Tag Archives: Nazi Germany

How being the son of Holocaust survivors made me who I am

Yom HaShoah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach Yom HaShoah and remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, I can’t help but think about how being the son of 2 survivors helped make me into the person I am today.

In comparison to so many, I am a very lucky man.  I enjoyed having both my parents around till I was 45 when my 87 year old father passed away almost 8 years ago, and still have the blessing of a wonderful relationship with my remarkable 93 year old mother. Although they experienced their own brand of hell between 1940-1945 in Holland, they were fortunate enough that it did not reach a level that prevented them from moving forward and enjoying their life after the war.  Even with that said, the experiences of my parents made them who they are, which subsequently made me who I am, both for good and for bad.  But more significantly as I write this today, a day in which we remember those who did not survive, the deep emotions transferred to me and my siblings impacted every one of us.

Even when I was more moderate than I am today, I’ve never had tolerance for anything that resembled a lack of respect for Jewish life.  Of course as a normal human being I value all life, but I am always on the alert for any indication that the Jewish people are being attacked.  I won’t listen to Pink Floyd or Bryan Adams anymore.  I don’t like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs merely because he once did the quenelle, a modern-day reverse Nazi salute in France, in a picture with a well-known anti-Semite even though he insisted he didn’t mean it to be anti-Semitic, and I almost got into a fight with someone at work who did the Nazi salute because he thought he was being funny.  He said he didn’t realize what it meant till his girlfriend told him later in the day.  That didn’t stop me from standing in his face and saying “never do that S#%#%t in front of me again.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no claims to be a tough guy, but my Dad of Blessed Memory was as tough as anyone, and my mother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  I was raised by strong people who brought me up to be proud to be Jewish, and most relevant in this discussion, they always honored the 6 million.  As long as I can remember and as long as I was able to have a conversation I always knew about the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.  And I have always tried my personal best to honor them.

Never Again, a phrase that often stems from or leads to political discussion may be 2 of the most important words in my life, as I am sure it is to many reading this as well.  However today is not about politics, it is about remembrance and honor. Something I learned from my parents, and thank them for from the bottom of my heart, for in the process they made me a better person, one that often stops and realizes the Jewish souls once sacrificed, and the importance of never forgetting them.

 

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My Evolution to Radical

never-sell-a-liberal-the-same-way-as-a-conservative-02-14-2012-road-sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The title is somewhat tongue in cheek because I really don’t see myself as being a radical, but in order to keep the interest of those on the far left who may see me that way, I chose to acknowledge what is very possibly going to be their claim.  The purpose of this piece is to explain how I, David Groen got from Liberal Clinton Democrat who voted for Obama twice, to writing articles and letters that seem to align me far more with the Republican right.  By the time you finish reading, whether you a Conservative or a Liberal I suspect I will surprise you, and very possibly disappoint you.

If it sounds like I am confused let me be clear.  I am more certain of where I stand on most issues than I have been my entire life.  I have not changed my views on some of the most polarizing issues of the day.  As soon as I state my stances on abortion and gay marriage I am certain to get some ire from a large portion of the Conservatives reading this. When I state my views on Israel and Foreign Affairs I am certain to get the same from many of the Liberals.  If this article seems like it is designed to make everyone angry at me, rest assured it is not.  I’m merely someone comfortable expressing his political views and since I try not to be a hypocrite, I see no reason to hide my politics.  In the end it is up to the reader to decide if he or she cares about my views, not me.

Most of the issues I intend to glance over quickly, while those dealing with Israel and Foreign Affairs in particular I will go into more detail. Here are some of the main issues that tend to define today’s Liberal and Conservative, not necessarily in the order stated. My order is based on how much I intend to say about the subject in this particular piece.

 

1-Abortion      2-Gay Marriage       3-Gun Control  

4-Foreign Affairs   5-Israel; (specifically for Jews, but often for non-Jews as well).

 

1-Abortion: I am pro-choice. I believe a woman has the right to decide what to do with her own body.

2-Gay Marriage: I really don’t care who people sleep with and since I believe one of the reasons America is a great country is the separation of Church and State, and since the only reason to ban this is a religious one, I believe it’s not the government’s business.  If a religious institution chooses not to marry gay people they have every right to make that choice.

3-Gun Control: I used to be so anti-gun that I would say that Americans had lost the right to bare arms based on our overall behavior with guns.  I believe strict and enforced regulations are important, but in today’s worldwide political climate I see how the need exists for individuals to carry a gun, and since that may even mean me, it would be hypocritical of me to hold the same views I once held.

Before I go on I will take a moment to explain my voting history back to the first Clinton presidency.  Actually the first part is easy.   For right or for wrong back then I didn’t feel the need to analyze it too deeply. I voted for who I liked the most.  I can say I voted Democrat across the board, and that would be true in local elections, but I also voted for Ronald Reagan(at least I think I did. I may have missed an election).

