Tag Archives: Jewish people

God’s Disproportionate Response to Egypt

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Despite the fact that many consider the Old Testament to be a man-made fabrication, billions of people worldwide do indeed believe it to be an authentic accounting of what took place thousands of years ago.  With so much of the world’s violence revolving around religious belief and doctrine, the lessons learned from the Bible are indeed relevant today, if for no other reason than the fact that people believe it to be true.  As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches, the story of the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt is front and center.  In a time when Israel’s response to violence is once again being challenged by those who either wish her destruction, feel passivity will lead to peace, or look to appease the enemy, the story of Passover has become even more relevant.  When the statement is made that Israel’s retaliation to violence is a Disproportionate Response, the question one has to ask, especially this time of year is, was God’s reaction to Egypt subsequently a Disproportionate Response as well?

To get a better idea of whether or not this is the case one needs to know a little bit about the history as it is appears in the Bible.  The story starts with the Jewish people being seen as a threat to Egypt by the country’s new  King or “Pharoah”. His concern was that the Jews were multiplying too quickly and becoming too strong, therefore posing a threat to Egyptian society.  Despite the fact that they had done nothing to warrant these suspicions, the Jews were felt to be such a growing danger that they were enslaved, forced to do hard labor, and made to build ostentatious and glorious cities for Egypt’s Pharoah. When their number continued to increase, the Pharoah decreed that all newborn Jewish males should be thrown into the Nile River.  Moses, a child that would survive this systematic murder of Jewish male children, would ultimately be the man who would lead the Jews out of slavery. However, not before the Egyptians would go through tremendous suffering of their own.

When Moses ascended to his leadership role of the Jewish people he ultimately stood before the Egyptian leader and in the name of God implored him to “Let my people Go!”  When the Pharoah refused, God decided to punish the Egyptians with a variety of plagues.  The water turned to blood, the land would be infested with swarms of locusts, there would be a debilitating darkness, and the people and cattle would be cursed with boils and lice, just to name a few of the hardships God brought upon the Egyptian people. Was this fair?  Was it right for the Egyptians to suffer so tremendously merely because the Pharoah wanted to maintain his labor force? After all, the Jews who were allowed to live were  given enough food and shelter to survive.  Their social structure was kept in tact enough that men and women were able to get together and multiply to the point where they were deemed a threat.  Was it really fair for God to come down so hard on the Egyptians?  Did they deserve to suffer on such a high level merely because they would not let the Jewish people break out of their generations of bondage and suffering?  By today’s standards certainly not.  Today every level of injustice is measured with some sort of bias, often in favor of those committing the injustice.  But if you believe the story of Passover, the injustices committed by the Egyptians against the Children of Israel were not going to go unpunished by the most powerful being of all, God.

When Pharoah still refused to let the Jewish people go, the suffering would reach it’s pinnacle.  All of Egypts first born sons would be killed unless the Jews were freed. Pharoah in his arrogance and stubbornness refused to capitulate, causing the death of countless numbers of Egyptians sons, the most notable of which would be the son of the Pharoah himself.  Was all this necessary merely because the Jewish people were living as slaves?  Seeing as there was no United Nations back then there was certainly no governing body to condemn what was happening, but even if there had been, what were they going to do, condemn God?  Maybe, you never know.

When the Pharoah finally gave in, for a large part due to his own immense suffering at the loss of his child, he actually had second thoughts and sent his army after the Jews as they fled Egypt.  Up to the last moment, as the Jews were escaping Egypt, God would still cause suffering on the Egyptian people, causing multitudes of soldiers to be engulfed and washed away to their death in the Red Sea.  All this just so the Jews would live as free people.  All this suffering that befell the Egyptians truly must be seen as a Disproportionate Response on the part of the Almighty, should it not?

Of course the truth is a simple one.  If this did indeed happen as it is portrayed in the Old Testament, these harsh “Disproportionate Responses” were actions by God in defense and protection of the Jewish people.  But regardless of whether it was the Jews or anyone else, the message it sends is that taking away the freedom of an entire nation is indeed a crime punishable by great suffering.  If a people are being attacked or enslaved by another group of people, attacks against those that enslave them, persecute them, or murder them are not only acceptable, they are warranted.  Attacks against those who threaten a people’s sovereignty are warranted, regardless of whether or not the United Nations, the European community, or the likes of a Bernie Sanders find it to be acceptable behavior.

If man is truly created in God’s image, then there is no such thing as Disproportionate Response against those that wish to wipe out a nation.  If no other lesson is to be learned from Passover, this is one that should be, especially in the world in which we live today.

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Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

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Dear Senator Sanders,

I write this letter to you as someone who is deeply disturbed by your stance on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  If I am to take you on your word, something I certainly hope is feasible due to the fact that you are a Jewish man with ties to Israel, your feelings about Israel’s right to exist are not at issue here.  What is at issue is your approach, an approach that not only feeds directly into those that wish to see Israel destroyed, but also puts not only Israel but the Jewish people worldwide in even greater danger than the one that exists today.

To be frank Senator Sanders, I find your words to be not only damaging but terribly irresponsible.  I have been following the election with great interest and have listened to as many of your speeches and soundbites as possible.  I understand that like Donald Trump, you are appealing to a populist movement of disenchanted, angry and concerned voters.  You are clearly a very intelligent and savvy politician.  I am certain that you understand that your words, even if only soundbites, influence a great number of people.  Therefore you must understand that more of your followers are likely to remember the 10,000 number you blurted out, the number of Palestinian deaths you said that Israel was responsible for in the last war in Gaza,  than they will your insistence that Israel has the right to exist in freedom and security. They will take your words and see Israel as the guilty party in the conflict, subsequently making the terrorist organization Hamas, a group very similar to ISIS in their violent and ambitious tactics, as the defenders of the freedoms and rights of the Palestinians. Just as Donald Trump’s comments on Muslims and Mexicans create a perception of all Muslims and Mexicans by many of his supporters, your comments will have the same impact on many of your supporters towards Israel and the Jewish people.  As a smart man I am sure you are aware of the fact that modern day anti-Israel sentiment has translated into a rise in worldwide anti-Semitism.

What I also believe is happening Senator Sanders is a continuing hijacking of liberalism by those who, to be quite honest, are nothing better than blatant anti-Semites.  Clearly, as an individual who speaks openly of your Jewish background I am not accusing you of hating your fellow Jews, but I am going to come right out and say that you are perpetuating the argument of those that do, and in the process putting us at greater risk.  I urge you to listen to the words of Alan Dershowitz, someone never accused of being too conservative, in his wise and educated understanding of the Arab-Israel conflict in which he says,

“whenever I speak to audiences about the Middle East, sometimes audiences very hostile to Israel, I issue one challenge.  Name a single country in the history of the world, faced with threats comparable to the threats faced by Israel, that has ever had a better record of human-rights, a better record of concern for civilians,  a better record towards the sensitivity of legal issues and the rule of law. In a 100 speeches in which I issued that challenge, no one has ever come up with a country that has a better record than Israel faced with comparable threats”.

Even if this is a miscalculation or ignorance on your part rather than a cynical attempt to pander to an audience you feel you need to win elections, your words are still damaging.  I watched the few minutes with Jake Tapper of CNN in which you discussed this issue and was quite honestly startled by how you shrugged off what you referred to as your question of whether or not it was 10,000 people killed in Gaza as not being a big deal.  Senator Sanders, it is a very big deal.   Hamas, the terrorist organization that espouses the very same stance you take of “disproportionate response” by Israel and uses it as justification to murder women and children in the streets of Israel without remorse, does so with a claim that Israel was responsible for the deaths of less than 2,000.  Well congratulations Senator, you just increased their justification more than five fold.   After all, if an American presidential candidate and a Jew from Brooklyn wonders if it was 10,000 people, Hamas might not only be correct, they might be understating the number.

What makes this worse is the fact that you would say that Israel is responsible for these deaths in the first place.  I am far more open minded than you might think.  I recognize the fact that Israel does things wrong and needs to work hard at changing the conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  What I also recognize however is that the main obstacle in making these changes is not the Israeli government but the terrorist groups running the show in these territories.  Millions upon millions of dollars have been squandered and stolen from the Palestinian people, not by the Israeli government but by the very people who claim to want to lead them to a better life.  In truth, these people, the very same people you have empowered with your words, are cynical and devious criminals more concerned about Israel’s destruction and their personal lot than they are about the well-being of their population.

Someone recently made the argument to me that as a Jew you need to overcompensate in order to not seem too biased on the side of Israel.  Even if I do believe that is what you were doing, the question that needs to be asked is, at what cost?  Your words mean something.  If you want to be the leader of the free world, why would you take the side of an organization that not only wants to destroy the freedom of the people of your origin, but obstruct the freedom of their own?  If it is to increase support among your constituency, you are going against the very thing you base your entire campaign on, a different kind of politics.  If you want to be a true leader, a leader that guides the country and the youth of America to a better future, I urge you to first recognize the responsibility you have towards clearly distinguishing between right and wrong.  That Senator Sanders is indeed a very big deal.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Remembering Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff

This is not my only website. Over the years I’ve dabbled with other sites which I’ve used to discuss various issues.  Holland’s Heroes is primarily used for discussions regarding the book I wrote about my parents experiences during Nazi occupation and articles I’ve written regarding Israel, the Jewish people, social injustices and all matters political. So when I sat down to write this, since it was going to be a short tribute to a soccer player, I originally intended to post it on my other site, The Daily Column.  But then I realized that I was about to write about a Dutch hero.  Not a hero made famous for saving lives, changing political discourse or impacting social development, but a hero known for how he lived and played football, aka soccer.  All that being true, the man I speak of is truly one of Holland’s heroes, and his name is Johan Cruyff.

I am the son of parents who were born and raised in the Netherlands.  I take a lot of pride in my Dutch background.  My first memory of anything soccer, albeit a very faint one, was the Netherlands losing the World Cup final to Germany in 1974.  This game, a fuzzy memory at best, was won by Germany on what the Dutch considered to be a questionable penalty kick.  Looking back, although the Dutch squad would have loved to have won the World Cup, something they are yet to do- many including myself refer to them as the best team to never win the World Cup- the most significant memory for me, particularly in retrospect, was the brilliance and global dominance of their on the field leader John Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff died to day at the age of 68.  Although the greatest heroes the world has to offer are those who are willing to sacrifice their lives or put themselves in danger to protect others, it can’t be denied that there are many different types and levels of heroe.  The true sports hero, someone who inspires a nation, brings joy to his fans, and encourages thousands upon thousands of people to strive for greatness, is a different type of hero, but a hero nonetheless.  For the Dutch people and all the fans of not only Dutch soccer but soccer worldwide, Johan Kruyf was that type of hero.  Here’s saying thank you to him and hoping he rests in peace.

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Why I Do Post the French Flag

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A few days after the terrible events in Paris, it becomes more and more apparent 
to me that the difficulties we face are far more complicated and muddled than I 
originally thought.  I was hoping that the bright side of an otherwise tragic and 
overwhelmingly sad day would be an unparalleled unity. While there does seem
to be a tremendous support for the French people throughout the western world, 
I have unfortunately seen somewhat of a schism forming from within my very
own Jewish people.

Not only do I not feel that anyone needs to change their profile picture on 
Facebook to show the silhouette of the French flag, I'm not so arrogant that I feel 
someone who chooses not to do so cares any less than someone who does.  I 
certainly do not think I am a better person that anyone else for doing so.  What 
concerns me is the inability some are having in distinguishing between supporting 
a civilized nation in shock and mourning and supporting Israel and its perpetual 
battle against similar murderous terrorists. 

My website Holland's Heroes began as an online forum in support of my book 
detailing the experiences of my parents during the most devastating time in Jewish
history.  My activism took a greater role in my life after the murder of 3 innocent 
boys in Israel.  I know for a fact that not everyone agrees with me, but my passion 
and love for the Jewish people should not be in question, even if my Facebook 
profile does silhouette with the French flag.

I've often said that the first step in defeating the enemy is identifying the enemy.  
This is where I usually encounter my most significant disagreements.  While some 
put  strong emphasis on what I see as the misguided and frightened, I see the  enemy
we need to focus on as the one that wants to wipe us off the planet or destroy 
our way of life.  The word traitor is thrown about with regularity.  There may be, 
or may not be an entire segment of Jewish society making the wrong choices, 
but unless they are doing so with the intent of hurting Israel and or the Jewish 
people, they are not traitors.  Even if their viewpoints and even actions are 
damaging, something too many people feel they can determine in advance, 
they are not the enemy.

German Jews who believed it could never happen in their country were 
tragically mistaken, but did that make them bad?  Did it cause the Nazi party to 
rise? It did not. Would it have been better had they accepted the awful reality? 
Maybe, maybe not.  We will never know.  What we do know is that the majority 
paid a terrible price.

I often say the phrase Never Again and know how important it is to be aware of 
one's enemy.  This is indeed why I personally chose to change my profile.  
Just as in the days of Hitler, the world faces an enemy with global ambitions.  
Our survival rests far more on battling that enemy than it does on separating 
ourselves from those facing the same enemy, even if those very same people 
have not always been on our side.  The French people and government may 
not be the best friend of Israel and the Jewish people, but it is a civilized 
western society that doesn't want to see us killed.  And I think it's safe to say 
that the majority of the people killed and murdered in these terror attacks 
were people not that much different than we are.  

I go back and forth between a feeling of anger and sadness every time a Jew 
gets murdered by a terrorist.  Sadly for us Jews it's old hat.  That doesn't mean 
there's no room in my heart to feel the same today for people who suffered the 
same fate and just like our fellow Jews, didn't deserve that fate. 

As Jews and as human beings it is my belief that we show a  special side of 
our character if we focus on compassion over criticism and in the process we 
help preserve our collective souls.

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Thank God!

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I’ve never been shy when it comes to showing my support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau.  I’m also not considered to be someone who is ever at a loss for words.  That being said, after Netanyahu’s victory in today’s election, with all that was at stake for Israel, the Jewish people, the region and the entire world, the only thing that needs to said is this.  Thank God!  Let’s pray that Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to be blessed with the wisdom and strength to do what needs to be done.

 

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A Jewish Leader Tells the Whole World…NEVER AGAIN

YV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started this piece numerous times and when all was said and done I decided to just sit back and write it entirely from the heart.  After just listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress I am so overcome by emotion that I want to hold on to this moment, even if only for myself.

Part of what makes us who we are is our history.  Having just finished listening to the speech I can’t help but think of my family’s history.  It was 60 years ago when the reign of Hitler’s Nazi party ended.  60 million people died in WWII and 6 million Jewish souls were lost.  Among those murdered by the Nazis was an estimated 104,000 Dutch Jews, 75% of Holland’s Jewish population in 1940. Included in that number were 3 of my 4 grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and numerous other relatives I would never know.  My parents went through life with pain I can’t even imagine having lived through one of the darkest times in the world’s history.

As far back as I can remember I have heard the words “Never Again”.  Today I watched Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who suffered in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, receive a standing ovation in the United States Congress.  Today the leader of the Jewish state of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, stood up in front of the nation and the entire world and basically said NEVER AGAIN with the words “The days in which the Jewish people stay passive in the face of genocidal enemies; those days are over”.

This is only about politics to those making it about politics.  What this is ultimately about is the survival of not only the Jewish people but the survival of our modern-day civilization.  Today a Jewish leader stood up in front of the world and told the world that the Jewish people will never again be led to slaughter.  For that reason, as the son of Holocaust survivors, as a Jew, and as an American, I found myself moved to tears and say thank you to the State of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

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Open Letter to Greta Berlin in response to her claim of Mossad responsibility for The Paris Massacre

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Dear Ms. Berlin,

Normally I wouldn’t give someone like you the time of day, but since your insane blubbering has gotten quite a lot of play I find it imperative that I address you.

I’ll get back to the fact that you are delusional later in the letter. First let me paraphrase a great statement I heard someone make this morning on one of the news channels.  “Attacking a group of people you know won’t do you physical harm is false courage.”  The guest commentator was using this as a way of magnifying the courage it took the people at Charlie Hebdo to make satirical comics about Islam.  He used the example of going after Buddha in the United States, stating that if he did so he might make some angry and face criticism, but he would not be putting his life in danger. That doesn’t imply that one is automatically a coward for criticizing a non-violent group, but let’s be real here.  It takes a lot more guts to blame Muslims than it does to blame Jews.

Your fabrications are not ideological, they are not based in any reality, and they are from far brave.  I am proud to write this letter to you and not threaten you.  That is not how us Jews work.  Despite your delusional insane rantings, the Jewish people and the government of Israel are not designers of elaborate schemes to change the world order.  We do not threaten those who disagree with us, ridicule us, or mock us.  But we do speak up with reason and intellect and more often than not we do so with a basis in fact and reality.

There is always some crackpot that uses the suffering of others to propel themselves to the forefront.  You decided to do that yesterday.  You somehow felt that you would take the murder of innocent people and turn it into a tool to spew your nonsense. Congratulations Ms. Berlin.  You are now not only not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  You are the equivalent to a modern-day Nazi sympathizer and quite frankly an embarrassment to your country and ironically very little help to the people you claim to want to help.  You would help everyone a lot more if you would just be quiet and go away.

Of course unlike those you defend with so much exuberance would do if the situation was reversed, I wish you no physical harm.  I am sure if those you attack felt otherwise, your voice would not be nearly as loud.  All you are doing with your comments is helping those that wish to murder innocent people. Although that is a fact you will just have to live with, I have a feeling you are able to do so with very little problem.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Defending our brother Alan Dershowitz

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Where are the Jews to defend Alan Dershowitz?  This is the question that was presented by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and to be quite frank, it’s a very good one.  Let me be very clear.  If there was clear evidence that Mr. Dershowitz was guilty of the accusations of sex with an underage girl, there would be no defending him.  However, if ever there was a time to invoke the great American principle of “Innocent until proven Guilty”, now is the time.

I am often disgusted by the mentality in parts of the Arab world that promotes accepting immoral behavior by those who share a common hatred for Jews and westerners.  It’s acceptable to treat women poorly, steal, rape and murder, as long as the core of your philosophy speaks to the destruction of Israel and western society. Jews don’t think that way.  If Alan Dershowitz is indeed guilty of this crime, his status in the Jewish community will drop significantly.  He can defend Israel all he wants, attack the enemies of the Jewish people till he is blue in the face, but if he is indeed guilty of statutory rape he will lose the respect and status of most of the community. And rightly so.  However, with all that he has done, with all the clearheaded defense of Israel, and his staunch advocacy of the Jewish people and Jewish state, we owe it to him to accept him on his word unless there is evidence to the contrary.

I do not believe in sticking one’s head in the ground and ignoring harsh realities.  However, it is a lot easier to accept that one person is lying than that many are lying.  This accusation comes from one woman making accusations against many.  Whether some or all of these accusations are true, there is no question that this woman has to be at least somewhat disturbed, be it from crimes committed against her or by her very nature.  I believe all the accusations must be investigated and that any and all guilty parties must be held accountable.  That does not necessarily mean that any of the allegations are true.

Alan Dershowitz is our Jewish brother.  He is our American brother. While other high-profile Jews and Americans remained silent this past summer, Mr. Dershowitz spoke loudly in defense of Israel. Let’s not forget that the allegations against Israel were also mostly fabricated.  Why would it be so difficult to believe allegations against one of Israel’s most high-profile and intellectually capable defenders would be fabricated as well?  This is a man who has defended us loudly and proudly.  He deserves our support.  He’s earned it.

I have no problem with people jumping ship if the allegations are shown to be true, but unless that happens we owe it this man to not only treat him like family, but to treat him like family we have liked and respected.  That means the burden must fall on the accusers to prove his guilt, not on Mr. Dershowitz to prove his innocence.

We owe that to our brother.

 

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Open Letter to Amos Shocken:Publisher of Haaretz

haaretz301014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Shocken,

It was my hope that this letter would not be necessary.  As a Jew and as a Zionist, I wanted to hide my head in the sand when I originally saw this cartoon published by your paper. My plan was to ignore it and hope it would go away before it attracted too much attention.  Unfortunately that ended up not being possible.   Although one could say that since I was far removed from this cartoon I should not feel such a tremendous level of embarrassment, I am someone who believes and hopes for the unity of the Jewish people, so when an Israeli publication does something, be it good or bad, I feel at least somewhat connected.

Although I know many people who feel Haaretz is a publication too far to the left in the political arena, and some even feel too sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, I’ve never felt compelled to address anything I’ve seen from the paper until now.  To me, whether I agree with it or not, the ability to have a newspaper that has a more moderate viewpoint is merely an expression of the freedom and democracy that makes the modern State of Israel a shining light in the darkness that is the Middle East.  However, despite the fact that freedom and democracy allows for irresponsible and insensitive behavior, that doesn’t make it good.

I don’t feel I need to rehash the events and consequences of the attacks that took place on 9/11.  I live in New York and as a New Yorker experienced one very bad day.  People who live in Israel may not have experienced days as tragic and intense as 9/11, but cumulatively one could make the case that they have experienced conditions just as bad if not worse.

I could have handled an editorial criticizing Netanyahu.  I would have even said nothing to an article giving the entire blame for the strained relations with the United States on Netanyahu.  What I can not accept and be OK with is this irresponsible, unfair and detrimental depiction of what Netanyahu is guilty of doing.  Although I personally support the Prime Minister 100%, I accept that there are those who are not fond of his actions and methods. Again I say that I can appreciate the right of a democracy to criticize and if enough people wish, replace their leaders.  What I can not appreciate is depicting an Israeli Prime Minister as being of the same makeup as terrorists that hijacked planes and murdered 3,000 innocent souls.  What I can not appreciate is the insensitivity this cartoon shows for the relatives of those who were murdered on 9/11, and what I can not appreciate is irresponsible nature of this cartoon. It adds fuel to a fire already being fueled regularly by supporters of terrorists. Terrorists that would murder the creator of this cartoon as quickly as they would murder me.

Like anything in life, whether you agree or disagree with someone, there is a way of doing things with class.  This was not only done with no class, it was done with a brazen lack of respect for the very people Haaretz claims to care so much about.  The innocent.

I’m not sure I even know what I want to see happen.  It is already out there and unfortunately in some ways it is already too late to take anything back, but I hope that the editorial staff at Haaretz will reexamine what it does in the future and realize that it has a responsibility to do more than make a point.  It has an obligation to show understanding and compassion.

I leave you with one question.  Since I believe this cartoon was put there to bring attention to the publication at all costs, when you assess the consequences of your actions the question I have for you is this.  Was it worth it?  I hope you answer it honestly.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Beauty and Heart

stillsWith the world the mess that it is, it seems to be a lot easier to find a negative or sad story than it is to find a positive and uplifting one. Even if I were to focus on the positive contributions made by Israel, many people, myself included, tend to be more interested in the events of the region that focus on the fight and exposure of the enemy than the inspirational stories.  It’s not a criticism, it’s human nature.  However, I felt that this story, even though it has nothing to do with Israel, the Jewish people, or the fight against terrorism,  is such a wonderful story, that it would be uplifting and positive.  And it is a story of humanity and decency from the most unexpected of sources.  The National Football League.

It begins with the NFL’s New England Patriots making a grand display of love and kindness worthy of the greatest praise.  Last night the Patriots’ opponent was the Cincinnati Bengals.  In a display of support that showed the world an understanding of what is truly important in life, the Patriots’ Cheerleaders each wore the jersey of Bengals player Devon Still.  Still’s daughter Leah is suffering from pediatric cancer, and these cheerleaders, cheerleaders of the opposing team, wore his jersey and number to support him and his family during this incredibly difficult time.  What’s even more remarkable is that in addition to this beautiful display of class from the Patriots organization, Stills’ team the Bengals, recently added him to the practice squad in order to make it possible for him to get health insurance and take care of his little girl.

In a world desperately looking for acts of kindness and reasons to be positive, we saw just that, from none other than the National Football League.  It’s possible that the biggest cynic might chalk this up to good public relations, but these acts did so much to help this family that I hope we only see the positive.  In the world we live in today, this goodness is a healthy break from all the bad and should be seen that way.

 

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