Tag Archives: FDR

Memorial Day: A gift to the American people


I am someone who always thanks a veteran or current member of the military.  Over the years, when using the very unoriginal line “thank you for your service”, I have often been struck by the gratitude given back to me, merely for saying these 5 words.  A quick tangent away from the point I am about to make.  I sat down intending to write an entirely different piece, but when I remembered how often someone thanked me for taking 5 seconds out of my day to say thank you to them, I realized there was a far more important message to send on this Memorial Day.

There have been people who have suffered terrible losses in the past few months.  There are those who are struggling economically, physically or mentally. There is no way of measuring whose suffering is worse nor is there a way of determining whose perspective is good and whose is bad.  But there is no question that there are those among us that would be well served by not only realizing how good they have it, but maybe more importantly showing empathy towards those whose suffering is far greater.  How does one do that? Well I speak from personal experience when I say, one very important way is to focus on others more than yourself.

True sacrifice has a ripple effect.  While we remember soldiers lost in defense of our nation, we need to acknowledge the families that will always feel their loss, and in many cases suffer real hardships as a result.  We need to look past the big story of the day and remember that long after our lives return as much as possible to normal, there will still be children, spouses, parents, relatives and friends who have mourned the loss of a soldier before we were stuck at home, and will continue to do so long after.

There may be far greater repercussions from the crisis we currently face, but if Memorial Day teaches us anything, it’s that you don’t count casualties before the next battle ensues.  When FDR said his famous words at his inaugural in 1933, “nothing to fear but fear itself”, the words rang true with many then, as they still do today.

The first 2 sentences of President Roosevelt’s address reads as follows:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.

Nothing about this piece is intended to be political, so much so that if someone makes it so, they will be missing the entire point. That point being the responsibility of each and every one of us as individuals to step forward in whatever way that we can.

Memorial Day is a gift to the American people.  To acknowledge those that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and peace, besides being an honor to their lost souls, and we pray a comfort to their loved ones, is also a potential for all of us to gain strength and character.  To have the opportunity to look beyond ourselves and focus on another’s pain and hardship has the potential to separate many from the self-indulgence that helps neither themselves nor anyone else.   To recognize what someone else gave up for our freedom will hopefully lead us to the understanding of how fortunate most of us are to have the freedom and ability to make our lives better. The gift of Memorial Day is the reminder of how to think about others before we think about ourselves, and to do so may be the greatest honor we can bestow on those who have fallen so that we can live in safety and freedom.








And my Vote goes to…



As the Democratic National Convention gets underway, we know one thing for sure. November will be historic.  The citizens of America will either elect a businessman from New York, a man with no formal experience in politics or, for the first time in the nation’s history, a woman as President of the United States.  There have been times in the past when the candidates of one of the parties was somewhat more obscure, or at the very least less high-profile, but this year without question, name recognition is not an issue. Everyone knows who Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are?  Or do they?

I don’t want to use this forum as a means of showing my support for one candidate by trashing the other, but in this election the majority of voters are at least somewhat impacted by that which they do not like about the other.  It’s very much about spin.  Take the most extreme supporter on either side and there is nothing the opposing candidate can do that will be seen as OK.  However, there is one glaring difference in my estimation. We can at least claim to know the worst there is to know about Hillary.  But what about Trump?  Somehow people have come to believe that a millionaire businessman, the owner of hotels, private jets and helicopters, is somehow a regular guy, a man of the people. They look at me with a straight face and say they won’t vote for Hillary because she is a liar or corrupt.They actually allow themselves to believe that Donald Trump has gotten to where he is out of sheer brilliance and hard work.  I won’t sit here and prosecute the case against him, but really?  If you believe that I have a great university you should attend. It will make you rich.

I know the criticisms against Hillary and I will openly admit that I don’t like everything about her, but do I have a far greater amount of confidence in her ability to lead this country in the right direction than Donald Trump?  Without question I do.  Was Benghazi a tragedy?  Of course it was.  Could things have been handled better? Maybe, probably, I don’t know. But I do know that under George W. Bush 13 embassies were attacked and 60 people were killed.  We’re America. We are hated by those who want to take what we have or change who we are.  We are targets and will remain targets as long as there is evil in the world.

I don’t like the Iran deal.  Never have, likely never will.  But even if I am to see it as a total attack on Israel, which I don’t necessarily do, I see it as President Obama’s deal not Hillary Clinton’s.  To say a Secretary of State is wrong for working towards the goals of her boss doesn’t make him or her complicit in the outcome of the goal, good or bad.  It makes them a loyal servant to the Commander in Chief.  I am also comfortable to go on record and say that in areas I disagree with the president, I believe him to be more someone trying to save the world, sometimes naively, rather than someone trying to bring anyone, including Israel, destruction.

