Tag Archives: anti-Semite

Another Open Letter to Russell Brand

rus2Dear Russell,

Frankly I am not sure what upsets me more, the fact that you are still talking or the fact that last week the Huffington Post chose to provide you with a forum to regurgitate more of your self-serving ramblings(CLICK HERE TO READ THE OP-ED).   I am glad you think you’re not an anti-Semite because indeed that may be a step in the right direction, but unless you wrote that piece after once again dropping acid, something that in the past gave you your “pro-Jewish” epiphany, you are missing some very important points in your argument.

First of all, there is no fair way to discuss Israel’s military action in Gaza without mentioning the terrorist activities of Hamas.  Not only do you not do that, you never once even mention Hamas.  I maintain, as I did in my last letter to you(CLICK HERE TO READ), that you, like so many others don’t go after terrorist groups as hard as you go after Israel because you know the Israeli government won’t hunt you down and kill you in the street.  Hamas just might.  So conveniently leaving Hamas out of the discussion, and with all the dribble you wrote I am sure it was not a mere oversight, you are once again showing your cowardice.

Here is why mentioning Hamas is so key to the discussion.  You claim the actions by Israel are based in the economic gains of a right-wing government aligned with right-wing institutions in other parts of the world.  You do not back it up with facts, facts I would love to see because it would be enlightening to see how the Gaza campaign did anything to better anyone economically.  In truth the Gaza campaign was necessary, and sadly more campaigns will be in the future, because the ruling party of Gaza is sworn to the destruction of Israel and to the death of all Jews.  You somehow missed that in your long Op Ed professing your love for the Jewish people.

Allow me to teach you something you are required to learn if you do not want to be deemed an anti-Semite or someone who promotes anti-Semitism.  What you need to understand is more than just what you choose to see about an Israeli government.  What you need to grasp better is the concept of the modern State of Israel.

The State of Israel declared independence in 1948, 3 years removed from the murder of 6 millions Jews.  Or as your buddy Khaleed Meshaal says, a genocide only half as bad as what Israel committed in Gaza.  Israel was not set up as a way for Jews to colonize the entire Middle East or commit atrocities.  It was set up as a safe-haven, a guardian nation so to speak, for a race of people, my people incidentally, that was devastated in an unspeakable fashion.  The State of Israel was in somewhat set up as a nation designed to guarantee that what happened to the Jewish people under Hitler would indeed never happen again. So when you promote political and philosophical viewpoints that put the State of Israel in danger for its life, you don’t merely attack Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, you attack Jews worldwide.  You may claim that you are not an anti-Semite, but your statements increase the likelihood of many dead Jews. Regardless of what you claim to be your intentions, it doesn’t get much more anti-Semitic than that.

I loved this line of yours in your Op Ed: “It is the exclusion of the sane majority that allows extremists to prosper. The insanity across the Middle East is so deeply terrifying and giddyingly futile that most people, despondent and bilious want to look away.”  And yet, no mention of Hamas.  No mention of terrorism.  No mention of how similar Hamas is to ISIS or how Israel gives more civil rights to their Muslim citizens than almost every Arab country. It seems like you almost get it sometimes, but then your personal bias or delusion takes over and you revert back to the Neo anti-Semite you so don’t want to be.  Cough cough.

Although most people seemed to like my first letter to you, there were some disturbed my personal attacks on you. I almost felt bad about it till I read how in referring to Bill O’Reilly you said he was “A hollering parasite of his own punctured anus,” and Sean Hannity you called a  “Fox News’ shop-dummy-polemicist.”  I feel much better about calling you an idiot and a coward now.  Something I still believe to be true.

Since you claim to believe in positive action, here’s a suggestion for some very positive action. Shut up.  You are actually doing more harm than good.  I know you think you are this generations Jesus, but in truth you are merely a court jester giving more Brits the ultimate justification to jump on a plane to Syria, (via Turkey) to sign up for ISIS and battle the west you clearly seem to hate so much.  Funny enough, it’s the same west that made you rich.  I think you need to realize there is something far worse than being so despondent and bilious that you want to look away.  It’s looking right at it and ignoring the truth.  Something anti-Semites are very good at.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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My Summer of Gaza

img65649The summer of 2014 was set to be a great one.  I had slimmed down from the year before, had recently moved into a better home closer to the beach, the World Cup had started and I was all set to enjoy the next few months. Although life always presents its challenges, nothing had come up that was so important that it would change my priorities significantly.  Then something happened that changed everything.  3 Yeshiva boys were kidnapped.

