Tag Archives: Judea and Samaria

Back when I was a Moderate…2 weeks ago

111Two weeks ago I would have been considered a moderate regarding the situation with Israel and the Palestinians.   I even held hope that the Palestinian Authority would do the right thing in response to what then was the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teens.  However, like anyone else in life I have a breaking point. Mine was the moment it was clear that these 3 boys had not only been kidnapped, but murdered as well.  Having reached that breaking point I have come to following conclusions. Any person who does not believe Israel is in its rights to use any manner of force necessary, be it in Gaza, Judea or Samaria (aka ‘The West Bank’) falls into one of the following categories:

Non Jew: Ignorant; Gullible; Anti-Semitic

Jew: Ignorant; Naïve; Flat-out stupid; Self-hating

As a Jew, two weeks ago I fell into the naïve category.  That is a category with many different levels.  My naiveté was rooted in the belief and hope that a peaceful solution was possible.  I was a moderate.  The 3 murdered Israeli teens are 3 among thousands killed by terrorists, but somehow it was their murder that destroyed my moderate status as well.  Yes I questioned my moderation even then, but I was always open to the idea that there were enough people in power on their side who wanted peace more than they wanted the destruction of Israel to create an atmosphere of coexistence.   Sadly that is not the case.  As Golda Meir once said so eloquently, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”  It is with genuine pain that I say that day is further away from us than ever before.

First to the Non-Jewish people I make mention of, I say this.  I respect anyone whose genuine desire is a world of peace.  Even if you are ignorant to the truth or gullible as to the intentions of Israel’s Arab enemies, you may desperately cling to the hope that peace can break out.  I admire your motivation and appreciate your decency.  However, if you really take time to look at the situation you will come to the same tragic conclusion.  They do not want peace.  They want dead Jews.  If you can show me any concrete evidence to prove otherwise I would be happy to see it, but I truly do not believe that evidence exists.

If you are anti-Semitic I have nothing to say to you.  You live with hate in your heart and to make matters even worse, that hate is directed towards me and my family.  You therefore are nothing to me other than disgusting and potentially dangerous.

To the Jews in these categories I say this.  Please learn from the past.  The Nazis set out to kill every last Jew.  Not merely the Jew who opposed them, but even the Jew whose fear motivated them to work for them in concert in the hope that they would be spared.  They were all targets.  As we all are today.  The naïve amongst you who believe in a peaceful solution, are making the mistake I so genuinely understand.  You are applying rational thinking to irrational minds.  These are people who are taught that the greatest honor they can achieve in life is through death.  Not merely death, but death through murder and destruction.  I am sure those of you who are applying your rational standards do not for one second relate to that way of thinking, but if you analyze it honestly and without personal prejudice you may see the sad truth.

To the self-hating Jew, the one who chooses to be extra vocal about criticism of Jews when they do things wrong but are only half as vocal, at best, when Jews are attacked and murdered, I say this.  It is not just your fellow Jew you will bring suffering to, but to yourself as well.  You are a pawn on a chessboard of evil, and those who play chess know that the pawns are the most expendable.  My father, Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory once wrote when referring back to his account of the Holocaust,  “We may in the course of it meet people who, for whatever it’s worth,may be portrayed as heroes, while others are cowards, pacifists, or activists.They are all the products of mankind. For them, there will always be a place under the sun (with the exception of the traitor).”   It is not my place to determine who are the cowards and pacifists and who are the traitors.  God will know what is in your heart and I trust will judge you accordingly.

One may make the argument that every day a moderate turns radical Hamas has gained another victory.  That may be true.  But it is safer to be a realistic radical than a delusional moderate.  Unfortunately I now believe those are the only two choices.

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Who am I to advocate Force?

idfI often feel guilty when I come out in favor of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) taking the harshest of approaches.  After all, who am I to say this?  I live in New York.  I do not live in Israel, I do not live in Judea, Samaria, or Southern Israel.  I do not have children being called up to fight and risking their life to do the things I comfortably encourage from a safe air-conditioned home in the United States.