I liked Bill Clinton. The Monica Lewinsky issue aside, I still do. When Al Gore was running I found myself truly getting excited about politics.  I thought he was going to be a tremendous president. Whether or not I was right or wrong we will never know because Florida and hanging chads happened and George W. Bush became president instead.  With the devastation I felt when Gore did not become president and my 3 straight presidential elections voting Democrat, no one would ever have thought I would ever vote for W. That however, is exactly what happened in the next election. Since I greatly approved of his reaction and handling of 9/11, I voted for him when he ran for a second term.  Besides, I wasn’t particularly impressed with John Kerry anyway.  At least that is something that hasn’t changed.

When Barack Obama first hit the scene I was not a supporter.  But not so much because I had a problem with him, but because I was big time for Hilary.  When he defeated her in the primaries I was uncertain of my vote.  I liked John McCain’s toughness and patriotism but I put a lot of stock in who a candidate chooses for Vice President. So when McCain picked Sara Palin it became a much easier decision for me.  I voted for Obama.  When Obama came up for reelection I once again looked at the opponent.  I didn’t like Mitt Romney at all.  I didn’t believe a word he said.  Not because I believed he was necessarily so much less honest than everyone else, but because it always seemed that whatever he said was only designed to win the election.  I never felt like he was true to anything.  I also held out hope and wanted to believe that Obama did actually like Israel and that the things that looked bad were just part of his strategy to bring peace in the Middle East.  His actions still may be designed with that purpose in mind, but since it looks more and more like he is selling Israel out in whatever this process of his is, I’m subsequently not too happy about that vote.

I can’t tell this history without admitting that in retrospect I made some mistakes, but everyone’s truth is what it is, and this is mine. Who knows?  Maybe this piece will make some people admit votes they otherwise would have kept private.  With that said I go back to my list.

4-Foreign Affairs: On no issue have I “radicalized” more.  We all know the phrase history repeats itself.  I believe that history is not as likely to repeat itself as it is to mimic itself.  The difference may seem subtle but it is extremely significant and very important. As a son of Holocaust survivors, the history of the Jews in Europe has always been doubly personal.  Both as a Jew and as the son of Dutch Jews.  The Nazis rose to power under the unsuspecting noses of a hopeful Europe and somewhat detached America.  By the time it was too late, Hitler had put together a juggernaut of evil and terror that ran over the continent and caused a war that saw the death of tens of millions of people, including 6 millions Jews killed in genocidal manner.  The enemy was devastatingly powerful and ruthless.  The tactics of the Nazis were as evil as anything the world has ever seen. They were organized, cohesive and powerful.  But the allies had one advantage in attacking them. They were based in one country.  Yes there was a 5th column, the “ordinary people” placed in other countries to do a form of reconnaissance, but for the most part Nazi Germany was based out of Germany.  Although today’s evil uses some tactics very similar to the Nazis, and similarly their 2 main enemies are Americans and Jews, Muslim extremists are spread out in so many parts of the world, able to attack in so many different locations at any time, that the rising threat may have similarities to 1930s Europe, but nothing is a better example of history mimicking itself instead of repeating itself as the threats we face today.

That being said, the similarities are significant enough that I have formed the belief that negotiation and trust are just not a reasonable option. It hurts me to say that this is a fight I believe can only be won by force, but what do we see to tell us otherwise?  If we are only looking for history to repeat itself, we can make the argument that this is nothing like 1930s Europe and the rise of Nazism. But the language is similar, the lack of morality which justifies killing is similar, and the growth is even faster.  I don’t want to see innocent people get hurt, but innocent people needed to get hurt in Germany to stop the Nazis, and had that not happened millions of more innocent people would ultimately have gotten slaughtered.  To me and to all civilized people that is something that should be unacceptable.

5-Israel: I have made a very clear statement that I have no intention of wavering from. My next vote for president will be for whichever candidate I believe is most pro-Israel and toughest in foreign affairs.  I have been very vocal in my support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The other day I decided to listen to a J Street video regarding the need for a two-state Solution.  I think J Street is divisive and disingenuous, but in many ways I don’t believe a desire for a two-state solution is a bad thing necessarily.  Much of the statements in the video carried a lot of merit. The status quo will not be good for Israel.  It does create an even more dangerous future.  The prices that have been paid by so many are very high, and yes, it is a lot easier to speak this way from the United States than it is from Israel.  All that being said, it is not that I am opposed to a two-state solution per se, it is that under the current conditions a two-state solution is not a road to peace, it is a road to another Final Solution, not that different from the one attempted, and carried out to a large extent in devastating fashion by the Nazis against the Jews. 