I still remember that ray of hope we had that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal would somehow make it back safely.  The motto “Bring Back our Boys” was everywhere as we all prayed that somehow God would see them back to their homes unharmed.  I have seen many bad actions taken against Jews and decent people everywhere, but somehow I found myself more involved now than I had been for at least 13 years since 9/11.  I related to these boys.  I remember being a Yeshiva student myself in my late teens, in Israel, and knew that even if I wasn’t like these boys, I knew guys who were.  So it hit home and I found myself caring more than usual.  It wasn’t till they were found dead, murdered brutally at what we all knew immediately was the hands of Hamas terrorists, that something truly snapped in me.  That was when I, David, had finally had enough.

When tragedy strikes one never knows exactly how they will react.  Although I related so significantly to these three boys, I did not know them personally. Had I known them personally, maybe I would have been so distraught that I would have had trouble functioning.  So when I say I had finally had enough and I snapped, I felt an anger I had rarely felt in my life and I turned to my weapon of choice, the written word.  And my position as a moderate was now a thing of the past as well, as I realized that moderation is something that needs to be saved for the reasonable and fair, not the racially bigoted and brutally violent.

When the Israeli cabinet met on how to react to the boys’ deaths, I knew one thing.  As a Jew and a Zionist living in New York, unless they did nothing, I would support the Israeli government.  I committed myself to not only stating my feelings, but in rallying as many people as possible to the cause.  Not my cause, not merely the Jewish people’s cause, but in truth what should be seen as the entire world’s cause.   Before this would happen I would call someone a piece of garbage for being anti-Semitic, and occasionally even write something about it, but now it felt more personal than before.  It became so clear to me as it is to almost anyone with an unbiased desire for a peaceful world.  So now I decided to go further than I had ever gone before.  As I state on my Twitter profile, “no longer am I happy not being part of the problem. Now I want to be part of the solution.”

When Israel first went after Hamas with airstrikes in Gaza, no one really knew how serious the situation would turn out to be.  The terror tunnels they discovered were designed to carry out mass murders of Jews, and the intelligence they gathered indicated that it was going to be as soon as this Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year which falls towards the end of September. Israel’s incursion by ground troops into Gaza was used to uncover and destroy these tunnels.  However, while this was happening the situation took an ominous term.

I almost typed unexpected as well, but as a Jew paying attention, anti-Semitism is never completely unexpected.  I’ve been accused of being slightly over-sensitive to comments, but no one has ever accused me of having a persecution complex.  At least not to my face.  So when I say I was not totally shocked by the global spike in anti-Jewish words and behavior, this is not coming from someone who makes declarations that “everyone hates the Jews”.  I know better.  What we’ve seen this summer however has been epic.  Even by the usual standards of hatred.  Gone is the requirement of logic and fact.  Merely wanting to hate the Jews became enough.  Telling half of the story so that the part that exonerated Israel was conveniently missing became the strategy of the vocal and clever anti-Zionist/anti-Semite.  And gone forever is the notion that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not two in the same.  When  you have two signs at a protest that say “Free Gaza” and ” Hitler was right”, you have lost the argument that they are different.  When pogrom style attacks took place on French synagogues by people claiming to do things in support of Palestinians it was made abundantly clear that this was about hating the Jew at least as much as it was about opposing Israel.

The more Jews were attacked, whether in Israel or outside of Israel, the more committed I became, expressing my commitment through articles and letters to those expressing damaging sentiments towards the Jewish people, while also writing articles acknowledging our supporters.  Every time I heard “Free Gaza” I felt more and more compelled to shout to the world that the people of Gaza needed to be freed from Hamas not from Israel.  Every time the United Nations revealed its bizarrely obvious bias against Israel I wanted to write something to expose it.  Why?  Partially because it was cathartic, but even more because I wanted to make sure everyone I could reach would know the truth, and once I began to do that, there was no turning back.  With every missile fired at Israel, with every fatality including the 64 members of the IDF fighting to preserve Israel’s survivor, my commitment grew stronger.

