Tag Archives: Bring Back our Boys

How the Boys changed Everything

img65649Recently I found myself more frequently engaged in discussion about the event that not so long ago changed everything. That turning point in one’s life that impacts how one thinks and even acts, very possibly for the rest of their lives. Although, as in this case, it is so often a tragedy, it can also be such a positive paradigm shift that it not only remakes the tragedy, but occasionally makes you feel a debt of gratitude to the victims.

The tragedy I am referring to is the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Naftali Frenkel,  Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar. So much has been written about the impact their loss had on the events that took place in the weeks that followed.  The evidence that Hamas was responsible for their murder, together with the ongoing barrage of rockets being fired into Israel, was the motivating force for Israel’s operation into Gaza this past summer.  As we know, the operation uncovered the terror tunnels built by Hamas to carry out potentially devastating terrorist attacks.  It’s widely been recognized, even by Naftali Frenkel’s mother, that the death of the boys, as tragic as it was, saved many lives.  That was the immediate impact.  What we don’t know yet is the impact their deaths will have moving forward based on the residual effect of the events that have taken place. We will learn that as time goes on. What I do know right now however, is the profound effect the tragedy had on me personally and many like me.

There is a major difference between turning to hate and no longer being tolerant of evil.  Granted it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two, but doing so is important.  Baseless hatred and anger can be and often is more destructive than beneficial.  However, being aware of what is happening around you, recognizing the truth no matter how harsh it may be, and knowing who your enemies are is something positive that can save lives today and in the future.  Tolerance for one’s enemy is not a good quality.  It’s dangerous, even life threatening.  Being a moderate in this day and age is a luxury we can no longer afford.  It is something I once was and now no longer am.  That ended when the boys were found dead.  When they were declared kidnapped I became involved like so many others did, getting behind the rallying cry of “Bring back our boys”. When they were found murdered, I had finally had enough.  My limit of tolerance had been exceeded and I was changed for what I believe is most likely forever.

The Jewish High Holidays make many of us extremely reflective, and when I reflected on the change that had taken place in me as a result of these boys deaths, as sad as the event made me, I came to the conclusion that it made me a better person.  It made me care a lot more about the well-being of others as opposed to primarily caring about myself.  It made everything my parents taught me growing up blend together in a way it never had till now.  It made me feel that I no longer am happy not being part of the problem.  Now I want to be part of the solution.  I want to be one more voice for Israel and the Jewish people.  I want to be one more voice for humanity, for what is right.  When I reflected on this over Rosh Hashana, I wanted to thank these 3 young men for having such a profound impact on my life. Unfortunately, as we all know, I’ll never be able to express my gratitude to them directly.  But what I can do is tell their mothers and fathers that in more ways than they can imagine, their boys changed the world.  They changed my world.  They made me and so many others care more about the things that are really important. Their lives were far too short, but their lives had such deep meaning, and because of that they will never be forgotten.  Because their deaths caused others like myself to become better people, it may translate into saving more lives down the road, and I can’t imagine a better way to honor their memory and to bless their souls.

 

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Trolling for Lies:”ISIS ISIS Baby”

ISISISI’ve recently been, for lack of a better term, creeping or trolling on pro-Palestinian anti-Israel websites to get a sense of the latest lies being told and what the latest propaganda is coming out what I like to call, the Hamas information center.

A perfect example of this is the story they tell behind Israel’s financial reasons for “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza, particularly in light of a current arrangement Israel made with Jordan.  Israel will be supplying Jordan, a nation primarily consisting of Palestinians, with Natural Gas.  The story being told on some of the websites is that Gaza is sitting on an enormous amount of natural gas and that the real reason for the operation was to rid the area of Palestinians so that Israel could harvest the natural gas unimpeded.  Of course it has nothing to do with a constant barrage of missiles, kidnappings, murders and years of other terrorist activity.  It has nothing to do with  a charter of Hamas that calls for the death of all Jews.  Not to mention how ridiculous it is to claim Israel is killing off Palestinians in Gaza to facilitate providing Palestinians in Jordan with a more efficient and affordable source of energy.  But again, it doesn’t have to make sense when it’s an indictment on Israel.

