Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Open letter to Washington Post Editor Martin Baron regarding headline of death of ISIS leader

ISISLeader

Dear Mr. Baron,

I believe it is important that you understand that this letter is being written to you from someone who is openly left of center on political issues.  Although I pride myself in being a centrist, I primarily have voted Democrat in the past, defend attacks on liberals when I feel them unmerited, and criticize Donald Trump when I feel it appropriate.  All that being said, I find it impossible to be quiet when I see a headline bordering on showing respect to a known hater of western civilization and mass murderer.

I am referring to your recent article that refers to the recent death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which your newspaper refers to him as an “austere religious scholar”.  To be clear, my problem is not in the accuracy of the statement.  Yes he was austere and although I do not have enough facts to speak to how scholarly he was I will accept that as being a true statement.  The problem with your headline is that you used those 2 facts to define the man, and that is neither sensitive nor true.

As a media outlet claiming to represent truth and justice, your paper needs to answer for this portrayal of a man who in his lifetime made it clear to the entire world that his ultimate goal was to conquer and kill.  If you were to be true to what you claim to be, rather than calling him an “austere religious scholar” you would have referred to him as an “ambitious fanatical killing machine”.  To focus on his austerity and religious knowledge is not only insensitive, it’s hypocritical.  The headline on your paper states the words “Democracy dies in darkness”.  I consider those words to be profound and true.  However, to use them as a means of attacking Donald Trump while choosing not to headline the death of someone as pro darkness and anti-democracy as the former leader of ISIS, is indeed hypocritical.

This is not about the American political situation or the current resident of the White House, both of which I am not always particularly thrilled with.  It’s about sincerity and agenda.  If you truly believe that “Democracy dies in darkness” you should require a headline indicating that with the death of al-Baghdadi a little more light shined through the darkness.  But if as a newspaper you are either so scared of going after the worst people or so focused on your own political agenda, you are doing a disservice to the American people.

Many funny posts have come out in response to your headline.  Some of them made me chuckle. but truth be told, nothing about this is funny.  We live in a democracy with freedom of the press, speech and religion.  You want things changed here?  I am all for you using your platform in the manner in which you choose.  However, if you claim to be a purveyor of Democracy and light, you lose credibility when ignoring the worst dictatorial hatred and darkness the world has to offer.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Was today a good day for Israel?

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Over the course of the past 3 years I have prided myself in being an atypical centrist when it comes to my feelings for President Donald Trump.  Of course we live in a time when that stance is most unlikely to get approval from others, but since I do not take this position for the sake of popularity, rather because of what I see and hear, it’s of no consequence.  When it comes to the President’s policies toward Israel and the Jewish people my position is also somewhat in the middle.  I will without apology or pause, debate those who call him an anti-Semite.  No matter what else you may say about this man it is clear to me that he has so many Jews not just in his inner circle but in his family that it is next to impossible for this man to be an anti-Semite.  However, while I feel joy and appreciation for his behavior towards Israel, exemplified by the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, I have also openly stated that I am not at all sure that what he does is good for Israel.  So let me be very clear.  While I am convinced Donald Trump has value for Jewish life,  I have been less than convinced that his actions are ultimately good for Israel.

At this point, rather than sharing any more of my opinion, I will show you the words of 2 people.  The first words are those of President Trump earlier today when speaking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan .

Erdogan is smart.

He’s a friend of mine.

I have great respect for him.

He’s a leader. He did a terrific thing. They were lucky it was him that made the decision.

Turkey is very happy.

Now I will share with you some of the words of the man he was praising.

The occupation of Jerusalem, the violation of the privacy of the al Aqsa mosque, and the violation of the rights of the folks of Palestine…we declare that we will not accept this.

With the strength of Jerusalem in our feet, let’s march together…let’s come and unify and be together and fight the tyrants with one hand, with one strong fist.

The world’s Muslims must take a physical stance on Israel.

Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.

I don’t approve of what Hitler did, and neither do I approve of what Israel has done. When it’s a question of so many people dying, it’s inappropriate to ask who was the more barbarous.

