Tag Archives: Israel

Open Letter to Bernie Sanders: How dare you?

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Dear Bernie,

I decided that before I begin sharing with you my feelings on your stance towards Israel I would first research your comments condemning the attacks by Palestinian terrorists on the civilian Jewish population.  So, in fairness, to begin I will post those condemnations before I proceed with what I would like to say.

 

Now that I have finished with that I will continue.  No, I did not forget to cut and paste anything in this letter and I skipped a line on purpose to bring attention to the blank space.  The truth is that I was unable to find any time in which you condemned acts of terrorism against the Jewish population of the State of Israel.  Of course it is easy to find times in which you condemn Israel.  Everyone is very aware of that, however in order for you to be an honest broker, would it not be required to address the issue from an objective standpoint rather from the vacuous self-serving pandering place from which you wish to start?

Mr. Sanders, I have no problem with people criticizing Israel or its governments policies.  A large portion of the Israeli population does the same.  The difference is that the larger percentage of these people, besides having to live with the consequences of their opinions, also have served in the Israeli military.  The vast majority of these people do not have to answer to anyone for their motivation.  You however, seeing as you believe yourself worthy of the presidency of these United States can indeed be questioned as to your motivation for all of your political viewpoints.  To me your motivation regarding Israel is clear.  You see it as far more politically expedient to attack Israel than support her.  When do you stand with any representatives of the State of Israel?  Even those opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.  I see you standing proudly and with joy next to those who openly hate Israel.  To people like Linda Sarsour, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, people who at best laugh off blatant anti-Semitism, at worst contribute to it and perpetuate it.

I will not listen to the argument from you about how you can be against the State of Israel and still care about the fate of the Jewish people when you have done nothing to show yourself as an honest broker.  Where are your efforts to help the people you claim more and more to be part of as you get closer and closer to primaries in states with a larger Jewish population? And in case you claim to not know why Israel is connected to the fate of Israel, something I believe you do know but conveniently ignore, allow me to enlighten you.

The Jewish people have been victims of persecution throughout time, culminating into what was the most systematic and organized mass murder of one segment of the population the world has ever seen.  Out of the ashes of the Holocaust the modern State of Israel was born.  It was not created as a business venture or for political gain.  It was created as a safe haven for the Jewish people.  History shows us that the very survival of the Jewish people, YOUR people, may very well depend on having a Jewish state ready and able to protect and shelter us.  So while criticizing its government is a democratic process permitted and accepted in what you refer to as a racist government, supporting people, as you do, who attempt to grow organizations determined to bring Israel to her knees and destroy it is totally unacceptable.  To say in a New York Times interview 4 years ago that Israel killed 10,000 people in Gaza when that was way more than the terrorist group Hamas fraudelently claimed were killed is unacceptable.  To argue on behalf of the dignity the Palestinians while keeping quiet when it comes to the survival of Jews is unacceptable.

When asked recently what it means to you be to Jewish you responded as follows.

“I can remember very vividly, as a kid, looking at picture books about what happened in the Holocaust. As it happens, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler.”

To this I say to you the following words. How dare you?  As a son of Holocaust survivors I see the most poignant words in your answer as being “As it happens”.  As though it’s a side point.  Forget being Jewish for a minute, something I imagine should be easy for you, your response shows a disrespect for your father and his ancestry. As it happens?  Did you only just find this out because you felt it would help your campaign?  Or is it, as it happens, on a side note, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler.  Or, and this is how I see it, you felt that by making it too big of a deal you wouldn’t properly pander to a base you see critical to your political ambitions.  If I were to invoke the Holocaust as the one thing I see as what it means to be Jewish, let me tell you how I would answer. “Having learned about the Holocaust from a young age, having never had a grandparent because of it and knowing that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, I will never sit quietly when people threaten my people again, and I will do my best to be the kind of person who will stand up to any groups that look to persecute and wipe out any group of people.”  That is what I would say Mr. Sanders.  It wouldn’t be a soundbite that sounds so disingenuous that I have to fight the urge to question if it is even true.

As a Jewish American I will conclude by saying that as long as you continue to behave in a way I believe to be the ways of a traitor to his own people, you will not only not get my vote, you will get my active opposition.  You see Mr. Sanders, if you can’t show an ounce of loyalty to your own people, background and heritage, why would I ever consider someone like you, someone I see as a disgrace, to be a leader in the country I proudly call home.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Making sure of NEVER AGAIN starts with our choices

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Over the past year or two I have progressively shied away from being political in my posts.  It’s not because I do not have opinions. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I probably could write an opinion about every meal I eat.  I don’t have to look for an opinion to share. If anything I have to control myself from sharing every opinion I have, something I am happy to say I have learned to do.  But today I will share a political opinion.  Because today the Jewish people, I dare say all of humanity finds itself at an increasingly dangerous crossroads, and being the child of Holocaust survivors and a person who is committed to doing his part in helping to make sure it truly never does happen again, I can no longer remain quiet.

