Tag Archives: Naftali Frenkel

Global Coalition for Israel hits 3,000

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NEVER AGAIN IS HERE

Global Coalition for Israel (GCI) has reached 3,000 members. Although it is great that we are on here debating and discussing, I am hopeful we can somehow find a way to work together to actually make a difference. That starts in my opinion, with 2 things. Focus and commitment. Although I respect and do my best to address any complaints I receive about other members comments or posts, I believe our true focus needs to be on combating those that want to truly destroy Israel and working together with those who want to protect it. Commitment is a little harder than focus because we all have our lives and priorities, but if we have time to find the fault with what others, maybe we can find the time to come up with ways to make some impact in support of Israel. I will do my part and try to come up with concrete ideas and programs and hope that there are those of you out there with the time to work together with me and anyone else to do some good.

This group was formed soon after the brutal murders of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, and done so in hope that we would mobilize the good to combat the bad. The bad not being the person who says something off-color in a post or has religious beliefs contrary to your own, the bad being the individual, organization or country that puts no value on Jewish blood and wants Israel and all free democracies destroyed. There are enough of those out there to keep us busy, and I hope our focus stays on them and on how to strengthen ourselves. There are people on here who hold views I do not share and in some cases strongly oppose, but as long as they hold Jewish life as sacred, wish to defend all good people of the world and wish to see Israel survive and grow, I welcome them as my friend. It starts with solidarity and with a group of 3,000 plus, solidarity can lead to something great. Let’s do it people.   So many of us use the term NEVER AGAIN, it is time for us to realize that NEVER AGAIN IS HERE.

 

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How the Boys changed Everything

img65649Recently I found myself more frequently engaged in discussion about the event that not so long ago changed everything. That turning point in one’s life that impacts how one thinks and even acts, very possibly for the rest of their lives. Although, as in this case, it is so often a tragedy, it can also be such a positive paradigm shift that it not only remakes the tragedy, but occasionally makes you feel a debt of gratitude to the victims.

The tragedy I am referring to is the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Naftali Frenkel,  Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar. So much has been written about the impact their loss had on the events that took place in the weeks that followed.  The evidence that Hamas was responsible for their murder, together with the ongoing barrage of rockets being fired into Israel, was the motivating force for Israel’s operation into Gaza this past summer.  As we know, the operation uncovered the terror tunnels built by Hamas to carry out potentially devastating terrorist attacks.  It’s widely been recognized, even by Naftali Frenkel’s mother, that the death of the boys, as tragic as it was, saved many lives.  That was the immediate impact.  What we don’t know yet is the impact their deaths will have moving forward based on the residual effect of the events that have taken place. We will learn that as time goes on. What I do know right now however, is the profound effect the tragedy had on me personally and many like me.

There is a major difference between turning to hate and no longer being tolerant of evil.  Granted it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two, but doing so is important.  Baseless hatred and anger can be and often is more destructive than beneficial.  However, being aware of what is happening around you, recognizing the truth no matter how harsh it may be, and knowing who your enemies are is something positive that can save lives today and in the future.  Tolerance for one’s enemy is not a good quality.  It’s dangerous, even life threatening.  Being a moderate in this day and age is a luxury we can no longer afford.  It is something I once was and now no longer am.  That ended when the boys were found dead.  When they were declared kidnapped I became involved like so many others did, getting behind the rallying cry of “Bring back our boys”. When they were found murdered, I had finally had enough.  My limit of tolerance had been exceeded and I was changed for what I believe is most likely forever.

The Jewish High Holidays make many of us extremely reflective, and when I reflected on the change that had taken place in me as a result of these boys deaths, as sad as the event made me, I came to the conclusion that it made me a better person.  It made me care a lot more about the well-being of others as opposed to primarily caring about myself.  It made everything my parents taught me growing up blend together in a way it never had till now.  It made me feel that I no longer am happy not being part of the problem.  Now I want to be part of the solution.  I want to be one more voice for Israel and the Jewish people.  I want to be one more voice for humanity, for what is right.  When I reflected on this over Rosh Hashana, I wanted to thank these 3 young men for having such a profound impact on my life. Unfortunately, as we all know, I’ll never be able to express my gratitude to them directly.  But what I can do is tell their mothers and fathers that in more ways than they can imagine, their boys changed the world.  They changed my world.  They made me and so many others care more about the things that are really important. Their lives were far too short, but their lives had such deep meaning, and because of that they will never be forgotten.  Because their deaths caused others like myself to become better people, it may translate into saving more lives down the road, and I can’t imagine a better way to honor their memory and to bless their souls.