 

Why do I take a centrist position? Because very little in this world is black and white.  When you couple that with a political world in which we likely do not know nearly as much as we think we do, the truth is even more murky.  Will the President’s position towards Turkey and its Jew-hating leader hurt Israel, now that he has in essence given him Northern Syria, more power and influence in the region and betrayed the Kurds, an ally of Israel ? I certainly hope not.  But I would ask those who can see no wrong in anything Donald Trump does to watch this situation very carefully and be honest about  your conclusion.  Even if it is that what is taking place in Northern Syria is just a way to take away from discussion of impeachment.  Like I said, we really don’t know for sure and very possibly never will.

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Why we need to stop the misuse of the word “Nazi”

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In recent years there has been a growing and concerning trend in regard to a word as familiar globally as any other word.  That word is Nazi. The trend I speak of is in the use of the word in a descriptive, subjective form, as opposed to the literally specific form necessary to keep an understanding of the evil it represents.

A number of people who knew that I intended to write this piece have actually thanked me for doing so.  Any attempt to try to change the thought pattern of an anti-Semite or other form of bigot that uses Holocaust denial as a means of forwarding a perverse agenda is a waste of time.  A more worthwhile venture is to make sure those who have open minds and pure hearts are afforded the opportunity to know the truth.  The truth is that improper use of the word Nazi dilutes the horrors of what took place under the Nazi-occupation in Europe.

This post is neither a political statement nor an apology for those that misuse power.  This is more of a perspective check. Calling someone a Nazi because they do something damaging to other individuals, or even worse calling them one because it is your perception they are doing so, detracts from some critical facts.

Adolf Hitler’s Nazi war machine sought out and killed in staggering numbers.  According to jewishvirtualibrary.org the numbers break down as follows.

Jews: up to 6 million

Soviet civilians: around 7 million (including 1.3 Soviet Jewish civilians, who are included in the 6 million figure for Jews)

Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million (including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers)

Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million (including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish elites)

Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina): 312,000

People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000

Roma: 196,000–220,000

Jehovah‘s Witnesses: around 1,900

Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000

German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: undetermined

Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands (possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above).

As a son of Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivors, the Jewish number hits very close to home, as it does or has done for many others I have known or still know over the course of my lifetime.  The Nazis destroyed entire worlds.  They wiped out an entire Jewish civilization in a large percentage of Europe.  They tortured, they raped, they conducted experiments, made people dig graves before shooting them in cold blood, and put together one of the most efficiently cruel means of mass murder by gassing to death multitudes of people.  Frankly, although these facts are accurate, this does not capture the true horror of what took place.  For that one needs to research the numerous pictures and accounts of the events that took place.

And yet many people today refer to anyone with ideologies opposed to their own as a Nazi.  This is not a left and right issue.  This is also not a justification nor a means of disregarding dangerous viewpoints or ideologies.  What this is instead is a specific statement as to what separated Nazi Germany from much of what people refer to today as Nazi behavior.  I’ve seen people on the right call Barack Obama a Nazi.  I’ve seen people on the left call Donald Trump a Nazi.  You can criticize, even despise the Iran deal or the situation on the border, but neither of these facts put either president even close to being in the same category as Adolf Hitler.  Furthermore, even if one would feel strong critique for Israel’s handling of the Palestinian situation or feel a disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, invoking Nazi atrocities as a comparison to today’s Israel is nothing more than a disingenuous use of a term to promote a dangerous anti-Semitic political agenda.

None of this is to say that we should turn a blind eye to the dangers that exist both in our respective countries or abroad.  But it is important to note, that if one is to learn from history it starts by doing everything necessary to study it accurately.  What the Nazis did  between 1933 and 1945 is perpetrate an evil unlike anything the world had ever seen.  To improperly identify and remember what took place not only dishonors all those murdered, it puts us all in greater danger of seeing it take place once again.