Who am I?  I am a human being, I am a Jew, and I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I have made every attempt in my life, both in practicality and in theory to learn lessons from the past.  Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  If there is one lesson I have learned, and I truly believe it may be the most important lesson of our time, one that could mean the difference between the death or survival of modern civilization, it’s that we can not apply rational standards to irrationally thinking people.  Do I believe the answer is to wipe out anyone who lives by those irrational standards?  Of course not.  Do I believe re-education of the greatest kind is needed. I do.  I also believe that sometimes the only way to begin that re-education is by a show of force of the most enormous proportions.

Two of the most civilized nations today, and strong American allies, are Germany and Japan.  Go back 70 years ago to the year 1944 and no one would have thought that to be realistic.  Yet the world was saved, at least temporarily by the drastic change in direction initiated by the allied forces basically pounding the two nations into submission.   Many people who wanted nothing more but to live a decent life died in the process, on both sides, but the fact remains that with the strong force brought on to both of these nations, history was changed for the better.

We face a similar threat today, at least as far as its potential danger, even if the landscape is very different.  Many people such as myself, who believe a powerful approach is needed against our enemies, are getting criticized for our viewpoints.  “Jews don’t act like that, the enemies do”, is one of the things I have heard.  To that I reply, yes, in the past we did not.  But we also say Never Again.

I find the murder of any innocent person to be tragic.  But I also believe in the phrase coined by our ancient Rabbis in Ethics of our Fathers, “im ain ani li mi li”, which translated into English means, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me.”   As a Jew, my sad assumption is that as a collective, there will be no one. There are many righteous people who have and would sacrifice their lives to protect innocent people, Jew and non-Jew alike, but there are no nations or groups who will look after the Jewish people any better than their fellow Jews will.

So although I feel somewhat guilty for sitting in comfort and speaking in favor of force by the IDF, as a Jew who has learned from history I would feel more guilty if I did not.


Why We Pick Sides

Although the events in the Middle East are of a more serious nature, this is not the first time in the past month we have been witness to two large groups of people taking sides against each other.  Only a few weeks ago when Barack Obama won reelection, the ongoing battle between Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left, at least to some extent, finally settled down. Although the differences between the American presidential election and the conflict in Israel and Gaza are significant, one interesting similarity is that in both circumstances all parties think the same thing.  They think they are without any question correct for choosing the side that they did.  The question this makes me ask is this.  What causes people to pick sides?

I discussed this with someone prior to the election, and we both agreed that there are many people out there who pick a political party based on what they were born into.  It is not uncommon to see three generations of Democrats or Republicans.  After all, it is very normal for parents to influence their children.  By no means do I mean to imply these people are not thinking for themselves, after all, being born to parents who always voted Democrat, I too fell into this category.  I just know that my political opinions were influenced by the discussions I heard and participated in at home and that my opinion was, at least partially, molded by those dinner time chats.   Now don’t think for one second I don’t recognize there are multitudes of people who make their decision when they reach adulthood based on experiences or analysis, but it is important to recognize that there are many people who in some ways never really had a choice to make.  It’s all they ever knew from a young age.

Although the stakes, certainly immediately are far greater, there are similarities to be found between the U.S. presidential election and the conflict in the Middle East.  The similarities I speak of surround the taking of sides, the reasons for doing so, and the certainty with which each side holds its view.  Although there is great passion in American politics, the majority of people realize that each side isn’t entrenched to the point where no one can see how it will ever change.  I am not so sure the same can be said for the situation in the Middle East.

Examining the situation in Gaza, I asked myself what makes someone choose one side or another.  There are of course the people who live in the affected areas, and then there are people such as myself who live geographically far away, but feel close to the situation.  I’ve heard the stories of Palestinians who in their early years saw people who they were close to die, and living in an environment where they never heard anything other than the fact that the Israelis were responsible, grew up wanting revenge.  Regardless of the accuracy of the information, was there ever a question what side they would be on?   Were they ever given a choice?

In Israel, boys and girls know that when they reach the ripe old age of 18, that they will get called up to do their required military service. Military service made necessary from living in a nation surrounded by enemies.  Then there are the thousands who have been killed in terrorist attacks and their families who have been directly affected by these attacks.  Even if for argument’s sake Israel’s attack on Gaza held no justification, what side would you expect these people to be on?  Past incidents give them little to no room for choice.

There are people on both sides of the conflict who pick a side based on their background, religion, or in some cases, political expediency.  In some cases people pick sides without any genuine regard for the well-being of the people on the side that they pick.  Some politicians and journalists thrust their careers into high gear during conflicts such as these, and although I am sure that for the most part these people are not looking to see anyone suffer, in some cases they are not exactly praying for things to get back to normal either.

It’s very important to mention that the media that supplies the information to a large percentage of Israel’s enemies makes no attempt at being balanced and in many cases is controlled by their governments that do not believe in the concept of freedom of speech or freedom of the press.  Israel is a democracy with these freedoms and with an open channel to get information from all sides.  All of these factors play a major role in how the people on both sides think and implies that people’s feelings are controlled by factors entirely out of their control.  A point I have no intention of disputing.  All of this leads me to how I picked the side I am on.

I am a Jewish man and the son of Holocaust survivors from Holland.  I’ve always believed I was created by God and by my mother and father.  However I recently came to the realization that there is one other player, for lack of a better term, in forming who I am as a person.  That player is the anti-Semite.  From a young age I was aware of the suffering of the Jewish people.  After 6 million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Germany, many surviving Jews went back to their biblical home in what was then Palestine.  It did not take long for the surrounding Arab nations to begin hostilities against the newly formed modern nation of Israel in 1948, and subsequently have major wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973.  These conflicts began prior to Israel having any control of Gaza or Judaea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.  Gaza and the Sinai Desert were Egyptian territories taken over by Israel during a war and the West Bank was Jordanian and was also taken over by Israel.  Particularly regarding the latter, Jordan was more than happy to be rid of what they saw as a problematic population.  In the 70s, when Yasser Arafat’s PLO developed a new strategy, the strategy of terrorism, a new era began in the Middle East, and once again a political organization found it justified to kill Jewish people at random.  Arafat’s Palestinian “cause” had him embezzle funds and keep his people down and impoverished.  After all, should the Palestinians prosper he would have no basis of leadership, being that the leadership was based on hating the Jewish, I mean Zionist enemy.  The Palestinian Authority, an organization now recognized by the world as being legitimate, is the political offshoot of Arafat’s PLO and is now considered the more moderate voice of the Palestinians. This is because Hamas, now running the show in Gaza, justifies terrorism as a political means to achieving their goal.

Seeing innocent people crying and bleeding as a result of Israeli airstrikes is never a pleasant sight, but it pales in comparison to suicide bombers going into Pizza places and wiping out entire families intentionally with one bomb.  A car on fire in Gaza because it was near a terrorist base of operation, does not compare with buses being blown up intentionally.  And civilian Palestinians are not targeted in European countries, while Jews are fair game in places like France and Bulgaria to mention just a few.  And when Ahmadinejad of Iran speaks, I once again hear a leader of a nation speak openly about wanting to murder millions of Jews.

I see the enemies of Israel accuse the Jewish state of not wanting peace with the Palestinians.  To this I ask; “if you are so convinced of this, why are you not willing to give it a try?”   I see the answer is being a simple one.  Even if the people would want peace, their leadership does not.  And for this reason I believe that they are not only out to kill as many Jews as possible, but that they are responsible for dying Palestinian civilians in Gaza as well.  How did I pick my side?  I had no choice.  I put a value on human life.