Tag Archives: anti-Semitism

A special day in Williamsburg that once again highlighted the importance of Bram’s violin

Ancestry_00004A

My Uncle Bram Rodrugues, killed at the age of 18 in Auschwitz in 1943

As we continue to combine the story of a horrific time with a story that inspires on the highest level, it becomes more and more of an honor to be an avenue from whence this story is told.

On Sunday February 16, 2020, the violin that belonged to my Uncle Bram, a victim of the Holocaust, was played for the second time.  This time in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As the story gets more traction and the violin is shown and played for more people, the importance of what we are doing becomes more and more evident.  By inspiring people with music played from the violin, and telling the story of how the violin made it back to me and my family, we are doing our part in restoring people’s faith in humanity.

Williamsburg is a wonderful town.  In the few days I was there I was exposed to wonderful people who extended their hospitality, generosity and kindness.  The genuine interest in this story made everything about the trip worthwhile, even before the concert showcasing the violin ever took place. Yes anti-Semitism is on the rise and yes Holocaust denial is a very real problem, but for a few days in a small yet significant town in Virginia, my belief that we are closer to a good world than many might usually believe significantly increased.

As I spoke to the crowd, a crowd likely reaching close to 200 people, moments before the violin was played in a solo by the brilliant Ken Sarch, I saw the expressions on the people’s faces.  The people in the crowd, of which only a small percentage were Jewish, were not only engaged and interested, they were moved, saddened and inspired.  At times many would nod their heads in agreement to the points I would make about the importance of not only this specific story, but the importance of telling the world what took place in Europe between 1933 and 1945.

After the event one man told me how his father was German and was 16 when the war ended, and how he was ashamed of his German background, almost in tears when telling me.  One man who purchased the  book asked me to not make out the inscription to any one individual but to make it out to all the  good people of the world. I saw people in tears when I told the story, knowing that in some way they were understanding the devastation that took place in a way they had never been able to do prior to this day.

For me the most powerful moment of the day came following my presentation of the story when Ken took out the violin and played the music from Schindler’s list.  At the time he was doing this I looked out into the crowd to see how the people were reacting.  Throughout the crowd I saw intense emotion, tears and expressions of awe and inspiration, and as I saw this I not only thought of my uncle, I thought of my mother.  I often say that when my mother talked of the  war she was always sad.  When she spoke of her brother she always cried.  His death represented the horrors of the time, and as her son who loved her as all of her children did and still do, I feel an enormous responsibility in getting this right.  What I saw in  Williamsburg is that by just telling the story with honesty and passion, and having Bram’s violin played, the good people out there assure that this is being done right, for they not only observe it, they feel it as well.

I thank the people of Williamsburg for making this more than just a concert.  In their genuine and powerful collective show of emotion they showed me one more example of the goodness in humanity, and they showed me why more and more people need to get the same opportunity to be witness to something so powerful and important.

 

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

BRAM’S VIOLIN

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL


Making sure of NEVER AGAIN starts with our choices

bernie-sanders-jeremy-corbyn

Over the past year or two I have progressively shied away from being political in my posts.  It’s not because I do not have opinions. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I probably could write an opinion about every meal I eat.  I don’t have to look for an opinion to share. If anything I have to control myself from sharing every opinion I have, something I am happy to say I have learned to do.  But today I will share a political opinion.  Because today the Jewish people, I dare say all of humanity finds itself at an increasingly dangerous crossroads, and being the child of Holocaust survivors and a person who is committed to doing his part in helping to make sure it truly never does happen again, I can no longer remain quiet.

I am not about to endorse or attack one particular political party.  I know many who think like me when it comes to  the safety of Israel and the Jewish people tend to trash the Democrats because of how the far left of the party has in many ways gone off the rails, but when push comes to shove there is a very good chance that a more centrist, moderate, pro-Israel friend of the Jewish people, maybe even a  pro-Israel Jew, will get the nomination.  Hopefully then the choice will be between 2 individuals that at least don’t want to see harm come to us and the choice can be about other factors. This is more about a litmus test.