I am not about to endorse or attack one particular political party.  I know many who think like me when it comes to  the safety of Israel and the Jewish people tend to trash the Democrats because of how the far left of the party has in many ways gone off the rails, but when push comes to shove there is a very good chance that a more centrist, moderate, pro-Israel friend of the Jewish people, maybe even a  pro-Israel Jew, will get the nomination.  Hopefully then the choice will be between 2 individuals that at least don’t want to see harm come to us and the choice can be about other factors. This is more about a litmus test.

If, in light of  increasing attacks, attacks that have gone beyond disgraceful vandalism and have reached the point of violent attacks and murder, anyone as a Jew is prepared to support a candidate that is openly in favor of movements calling for Israel’s collapse or supportive of Jew-haters, you are making a critical mistake.  Although I have been open about the fact that I am not Donald Trump’s biggest fan, I have said numerous times that I would work for his campaign before I would vote for Bernie Sanders.  Hurray for the Brits and their statement against the vicious anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn in the recent election.  He wasn’t only defeated, he was basically crushed into what will hopefully wind up as retirement and political oblivion (even worse than that wouldn’t devastate me either).  But what we are learning now should tell you, if you weren’t ready to admit it or informed enough to know it already, something very important about people like Bernie Sanders.  In the following Washington Post article you can read about how the day after the British election Bernie Sanders called Jeremy Corbyn to congratulate him on a good campaign and when asked where he got his campaign ideas Corbyn replied, “well, you actually”. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/07/13/britains-corbyn-i-got-my-ideas-from-bernie-sanders/

Besides hoping that Bernie Sanders’s career takes the same turn Corbyn’s has, what does it tell you about him that he buddies up with the likes of Corbyn, Omar and Tlaib while wanting nothing to do with Benjamin Netanyahu.  I don’t think liking Netanyahu and his government is a litmus test for who to support, but who you pick as your friends certainly should be, especially in light of criticism that is more like an onslaught against Israel than it is an expression of concern.

I have often said that I can not hate anyone that clearly likes Jewish people as much as Donald Trump does.  That being said, I have also stated that you can love people and have nothing but their well-being in mind and still not be good for them.  In other words, just because I believe President Trump is far more friend than foe of the Jewish people, the jury is still out whether or not he is good for us.

While I wait to see who the Democrats will choose as their nominee in the current election and reserve the right to keep who I vote for to myself, at least for now, I will declare that their are lines that as a Jew I will not cross.  Any candidate that comes even close to supporting the BDS Movement will not get my vote.  The Boycott, Divestment, Sanction Movement is a movement that in its very name reveals that it is not about the well-being of the Palestinians, it is about bringing Israel to its knees.  Anyone who supports that is, in my estimation declaring themselves to not only be anti-Semitic, they are wittingly or unwittingly complicit in the recent and increasingly frequent attacks.  I will make a very strong effort to distinguish between those who oppose the policies of Israel’s current government, something many Israelis and fellow Jews I like and respect do, but those who support crippling Israel as a tactic are not only wrong, they are dangerous.  Whether they are Jewish or not.

During the Nazi occupation of Europe there were Jews who were as dangerous for the Jewish people as any complicit non-Jew.  Although it will never be something someone will brag about, fear might be an excuse for doing nothing.  It is however not an excuse for being a traitor to your people.  We also live in an age with cable news and social media when ignorance is no longer an excuse. Subsequently I will say emphatically that NEVER AGAIN starts right here.  NEVER AGAIN means not accepting someone who openly declares a policy that hurts Israel and the Jewish people.  It means not supporting someone who puts his support for Jew haters above his support for Jews and it means understanding that although it is acceptable to oppose the policies of an Israeli government, being anti-Israel is today’s anti-Semitism.  And NEVER AGAIN means that when you have the opportunity to speak, be it literally or through your vote, you start by not tolerating someone who shows no concern for your survival.  All of our lives may very well depend on it.

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Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

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Dear Bernie,

When I found myself writing a similar letter to you 4 years ago, I was so filled with disgust for the distorted way in which you approached Israel I found myself feeling a disdain I never want to feel for a fellow Jew.

CLICK HERE FOR OPEN LETTER DATED APRIL 10, 2016

You see, the fact is that I would rather like you than not like you, but as a proud Jew, Zionist, and son of Holocaust survivors, I feel my priority is with the ideals that support the long term survival of the Jewish people.  When I stop and realize this fact it becomes very clear to me why I have such a problem with your positions.  It is not so much in their logic as it is in their motivation.