Emails? Sorry. I am not even going to make a case as to why this is not enough reason for me to vote for Donald Trump over Hillary.

People say that Donald Trump is preying on the fears of the people.  That is partially true. Sadly I believe he is also exposing the stupidity of many.  I would never say that all people voting for Trump are stupid, many are highly intelligent, but I do believe he is counting on the vote of those that are stupid. If Hollywood made a movie, and the day after the Democratic National Convention started the Republican nominee’s best response to what he saw was calling the Democratic nominee Hillary “ROTTEN” Clinton, people would have assumed we were watching a Mel Brooks satire.  But no, this really happened, and it happened from someone people still take seriously.  Someone who made fun of Carly Fiorina’s face, likened Ben Carson to a child molester, called his opponents names like Little Marco and Lyin Ted, mocked a handicapped person, called Mexicans rapists, called for a ban of an entire religion, said John Mccain wasn’t a war  hero because he got caught, and yes, even spoke about the size of his penis. This man is somehow considered to be more qualified than Hillary Clinton?  Really?

As a Jewish man and a Zionist I say this.  Many reading this see history and see Roosevelt and Churchill as great men.  I won’t sit here and necessarily challenge that.  Had they not led the world to victory against Adolph Hitler it is possible that western civilization as we know it would not exist and all we know as Jews would be gone.  But before we judge people on a standard of perfection, or even good or bad, ask yourself how many Jews might have been saved had they destroyed the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.  If FOX News were around then, FDR might have been held accountable to the point of prosecution, Thomas Dewey might have been elected, and Harry Truman would never have become president.  Who knows how World War II would have ended?  I am not saying FDR and Churchill were perfect or the biggest fans of the Jewish people, but their jobs were to be leaders of the US and Great Britain, and that they were, in exceptional manners.  We have every right to demand our leaders don’t hurt our cause, but we also must realize we are electing a President of the United States, not a president of the Jewish people, and we must therefore expect that president to do what they deem best for the country.  Furthermore, before Jewish supporters get all excited about a Trump presidency merely because his daughter converted and he speaks harshly about Muslims, keep these 2 things in mind.  When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric Trump punished him by cancelling his trip to Israel.  Also keep in mind how Trump plans to reconsider aide to our allies, including Israel.

The point is, no matter who you are or where you come from, whatever good you believe you are hearing about Donald Trump, he’s only telling you to get your vote.  Yes, you can say that about all politicians, but don’t tell me how different Donald Trump is from the establishment.  He funded the establishment, including the Clintons, for decades.

I don’t buy into the fact that a Hillary Clinton presidency will be 4 more years of an Obama presidency.  If anything I believe it is more likely to be closer to being 4 more years of a Bill Clinton presidency, and that would be just fine by me.  I honestly don’t know how good of a president Hillary would be, but I feel that her demeanor, her experience and her intellect is enough to make me very comfortable in giving her my vote.  I think her choice of Tim Kaine already shows she is making choices based on her agenda as opposed to the demands of others.  I think she is ready to be president today, as opposed to her candidate who will never be ready to be president.  Besides the fact that I’ve always been offended by the implication that America isn’t great, merely for the benefit of a slogan, I also know that Donald Trump couldn’t even make Atlantic City great again.

I know that many reading this find it hard to believe that I, someone who has always been so outspoken about the security of Israel could support Clinton over Trump, but guess what?  I find it hard to believe that you don’t.  You might be able to legitimately raise questions about her, but to me that doesn’t mean voting for Trump, someone who repeatedly shows signs of being a global menace.  I’ve seen and heard enough bad from Trump to not vote for him while seeing enough good to vote for Hillary, and that is what I intend to do.  What good you ask?  In this political climate don’t count on answer, because most people asking won’t accept my answer anyway.  You vote your conscience and I’ll vote mine and I’ll accept you for your choice whether you return the favor or not.  After all, that’s the American way.







Open Letter to N.Y. City Mayor Bill de Blassio regarding comparison of Syrian and Jewish refugees


Dear Mayor de Blassio,

I just finished reading how you compared the plight of Syrian refugees to the plight of European Jews fleeing the Nazis.  While I actually believe your intentions are good regarding this matter, I also believe you are making some gross misjudgments in your comparison, I believe these misjudgments need to be addressed, and to reference one of the most famous sayings of all time, I believe these good intentions may truly pave the road to hell.