If, in light of  increasing attacks, attacks that have gone beyond disgraceful vandalism and have reached the point of violent attacks and murder, anyone as a Jew is prepared to support a candidate that is openly in favor of movements calling for Israel’s collapse or supportive of Jew-haters, you are making a critical mistake.  Although I have been open about the fact that I am not Donald Trump’s biggest fan, I have said numerous times that I would work for his campaign before I would vote for Bernie Sanders.  Hurray for the Brits and their statement against the vicious anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn in the recent election.  He wasn’t only defeated, he was basically crushed into what will hopefully wind up as retirement and political oblivion (even worse than that wouldn’t devastate me either).  But what we are learning now should tell you, if you weren’t ready to admit it or informed enough to know it already, something very important about people like Bernie Sanders.  In the following Washington Post article you can read about how the day after the British election Bernie Sanders called Jeremy Corbyn to congratulate him on a good campaign and when asked where he got his campaign ideas Corbyn replied, “well, you actually”. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/07/13/britains-corbyn-i-got-my-ideas-from-bernie-sanders/

Besides hoping that Bernie Sanders’s career takes the same turn Corbyn’s has, what does it tell you about him that he buddies up with the likes of Corbyn, Omar and Tlaib while wanting nothing to do with Benjamin Netanyahu.  I don’t think liking Netanyahu and his government is a litmus test for who to support, but who you pick as your friends certainly should be, especially in light of criticism that is more like an onslaught against Israel than it is an expression of concern.

I have often said that I can not hate anyone that clearly likes Jewish people as much as Donald Trump does.  That being said, I have also stated that you can love people and have nothing but their well-being in mind and still not be good for them.  In other words, just because I believe President Trump is far more friend than foe of the Jewish people, the jury is still out whether or not he is good for us.

While I wait to see who the Democrats will choose as their nominee in the current election and reserve the right to keep who I vote for to myself, at least for now, I will declare that their are lines that as a Jew I will not cross.  Any candidate that comes even close to supporting the BDS Movement will not get my vote.  The Boycott, Divestment, Sanction Movement is a movement that in its very name reveals that it is not about the well-being of the Palestinians, it is about bringing Israel to its knees.  Anyone who supports that is, in my estimation declaring themselves to not only be anti-Semitic, they are wittingly or unwittingly complicit in the recent and increasingly frequent attacks.  I will make a very strong effort to distinguish between those who oppose the policies of Israel’s current government, something many Israelis and fellow Jews I like and respect do, but those who support crippling Israel as a tactic are not only wrong, they are dangerous.  Whether they are Jewish or not.

During the Nazi occupation of Europe there were Jews who were as dangerous for the Jewish people as any complicit non-Jew.  Although it will never be something someone will brag about, fear might be an excuse for doing nothing.  It is however not an excuse for being a traitor to your people.  We also live in an age with cable news and social media when ignorance is no longer an excuse. Subsequently I will say emphatically that NEVER AGAIN starts right here.  NEVER AGAIN means not accepting someone who openly declares a policy that hurts Israel and the Jewish people.  It means not supporting someone who puts his support for Jew haters above his support for Jews and it means understanding that although it is acceptable to oppose the policies of an Israeli government, being anti-Israel is today’s anti-Semitism.  And NEVER AGAIN means that when you have the opportunity to speak, be it literally or through your vote, you start by not tolerating someone who shows no concern for your survival.  All of our lives may very well depend on it.

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

BRAM’S VIOLIN

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL

 


An Important Poll and lesson on telling the story of the Holocaust

I urge everyone to put personal bias aside and take a moment to read this article from CNN.com.   It discusses Anti-Semitism in Europe while going into some detail about the lack of understanding or even worse, knowledge of existence of the Holocaust.  There IS a direct correlation between increasing hostility towards the Jewish people and lack of information about what happened to the Jewish people during Nazi occupation.  Yes, anti-Semitism existed before the Holocaust and seperate from the Holocaust, but making the average citizen of the world know where ignorance and hatred can lead is a critical element in preventing it in the future.

Each one of you who takes it upon yourself to combat the rise of hatred will do it in your own way, and as long as your intentions are pure, no one should speak against what direction you go in doing so. I will do so by sharing as many of the most important stories of real people as I possibly can.