Then there are these claims, the first of which may enrage many as it did me, claiming the 3 Yeshiva boys actually died in a car accident and Israel used it as an excuse to attack Gaza.  One person even goes as far as claiming the Israeli government killed the boys for this purpose.

And of course this weeks Number 1 on the Hit list, “ISIS, ISIS Baby.” In this case the lie is being promoted by none other than Fidel Castro (I swear I thought he was dead and sorry, I kind of wish he was) who backs up the claim that Israel created ISIS to create division within the Arab world and did so with the likes of the U.S. and U.K.  The following is displayed on top of a picture of ISIS leader al-Bagdadi, implying he said these exacts words, “We kill every man, woman, child Shia, Sunni…Zoroastrian, Kurd or Christian.  But we don’t touch Israel”.   Yeah, that makes sense.  Israel helps establish a Jihadist organization brutally killing Christians in its own backyard and helps mold them into a group that hates Jews even more than Christians.  It’s so ridiculous that if you were watching it in the movie theater you would likely walk out because it was too unrealistic.  But when it comes to Israel the first rule of storytelling isn’t that it makes sense.  The first rule is that it makes Israel look bad to as many people as possible.  Even when logic totally destroys the premise and contradicts the lie, these people still choose to believe it if it makes Israel guilty of something.

There were 2 comments in one group that were particularly enjoyable to read merely because it showed there are actual voices of reason.  Either that or there are people who take it a little further than I do, make up names and attempt to wreak some havoc.  Here are my 2 favorite comments.

The first comment I loved was:

“I wonder from where Hamas’ propaganda machine will get more photos of dead children now that the fighting is over. Oh well, guess there are plenty of dead children in Syria and Iraq that you don’t care about…”

And my personal favorite:

“Thank you Hamas for enslaving us and protecting us! I love how you never let me out of my house and killed my entire family. Thank you!”

Of course it doesn’t matter, because for those who believe the lies, those comments are the  words of the brainwashed or misguided. They must be if they don’t think Israel does everything wrong, no matter how little sense it might make.

I’ll understand if you say, “I don’t care what idiots say”, but the problem is, there are a lot of idiots.  And occasionally they do more than just talk or type. In the meantime I admit that when I see these things I go back and forth between amused and disturbed.  Amused by how bizarre some of these claims are, and disturbed by the overwhelming amount of people who believe the lies no matter how crazy they may sound.  But what do I know about the truth?  I’m a Zionist.

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The Steven Salaita story: Freedom gone mad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarlier in August College Professor Steven Salaita was fired from the job he had seemingly just secured at the University of Illinois. The reason for his firing was remarks he made on Twitter regarding Israel and the 3 murdered Yeshiva students.  There has been some controversy regarding his firing, with the opponents claiming he was punished for exercising his freedom of speech.

What was so bad about what Salaita said and how does it connect to the perversion of the concept of true freedom?  Among other things he said the following:

“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

And in regard to the kidnapping and murder of the Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar he tweeted:

“You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing.”

These comments were made after Salaita was offered the position, so the University’s handling of the situation appears to be somewhat commendable.  I say somewhat commendable because although they did the right thing in rescinding the position, I wonder how someone who has a thought process allowing him to say these types of things was not properly investigated prior to his initial hiring. Even more so I ask how it is that someone whose job is to mold young minds is able to secure positions at institutions of higher learning.  It is also a little concerning that the school felt the need to distinguish that its reason for not wanting Salaita was not that he was anti-Israel, but that after reading his statements they concluded he would be a bad teacher.

The subsequent protests and outrage related to his firing are in line with pretty much every other display of outrage these days.  Somewhere between somewhat and totally insane.  Somehow “intellectuals” seem to think that inciting hatred against Jews by calling anti-semitism honorable is acceptable.  They say it is an exercise in freedom. Is it OK when it incites hatred and violence?  Follow that up with a statement that comes very close to sanctioning the murder of every settler in the West Bank, and you have another example of freedom gone mad.

Freedom is an interesting thing. Earlier today I tweeted the following statement:

“Freedom is not merely for the rebellious who protest but it is due the meek and non-violent as well.”