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Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump

dt4

Dear Mr. President,

I hesitated in writing this letter, partially because I questioned whether or not it would make a difference and partially because I realized I may anger or offend some people in the process.  I chose to move forward regardless out of an obligation and responsibility I felt to the history and memory of all those lost in my family and other Jewish families in the Holocaust. Although I take issue with much of what I see coming from your office, I recognize and respect the office of the President of the United States and will address you appropriately, even if I often question whether or not you share that same respect.

I am one of those rare few who is willing to break from his position if he feels it is the right thing to do.  I did not vote for you, and do not support much of what you appear to stand for, but will speak positively about you when I feel the situation merits it.  For example, I supported your tough talk directed towards the leader of North Korea.  I believed it was an example of not trying to be reasonable with an unreasonable person and felt that a show of strength was necessary in this instance. I also have come to the conclusion, one shared by many of my fellow Jews, that you do indeed like the Jewish people.  I recognize that many people who lean to the left as I do felt differently, but that is not what forms my opinions. My opinions are formed by my personal history, my family’s history, and the values instilled in me both by my parents and my understanding of the world around me. Sadly I find you to be heading down a path that puts you progressively on the wrong side of history.

I find myself wondering if you have a clear understanding of what the Nazi Party was and what people who suffered under their rule, primarily Jews, went through during that time.  Unlike many others who are not fans of your presidency, I do not underestimate your intelligence.  So I must ask myself, are you detached from the reality of what this all means, do you not care, or does your very large ego lead you to believe you are smarter than everyone else?  No matter how bad some protesters on the left may behave, protesters that represent the Nazi philosophy have chosen to represent brutality unlike anything the world has ever seen. I know your supporters that see this letter will come back with all kinds of information about how bad certain liberal elements are, but no matter what they come up with it will not justify any defense or the establishment of a false equivalency with the Nazis that marched this past weekend in Charlottesville and the fanatic that killed an innocent woman. Your supporters may choose to sell their soul in the name of what they call Conservatism, but make no mistake, supporting you when you do not make the clear distinction between the KKK & Nazi marchers from the marchers on the left is indeed the selling of a soul.

You debated with reporters as though you represented the groups on the right. What about the Alt-Left was your retort?  You spoke of what you called “violence on all sides”. Would you have condemned “violence on all sides” after the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose up and fought against their Nazi oppressors?  I am a Jew and a Zionist that takes issue with what I see as a hijacking of the left by the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian block looking to push their occupation agenda. That being said, they are no more comparable to the Nazis than you are to Hitler.  I have disagreed and debated with many who have chosen to compare you to him since you exerted yourself into the presidential race and ultimately the presidency.  I find the comparison to be  unfair and unjust. I still do.  I even debated it with my late mother who passed away this past April. She would refer to you as “another Hitler”. My response very simply was, to be compared to Hitler you have to be a murdering fascist, something you are not and I believe never have any intention of becoming.  That being said Mr. Trump, because of your lack of desire to rid these modern day Nazis of oxygen, on the contrary your words have given them life, I actually found myself happy my mother was not alive to see this.

Maybe this is not entirely your fault.  After all, you are only human. You too feel empowered when you can say anything, no matter how unethical or immoral and get no push back from the holier than thou Mick Huckabees and Mike Pences of the world. These men who claim to be so devout and so committed to God and decency are notably silent when it comes to criticizing you at times when you deserve criticism.  But they too have sold their soul, finding whatever financial gain or acquisition of power available to them is worth forsaking their values for.

I’ve tried as hard as any person on the left to give you the benefit of the doubt.  That being said, there is no compromise or acceptance coming from me when Nazis are involved, and to any of my fellow Jews, that includes your daughter and son-in-law, that feel there is compromise, shame on you. Shame on you for allowing even the slightest bit of life or existence of a group who would kill you at their first opportunity. Frankly Mr. President, I suspect that by Hitler’s standards and rules you would also be killed.  After all, you are the father and grandfather of Jewish children.  Maybe you should remember that the next time you wand to say, “what about the Alt-Left?”

