Tag Archives: Middle East

Open Letter to Nassau Coliseum Senior Vice President, Booking – Keith Sheldon Regarding Upcoming Roger Waters concerts

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Dear Mr Sheldon,

Although I am not certain you are the correct person to address regarding this matter, I will start with you and go from there depending on the response.  As I am sure you are aware, there are a large number of people, not only from Long Island but from all over the tri-state area, and the entire world for that matter, that find Roger Waters to be an offensive anti-Semite with views riddled with hypocrisy and hate.  While I agree with the concept of keeping musical performances separate from political ideology, in essence meaning an entertainer can believe whatever he or she chooses to believe without having concern for their right to perform, in the case of Roger Waters this very issue is what makes it imperative that his upcoming concerts at the Nassau Coliseum get cancelled.  Please allow me to explain why.

As a Jew and a Zionist my personal views for Roger Waters are anything but positive.  His unrelenting attacks on the State of Israel, much of it through his activism in the BDS Movement, attacks that border on obsession, are so filled with a one-sided hate for the Jewish element in Israel, I would believe that alone would be enough to have him unfit to perform at your venue.  I do not sit here writing you this letter to make an argument for Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians, but I will make a point of saying that anyone who refuses to even entertain at least some culpability on the part of Palestinian leadership is clearly biased in one direction.  Since that bias is directed towards the Jewish leadership in Israel it is clearly more than just anti-Zionism, it is unquestionably anti-Semitism.  In allowing his shows to go on, you are allowing an individual filled with hate to represent himself on your stage, a stage located in the midst of a vast Jewish population.

All that being said, there is a far more basic and solid reason to be made against his performance.  To quote his very own words, words he spoke in response to hearing of the efforts to stop his shows from going on,  Waters said his shows would not be cancelled, “insisting a performer’s rights should not be under attack because of his or her beliefs.”  This glaring hypocrisy from a man who has attacked and harassed some of the most established and successful musicians in the world for performing in Israel.  Here are a few examples of comments he made to fellow musicians.

 To Bon Jovi:

“You stand shoulder to shoulder with the settler who burned the baby. The dead can’t remind you of the crimes you’ve ignored.”

 

To Thom Yorke of Radiohead

“My answer to people who say we should go there and sit around the campfire and sing songs: No, we shouldn’t. We should observe the picket line.  Anybody who’s tempted to do that, like our friends in Radiohead, if only they would actually educate themselves. I know Thom Yorke’s been whining about how he feels insulted, people are suggesting he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

 

To the Rolling Stones

“Regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.”

Star like Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys and Neil Young have all been pressured by Waters to cancel performances in Israel.  Sir Paul and Keys even revealing being the victims of death threats and intimidation, all spurred on by the same Waters who insisted  “a performer’s rights should not be under attack because of his or her beliefs.”

You have an unprecedented opportunity here.  Rather than cancel his concerts, you can make them conditional.  Conditional on Roger Waters publicly declaring the same stance towards performers choosing to perform in Israel that he feels he is entitled to on Long Island.  That being as he said, the right to perform somewhere regardless of one’s beliefs. Should he accept the terms, he will be exposed further as the hypocrite that he is, but in doing so an enemy of the only democracy in the Middle East will no longer harass his fellow musicians. Should he refuse and cancel his own concerts, the message you will send to the people of Long Island and many miles beyond will solidify the Nassau Coliseum as more than just a building with a big hall, it will establish it as a place where true performers and artists are showcased.  It will unquestionably be better for business in the long run and will establish a close bond with the community.

I am sending this letter to you first, but also intend to attempt to work on having it signed and presented as a petition in the hope that the number of signatures gives you an indication of how important this is to many people wishing to be future patrons of your venue.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Never Defend the Indefensible

World Leaders Gather In New York For Annual United Nations General Assembly

I have spent the past year, over the course of the US Presidential election cycle speaking out against the concept of what many might call the concept of defending the indefensible.  I take pride in being anything but a hypocrite.  So much so that I sometimes have views that are not in line with where I appear to stand politically. Therefore I can no longer keep silent regarding the current administration’s recent stance regarding Israel and the United Nations condemnation of the only true democracy in the Middle East.

This piece is not about Donald Trump, so I will only refer to him this one time, merely to make a point.  Those who have read my work over the past year or so are fully aware that I did not support him.  I found it bizarre and a bit scary when his supporters defended words and behavior many of us saw as indefensible. I can not be sure of what kind of person he actually is, but as president, to be blunt, I just don’t like him.  That being said, when I speak of dislike, my feeling towards the United Nations is on a different level.  So as I sit here and realize that my president, a man I voted for, has chosen as one of his last acts as leader of the free world to align himself with this bastion of corruption, I find myself in the position where I can not and will not defend the indefensible on a level far greater than any over the past year.