Personally I believe the most important lesson to be learned from this poll is not how to deal with the perpetrators of hatred and hostility, but in how to tell the masses of decent people the truth, so that they can stand up against those perpetrators.  I don’t claim to know the answer to stopping those who are evil and self-serving, but I can do my part in telling the much larger number of good people the truth, and hope that they will stand with us against the evil ones, much as the righteous people connected to my family did during the 2nd World War.

Never Again.

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

READ MORE OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IN THE COMMON SENSE LIBERAL

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL IS NOW ON TWITTER @gcimovement

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL


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

gettyimages-617728642

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

 

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

READ MORE OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IN THE COMMON SENSE LIBERAL

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL IS NOW ON TWITTER @gcimovement

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL


There is a time to be critical. Yesterday was not that time

dt4

The complaint I heard yesterday from some was that Donald Trump waited too long to speak out against anti-Semitism. Although I have found issue with much of what I’ve seen and heard from the new President of the United States, emphasis in this case on the word NEW, I believe yesterday’s criticism, a perfect example being the criticism from the Steven Goldstein of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect,  to be out of line, poorly thought out, and damaging to any left wing agenda.

READ MY OPEN LETTER TO STEVEN GOLDSTEIN OF THE ANNE FRANK CENTER FOR MUTUAL RESPECT

It is now 1 month since Donald Trump took office. It therefore needs to be asked of anyone that wanted it to be done quicker, how much quicker would you have liked?  I believe the President deserves much of the scrutiny and even criticism he is getting, I have dished plenty of it out myself, but if you are to criticize him for everything, even that which he does correctly, you lose your credibility.  Case in point.  Not only does the General Flynn issue with Russia look like it might very well be a problem, it’s an issue that merits intense investigation, that if done correctly could reveal potentially serious issues and consequences for this administration. Does that negate the fact that picking H.R. McMaster as the new National Security Adviser was an excellent choice? Absolutely not.  If we are to battle this administration on those matters we deem critical, we do a lot better if we do so in a fair and balanced manner.

Furthermore, as a Jew I understand the delicate nature of the position President Trump finds himself in when fighting against anti-Semitism.  As I have said before, anyone who questions his favorable attitude towards the Jewish people needs only to look at his very close relationship with his Jewish son-in-law and daughter Ivanka who converted to Judaism.  However, and this has always been one of, if not my biggest fears and issues when it comes to Donald Trump, he energizes and gets support from the worst type of racists and bigots.  I don’t believe he is pandering to them when carefully choosing his words regarding anti-Semitism, I believe he is attempting to guard against backlash, and I admit that as a Jew who has opposed him vehemently, I greatly appreciate what I perceive as a concern for the Jewish community’s well-being, regardless of whether the motivation is philosophical or personal.

Those of us with views that are left of center are making a big mistake if we fall into the trap of behaving like so many on the right and far left where we automatically criticize anything coming from the other side of the aisle.  It destroys credibility, eats at the fabric of society, and obstructs anything resembling progress.  Attack what needs to be attacked, but when you see your President sticking up for you, finding something wrong with it does nothing to help your cause.  Save it for what he does wrong.  I have a feeling you’ll get your chance.  In the meantime be happy when he does something important the right way.

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

READ MORE OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IN THE COMMON SENSE LIBERAL

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL IS NOW ON TWITTER @gcimovement

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL


Open Letter to Steven Goldstein of the Anne Frank Center regarding his statement to the President

2016-name-change-gradient

Dear Mr. Goldstein,

In some ways this is the most ironic letter I’ve written to date.  Here I am, the son of Dutch Holocaust survivors and a critic of Donald Trump, writing a letter of opposition to the Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in response to his criticism of President Trump.  It must be clear from my background and personal introduction that despite my disagreement with you on the subject I am about to discuss, you and I are unquestionably on the same side.

My issue is with the following statement you made regarding the President’s comments made earlier today on the increase in anti-Semitic activity, threats and rhetoric.