Mr. Mayor, let me be very clear about something. This is not a racial issue, it’s a safety issue.  I am opposed to bigotry of any kind.  I consider myself to be a decent and compassionate person.  However, I also believe that each and every one of us has an initial obligation to the safety of our own people before we choose to be the saviors of another.  Being reckless and kind does not make us good people. During the recent outbreak of Ebola, our screening of people flying in from Africa was so detailed and so specific we even authorized taking a passenger’s temperature at the airport if they had symptoms of the disease. If they showed any signs of the disease they were subject to quarantine.  Two people died on U.S. soil at the peak of the outbreak. We treated the disease like a disease should be treated.  We prioritized prevention even if it seemed extreme.  There were many who felt our government overreacted, but since political correctness and world opinion didn’t play a large factor in our actions, we took aggressive and decisive measures to contain the disease. These actions may or may not have saved many American lives, but since the safety and well-being of the people already residing here took priority, these actions were deemed justified.

Prior to WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took no action to increase the quota on Jewish immigrants coming into the country due to what some felt was a reluctance to antagonize Germany a nation we were not yet at war with.  Many Americans did not want a large influx of refugees fearing that their needs would only add economic burden at a time when the economy was already depressed.  Subsequently many Jews were not able to enter the country and ended up dead in concentration camps.  Yet for many history tends to forgive the FDR administration, even though the Jewish people themselves posed absolutely no threat to American society.  If even 1% of European Jews were parts of groups sworn to the destruction of America, the comparison would be valid. Instead there had never been the slightest hint of any animosity from the Jews of Europe towards the US, and certainly none prone to influence by radicals sworn to its destruction.

No one worth listening to is saying that every Muslim is a terrorist, but the percentages of Muslims influenced by ISIS and other terrorist organizations is far too large to ignore.  The opportunity for ISIS to plant operatives within large groups of refugees is an unfortunate reality.  Let’s say for argument sake that a group of 10,000 Syrian refugees would have 100 members of ISIS hiding in its ranks.  To put the seriousness of this in perspective we need to stop and realize that it took only 2 people, 1 man and 1 woman, to kill 14 Americans last week.  Imagine the devastation 100 would cause.  As much as I understand your desire to be compassionate and decent, this sort of risk never existed with Jewish refugees escaping the Nazis.  This is by no means intended to say one group of people is better than another, merely to state that one group has segments that pose tremendous risks while the other group never did.

I feel sadness for the helpless plight of innocent people, particularly women and children regardless of where they come from and what religion they are.  However, I do not believe any of us are better people if we allow our compassion to compromise our safety.  In the time of Hitler’s Germany, since Jews never that caused that compromise to take place, your comparison is dangerously inaccurate. Furthermore, for us as Americans to believe we are to blame if we do not help these people is one more error in our political strategy.  In accepting any degree of blame we are taking some of the blame away from the perpetrators of evil  making these people’s lives unbearable, and I for one feel that plays right into their hands.

It’s a sad reality of the world we live in that sometimes doing good is not the right thing to do.  People such as yourself who want to help the refugees may very well be well-meaning, kindhearted souls pained by the suffering of others.  What needs to be understood is if that causes you to take or support actions that cause the suffering  of those people you and other politicians are sworn to protect, it is my opinion you would have made a catastrophic and unforgivable mistake.


David Groen












“Never Again”: More than a slogan

When I was a 14 year old boy my parents took me and my sister on a vacation to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Part of the trip was a short hovercraft ride over to the small Swedish city of Malmo.  I remembered this trip because of how nice the people were, how good the food was, and how pretty the cities were.  So when I read reports of anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in Malmo, it saddens me, scares me, and angers me.  With an estimated 600 Jews living in Malmo, and a Muslim population of 6,000, the question that needs to be put out there is what is the motivation for the anti-Jewish sentiment?  In France, a nation of over 60 million people, the Muslim population is an estimated 6 million strong, with a Jewish population that has shrunk to under a half a million.  The situation in France has reached a point where Jews are being murdered by terrorists, people randomly attacked, and vandalism of Jewish institutions is on such a rise that the French police are finding it more and more difficult to provide any form of protection, assuming they wish to.  The same question needs to be asked here.  What is the reason for this anti-Jewish sentiment?

It is not fear.  It may be marketed as fear, but the numbers speak for themselves.  Is it political?  Is it a protest against Israeli policy towards the Palestinians?  No more so than the Nazis reason for murdering Jews was based on the so-called Jewish control of the banks.  Sheikh Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood said that the Jews   “spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers and in their actions defile holy places, including their own”.

