Tag Archives: Facebook

What Really is That Driving Force?

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If it is all about honesty the question that needs to be asked is, why do we do it?  Why do we share our feelings with the world, post on Facebook, push it on Twitter or make a blog?  Since I do all of this and I can’t with any real degree of sanity claim to speak for the entire planet, all I can really do is speak for myself and hope that some of you relate to my revelation of the forces that drive me to sit at my computer and write.

Without question there is some semblance of idealism involved.  After all, the letters or essays I write that are the most popular and based on reactions I receive, my best work, are all driven by passion and belief in what I am writing about.  It is easier for me to speak in defense of Israel and the Jewish people than it is to type about, let’s say, economics.  Of course that may be something obstructing me from accumulating vast degrees of wealth, and that doesn’t mean I don’t like money, but that is the funny thing about passion.  You can’t force it and you can’t pretend to have it.  You might try to fake it, but when you turn that into any form of expression, ultimately the truth comes out.  So a significant element of the driving force behind why I do this is the good fortune of having things that I care about, which I recognize doesn’t separate me from the common decent human being.  What separates me may just be that burning desire and ability to express my feelings so openly and completely.  Something I consider a gift and a blessing, not an indication of any degree of superiority.

The other side of it, and I think this is an element many reading this share, is ego.  So often when we comment, blog, or opine in whatever fashion available, we want to be the one that nails it.  We want to come up with that comment or  message that resonates above all others.  The funny thing is that many of us can do that on at least some level, but what drives a writer such as myself is the ambition to constantly raise the bar. For me, having a comment on a thread that is liked by a bunch of people is nice, but it’s more like the bread they put out in a high quality steak house.  It’s good and I enjoy it in the beginning, but it’s not what I came here for.

What adds an even greater dynamic to the discussion is the fact that so many of the subjects being discussed today have an enormous significance.  It may sometimes seem like this whole expression thing is just a form of mental masturbation and a self-indulgent way of giving one’s life a purpose, but what can’t be ignored is that in this day and age the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been.  Societies ills are spreading, violence is commonplace, war is an epidemic, hunger is everywhere and the world as a whole, even with its many positive elements and developments, is not a happy place.  I may have a self-serving side of me that loves it if thousands of people read an open letter criticizing a Bryan Adams or a Michael Moore, but the truth is that I also passionately believe that sometimes their actions and often their words, two things far more similar that people sometimes care to admit, are doing more harm than good.

Words do have power.  They can make things happen and they do carry a degree of responsibility. That may be the scary part but it also the most thrilling part, for every time I sit and write I hope that this is the time I write something that really makes a difference.  I hope that my words become meaningful to so many people that they contribute to making this world a little happier.  Sure it is egotistical, but how many people throughout history achieved greatness without some sort of desire to be recognized and important.  Religions would preach that our ultimate goal should always be to reach the highest levels of goodness with the lowest level of selfishness, but since human nature is to be happy and fulfilled when appreciated, I’m fine with that selfish side that motivates me, and if you can do some good, you should be too.

Back to the original point I made about honesty, I meant every word you just read, but in this case I merely wrote it because I couldn’t sleep.  Not very idealistic, I know, but if it ends up making a difference, I’ll be extremely happy.  Thanks for reading regardless.

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While Israelis Suffer, American Jews try to learn the best way to be supportive

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Earlier today someone I know through Facebook made a special request to her fellow Jews living outside of Israel.  Her request basically was that her Jewish brethren recognize the difficult times facing the citizens of Israel and refrain from posting pictures of their enjoyment of trivial or recreational activities, she referenced a ski trip, while so many Israelis fear for their lives as they just go about their daily routines .

I’ve been struggling with this since I saw her post. The most significant emotion I have felt since reading it is sadness.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I use whatever forum I have to defend and honor the Jewish people and Israel according to my personal interpretation.  I consider myself a realist, very likely due to my parents relaying the stories of what they experienced prior to, and during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Compassion for my fellow Jews and the awful problems they currently face in the State of Israel is not a feeling I need to dig down deep to feel.  It comes naturally, as it does to so many others.  So my reaction to this person would be nothing but supportive and positive if I would address her directly. The problem I have is a more philosophical one.  Not because I passionately feel one way is right and one way is wrong, but in this case it is because I just don’t know.

From the perspective of supporting her and others like her I would certainly understand toning it down a little, but then the question becomes, where does it end?  I would like to reiterate that I am not making a case in one direction or another since I continue to struggle with this tremendously. If I go out on the weekend should I tone it down?  Forget Facebook, having once lived in Israel and appreciating what it means to all of the Jewish people, am I wrong for going out and having too much fun just days after an 18 year old boy got shot to death and a 21 year old woman got stabbed to death just for being Jewish in Israel?  Have I become so desensitized to the suffering of my own people that I am able to party on the weekend while my fellow Jews in Israel mourn the losses?

I honestly do not know the answer to this question.  Like the rest of you I don’t really have any real frame of reference.  I rationalize with thoughts of, the terrorists want to disrupt our lives so we shouldn’t let them or life must go on no matter how bad the circumstances.  Both of those arguments  are reasonable and by no means eliminate compassion and caring, but I still feel for my Facebook friend and others like her in Israel who might feel better if we expressed a pain more similar to theirs.  Let’s face it.  Although things aren’t getting better, living in America as a Jew is relatively safe and easy. It certainly is in the New York City area.  We can care and empathize all we want for those who live in Israel, but the reality of humanity is that unless you are living it, you don’t really feel it.