Ironically the issue, at least in my opinion, is not so much in the details.  There are many people in Israel who are opposed to the settlements.  There are also many people who believe the only real solution to the conflict is a two state solution.  But that’s not the issue. What is more significant here is the condemnation by the United Nations and the lack of loyalty and support the United States has shown to Israel in not only not obstructing this condemnation, but very possibly being a driving force behind it.  The United Nations has made a very lucrative business out of criticizing and condemning the Jewish State.  While nations have murdered and tortured their citizens, while terrorist groups have begun to form in various parts of the Middle East, and nations like Iran have called for the death and destruction of Israel and the United States, the United Nations has encouraged and arguably promoted the idea that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.  For any United States government to do anything other than oppose this, truly falls in the category of indefensible.

Just as a lie of omission is  still a lie, an abstention by the United States at a United Nations vote of this significance is the same as a show of support for the vote.  I truly believe Israel will get through this, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a clear act of disloyalty towards an important friend, and if it is personal and based on the relationship between President Obama  and Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is far worse than that. It interferes in Israeli politics in a manner not too dissimilar from a foreign government hacking America’s political parties and possibly influencing the election.  It tells the Israeli people, I don’t like the person you elected through your democratic process and subsequently as a result I am turning my back on you as I walk out the door.

This is not about being a Liberal or Conservative.  Alan Dershowitz, a man as liberal as anyone in the public forum has spoken out against this without any filter, and clearly feels the same sense of betrayal so many of us do at this time.  This is about how to treat a friend and knowing and acknowledging the difference between right and wrong.  Israel is a nation of equality.  A nation where people of all religions, races, nationalities and orientations have the opportunity to live in peace.  If an outgoing president and an international body decide to end the year attacking Israel instead of going after the real manifestations of evil in the world, this becomes nothing other than a vendetta, be it political, racial, or as many believe in this case, personal.  Regardless of the motivation it is an act that is truly indefensible.

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A Deal with the Devil

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Sometimes it is hard to say anything that hasn’t been said already.  When it comes to a nuclear deal with Iran, this may be one of those times. With that in mind I will try, while also making this short and not so sweet.

1-A deal with Iran is a deal with the devil.  Somehow this country has gone from not negotiating with terrorists to a day when we would be led to believe we should feel safer. We’re not.

2-Some believe this is the only viable alternative.  I still go back to the concept of negotiation with terrorists.  How is that viable?

3-Is this the beginning of a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East?  For all the talk of Israel’s evil imperial ambitions, other than Iran that makes no bones about wanting Israel wiped off the map, the unofficial knowledge of Israel’s nuclear capabilities didn’t cause one. It wasn’t till now that other countries in the region expressed any urgency for nuclear weapons.  That would tell people a lot, assuming it was something they would want to know.

4-If we lived in a world with any degree of common sense, rather than negotiating a deal with Iran we would be tightening sanctions.  I won’t sit here today and call for military action, although I do believe it will come to that, instead I would call for an attempt at strangling Iran economically.

Unfortunately today’s events take us in a different, one that opens the door wide open for global calamity.  Let’s hope it never comes to that.

 

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Bibi Bashing. It’s all the Rage

Europe Gaza Protests

 

 

 

 

I don’t claim to have the entire corner on reality.  Although I am by no means deluded, I am a flawed individual and therefore never claim to be that much smarter than anyone else.  I do know however, that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s not a dog.  No matter how many people say otherwise.

Let me first get something out of the way.  My personal feelings aside, I realize Benjamin Netanyahu is not liked by many people.  He is a strong-minded and ambitious politician who comes off to many as smug and arrogant.  Despite the fact that I do not share their sentiments, I realize there are even people who I have great respect for that feel that way.  That being said, the facts don’t completely change just because of a dislike for a leader’s personality or even his policy.

Popularity or lack thereof often seems to come in the form of a fad. I am by no means saying that there are not many people who have carefully thought out their reasons for bashing Benjamin Netanyahu every opportunity they get, but there are numerous people  out there who have remained silent and are only now speaking loudly about their dislike for the Israeli Prime Minister.  It’s a very polarizing issue.  Families and close friends will disagree vehemently over their feelings for him.  Non-Jews with marginal knowledge of foreign affairs now know who he is, with many having formed an opinion.  As is the case so often, people follow the hoards.