“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”

Although both you and I agree that more needs to  be done, I also believe there is a time and place for everything.  I agree the president’s words mean nothing without action, but that does not negate the positive step taken today.  Your statement focuses more on what hasn’t been done before today rather than what actually was done today.  If we are to demand our leaders take action, it is my belief that the time to criticize them is not immediately after their acknowledgment of the problem.  As we have seen time and time again, the words of the President of the United States are more than just words, they are instruments of action.  Furthermore, if you look back at what I have written you will see that I not only am not an apologist for Donald Trump, I am a vocal critic.  But I also try to be fair and reasonable.  It is my contention that as I sit here today, the President of the United States did today what he needed to do today.  That does not mean he will do the right thing tomorrow or the day after.  If he doesn’t do what is needed in the coming days, that will be the time to criticize him for lack of action.  Today I find it far more reasonable to be pleased he is acknowledging the problem.

As the son of Holocaust survivors I have never backed away from attacking those I feel to be enemies of the Jewish people.  I heard the stories from my parents, read the history and know of the death and suffering of my relatives and the relatives of so many others.  I subsequently feel it is crucial to go after those who declare their hate towards us before we go after those who at least say words of support for our well-being and safety. Although I wholeheartedly agree that we must hold the President of the United States accountable for his actions and what happens moving forward, today he at least verbally declared he is on our side, and for that I am far more likely to thank him than criticize him.

As I have said in previous writings, I am not yet convinced this President will be anything close to what I want him to be, but regarding the issue of anti-Semitism, as a Jewish American, today he was what I needed him to be.  I believe we have more to gain by acknowledging that than criticizing it.  It would appear that is where you and I disagree.

Sincerely,

David Groen

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

READ MORE OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IN THE COMMON SENSE LIBERAL

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL IS NOW ON TWITTER @gcimovement

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL


In Defense of Trump; from a Never Trump Jewish guy

Donald+Trump+Hillary+Clinton+Star+of+David+Full

I write this as a Jewish man, not as a voter.  As a voter I have absolutely no intention of casting my vote for Donald Trump.  There are many qualities he displays, all qualities discussed in the media ad-nauseum that makes me not only not want to vote for him, but fearful at the prospect of his presidency.  Trump is many things that are abhorrent to many American voters.  I will not only not dispute many of those criticisms, I will very likely agree with many of them.  But the one thing I will dispute is the notion that Donald Trump has displayed anything resembling anti-Semitism.

I personally do not believe Donald Trump is a racist or bigot of any kind.  I believe he says some very irresponsible and thoughtless things that are not only insulting but potentially very damaging as well.  I also believe his incendiary comments resonate strongly in a very racist element of American society making them potentially very dangerous. As president these comments would carry even more force and would subsequently have an even more damaging impact.  That being said, even as someone very sensitive to attacks of any kind on my religion, I did not find the tweet with the star calling Hillary the “most corrupt candidate ever” to be a racial slur or an indication that Trump has a problem with the Jewish people.

There are many factors that point to why this is not the case.  The most obvious would be the fact that Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, who has a strong and positive relationship with his father-in-law.  The next fact is that as much business as people have done with Trump, as many companies as he has owned and as many people as he as employed,  if Trump was a racist of any kind, including an anti-Semite, we would have known this long before he ran for president.  And that is not because his activities have gone under the radar. There has certainly been plenty of buzz showing him to be a heartless and self-serving business man. And finally, and this is just simple logic, with an ad designed to bring attention to the Trump campaign’s stance that Hillary is too corrupt to be president, why would they deflect attention from that message by going after Jews.  The answer is that they would not. The truth is that what the star represents, and I refer to it as the star rather than the Star of David because I do not believe it was meant to represent a Star of David, is more stupidity and carelessness than bigotry and racism, and as a proud Jew I can forgive that, at least from a personal and ethnic standpoint.

Unfortunately the tweet does represent much of what is wrong with the Trump candidacy. Just because it is not anti-Semitic, that does not mean it is acceptable. The lack of understanding and preparedness that this represents is very much  part of the reason I am a Never Trump guy, but as a Jewish man I don’t hate him, I merely hate him as a voter.

LIKE THIS POST? SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

READ MORE OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IN THE DAILY COLUMN

JOIN “THE GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL” ON FACEBOOK

GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL IS NOW ON TWITTER @gcimovement

IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL