Tag Archives: Bashar al-Assad

Open Letter to Sean Spicer Regarding his Comments made about Hitler and the Holocaust

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Dear Mr. Spicer,

I am the son of Holocaust survivors and I am writing to you in regard to the comments you made, of all days, on Passover.   Maybe I am not as forgiving as some, but to be blunt, your apology is not accepted. At least not by me.  And here’s why.

You started off by saying the following:

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

In an attempt to fix your error you went on to say:

I think when you come to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. . . . He brought them into, um, the Holocaust center  —  I understand that. But I’m saying in the way Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns, it was brought  —  the use of it  —  and I appreciate the clarification.

Mr. Spicer, I do not believe you to be an anti-Semite, nor do I believe you made your comments out of any desire to hurt or offend any member of the Jewish community.  That being said, sometimes the words are so despicable, an adjective you yourself used, and the actions are so disgraceful, that neither an apology nor lack of malicious intent is enough to move on.  In addition, the nature of an apology tells a lot about how a person feels.  So when the apology seems more motivated by how bad you look and how much you let your boss down than it does the pain and anger you caused significant parts of an entire community, then apologizing is just not enough to make it all better.

The problem I have with this Mr. Spicer, is that your words revealed a deeper and more dangerous perception of the Jewish people and the horrors of what took place in the Holocaust.  To your credit, I do believe your apology tour makes clear you did not want to hurt anyone, but with your clear lack of understanding of where you went wrong you have a lot of work to do before I and many people who think as I do are willing to put this incident behind us.  Ironically I suspect my greatest opposition to the views I am stating here will come from my fellow Jews who are in your camp and feel I am some sort of traitor to my people for wanting Hillary Clinton as president over Donald Trump. They will come back to me with responses like, “Everyone is allowed to makes a mistake” or “Hillary would have done a lot worse for the Jewish people”.  To which I respond as follows. The seriousness of the mistake dictates how easily or soon it is forgiven, and this is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  This is about Sean Spicer.

You see Mr. Spicer, you revealed a subconscious and critical perception, one likely ingrained in you for a long time, and that is the perception that Jews in Germany were not really Germans.  This perception is in line with how the Nazis perceived their Jewish population and the Jewish population throughout Europe.  They referred to them as sub-human. So from the perspective of the Nazis, Hitler didn’t use gas on his people because Jews were not really people.  I know you did not mean to infer this, but if you are to apologize, you might want to understand the deep-rooted problem in your comments.

I also felt part of your apology to be somewhat patronizing inasmuch as it came across as though you were sorry you even made a reference to Hitler, as though mentioning his name is enough to offend us Jews.  Jews don’t necessarily mind the reference being done appropriately, but when the President’s detractors compare him to Hitler I find myself protesting that as well, because as much as I am not a fan of your boss, calling him another Hitler is inappropriate on many levels.  To refer to Bashar al-Assad as being like Hitler in regard to his penchant for murder is appropriate enough that had your comments not gone further than that, I doubt many people would have protested, despite some glaring holes in the comparison.  One such hole being that Assad has never exhibited an ambition towards global domination, and the other being that his brutality is based more on controlling with an iron tyrannical fist than it is on wiping out an entire segment of the population. But inasmuch as Assad has shown himself to be an evil murderer , he is similar to Hitler.

I guess what bothers me most Mr. Spicer, is that although I believe you when you say you are sorry, I am not convinced you really understand enough for your apology to really count.  Until you know that places like Auschwitz and Dachau were Concentration Camps or Death Camps, not Holocaust Centers, and until you understand the problem with your words is not just the use of Hitler’s name but the lack of understanding of what it does to a people to have 6 million members of their kind murdered, I will see your apology more as an ‘oops I messed up’ than a deep feeling of regret.  When this is more about an understanding for the sadness of the Jewish people and less about a feeling of letting your boss down, only then will I personally accept your apology.  Who am I you might ask?  I am someone representative of how a significant segment of the Jewish population feels, I am an American, and I am a Jew. These factors all give me the right to speak my mind.