I am baffled by how so much of liberal politics has taken the form of sympathy for the Palestinians against the evil Israeli oppressors. But much of that is also caused by people being followers.  The proof of that lies in the existence of liberals who do indeed support Israel and recognize the fact that Israel lacks a true partner in the peace process.

A friend of mine once said that people buy with emotion and try to back it up with logic.  As the world is being sold a bill of goods regarding the situation in the Middle East, the salespeople are constantly scrambling to back up their anti-Israel rhetoric.  For the sake of making my argument I will pretend I not only dislike Benjamin Netanyahu, but I will go one step further and pretend I don’t agree with his policies.

So I begin by pretending that I agree with the notion that Netanyahu is an arrogant, racist, self-serving politician who has done more to hurt Israel and its relationship with the rest of the world than he has to help it.  I will pretend that I agree with the notion that he has shown American President Barack Obama no respect and is working against him in a way that is diametrically opposed to the great relationship between the United States and Israel.  I am pretending all this is true.  Now that I am doing this I have a few questions.

Has Iran threatened to annihilate Israel?

Has Israel ever suffered attacks from terrorist organizations?  Let be more specific with my question. Has Israel been attacked consistently by terrorists from Lebanon in the North, Gaza in the South, and the Palestinian Authority in the east?

Were there terrorists attacks before Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister?

Did anti-Semitism exist before Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister?

Have offers for peace agreements that could have possibly led to a two state solution been made by Netanyahu governments?

Has the Palestinian Authority repeatedly turned away offers made by Israel?

Was Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formerly a member of the terrorist organization Fatah?

Did Abbas help fund the massacre at the Munich Olympics?

Have close to 200,000 people been killed in Syria’s civil war?

Did Hamas use its people as human shields?

The answer to all these questions is YES.

 

Now I have 2 more questions.

Do most of the people who bash Bibi know the name of the head of ISIS? (without googling)  It’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by the way.

Would Israel suddenly have willing peace partners in the region if Bibi was not Prime Minister?

The answer to both those questions is NO.

 

My point is not that Netanyahu is perfect.  I recently had a discussion with someone very close to me who does not share my affection for him at all.  Despite his feelings this person does not bash Bibi for sport.  In fact he clearly gets no pleasure at all in criticizing him.  He has his views, he speaks his views, but then supports Israel and its government with a passion and commitment greater than most of us, myself included.  There’s a difference between being someone with a free voice who utilizes it to criticize their leaders than those who bash a high-profile public figure just because it’s become popular and everyone else is doing it.

No one would ever admit to this, but I’ve watched over the years as opinions get formed, they gain traction, and then all of a sudden countless numbers share these opinions without ever having any facts to back them up.   If you want to disagree with Benjamin Netanyahu and produce facts that back up your argument, than I’ll listen.  If however you want to come at me with a statement like Israel is an apartheid state under Netanyahu, I may just ignore you. If all you can talk about is how evil Bibi is but you say nothing about Syria, ISIS, Boko Haram and many others, I will realize your agenda has nothing to do with bettering the human race.  And I will expect that in many cases, as soon as you find the next fad you’ll probably move on anyway.

 

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Open Letter to Hypocrites Everywhere

hypoDear Hypocrite,

You know who you are.  You’re the person who screams and shouts against injustice when it’s fashionable.  You take a stand against those you know won’t hurt you.  You somehow manage to miss the obvious, stay quiet through the worst atrocities, and pick on the people you don’t like, not the people who actually do something wrong.

I admit I will never be completely objective.  I am a Jew and a Zionist.  I am also an American born of Dutch parents.  This means that I will always hope to find the positive when assessing the behaviors of anyone Jewish, Israeli, American and Dutch.  I also have a particular fondness for Canadians and I feel a strong connection to the British.  I actually like a lot of people.  What I don’t like are manipulators, thieves, imperialists, and most of all murderers.   I admit there are many grey areas in the first 3 categories and therefore some of it could be left open for interpretation, but a murderer is a murderer and I therefore won’t ever defend one.  What is important here is that this is the category in which you specialize.  You don’t look at the facts and determine who really is a murderer, you use your personal biases to change the terminology and manipulate the narrative.