Recognizing the need for unity with more than just the Jewish community, I created the Global Coalition for Israel on Facebook as a means of showing a cohesive support for the State of Israel. One month later the group is at 1300 and growing daily.  When the summer began I was worried about when I was going to get to the beach, lay in the sun and get to barbecues.  I’m not saying that I didn’t do those things to some extent during the summer of 2014, but they all took a back seat to something more important.  My new activism.  Watching CNN and FOX on a daily basis to get the news coming from the region, researching websites and news sources online, and meeting people with stories to tell from Israel and Europe, the summer of 2014 became something I never expected it would become, it became my Summer of Gaza.

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Dear Anti-Semite

jewish_starDear Anti-Semite,

I have spent a lifetime trying to find out what makes you tick, and now that I believe I have discovered what it is I wanted to address you directly, intelligently, and with a basic respect for mankind.

What you may or may not know, is that we, meaning me and many of my fellow Jews, do care enough to want to know what are the root causes of your hatred for us. We may take an indignant approach to you the individual, but I am sure you can understand that.  No one feels warmth towards someone who hates them.

Let me start by being very clear about something.  If you verbally declare that you do not dislike Jews, even if some of your actions may hint otherwise, I am not addressing you, because if you feel in your heart that you do not want harm to come to the Jewish people as a whole, you may not be my friend, but you are also not the problem.  This letter is for those who come right out and say, ” I don’t like” or “I hate the Jews”.

I recognize that there are two types of anti-Semites.  The ones who are born into it and the ones who made that choice later in life.  Although every human being has the freedom to think as they like, those born into it, for example, Palestinian children and young adults in Gaza, haven’t been given much of a choice. The understanding of Jews being evil and the need to get rid of them is all they’ve been taught.  No one questions what makes them hate Jews.  They don’t know any other way.  What makes it even more difficult is that they only know information provided to them and therefore the chances of them changing how they feel is next to impossible without being exposed to an alternate way of thinking and an open and honest exchange of information.

In many ways this letter is directed to those of you in the second category, the ones that came to the conclusion on their own to hate Jews and despite a strong negative influence, live in free societies where forming different opinions is allowed and in some places even encouraged.  So the question is, why do you hate me when you don’t even know me?

Well the truth is, and I hope you are willing to admit this, it wouldn’t matter if you did know me.  You’ve made a choice to hate me because of what I am, not who I am.  I stopped to consider the fact that it is because you believe we killed Jesus, but let’s be honest again.  That argument is full of holes.  I know many people, Catholics, Christians, etc., that have devoted their life to their following of Jesus and do not hate Jews at all. In many cases they love us. Even those who believe we killed their Lord, if they are genuine about God’s teachings will not find it possible to hate their fellow-man.  So in the case of those who call that the reason, I also maintain it’s not the reason they hate us, it’s the justification they use for their hate.

You can say we’re cheap, arrogant, obnoxious, etc., and although I don’t deny that there are those among us who are all of those things, if you look at it honestly you’ll admit that we don’t have the corner on any of those negative stereotypes.  Every group has plenty of people who are cheap, arrogant or obnoxious.  Even whatever group you belong to has people in those categories.

Since I started by saying I have the answer, here it is.  It comes down to two issues.  First of all, when people are not satisfied entirely with how their life is going they try to find someone to blame.  That’s not news.  We all know that. But why are the Jews so often the choice?  Well it’s because despite the fact that we come from everywhere, can look the same as everyone else, be White, Black, Asian, African, European, have blonde hair, black hair, red hair, be short or be tall, we always choose to distinguish ourselves as Jewish. Ironically the biggest complaint Jewish religious leaders have of other Jews is the fact that they assimilate.  I am here to tell you that I realize that one of the reasons you hate me is because despite my physical appearance allowing me to hide what I am, I choose to be proud of what I am.  That infuriates you because you interpret it as though I am saying that I am better than you, even if it is not what I intend to be saying.  As a group we are unapologetically proud of our history and culture.  That makes you angry and makes us easier to identify and a much easier target.