To make peace you either need more than one willing party or for one party to be significantly stronger.  Those who criticize Israel the loudest do so because Israel, at the moment at least is stuck with the second choice.  Being a more powerful nation Israel is still able to win their wars.  With the lack of a willing peace partner Israel has 2 choices.  Keep the enemy down or die.  Forgive us “radicals” if we find the 2nd choice unacceptable.  No reasonable caring person is blind to the price Israel has to pay.  I can say with utmost confidence that the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews worldwide would gladly accept a two-state solution if it was with a party that truly wanted peace with the Jewish people.  If I felt Jewish lives would be saved I would support it.  But I believe, as do many like me, that more Jewish lives would be lost as a result of a two-state solution under the current conditions.  And it’s just plain anti-Israel cynicism to believe it falls solely on Israel to change these conditions.  

I can not and will not be moderate if I feel that a moderate viewpoint puts my people in danger.  

People who truly know Israelis and truly know the Jewish people as a whole, know that we are a people who desire to live in peace.  My lack of moderation is not based on some irrational hatred of Arabs and Muslims, my lack of moderation is based on those in power who talk about wanting to annihilate Israel and murder Jews while declaring a desire for peace for political or public relations expediency.  It’s baffling to me that anyone would believe the intentions of those calling for the murder of innocents were good at all, and to be quite honest it baffles me that the view opposing Israel somehow became one more often affiliated with a liberal status.   Maybe these people need to listen a little more to Alan Dershowitz.

So there you have my evolution to “radical”.  Make no mistake though.  This is one radical that hopes and prays that one day people will wake up and no longer allow their leaders to be preachers of death and destruction.  When that happens I suspect  I will no longer be seen as a radical, for I will be excited and supportive of what would then be a genuine peace process.

 

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Open Letter to Oren Ben-Dor Regarding his Part in Organizing Anti-Israel Debate at Southampton University

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Dear Professor Ben-Dor,

I am sure there are others who I could address regarding this matter, but the tragedy of your involvement is so enormous in my eyes that it must supercede the matter of all other party’s actions.   As I am sure you know, I am referring to your part in coordinating a conference at Southampton University challenging Israel’s right to exist.

It always baffles me when educated people display high levels of ignorance. Your very status is a result of Israel’s existence.  You, as a Jew, most likely thrived within Israel’s structure that consisted of freedom, opportunity, and a moral structure non-existent in most of the region.  Yet somehow you have made it important to turn your back on the country and the people who made you who you are today.

I wonder if you ever use your intellectual abilities to investigate the murderous regime in Syria.  Do you ever take time out of your busy day to research the treatment of women or homosexuals in Israel’s neighboring lands?  How about the squandering of funds in the Palestinian Authority or Gaza? Or Hamas using civilians as human shields? Spend any time worried about how ISIS rapes women, beheads people and burns people alive? You may be sick and tired of hearing the same old argument from us Zionists, but I assure you we are even sicker and more tired of hearing the manipulated garbage spewed out by you and your buddies hiding behind your self-proclaimed academic prowess.

I do not know much about your personal history, but to be quite frank with you, I have no interest in knowing more than I do.  There is a word to describe an individual that is a word I do not throw around easily, but in your case I am comfortable doing so.  The word I am referring to is traitor.  What makes you a traitor is your willingness to not only turn your back on Israel at a time when it is under a consistent barrage of unjustified attacks by its enemies, but to actually aid and abet these enemies.

I have no doubt you will either make a claim that the attacks are justified, or you will try to see the attacks as a way of supporting your case.   So-called intellectuals such as yourself who put so much of their energy into hating Israel may claim they are doing so based on factual knowledge, but the truth is that this pursuit is driven by emotions, not facts.  Even in the worst assessments of Israel’s actions, if only facts  were being used as a motivating force, no objective party would utilize their position for the purposes of challenging its right to exist.  Instead, the motivations are mostly hate or fear.  In your case I am betting on fear.

Naturally this is a claim you will deny, but with England’s growing Muslim population gaining influence, and not only Israelis but Jews everywhere being threatened to a degree not seen since the rise of Nazi Germany, I am guessing you are looking to gain favor in the eyes of those that would wage attacks on our people.  Just remember the lessons we learned from those traitors who supported Adolph Hitler.  When their purpose was served, they were murdered as well.

If you bother to answer me, something I would not expect from a coward and a traitor, I am sure you will try to make some intellectual case supporting your argument.  I am also sure you will do your best to prove how much smarter you are than I am.  The funny thing is, even if you are technically a brilliant man, your approach towards Israel is so devastatingly stupid, I wouldn’t trade with you in a heartbeat.  I just hope you stop for a moment to recognize how your actions are so immoral that if they don’t haunt you in this life, I have little doubt as to whether or not you will ultimately suffer the consequences of your actions.  Regardless of whether you are successful or not.