You see Mr. Sanders, I am open minded to a discussion about what is wrong in this world, even when it pertains to actions by those with whom I feel I have a personal connection.  However, your positions towards Israel are so distorted and one-sided against it that it is clear that you take your positions not for the sake of peace and well-being of both sides, but rather for the purposes of achieving your own, very self-serving political goals.

You portray yourself as a caring, fair man, one who wants equality for all, but when it comes to the safety and future of the State of Israel you seem to conveniently put fairness and balance on the shelf.  Perhaps you have wealthy Arab donors.  Who knows?  Perhaps you see a voting block in the increasingly anti-Semitic, BDS influenced college elite.  Who knows?  But what I do know is that if the well-being of people is of such importance to you, why is it that you over compensate in the wrong direction when it comes to the safety and well-being of your fellow Jews?

You’re a clever man.  You know that the safety of Israel is directly connected to the safety of Jews worldwide.  I believe that you also know, if you take the time to think about it and care enough to be honest, that most anti-Israel sentiment is rooted in anti-Semitism.  I know you are attempting to change that discussion, but as someone who deeply cares about the future not only of Israel, but of the free world as well, I can not and will not remain silent when someone such as yourself distorts reality.

It is really not all that complicated if you truly wish to understand the situation.  The Jewish people all over the world are far less safe without a strong Israel.  You do not push to support those that wish to change some of Israel’s policies, you push to support those that wish to bring Israel to its knees.  Israel has made countless attempts to reach peaceful solutions with the terrorist organizations that fraudulently represent the Palestinian people.  Why do you not attack those organizations?  Are you afraid of them?  Do you need their money?  I am sure we will never get an honest answer from you to this question, but in case you are in such denial of the truth that you are not aware of the following, allow me to enlighten you.  The so-called leadership of the Palestinians is nothing more than a group of self-serving criminals, largely financed by Iran with the sole function of using hatred against Israel and Jews worldwide as a means of generating support from an abused and manipulated populous.  Their priority is not to help their people but to hurt Jews, particularly those in Israel.

Sadly the description of the Palestinian leadership sounds a lot like that of Nazi Germany in its somewhat advanced stages.  As concerning as this is, it is far from shocking.  The ultimate motivation is the same.  A weakened Israel is a weakened Jewish people, and for any Jew to be part of that is not only disturbing, it is unforgivable.

You want to do good for the country and the world Mr. Sanders?  Start by remembering who you are, and by understanding that those who do harm to themselves are not good people, they are damaged people looking for ways to compensate for unresolved, sometimes dangerous personal issues.  It is my hope that you will either wake up or shut up.  Either way, the status quo is unacceptable.

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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Open Letter to Demi Lovato

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Dear Demi,

In light of recent attacks against you from all sides, I write this to you as a voice of reason and support.  While many jumped at the headlines, I took a few minutes to read what you did, what you were criticized for, and how you subsequently reacted on Twitter.  As a Jewish American and a Zionist,  I find it incumbent on me to write you this letter of support.

Not surprisingly, the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish mob came right after you.  For what? For doing nothing other than visiting the holy land, having a very spiritual experience, and thanking those who welcomed you and took care of you while you were there.  Since nothing less than a land without Jews is acceptable to those who ambushed you, they predictably made every attempt to shame and intimidate you.  Since I am not one to speak to another’s feelings, I do not know if they were successful or not in their efforts.  I do know that it is very possible and very forgivable if your reaction was something along the lines of  ‘I don’t need this shit. I was just taking a vacation’, and since it is not what one might call ‘your fight’, you did what you felt was the decent thing and apologized to anyone you might have offended.

A pet peeve of mine has always been when people go after the wrong people. This is one of the reasons I am taking the time to write to you.  I believe almost nothing exists in a vacuum.  I recognize the fact that you are not far removed from personal issues that put your life at risk and I respect and appreciate the fact that Israel was a place you chose to visit as part of your healing process.  Regardless of whether or not you and I share the same religious beliefs.  I also know that in this situation you are the victim.  These people who came after you do so from the position of one of the most disingenuous and corrupt false narratives ever perpetrated and come after you in an effort to use you as a pawn in their self-serving, Jew hating, power driven agenda.