There are individuals who have as great of a love and connection towards Israel as anyone else but are presently going through a great time in their lives. Maybe their personal and professional lives are so in sync and successful that everything they would post at this time would be positive, and often an exhibit of pure and exuberant fun.  Are they insensitive if they share it with their friends?  Do they lack compassion? Do they care any less about Israel than anyone else?  I would certainly say that sharing their good fortunes and celebrations of life with people close to them doesn’t make that the case, but nonetheless I wind up back to my friend in Israel and the sadness I feel for her pain, and I wind up no less confused than when I started writing this article.

The answer may just be to take it as it comes.  I have all the respect for my friends’s request while having no negative judgment for the person who posted the picture of their ski trip.  All I can do is try to be as sensitive as possible to the feelings of my brothers and sisters in Israel, and pray very hard that peace comes to them very soon.

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Why I “Liked” the Page of a Muslim Man

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I am not alone in being someone who has called for Muslims to take action or truly speak out against their fellow Muslims who have chosen to be extremists or terrorists.  For those who do not know, as a special occurrence is about to take place in Oslo, Norway, I first bring to you Yousef Assidiq, a man who is truly doing his part to save civilization, and whose Facebook page I “Liked” before writing this article.

Yousef Assidiq is one of the leaders of a group of young Muslims in Norway planning to form a ring of protection around a synagogue in Oslo.  Assidiq made the following statement:

“I want to say on Saturday that if anyone wants to attack Jews either verbally or physically, that they will have to go through me first. An attack on Jews is an attack on me and on all Muslims.”

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/02/18/norwegian-muslims-to-form-peace-ring-around-oslo-synagogue-254796465/

I have often said that it is not enough for Muslims to sit back and claim they are against terrorism in their ranks but do nothing to actively oppose it.  There never seems to be a shortage of Muslims taking to the streets to protest against Israel, but when ISIS beheads someone or burns people alive and Muslim terrorists go on shooting rampages in Paris and Copenhagen, we don’t see mass protesting like we do when Israel defends itself against Hamas, an organization not that much unlike ISIS.  So for Yousef Assidiq and his friends to stand up and take real action in defense of innocent Jews in Norway, we all need to show support, show gratitude, and realize that he and others in his group are the types of brave people the world needs more of if civilization is to survive.

And then there is 17-year-old Hajrad Arshad,  one of the main organizers who made the following statement on Norwegian television.

“We think that after the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen, it is the perfect time for us Muslims to distance ourselves from the harassment of Jews that is happening.”

Sadly I don’t get many opportunities to make posts like this, but it is incumbent on us to not only recognize it, but strongly support it, for these young heroes may hold the key to everyone’s future.  They are putting what is right in front of their own personal safety, and for that I hope everyone joins me in saying thank you and God bless you.

 

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Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Mark-Zuckerberg.Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

This is not the most difficult letter for me to write but it may be the most complicated.  I have written Open Letters to a number of different celebrities over the past 2 months, some of which praised these celebrities while many were critical of their position on Israel and the Jewish people. Although I’ve been persuaded by a number of people to write this letter to you, I hope I they won’t be disappointed, since in this letter I won’t be criticizing you nor will I be making any demands.

The argument can be made that in attacking you in a letter I’d be biting the hand that feeds me.  Not that I make any money through Facebook, but I do use it as a forum for which to express my opinions, make friends, but maybe most importantly support Israel.  Be that as it may, if I felt your actions were against what I believe in, it wouldn’t stop me.  The reason I am taking this uncertain approach towards you is simple.  I don’t really know how you feel or what you actually do.

I hope I’m not going to be punished on my page for saying this, but I  never saw the movie “The Social Network.”  So I don’t know for sure when I say this, but I am guessing your main reasons for starting Facebook was because it was fun and lucrative. Well I don’t know if you’ve been having fun, but you’ve certainly made money.  You’ve achieved enormous fame and fortune, most likely beyond your wildest dreams.  What I don’t think you could have expected is the immense power your creation has given you.  And this is not the type of power usually provided to people who make a lot of money.  You have access to global information and personal information unparalleled in human history.  This may in some ways make you the most powerful man in the world.

I hope you’ll forgive the Spiderman reference, but as I am sure you know, with great power comes great responsibility.  People asked me to write this letter to protest pages and expressions of hate against Israel and the Jewish people.  Although I don’t like the pages I’ve seen in this category, I don’t actually believe that the best thing you can do is eliminate them.  This is where I get to the message I want to convey in this letter.  We all know the saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  It is my hope that somewhere somehow you are using information provided, information revealing threats or possibly exposing criminals and terrorists to help authorities keep people and free societies safe.  If you are indeed doing this and if you’ve provided access that has helped uncover terrorist plots or other heinous actions, you are using your immense power for a remarkable good.  For all any of us know you may have already saved the lives of thousands of people.  The problem is, by the nature of the service I hope you are providing, there is no way we would or to be honest, should know that you are. That is what made this letter so complicated.

There are those who may think I am being naive, but let me make something clear.  It’s not that I necessary believe you are doing this, it’s that I hope that you are.  And since this is the type of theory that is almost unverifiable by definition, I just don’t know what you think or what you are doing.  Knowing this takes away any passion I might have to attack you verbally, for if you are doing this, you are not only doing the right thing, you’re using your power for the ultimate good.  If that’s the case, not only do you not deserve criticism, you’re actually a great man.

It’s also possible that you’re just another very rich guy only concerned about yourself, enjoying your money, and choosing not to get involved.  If that’s the case, with all due respect, please get off your ass and do the right thing.

While I have your attention, thanks for Facebook. I really like it.  Usually.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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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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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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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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