 

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The Steven Salaita story: Freedom gone mad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarlier in August College Professor Steven Salaita was fired from the job he had seemingly just secured at the University of Illinois. The reason for his firing was remarks he made on Twitter regarding Israel and the 3 murdered Yeshiva students.  There has been some controversy regarding his firing, with the opponents claiming he was punished for exercising his freedom of speech.

What was so bad about what Salaita said and how does it connect to the perversion of the concept of true freedom?  Among other things he said the following:

“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

And in regard to the kidnapping and murder of the Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar he tweeted:

“You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing.”

These comments were made after Salaita was offered the position, so the University’s handling of the situation appears to be somewhat commendable.  I say somewhat commendable because although they did the right thing in rescinding the position, I wonder how someone who has a thought process allowing him to say these types of things was not properly investigated prior to his initial hiring. Even more so I ask how it is that someone whose job is to mold young minds is able to secure positions at institutions of higher learning.  It is also a little concerning that the school felt the need to distinguish that its reason for not wanting Salaita was not that he was anti-Israel, but that after reading his statements they concluded he would be a bad teacher.

The subsequent protests and outrage related to his firing are in line with pretty much every other display of outrage these days.  Somewhere between somewhat and totally insane.  Somehow “intellectuals” seem to think that inciting hatred against Jews by calling anti-semitism honorable is acceptable.  They say it is an exercise in freedom. Is it OK when it incites hatred and violence?  Follow that up with a statement that comes very close to sanctioning the murder of every settler in the West Bank, and you have another example of freedom gone mad.

Freedom is an interesting thing. Earlier today I tweeted the following statement:

“Freedom is not merely for the rebellious who protest but it is due the meek and non-violent as well.”

I came up with that thought while riding on a New York City subway.  I saw an Orthodox Jewish man travelling with 2 children.  He did not portray the image of a man who would fight hard for his freedom, rather he would hope those freedoms would  stay in place so he could continue to live his life as a decent and hard-working family man.  Naturally I have no way of knowing if my split second assessment of this man’s character was accurate, but I do know if I was wrong about him there are certainly people who do fit that description.  Who will defend their freedom while people have the gall to debate if a man like Salaita should have been fired and while change.org puts out a petition to demand the reversal of this “scandalous firing”?  The only thing scandalous is the total perversion of values displayed by those defending this hate monger.

To Steven Salaita I say this.  You are the living embodiment of garbage.  You pervert the entire concept of intellectualism by using it as a mask for anger and hatred.  You lead people to believe your mind is something special and that you therefore deserve some sort of automatic respect.  A great mind is a mind that can find the truth in a pool of lies and that can find love in a sea of hatred.  All you are able to do is express your solidarity with the lies and the hatred.  I not only am happy you got fired, I wish you a lifetime of unemployment.  Either way I am still a better person than a so-called professor that wishes for thousands upon thousands of dead settlers and celebrates the murder of  3 teenage boys.

I’m an American who believes freedom is not given to us to promote evil ideals.  Ideals Steven Salaita proudly calls his own and still gets referred to as Professor.

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For the Ignorant and Complicit history only Started on July 8, 2014

Operation-Protective-Edge-square-564x400July 8, 2014 was the day Israel began Operation Protective Edge.  After countless missile attacks with no end in sight and the kidnapping and murder of 3 Yeshiva students by Hamas, Israel finally had enough.  It began with airstrikes and turned into a ground operation.  Once Israel discovered the terror tunnels, they were committed to staying in Gaza till each and every one was destroyed.  Over 2,000 people died during the operation, a large percentage of which were Palestinian civilians.  Awful.  Just awful.  Especially if the first day of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was July 8, 2014.

However, despite what Palestinian leadership, the Turkish President, Russell Brand, Bryan Adams and millions of Muslims everywhere want you to believe, this conflict did not begin this past July 8th.  If you are  to look at the events that took place from July 8, 2014 without going back further, you may see Israel as being a lopsided aggressor.  Even then you need to choose to ignore how Hamas uses its people as human shields.  If however you look at the months, years and decades leading up to this operation you see a completely different story.  The true story.

I could go back to 1929 and speak of the Hebron massacre when Jews were slaughtered by Muslims prior to any establishment of a Jewish state.  We could talk about how after the United Nations in 1948 partitioned land for the new Jewish State of Israel, of which the West Bank and Gaza was not included, and how all the surrounding Arab nations attacked it in am attempt to wipe out the Jews and finish Hitler’s work.  We could talk about how the West Bank belonged to Jordan but Jordan didn’t want it back because they didn’t want to deal with the residents.  We could also talk about how Egypt controlled Gaza and never wanted it back for the same reason or how Israel withdrew from Gaza and gave it every opportunity to develop into something special, but instead allowed Hamas to take over and drive it into the ground.

We could  talk about the civilians Israel killed while aiming at missile launchers or we could talk about the thousands of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks.  We could talk about a blockade or bombing of a hospital shielding Hamas missiles, or we could talk about how entire families were blown up in Pizza places and malls by people who were proud to kill as many Jews as possible.  I could go back to Yasser Arafat, the Godfather of terrorism and hijacked planes, murdered passengers and the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.  I could go back to 3 murdered Yeshiva boys.

But none of the matters if you want Israel to look like the aggressor, because when you do you only go back as far as July 8, 2014.  If you go back any further you might have to admit that Israel has every right to defend itself. Something it has always been forced to do and has become so good at doing it now gets criticized for it.  It’s the greatest lie of omission you will ever see.  It pretends nothing ever happened before July 8, 2014.  And too many people are believing it.

 

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My Summer of Gaza

img65649The summer of 2014 was set to be a great one.  I had slimmed down from the year before, had recently moved into a better home closer to the beach, the World Cup had started and I was all set to enjoy the next few months. Although life always presents its challenges, nothing had come up that was so important that it would change my priorities significantly.  Then something happened that changed everything.  3 Yeshiva boys were kidnapped.

I still remember that ray of hope we had that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal would somehow make it back safely.  The motto “Bring Back our Boys” was everywhere as we all prayed that somehow God would see them back to their homes unharmed.  I have seen many bad actions taken against Jews and decent people everywhere, but somehow I found myself more involved now than I had been for at least 13 years since 9/11.  I related to these boys.  I remember being a Yeshiva student myself in my late teens, in Israel, and knew that even if I wasn’t like these boys, I knew guys who were.  So it hit home and I found myself caring more than usual.  It wasn’t till they were found dead, murdered brutally at what we all knew immediately was the hands of Hamas terrorists, that something truly snapped in me.  That was when I, David, had finally had enough.

When tragedy strikes one never knows exactly how they will react.  Although I related so significantly to these three boys, I did not know them personally. Had I known them personally, maybe I would have been so distraught that I would have had trouble functioning.  So when I say I had finally had enough and I snapped, I felt an anger I had rarely felt in my life and I turned to my weapon of choice, the written word.  And my position as a moderate was now a thing of the past as well, as I realized that moderation is something that needs to be saved for the reasonable and fair, not the racially bigoted and brutally violent.

When the Israeli cabinet met on how to react to the boys’ deaths, I knew one thing.  As a Jew and a Zionist living in New York, unless they did nothing, I would support the Israeli government.  I committed myself to not only stating my feelings, but in rallying as many people as possible to the cause.  Not my cause, not merely the Jewish people’s cause, but in truth what should be seen as the entire world’s cause.   Before this would happen I would call someone a piece of garbage for being anti-Semitic, and occasionally even write something about it, but now it felt more personal than before.  It became so clear to me as it is to almost anyone with an unbiased desire for a peaceful world.  So now I decided to go further than I had ever gone before.  As I state on my Twitter profile, “no longer am I happy not being part of the problem. Now I want to be part of the solution.”

When Israel first went after Hamas with airstrikes in Gaza, no one really knew how serious the situation would turn out to be.  The terror tunnels they discovered were designed to carry out mass murders of Jews, and the intelligence they gathered indicated that it was going to be as soon as this Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year which falls towards the end of September. Israel’s incursion by ground troops into Gaza was used to uncover and destroy these tunnels.  However, while this was happening the situation took an ominous term.