The second reason, and the one that I think is the primary one, is our durability.  Despite massacres, persecutions, wars, a Holocaust, and countless attempts to rid the world of us, we’re still here.  That does two things.  For the more ignorant it frightens you.  It will be used it to justify some of the most bizarre accusations one people has ever had to endure.  Human blood in Matzah, demonic partners with Satan, etc. After all, something has to be keeping this indestructible people on the planet.  The Chosen People thing certainly doesn’t work for you.  We must have made a deal with the devil to stick around as long as we have.  I would actually say that if you do believe in the devil, it is the devil making you hate us, not the devil working with us.  But that thought process requires a paradigm shift of enormous proportions so subsequently I do not hold out hope that you will see it that way.  I just want to propose that theory to you if you believe the Devil is involved.  After all, the Devil would try to stop you from supporting a people whose contribution to medicine, technology and culture is so significant that I am fairly positive you reading this has gained some benefit from it as well.

The other thing it does is motivate the power-hungry manipulator of the masses.  Someone trying to rally people behind hate sees the elimination of the Jews as the ultimate challenge, believing that they will be the person that finally wiped these people off the planet.  They present it as though our very presence is a challenge to everything good they are trying to create, even if what they are trying to create is self-serving and evil.  These pariahs that just won’t go away are going to finally be destroyed by that powerful leader taking you, the poor, disadvantaged, disenfranchised citizen to the promised land.  It sounds so good, why not kill Jews to get there.

My advice to you is to take heed of this reasoning because if you stop and think about it, you’d be much wiser taking this information and using it to alter your mindset.  History shows not only that we do not go away, but those who tried to get rid of us failed miserably in the end.  Hitler was very successful in killing a lot of Jews, but he ultimately failed in getting rid of Jewish people, and his obsession with doing so contributed to his defeat in the end.  I know that by saying that I am indicating that I believe God is on our side, something that makes you hate me even more, but here’s a better suggestion.  Either pick a winner and support us, or trust God to pick whatever side is the right side, regardless of your choice it results in a lot less hate in your heart.  I assure you in the end you’ll be happier for it.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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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.

 

 

 

 


A Woman of Valor

Bar-Refaeli-1As a follow up to my post attacking the self-serving, hypocritical, anti-Semite Roger Waters, I present to you this post about a person who is everything he is not.  The great and I say this with conviction, the great Bar Rafaeli.  All of us who appreciate the beauty of a woman have already been fans to some extent of this stunningly sexy and beautiful model, but God given looks are not enough to make a person great.  One’s greatness comes with what they do with what they have.  I do not know Bar Rafaeli, so unless the good Lord decides I’ve done something so right in my life that I do actually get to meet her one day, all I have to go by is what I read and hear.

As a Jew I am tremendously proud of how Bar Rafaeli has represented herself to the general public in defense of the honor of Israel, the Jewish state.  In declaring to the world that she wants her image removed from Roger Waters show due to his call to boycott Israel, she is showing herself to be someone with great integrity, honor, and courage.  She is showing the world that she is something very special and something traditionally every Jewish woman strives to be.  She is a Woman of Valor.  It is easy to stay quiet.  It is sometimes even better for business.  Bar Rafaeli has shown character and strength in defending her people and her land.  As far as I am concerned she can represent the Jewish people any time and as a Jew, I thank her.


Why We Pick Sides

Although the events in the Middle East are of a more serious nature, this is not the first time in the past month we have been witness to two large groups of people taking sides against each other.  Only a few weeks ago when Barack Obama won reelection, the ongoing battle between Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left, at least to some extent, finally settled down. Although the differences between the American presidential election and the conflict in Israel and Gaza are significant, one interesting similarity is that in both circumstances all parties think the same thing.  They think they are without any question correct for choosing the side that they did.  The question this makes me ask is this.  What causes people to pick sides?

I discussed this with someone prior to the election, and we both agreed that there are many people out there who pick a political party based on what they were born into.  It is not uncommon to see three generations of Democrats or Republicans.  After all, it is very normal for parents to influence their children.  By no means do I mean to imply these people are not thinking for themselves, after all, being born to parents who always voted Democrat, I too fell into this category.  I just know that my political opinions were influenced by the discussions I heard and participated in at home and that my opinion was, at least partially, molded by those dinner time chats.   Now don’t think for one second I don’t recognize there are multitudes of people who make their decision when they reach adulthood based on experiences or analysis, but it is important to recognize that there are many people who in some ways never really had a choice to make.  It’s all they ever knew from a young age.

Although the stakes, certainly immediately are far greater, there are similarities to be found between the U.S. presidential election and the conflict in the Middle East.  The similarities I speak of surround the taking of sides, the reasons for doing so, and the certainty with which each side holds its view.  Although there is great passion in American politics, the majority of people realize that each side isn’t entrenched to the point where no one can see how it will ever change.  I am not so sure the same can be said for the situation in the Middle East.