I came up with that thought while riding on a New York City subway.  I saw an Orthodox Jewish man travelling with 2 children.  He did not portray the image of a man who would fight hard for his freedom, rather he would hope those freedoms would  stay in place so he could continue to live his life as a decent and hard-working family man.  Naturally I have no way of knowing if my split second assessment of this man’s character was accurate, but I do know if I was wrong about him there are certainly people who do fit that description.  Who will defend their freedom while people have the gall to debate if a man like Salaita should have been fired and while change.org puts out a petition to demand the reversal of this “scandalous firing”?  The only thing scandalous is the total perversion of values displayed by those defending this hate monger.

To Steven Salaita I say this.  You are the living embodiment of garbage.  You pervert the entire concept of intellectualism by using it as a mask for anger and hatred.  You lead people to believe your mind is something special and that you therefore deserve some sort of automatic respect.  A great mind is a mind that can find the truth in a pool of lies and that can find love in a sea of hatred.  All you are able to do is express your solidarity with the lies and the hatred.  I not only am happy you got fired, I wish you a lifetime of unemployment.  Either way I am still a better person than a so-called professor that wishes for thousands upon thousands of dead settlers and celebrates the murder of  3 teenage boys.

I’m an American who believes freedom is not given to us to promote evil ideals.  Ideals Steven Salaita proudly calls his own and still gets referred to as Professor.

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For the Ignorant and Complicit history only Started on July 8, 2014

Operation-Protective-Edge-square-564x400July 8, 2014 was the day Israel began Operation Protective Edge.  After countless missile attacks with no end in sight and the kidnapping and murder of 3 Yeshiva students by Hamas, Israel finally had enough.  It began with airstrikes and turned into a ground operation.  Once Israel discovered the terror tunnels, they were committed to staying in Gaza till each and every one was destroyed.  Over 2,000 people died during the operation, a large percentage of which were Palestinian civilians.  Awful.  Just awful.  Especially if the first day of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was July 8, 2014.

However, despite what Palestinian leadership, the Turkish President, Russell Brand, Bryan Adams and millions of Muslims everywhere want you to believe, this conflict did not begin this past July 8th.  If you are  to look at the events that took place from July 8, 2014 without going back further, you may see Israel as being a lopsided aggressor.  Even then you need to choose to ignore how Hamas uses its people as human shields.  If however you look at the months, years and decades leading up to this operation you see a completely different story.  The true story.

I could go back to 1929 and speak of the Hebron massacre when Jews were slaughtered by Muslims prior to any establishment of a Jewish state.  We could talk about how after the United Nations in 1948 partitioned land for the new Jewish State of Israel, of which the West Bank and Gaza was not included, and how all the surrounding Arab nations attacked it in am attempt to wipe out the Jews and finish Hitler’s work.  We could talk about how the West Bank belonged to Jordan but Jordan didn’t want it back because they didn’t want to deal with the residents.  We could also talk about how Egypt controlled Gaza and never wanted it back for the same reason or how Israel withdrew from Gaza and gave it every opportunity to develop into something special, but instead allowed Hamas to take over and drive it into the ground.

We could  talk about the civilians Israel killed while aiming at missile launchers or we could talk about the thousands of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks.  We could talk about a blockade or bombing of a hospital shielding Hamas missiles, or we could talk about how entire families were blown up in Pizza places and malls by people who were proud to kill as many Jews as possible.  I could go back to Yasser Arafat, the Godfather of terrorism and hijacked planes, murdered passengers and the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.  I could go back to 3 murdered Yeshiva boys.

But none of the matters if you want Israel to look like the aggressor, because when you do you only go back as far as July 8, 2014.  If you go back any further you might have to admit that Israel has every right to defend itself. Something it has always been forced to do and has become so good at doing it now gets criticized for it.  It’s the greatest lie of omission you will ever see.  It pretends nothing ever happened before July 8, 2014.  And too many people are believing it.

 

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Why I no longer argue with Stuart

Israeli-FlagI have a friend named Stuart. I’ve known Stuart for close to 40 years.  Some of you reading this even know him. I recently came to the realization that there is no friend on Facebook, excluding family members or friends of the family that I know longer than I know him. He and I used to argue so passionately on Facebook that we went through an “unfriended” period, the details of which are unclear, specifically in regard to who initiated the “unfriending”.  Frankly at this point it is unimportant.  We no longer argue.  Why? Because we share a common understanding.  The understanding that most of the issues we used to argue about will mean nothing if we don’t preserve the freedom and safety of the civilized world. Maybe even more importantly, we share an unapologetic love for Israel and the Jewish people.