I almost typed unexpected as well, but as a Jew paying attention, anti-Semitism is never completely unexpected.  I’ve been accused of being slightly over-sensitive to comments, but no one has ever accused me of having a persecution complex.  At least not to my face.  So when I say I was not totally shocked by the global spike in anti-Jewish words and behavior, this is not coming from someone who makes declarations that “everyone hates the Jews”.  I know better.  What we’ve seen this summer however has been epic.  Even by the usual standards of hatred.  Gone is the requirement of logic and fact.  Merely wanting to hate the Jews became enough.  Telling half of the story so that the part that exonerated Israel was conveniently missing became the strategy of the vocal and clever anti-Zionist/anti-Semite.  And gone forever is the notion that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not two in the same.  When  you have two signs at a protest that say “Free Gaza” and ” Hitler was right”, you have lost the argument that they are different.  When pogrom style attacks took place on French synagogues by people claiming to do things in support of Palestinians it was made abundantly clear that this was about hating the Jew at least as much as it was about opposing Israel.

The more Jews were attacked, whether in Israel or outside of Israel, the more committed I became, expressing my commitment through articles and letters to those expressing damaging sentiments towards the Jewish people, while also writing articles acknowledging our supporters.  Every time I heard “Free Gaza” I felt more and more compelled to shout to the world that the people of Gaza needed to be freed from Hamas not from Israel.  Every time the United Nations revealed its bizarrely obvious bias against Israel I wanted to write something to expose it.  Why?  Partially because it was cathartic, but even more because I wanted to make sure everyone I could reach would know the truth, and once I began to do that, there was no turning back.  With every missile fired at Israel, with every fatality including the 64 members of the IDF fighting to preserve Israel’s survivor, my commitment grew stronger.

Recognizing the need for unity with more than just the Jewish community, I created the Global Coalition for Israel on Facebook as a means of showing a cohesive support for the State of Israel. One month later the group is at 1300 and growing daily.  When the summer began I was worried about when I was going to get to the beach, lay in the sun and get to barbecues.  I’m not saying that I didn’t do those things to some extent during the summer of 2014, but they all took a back seat to something more important.  My new activism.  Watching CNN and FOX on a daily basis to get the news coming from the region, researching websites and news sources online, and meeting people with stories to tell from Israel and Europe, the summer of 2014 became something I never expected it would become, it became my Summer of Gaza.

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It’s all Fun and Games until someone loses a Head

isis-videoLet me start by making something very clear.  I am by no means making light of the horrific and graphic murder of journalist James Foley.  I am however asking two very important questions.  My first question is why did it take till now for everyone to take the threat of ISIS as seriously it should have?  And my second question is, as the United States debates bombing a second country after the beheading of one journalist, why has it been so hard for the world to accept Israel’s reaction to the murder of three teenage boys?

The questions seem very different but the answer may be the same.  Regarding the subject of terrorism, Muslim extremism and the threat it poses to the entire civilized world, the Israeli government and its supporters, in Israel and throughout the world, are ahead of the curve.  As much as I dislike them on a personal level, the celebrities who proudly display their anti-Semitic sentiments through opposition of Israel’s actions don’t understand how much they are hurting themselves in the process.  I dare say that to some this is a new Muslim Chic.  Captivated by the culture, the music, the hum of the call to prayer, the smooth talking Palestinian leaders have them taken in by what they see as the Palestinian’s plight.  I am not going to berate Liam Neeson for expressing his attraction to Islam because he did so in a positive context, but I may also want to say to him, come take a look at Judaism.  We don’t have large factions within our ranks looking to take over the planet through brutal violence.

Criticizing the realities that exist within Islam is not racist, its realistic and practical.  Celebrities and politicians who have bent over backward to ignore those realities until now are partially to blame for James Foley’s death and for those who will be murdered by these factions in the future.  When the two young stars, Rihanna and Selena Gomez tweeted messages along the lines of “Free Gaza” or “Free Palestine”, did they ever stop to consider how young women like them are treated by the Hamas government and the society they are defending?  In contrast are they aware of the equality and opportunities provided to young women in Israel, even going as far as being important contributors in the military?  I am sure they didn’t.  They posted it on Twitter because it seemed like a fun, neo-humanitarian thing to do at the time.  Not so much fun anymore when there’s a video of an American journalist being beheaded on YouTube is it?