Mr. Spicer, if you take the time to learn more about what happened in Europe under Nazi occupation and truly understand the devastation, I am sure you will not only express openly a new mindset, but you may even be a better person for it as well.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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How Ariel Sharon’s life tells the truth about Israel

sharon_arielWhen I think of Ariel Sharon and what kind of leader he was and the person he appeared to be, I realize that his legacy tells the real truth about Israel, its leadership and its approach towards its enemies.

Let me begin by saying that I have always lived by the basic premise that when a man or woman who has devoted their life to the betterment or safety of the Jewish people passes on, I as a Jew will mourn their loss.  With our history, both ancient and modern filled with persecution and murder, we as a people need to appreciate those whose lives were focused around what at least appeared to be, the protection of the Jewish people and or the security of the modern Jewish State of Israel.  With that in mind I speak from my heart when I say Rest in Peace Ariel Sharon.

When one examines Ariel Sharon’s life, it is clear that this was a man who was strong and forceful, unafraid, and at times one might say brutal.  If we look at the list of Israeli Prime Ministers starting with David ben Gurion in 1948, it is very clear that the two most militant were Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon.  It should therefore come as no surprise that Ariel Sharon served under Begin as Secretary of Defense.   To me however there is a very clear difference between the two men.  Menachem Begin, my personal political hero, was so militant leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel that some described him as a terrorist.  However as Prime Minister, an argument could be made that Begin was more moderate than Sharon.  To someone without a vested interest in Israel and the Jewish people, Menachem Begin’s greatest legacy was the peace treaty with Anwar Sadat and Egypt.  Ariel Sharon on the other hand was seen as far more controversial, even to the point of being called a war criminal by his enemies.  As someone who tries to be fair and equitable in my opinions I contemplated his legacy and in doing so realized that Ariel Sharon’s behavior as a leader in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Prime Minister of Israel, actually tells the truth about Israeli leadership and its approach towards Arabs and the Palestinian issue.

Consider this fact.  Mohammed Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority,  by most accounts a moderate, was quoted as saying,  “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”  Abbas  was the leader of the element within the PLO responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in October 1985.  It was during this hijacking that Abbas’s people, shot a 69 year old Jewish wheelchair bound man named Leon Klinghoffer in the head and threw his body overboard.  I use Abbas as an example to compare the Palestinian’s most “moderate” leader to Israel’s most extreme leader, Sharon.

The incident that causes some people to brand Sharon as a war criminal was the massacre in Sabra and Shatila.  Under his command as Secretary of Defense for the IDF, Sharon did nothing to prevent the massacres of Palestinians in these southern Lebanon refugee camps.  The massacres were perpetuated by Lebanese militants with connections to the Syrian government, which incidentally was then run by the father of Syria’s existing dictator, Bashar al-Assad.  Therefore, if we choose to look at this with brutal and objective honesty, we might say that Sharon was guilty of being complicit in someone else’s crime.   

Sharon also would lead the charge for more settlements in what the world likes to refer to as the “Occupied Territories”.  For the sake of this discussion I will go along with the term.  Subsequently, if we are to accept this logic, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli “war criminal” was primarily most notorious for two things, not preventing the citizens of another country from murdering each other, and for accelerating the building of homes for his residents in the occupied territories.  

If we were to take the side against Ariel Sharon we would say that he was cold and callous with no consideration for the well-being of Arabs, particularly Palestinians within Israel and its surrounding nations.  As a Jew and a Zionist I can confidently make this statement.  We would dance in the streets of every city we reside in worldwide if the most militant of our enemies would be most guilty of not caring if we kill each other and for building homes on the land they occupy.  What Ariel Sharon’s life shows us is that even the “worst” of Israel’s leaders still live by a higher moral and ethical standard and are less likely to murder their enemy in cold blood than the majority, if not all of the most moderate of Arab leaders.  The world will likely not see it this way because anti-Israel sentiment is becoming a popular fad, but for those who analyze this honestly the truth will be glaringly apparent.  Ariel Sharon’s life as an Israeli leader proves this better than anything else ever could.