When these same people, the supporters and activists of the BDS movement came after the Rolling Stones for performing in Israel, guess what they did? They added another concert.  When they came after Paul McCartney he basically told them to shut up and leave him alone.  When they attacked Lady Gaga for having the time of her life in Israel she ignored them.  And if they criticized Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez for their trip to Israel, it was drowned out by their praise of the country.  But in fairness, the celebrities I mentioned are significantly older than you are and are more seasoned in responding to attacks from various people and at least on the surface seem to not be recently overcoming battles to face personal demons that almost cost them their life.  Of course nothing would make me happier than for you to stand up to these people,  but in light of what you’ve recently been through and what you are fighting to overcome, I have no trouble understanding why you do not want to be in the middle of a political firestorm over an issue you never intended to be involved in.

So Demi, I am glad you had a wonderful time in Israel and when the time comes that it enters into your mind to go back and visit once again I hope you won’t let those who master intimidation and fraud stand in the way of what you want to do and I believe know is right.  I wish you good luck in all the battles you face in the future and a wonderful time on all your future trips.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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A Rosh Hashanah Message

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Being very flawed myself, I make every effort to avoid ever sitting in judgment of others for behaviors that can be considered nothing short of human.  Human behavior allows people to make choices not everyone else will agree with as well as permitting people to do that one thing we all do.  Make mistakes.  So since I try my best not to be a hypocrite or cross the line, I am not going to spend any of my time criticizing my fellow Jews that make the choice not to live in accordance with Jewish law.  Having come pretty close to making that choice at certain points of my life, I get it. I also believe these choices to be between man and God only.  The issue I want to address is pride in being Jewish. Or lack thereof.

I am not afraid to call someone out if I feel there is blatant self-hatred, but since this post is directed more to the many in that grey area I realize it is important to be careful about stepping over a line.  If I am to address a subject that goes after people for something as reprehensible as being ashamed of who you are, I need to speak in generalities.  After all, I may have an opinion, even one shared by many, but even so I do not know what is in someone’s heart.  Let’s just say that if what I am to say applies at all to you, or wakes you up to a different perspective, then maybe I’ve done something right.

It should not be a surprise that much of this discussion comes back to the Holocaust. Specifically in regard to the main issues I wish to address.  The first being support for the State of Israel.  Support does not mean blind agreement in all policies and actions of whatever government is in place. There are many people who have done more for Israel than I may ever have the opportunity to do that are much more opposed to the decisions made by the Israeli government than I am.  This is not about stifling opinions.  This is however about being balanced and fair as well as addressing the disingenuous motives of the BDS movement.

Fair and balanced means if you are to criticize Israel for its actions, you don’t fail to mention the years of dealing with a Palestinian Authority showing no indication of being a willing partner in peace.  It means if you are going to go after Benjamin Netanyahu for a hard line approach you also recognize that he is not only dealing with officials that reward terrorists financially for killing innocent Jewish residents of Israel but in many cases officials who once lead or performed acts of terrorism themselves.  And it means that when you criticize Israel for collateral damage that leads to the death of innocents that it happens when targeting enemies not looking for peace but preaching the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  So yes, criticize Israel if you feel it is appropriate, but realize that if you do so in a vacuum that ignores the actions of the other side that you are not only wrong for doing so, you are part of the problem.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, aka BDS, had proven time and time again that it is not about helping Palestinians, it is about ridding the land of Israel of Jewish people.  It is a movement designed to cripple Israel economically regardless of who it hurts, Jews or Palestinians.  If an organization is to claim that its purpose is to advance the cause of a people, what does it tell you when it causes the closing down of factories employing the very people it claims to be helping.  But don’t take my word for it.  Just look at the name of the organization. It is all about hurting the Israeli government with no mention about helping the Palestinian people.  Partially because the people running the organization work hand in hand with the leadership that has for decades pocketed and misappropriated funding desired to help Palestinians and use hatred against Jews as a means of motivating the masses, much like Hitler and the Nazi Party did in Germany.  So if you are Jewish and support the BDS movement you need to know that the goal of the organization is to destroy a country created to keep you safe.  A country born from the ashes of 6 million murdered Jews.  Which leads me to my final and most important point.

You can find Jewish practice antiquated, pointless or even wrong, but make no mistake. You can’t hide from who you are.   You might try, but history shows us that our enemies don’t care how you feel about being Jewish, they care that you are and want you gone.  And with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year approaching I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this question. Why would you want to hide from it? The Jewish people have major global impacts on education, science, medicine and pop culture. And for those of is who believe in it from a religious perspective, it has given us the Torah, a moral compass of how to live a good and productive life, regardless of how precisely or traditionally one chooses to interpret it.

Finally I want to wish all my fellow Jews a happy and healthy year ahead. Whether or not you believe or not, and even whether or not you accept who you are or not, I wish you blessings in the coming year.  I may not like how you think and I will call you out, but that very thing you want no part of is the very thing that teaches me to wish good upon you.  And when all is said and done, only you know what is truly in your heart.

A Happy and Healthy Year to all.

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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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