that any of the allegations are true.

Alan Dershowitz is our Jewish brother.  He is our American brother. While other high-profile Jews and Americans remained silent this past summer, Mr. Dershowitz spoke loudly in defense of Israel. Let’s not forget that the allegations against Israel were also mostly fabricated.  Why would it be so difficult to believe allegations against one of Israel’s most high-profile and intellectually capable defenders would be fabricated as well?  This is a man who has defended us loudly and proudly.  He deserves our support.  He’s earned it.

I have no problem with people jumping ship if the allegations are shown to be true, but unless that happens we owe it this man to not only treat him like family, but to treat him like family we have liked and respected.  That means the burden must fall on the accusers to prove his guilt, not on Mr. Dershowitz to prove his innocence.

We owe that to our brother.

 

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