Examining the situation in Gaza, I asked myself what makes someone choose one side or another.  There are of course the people who live in the affected areas, and then there are people such as myself who live geographically far away, but feel close to the situation.  I’ve heard the stories of Palestinians who in their early years saw people who they were close to die, and living in an environment where they never heard anything other than the fact that the Israelis were responsible, grew up wanting revenge.  Regardless of the accuracy of the information, was there ever a question what side they would be on?   Were they ever given a choice?

In Israel, boys and girls know that when they reach the ripe old age of 18, that they will get called up to do their required military service. Military service made necessary from living in a nation surrounded by enemies.  Then there are the thousands who have been killed in terrorist attacks and their families who have been directly affected by these attacks.  Even if for argument’s sake Israel’s attack on Gaza held no justification, what side would you expect these people to be on?  Past incidents give them little to no room for choice.

There are people on both sides of the conflict who pick a side based on their background, religion, or in some cases, political expediency.  In some cases people pick sides without any genuine regard for the well-being of the people on the side that they pick.  Some politicians and journalists thrust their careers into high gear during conflicts such as these, and although I am sure that for the most part these people are not looking to see anyone suffer, in some cases they are not exactly praying for things to get back to normal either.

It’s very important to mention that the media that supplies the information to a large percentage of Israel’s enemies makes no attempt at being balanced and in many cases is controlled by their governments that do not believe in the concept of freedom of speech or freedom of the press.  Israel is a democracy with these freedoms and with an open channel to get information from all sides.  All of these factors play a major role in how the people on both sides think and implies that people’s feelings are controlled by factors entirely out of their control.  A point I have no intention of disputing.  All of this leads me to how I picked the side I am on.

I am a Jewish man and the son of Holocaust survivors from Holland.  I’ve always believed I was created by God and by my mother and father.  However I recently came to the realization that there is one other player, for lack of a better term, in forming who I am as a person.  That player is the anti-Semite.  From a young age I was aware of the suffering of the Jewish people.  After 6 million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Germany, many surviving Jews went back to their biblical home in what was then Palestine.  It did not take long for the surrounding Arab nations to begin hostilities against the newly formed modern nation of Israel in 1948, and subsequently have major wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973.  These conflicts began prior to Israel having any control of Gaza or Judaea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.  Gaza and the Sinai Desert were Egyptian territories taken over by Israel during a war and the West Bank was Jordanian and was also taken over by Israel.  Particularly regarding the latter, Jordan was more than happy to be rid of what they saw as a problematic population.  In the 70s, when Yasser Arafat’s PLO developed a new strategy, the strategy of terrorism, a new era began in the Middle East, and once again a political organization found it justified to kill Jewish people at random.  Arafat’s Palestinian “cause” had him embezzle funds and keep his people down and impoverished.  After all, should the Palestinians prosper he would have no basis of leadership, being that the leadership was based on hating the Jewish, I mean Zionist enemy.  The Palestinian Authority, an organization now recognized by the world as being legitimate, is the political offshoot of Arafat’s PLO and is now considered the more moderate voice of the Palestinians. This is because Hamas, now running the show in Gaza, justifies terrorism as a political means to achieving their goal.

Seeing innocent people crying and bleeding as a result of Israeli airstrikes is never a pleasant sight, but it pales in comparison to suicide bombers going into Pizza places and wiping out entire families intentionally with one bomb.  A car on fire in Gaza because it was near a terrorist base of operation, does not compare with buses being blown up intentionally.  And civilian Palestinians are not targeted in European countries, while Jews are fair game in places like France and Bulgaria to mention just a few.  And when Ahmadinejad of Iran speaks, I once again hear a leader of a nation speak openly about wanting to murder millions of Jews.

I see the enemies of Israel accuse the Jewish state of not wanting peace with the Palestinians.  To this I ask; “if you are so convinced of this, why are you not willing to give it a try?”   I see the answer is being a simple one.  Even if the people would want peace, their leadership does not.  And for this reason I believe that they are not only out to kill as many Jews as possible, but that they are responsible for dying Palestinian civilians in Gaza as well.  How did I pick my side?  I had no choice.  I put a value on human life.