Those of you who know him may know that 2 of his favorite words are obfuscate and metanoia.  Stop pretending you all know what those two words mean and click on each one for the definition.  Stuart and I have certainly gotten into it over the past few years.  He has what can only be defined as conservative views while I hold some very liberal positions, particularly on social issues.  He believes that what has happened to me is metanoia.  I agree on some levels, but I’ve always loved my people, been pro-Israel, and hated bigots of any kind, especially anti-Semites.  That doesn’t mean he’s entirely wrong.  The events of the last few months certainly did change me, as I wrote in my piece  “My Summer of Gaza”.

But here is what I believe has become the common ground in our discussion. If we allow Muslim extremism to run rampant all over the world the other issues won’t matter.  The issues we argued about we’re allowed to argue about. We live in a free country.  If we don’t wake up, and wake up soon, those basic freedoms may vanish before our very eyes.

I urge those of you reading this who are really tempted to address my views on specific subjects to leave it for another time.  Why?  Not because I don’t want to have the discussion but because it goes against the exact point I am trying to make.

All these other issues are secondary to the greatest issue of our lifetime. Freedom from an evil spreading over the planet like an out of control cancer. It’s why my next vote for president will be for whoever has the strongest stance on foreign policy and whoever is most pro-Israel.  Even if on the issues they think just like Stuart does.  In fact, I might just nominate Stuart for president.

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Open Letter to Bryan Adams

Brian Adams

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Bryan,

Earlier today I listened to what I considered to be my favorite song for one last time.  The song I listened to was your song, “Everything I do”.   You might say I am overly sensitive, even childish.  After all, just because someone holds views I don’t like it shouldn’t stop me from enjoying a song or a movie or a TV show.  I would answer, I see your point, but there is a lot at stake here. Something far more important than coming off as a big-time humanitarian who learns only half of the facts and opines on Twitter.  What I understand is at stake here, but you either don’t see or don’t care, is the survival of not only the Jewish people, but the very civilization you thrive in.  So once I know someone believes in something so harmful to the safety of Israel, the Jewish people and ultimately the entire planet, their “art” becomes distasteful to me. Just as I no longer enjoy listening to Pink Floyd because of my disgust for Roger Waters, I now have lost interest in listening to your music.

I will briefly address the following quotes you made on Twitter.

“I can’t speak for others, I only speak for myself: I say the war against Gaza was a crime against humanity”

Regarding the statement that the war was started in response to Hamas killing the 3 Yeshiva students you replied:

“it was never proved who was responsible, and it’s not justification for murdering 2000+ people…541 kids”

“and the Israeli blockade of Gaza just entered its 8th year, leaving its 1.7 million inhabitants destitute”

“Nobody here is anti-semitic – I’m / we’re just pro-people and pro-freedom”

Well you are right.  The war Hamas has waged on Gaza is a constant crime against humanity.  Learn the facts Bryan.  They’ve squandered and stolen billions from their people.

Never proved? They just admitted it.  And the cease-fire Hamas only now accepted was offered long before many of these deaths.  Deaths on the hands of Hamas for using their people as human shields.  Or did they not prove that either?

The blockade is not why they are destitute.  Their rulers stealing money is. Incidentally, the blockade is there to keep out weapons, not food and supplies.

And lastly, being pro-people and pro-freedom means being that for all people. If you look up the history you’ll see what Israel has had to endure from these terrorists.  Terrorists whose main objective has always been to murder Jews.  Israel’s objective has always been peace.  With that in mind to be quite blunt, if you support HAMAS it is anti-Semitic.  They have made it very clear that they won’t be happy till every last Jew on the planet is dead.  But you won’t look it up because you, like so many others don’t want to know the truth. And this Mr. Adams, makes your once beautiful music ugly to my ears.  Maybe it’s because while you attempt to come off like someone who cares about humanity, you know it’s true, everything you do, you do for you.

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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