If the rest of the western world had put the same value on the lives of  Naftali Frenkel,   Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar as Israel did, and supported the operation in Gaza as it should have and understood its importance, it would have sent a message to groups like ISIS and Hamas, and even the oft ignored ringleader Iran, that it understood what is at stake.  But not only did they not do it then, some continue to not do it today.  But to those who needed to see it in front of them to make it real, the beheading of James Foley was a wake up call.  Not so Chic anymore is it?

 

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Cliches and the Damage they do to Israel

NewAntisemitismBlogHeaderWelcome to the world of the cliché.  For starters, let me admit that I am on occasion as guilty as anyone else of using clichés, but when serious events take place such as has been the case recently in Israel, social media goes crazy recycling the same sentiments over and over again. To be fair, some of these sentiments are obvious ones that any normal human being would have.  Case in point, the devastation everyone felt over the murder of  Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and  Eyal Yifrach, and the subsequent comments that followed based in sadness and mourning.  Those commonly felt sentiments are not the ones I speak of.  The ones I am addressing are the different statements regarding the world’s reaction and what is oft referred to as “the way Jews act”.

I am in no position to criticize anyone, especially those who care enough to give their opinion in this difficult time.  I realize that whether you make the statement that you do not care about the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir or you are as outraged by it as you are about the murder of the 3 Israeli teens, your heart is still probably in the right place.  Your against murder, which makes you at least in basic terms, a good person.  Here’s where I personally run into a problem.  In attacking a Jew who is rightfully fed up with the treatment of our people for thousands of years, you may become part of the problem.  Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, but those who have come to their own unbiased and logical conclusion, are pretty much clear on the double standard that exists when judging Jewish behavior and reaction.

“Jews don’t do that”.  Don’t do what?  Get angry, fight for survival, strike back?  I sit here writing this today because before the Nazis ever entered Holland, my father Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory did something Jews “didn’t do” in 1930’s Holland.  He joined what was then the equivalent of the National Guard and learned how to use a gun.  I go back to the phrase “Never Again” often because it is not so much a cliché as it is an approach the Jewish people need to have if they are to survive.  Do we feel that mass murder of Jews can never happen again?  I would like nothing more than to say there are no indications of that, but sadly we live in a world where genocidal maniacs still live and even gain popularity, putting not only Jews but other people in similar danger.

I agree that murder for the sake of murder is not the Jewish way, but I also feel passionately that is not what has taken place in Israel. Assuming the culprits of Khdeir’s murder were Jews, they are a group of people who were brought down to a tragic and horrible level by the enemies who have done everything in their power till now to get them there.  Do those of you speaking of how Jews act really think that any clearheaded citizen of Israel or any Jew in the world for that matter wants to spend their time hunting down and murdering Palestinians?  They do not.  Unlike the enemy, we are not taught that murder is an act of holiness and honor.  But these same Jewish people we speak of do have feelings and fears.  Jews don’t do what? Act human?  Seek justice, even if through the wrong avenues? Working on the assumption of their guilt, the behavior of some, albeit wrong and even deplorable, and of course requiring punishment, is still based in an understandably sad but human reaction.  This is not an attempt to justify it, merely to address the most popular cliché of the day, “Jews don’t do that.”

The other issue has to do with how the world feels and how the world reacts.  Let’s drop all the clichés and just tell it like it is.  As a unit, the world does not stand behind Israel and the Jewish people.  Please harbor no illusions.  Yes there are many good and some great people who put themselves out there and defend us, but they are individuals who ultimately may be at risk just as we are.   And when looking at how the world body really see the situation let’s just take a look at the United Nations reaction over the past few weeks.  When 3 Jewish boys get kidnapped and murdered the United Nations makes a statement declaring there is no evidence it was done by Hamas.  When 1 Palestinian boy gets murdered, allegedly by Jewish settlers, there is talk of a special investigation of the behavior of the settlers.  And we are back to where we started.  How Jews act.  The world has never shown signs of favoring the Jewish position so I can’t say  I am surprised by the overall reaction.  But if you are Jewish, and one who supports the State of Israel and its inhabitants, I urge you to try a different cliché, like “Never Again”.  It might just end of saving your life one day.

The reality is that Israel needs to do what is right for Israel and the Jewish people without concerning itself with what the world thinks.  It’s hardly ever good anyway.