Case in point, “the militant” or “freedom fighter”.  You somehow establish a moral equivalency between the Israeli soldier and the Palestinian terrorist. You try to make the case that the fight is equally justified on both sides, when in reality Israel’s fight is not against an established army of a credible nation, it it is a war against terror.  You may or may not work for the United Nations.  If you do, and I’ll be fair and not make any assumptions, you may be in favor of investigating Israel for war crimes or you may not.   If you are, do you realize that your hypocrisy is contributing to the destruction of the planet?  Your agenda is one that attacks the one democracy in the Middle East and ignores the wrongdoings of those committing acts of murder.  You speak of human rights yet you give a pass to those most guilty of human rights violations.  It makes no sense to the unbiased person, but makes all the sense in the world to those with a certain very dangerous and cynical agenda.

Then there’s the hypocritical Liberal.  I personally hold some viewpoints that would only be described as liberal and subsequently  am not blanketing all Liberals in this letter by any means.  The one’s I am referring to are those who claim to fight for tolerance and understanding and then turn around and attack and defend the wrong people.  Case in point, the academic that puts all their focus on boycotting Israel because they claim Israel has apartheid views and is persecuting the Palestinians, but says nothing about those nations openly and aggressively persecuting certain groups within their citizenry.

It’s always easy to distinguish between the sincere defender of the innocent and those who are tainted by personal bias.  The most objective statement a genuine person would have said about the war in Gaza if all they cared about was human life and not the political aspects and causes would have been, “I wish they would stop fighting so innocent people no longer get killed.”  I’ve never criticized one person who said they wanted peace for both Jews and Palestinians.  There truly is nothing wrong or hypocritical in wanting that. What is wrong is to claim you want this and put the blame on Israel.  You make excuses for the bad behavior of terrorists causing the conflict and concern yourself more with their rights than you do for the rights of not only the Israelis fighting it, but the Palestinian people being used as pawns by their very people.  Your behavior is not unlike the activist that focuses more on the treatment of a criminal in jail than on the rights of the victims they hurt.  You may define it as Liberal, but to me it is at best the epitome of misplaced Liberalism, and at worse devious hypocrisy.

If you are someone who claims to be a fighter for women’s issues and gay rights why are you not fighting against those governments or terrorist organizations that abuse both women and gays?  Why are you more focused on Israel building houses in areas most of you can’t even find on the map? And if you care so much about dead babies, why do I never hear your loud voice when it comes to Jewish or Christian babies?

You may also be that wealthy celebrity that speaks out against capitalism and inequality in western society while living off of the success you achieved from the very structure you so vehemently criticize.  Personally I’d rather you just shut up and give a huge donation to people who need help.  Otherwise all you’re doing is attempting to make yourself look like someone who cares.

Hypocrisy isn’t a Conservative or Liberal thing, it’s not a Republican or Liberal thing, and it certainly isn’t only an American thing.  It’s a self-serving cowards thing, and it’s becoming rampant.

I could go on and on because we live in a world overflowing with hypocrisy, but you get my point and most importantly, you know who you are.  You may pretend to care about right and wrong but in the end you just want to make an impression or push an agenda, and you are causing irreparable damage.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to Amos Shocken:Publisher of Haaretz

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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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Open Letter to the Administration Official who called Netanyahu a ChickenSh*t

bibiDear Anonymous,

I purposely address this letter the way that I do because it speaks so well to the cynical irony of your criticism.  The very fact that someone who will remain nameless calls anyone a chickensh*t speaks for itself. The fact that you irresponsibly resort to name calling when expressing displeasure towards the political leader of one of America’s most loyal and important allies is another problem entirely.

Since you, someone without the intestinal fortitude to go publicly on record called out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, let me tell you a little bit about this “chickensh*t”.  This “chickensh*t” is of course a former member of Israeli Defense Forces.  He was a team leader in Israel’s special forces unit.  He fought in the War of Attrition against Egypt.  He was part of a numerous missions including the mission to rescue hostages of a Sabena Airlines hijacking in 1972 during which he was shot in the shoulder.   This “chickensh*t” studied at MIT and Harvard, neither of which necessarily makes you brave, but the point is that we know this about him while all we know about you is that you remain anonymous.

Whoever you are, and for all we know you might be a high-ranking official in the current administration, as long as you remain unnamed you are the actual chickensh*t.  I know this administration is at odds with some of the policies of the current Israeli government and I, like so many other supporters of Israel are not happy with the disagreements taking place.  Be that as it may, there is a professional and unprofessional way of doing things.  I would not be considered a politician by any means, but I know enough to realize that calling an important friend a chickensh*t and being too much of a chickensh*t to reveal yourself is so far beyond unprofessional, especially coming from an administration official, it is downright scary.

So Anonymous, whoever you are, show some guts, tell us who you are  and apologize to the Prime Minister of the only democracy in the Middle East.  If you don’t, it is fairly clear and obvious who actually is the real chickensh*t.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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