I admit I am somewhat encouraged. It’s not often that Jewish life is given the global importance it’s been given since the murder of hostages in a Paris supermarket. I watched CNN and saw a focus on the French Jewish community I find moving and important. It may be significant and it may be very helpful to the big picture, but it doesn’t change one important fact. The enemy is still coming for us.
Despite what some might think from reading some of my articles, I am actually an optimist. I believe good can triumph over evil. Call me naive, but it has happened many times before. I sit here writing today because in 1945 good triumphed over evil. So I know it has happened and can happen again. I just would prefer it doesn’t happen with the high price we have paid in the past. I am also aware of those politicians who are devious and looking to achieve personal gain.
Should we be impressed with a Turkish delegation at the march just 10 days after the female suspect in the attacks happened to travel through Turkey back to Syria. Should we be impressed with seeing Mahmoud Abbas walking as close as he can to French President Francois Hollande during the rally? Should we be impressed with Hamas condemning the attack on Charlie Hebdo? I think not. But here are the things we should be impressed with. A young Muslim man saving Jewish lives in the Kosher supermarket in Paris, a Muslim woman holding up a sign that says “Je suis Juif”, “I am Jewish” during the rally, and coverage from a Paris synagogue that acknowledged the value of Jewish life. There is some reason to be hopeful when millions of people speak up for good. Problem is, some of this is mere political positioning and much of it is not enough.
We must be mindful of an attempt by those who are anti-Israel to separate the terror attack from the assault on the Jewish state. In rallying against this attack and speaking out against terror everywhere, there are those who will attempt to lump Israel into that status of aggressor. I love the idea of opposition to terror becoming a popular fad, but let’s make sure the dialogue remains accurate and that those trying to destroy Israel don’t try to change the reality in their favor.
I won’t mince words when discussing the one major disappointment of the day. Shame on this current administration for being so conspicuously absent from the rally. It magnifies for the entire world the major failings of this presidency. There truly is no legitimate excuse for not having some sort of American representation at an event of this importance.
On the surface, since the attacks took place we have seen more good behavior than bad, but as Jews and supporters of Israel we do no have the luxury of trusting everyone’s intentions. We need to watch carefully and expose those who would exploit this tragic week to forward their agenda and to remember that the fight is far from over.
The 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.
After the civil disturbances of last weekend, the French government banned all public forms of protest this weekend in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. The bans resulted in Muslim residents and politicians crying foul, claiming this was a smear on France’s Democracy and against everything the democratic process stands for. What is their demand? One riddled with irony. They claim to want the Palestinians in Gaza to live in peace and freedom under their current government. Just one problem they conveniently forget. Their government is run by Hamas, a terror organization that is anything but democratic.
The irony is glaring. In democracies all over the world protestors are shouting angrily against the “Zionist entity’s aggression” against the people of Gaza. An aggression that is a response to the constant barrage of missiles from Hamas. Missiles bought with the money donated to Gaza to help the people. Money donated to the most non-democratic tyrannical government one could find. A government that will hurt anyone that opposes them from within and that does not allow any other party to rise within its territory. THIS is the government that protestors are using the luxuries of democracies platforms all over the world from which to shout “Free Palestine”. They just have no clue what exactly they are freeing them from and more importantly, what they are freeing them to. There is only one democracy in the entire Arab world, and that country considered the Arab world’s one democracy is Turkey. A democracy with a government doing everything possible to put a stranglehold on the system to eliminate any other party. The only real democracy in the entire region is the so-called oppressor, Israel.
So next time you hear a Palestinian supporter shout “Free Palestine” ask them the following question. Free them to do what? To be ruled by terrorist and tyrants? Most if not all will have no other answer other than, “free them from the Zionist pigs”. They have clarity when it comes to their hate, but little sense as to how to truly better the lives of the people they claim to care about, while using the comfort of democracy to shout merely for the sake of shouting. The most ironic part of this whole thing is that at least for now the people they are hurting the most are the people they claim to want to help.
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.
Yes I said Holland’s Heroes. But to those thinking I meant Hogan’s Heroes, you already have some understanding of his relevance. Growing up I remember shows such as All in the Family and Sanford and Son being watched and enjoyed, but nothing ever seemed more popular than the spoof of Nazi Germany’s war machine known as Hogan’s Heroes. Hogan’s Heroes is set in what is supposed to be a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. ‘Stalag 13’ is where Colonel Hogan and his men used the cover of their incarceration as a base for underground activities against the German war machine. The camp is run by Colonel Klink, an easily influenced, small-minded fool who believes everything he is told, especially when it is presented as self-serving, and Sargent Schultz, a lovable fool who would be a lot happier eating strudel all day than disciplining prisoners. Colonel Hogan is joined by 2 fellow American soldiers, a French soldier, and an English soldier, played by Richard Dawson, Hogan’s second in command. The charm in the show, besides being extremely funny, was that it did a perfect job of walking that fine line between making humor out of the most sensitive of subjects without crossing a line that made the show either painful or inappropriate. In blatantly making fun of the Germans while never making light of the horrors that took place, the show brought just the appropriate amount of comic relief where one would think it otherwise impossible to do so. On his passing, we recognize Richard Dawson’s contribution and present you with this clip from the show.