I met you once many years ago in the Plaza when you were married to Marla Maples. I too was married at the time, and my then wife who was normally very shy, asked if she could take a picture with you and Marla.  Before you left I asked you if it would be tacky if I gave you my business card.  Your response was, “yes, but do it quickly I am on my way out”. As funny as that was it told me something about you that possibly applies to what is happening here today.  It tells me that  just because something is tacky or even wrong, you still might be willing to do it.  That is all good and well when taking my business card, but that doesn’t fly with me or much of the country when it comes to dealing with Nazis.  You owe it to too many people, including your own family to do better, before it’s too late.

I realize that to you I am no one of significance.  Sadly I believe it possible that only your supporters are significant to you.  That being said, I am an American, I am a Jew, and as a voter I am not happy with what I am seeing.  You may find that many people who did not once feel as I do, may feel that way now. You should see that as significant.  In the meantime I urge you to put your ego and sensitivity aside and lead this country as it is meant to be lead, with decency and deference. After all, as President of the United States that is your sworn oath and responsibility. Whether you like it or not.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Welcome to a World of Sociopaths

james-t-hodgkinson

I’m basically a Democrat. I have plenty of friends who are Republicans.  I often disagree with them, occasionally agree with them, and from time to time don’t want to even venture into a political discussion with them.  I’m not fan of our current president.  I have friends who love him. We will definitely disagree on how we feel about him, sometimes jokingly while sometimes with more intensity.  One thing we never do however, is physically hurt or attack each other.  Does that make us wonderful people? Absolutely not. It makes us normal people.  It makes us people who are not sociopaths. Unfortunately we live in a world crawling with sociopaths.  They can be Democrats, Republicans, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, man, woman, citizen or immigrant. But make no mistake. Sociopaths are all over the globe, be it someone who drives a truck through crowds of people in Nice, blows himself up in a concert in Manchester, mows down women and babies on a Jerusalem street with a car, goes on a shooting rampage at a baseball practice for American Congressmen, or on a lesser but still significant level a comedian who holds up what looks like a severed head of the President of the United States.

I believe and understand that everyone wants to be part of something.  I realize that so many people in the world are in search of a movement.  That being said, even those who choose movements, even those movements I hate and find damaging or hateful, are not sociopaths for being what I perceive as stupid or misguided.  Do they give a platform or strength to the crazy person that feels it is OK to hurt or kill?  Frankly I say no, and here’s why.

I am a somewhat liberal Jewish Democrat who does not like Bernie Sanders at all.  It would not be totally abhorrent to me to blame him for what happened in Alexandria, Virginia since the shooter was a Sanders supporter. However, as much as I dislike Bernie, he is not the reason the shooter, James Hodgkinson, was crazy enough to go on a shooting rampage at a bi-partisan baseball practice with children present.  Somehow this man felt that he could do whatever he wanted to do no matter how vicious, hateful or violent it was. It’s one thing when dictators preach violence and murder against a segment of society, it’s something entirely different when a politician speaks angrily against policies. What happened was not Bernie Sanders fault.  But it is critically important to note that it also was not Donald Trump’s fault.  It’s society’s fault.

We are all very focused on the behavior of radical Islamic terrorists and for good reason. That being said, we need to make sure to pay close attention to our own house, because while we sit back and focus our concerns on other nations, we are a nation with it’s very own rising population of sociopaths, and until we find a way to stem this very dangerous tide, I fear more and more people will get hurt or killed.  My suggestion, and if President Trump follows through on this and has success this will be his legacy, is to appoint a Mental Health Czar. This would be a man or woman entrusted with understanding and dealing with the psychological issues facing so many people today.

Someone said to me earlier today that James Hodgkinson shot up the baseball field because he was mad that Trump won the election.  But that’s not the case. The reason he went on a shooting rampage against Republicans at a baseball practice is very simply because he was a sociopath.  He somehow felt his behavior was acceptable or justified. It’s very easy to blame the “other side” for all the bad that happens, and that is acceptable when it deals with policy, but when it deals with violence it’s time all of us normal people, the ones who don’t believe injuring or murdering people is acceptable behavior, remember this one very critical thing. We’re all on the same side.  When we start looking at it that way we may be on the way to saving the future of our very fragile society.

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

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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.

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