There may be political motivations in all these instances, but at best these political motivations are the use of hate in order to rally the mob and keep control.  But make no mistake, the hate is very real.  The attacks, the vandalism, and the anti-Jewish statements all have their origin in hatred of the Jewish people.  Sadly, these regimes and communities have such control and influence over their people that the average person who, in their heart does want a peaceful world, has no realistic voice.  As a Jew and a son of Holocaust survivors, I cannot in good conscience say “Never Again” in one breath and be quiet about this growing wave of danger in another. I haven’t even mentioned Iran, a nation that has made it quite clear its willingness to murder Jews in numbers comparable to the actions of Nazi Germany.

Many believe that both FDR and Churchill had enough information about the mechanics of the Nazi killing machine to stop the murder of the Jews long before the war was over.  Nevertheless, these 2 leaders were the most important people in putting an end to the horror, which they did upon the defeat of Germany.  And no one ever accused them of being complicit with the Nazis, rather focused on their strategy and not making Jewish lives a priority.  The point being, they may have not had the level of morality to put a true value on Jewish life, but they were the best we had, and they made the difference in the end.

So it is with this I make this plea to the electorate of nations such as England, Israel, and most immediately, the United States.  Continue to use your democratic rights to fight for your candidate.  Criticize, chastise, dig up dirt if that is your style, I don’t care.  But when then election is over support your democratically elected leader. You can fight to influence your president and hold him accountable, but don’t fight or obstruct him.   We can spend all day discussing and debating how much anyone who is not Jewish genuinely cares about the Jewish people, and we can easily take the discussion back to the days of FDR and Churchill.  But at the end of the day the reason some form of decency and Jewish life survived was because there was true focus on who the true enemy was.  And I have no hesitation when I say that the true enemy today is neither a Democratic or Republican nominee for President.  The true enemies, Muslim extremists, have their sights on democracy everywhere and ultimately will be the enemy of the people whose help we need the most.  At the end of the day, love or hate your leader, they may end up being our best shot at assuring that “Never Again” is not just an empty statement.

IKEA Youth

It seems that often when I step into many of my friends and families homes I can’t resist the urge to tell them that I see a piece of furniture that I like. The answer I often get, “I bought it at IKEA”. They then usually turn to me and tell me how much they love IKEA and how their entire home is filled with IKEA items. This is usually the time when I tell them that I won’t buy from IKEA. And here’s why.

Between 1933-1945 Germany was ruled by one of the most brutal, murderous, sadistic governments this planet has ever seen. The rule of the Nazi party in Germany took the world down a path that led to the death of over 60 million people. Millions were murdered in genocidal fashion by the Nazis lead by their leader Adolph Hitler, including 6 million Jews from all over Europe. While this was taking place, many turned a blind eye. Even leaders that history has declared to be great men, such as FDR and Winston Churchill, may have known to a certain degree what was taking place but took no action. We may never know for sure what they did and did not know until the Nazi party was defeated in 1945. At that point in time however we do know that the word got out of what had taken place. The death camps, the gas chambers, the torture, the medical experiments, this all began to come out and become public knowledge in 1945. It was at this time that Ingvar Kamprad, the founder and owner of IKEA decided to begin attending pro Nazi meetings in his hometown in Sweden. Yes Sweden. Not Germany, not Austria, Sweden. Since the time I was old enough to understand the history, I have been clear on the difference between the German who was a nominal member of the Nazi party, and the German who was an active member of the Nazi party. I still think it speaks volumes that the United Nations chose, as one of its Secretary Generals, Kurt Waldheim, a man who not only should never have been head of a worldwide organization, but more than likely history would show as more likely to be a candidate for prosecution based on war crimes. He was not only an active member of the Nazi party, but an officer as well.

Nominal membership was all over Germany during the Nazi reign. A tide swept the nation and many became members out of fear or just the understanding that they had to fit in. There were the heroic few, such as former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who actively resisted being part of the Nazi party because they understood what it stood for and had the bravery to stand against it. So had Ingvar Kamprad been from Germany, I might have looked at it differently. But, no, IKEA’s honorable owner is from Sweden. And in Sweden, to be a member of the Nazi party you had to look for it. You didn’t have to resist it, you didn’t have to fight it, you had to search it out. And to add fuel to this fire, this all took place between 1945-1948. 3 years after the atrocities began to become public. Mr. Kamprad refers to this as “the biggest mistake of my life”. Well a mistake that last 3 years is a long mistake. And although I see no evidence of him having done anything that requires prosecution, I for one, a son of Jewish Dutch holocaust survivors refuse to give him my money. For those of you who feel otherwise, it is not my place to make a judgment and I have no desire to do so. Just ask yourself if this is the kind of man that deserves to be made even wealthier from your hard earned money.