If you can live with that, so be it.  I would just hope you no longer identify yourself as an Israeli or a Jew, because I am sure I speak for many when I say, feeling as you do, we prefer to not be associated with you in any way.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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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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Terrorist Denial:Not as Cynical as Holocaust Denial but maybe as dangerous

islam_holocaustAfter my last article addressing the tragedy in Ottawa titled,  Canadian shooting: What we know–and RATHER NOT know–a day later, someone in social media responded to me with the following statement: “David, again you hit the nail on its shank. You rather not know. It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims. If you actually look at the facts and circumstances of these two villains, they both had failing lives, they were unproductive, dissatisfied with life and recent converts to something that gave them a chance to “check out”. Years ago it would have been the KKK, or the doomsday survivalists or the tea party. They didn’t want to give meaning to their lives, otherwise they would have become Buddhists, Sufis, humanists or any other altruistic belief system. They converted to something they knew would end their life. ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam. We don’t use the KKK as the calling card for Christianity.”

Naturally out of respect for this individual I won’t use his name, and those who would be able to identify him possibly already saw it next to his name so I personally am not revealing it. I normally have no issue with criticism, however, I found the comment so disturbing that I felt compelled to address it further.

In addressing me he says. “It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims.” Yes of course.  I’M the problem.  On a day when a 3 month old Jewish baby gets run down by a Muslim and a young Canadian soldier doing nothing other than standing guard gets shot in the back by a Muslim, I am the one who is wrong for stating the fact that it was Muslims who did this.  I am the problem because most of the military conflicts going on in the world involve Muslims. I have said it before and I will say it again.  I know the majority of Muslims are not violent, but most of the violence taking place today involves Muslims in one way or another.  I know there are Muslims who want no part of this, but I also know that not enough of them are stopping this from taking place.  I know that just as Hitler wanted to do during the reign of Nazi Germany, there are people today that want every last Jew on the planet killed.  Most of these people are Muslim.

“ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam.” So does Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, to name a few. We’re not talking hundreds of people here.  We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe he is right.  Maybe they are all psychopaths and losers, but unfortunately they are also all Muslim.  I don’t enjoy saying that, but it’s the truth.  I know Muslims that I like and if I meet someone who is Muslim I don’t immediately assume the worst about them, but that doesn’t mean I am going to run from the truth.

As a son of Holocaust survivors I believe it is my responsibility to acknowledge danger where I feel it exists even if it means offending some people.  To do otherwise would be like going back in time to 1938, knowing what is coming and worrying more about the good Germans than the large number either standing by while evil takes over or even worse, being part of the evil.  I can’t and won’t remain silent.  I owe it to the memory of the grandparents I never knew, the grandparents murdered by the “psychopaths and losers” of the last century.  Today a large percentage of Muslims are not terrorists, but an overwhelming percentage of terrorists are Muslim.  To deny this is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

 

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If anti-Semitism in Europe is the appetizer, wait till you see the main course.

249Anyone who knows even a little history knows that this is not Europe’s first go at anti-Jewish sentiment and actions.  However, this time around there are some significant differences, differences that could lead to the end of Europe as we now know it.

Traditionally anti-Semitism in Europe was government sanctioned.  The Spanish inquisition, Russian pogroms, Nazi Germany, Stalin’s U.S.S.R., all consisted of horrors and destruction for the Jews that were carried out by the ruling parties of each of these regimes.  In each one of these examples Jews were being eliminated because they were fraudulently declared a threat to the environment being created and were therefore, for all intents and purposes, illegal and harmful residents.  Today however, regardless of whether you call any particular nation in Europe a friend of the Jews or not, the anti-Semitism being generated comes more from mobs than governments.  At least for now.

These mobs are primarily organized and dominated by the Muslim communities of various countries.  Nothing represents the advancement of the Muslim cause in Europe more than France, where the mobs have turned so hateful and violent, Jews are starting to pick up and leave.  The behavior of these mobs is the precursor to what will ultimately be a much bigger issue in Europe, a radical new demographic.  That’s a technical way of saying an Islamic takeover.

I do not make this statement to be racist.  I would love to see a world where we all can live together in peace.  I know there are good and bad people in all races and religions, and yes, I have met many good Muslims.  But I also know, that only one group has leaders in their midst declaring a desire for world domination, a term not connected to such a significant threat since the days of Adolph Hitler.  Ironic that the Jews are being called Nazis, isn’t it?  I understand the Muslim fanatics drawing the comparison because it gets the people going and helps their cause.  Although they should know, that even though Hitler may have killed the Jews first, in a Europe such as the one we see today, if a Hitler-type rises to power, the Muslims would at worst be second.

The stupidity in all of this however is with the non-Muslims in Europe who are taking the side against Israel and the Jews.  I am not referring to decent people who are saddened by the events taking place in Gaza.  I am referring to those who are falling for the propaganda machine being used against Israel and the Jews, a machine getting a trial run before it takes on its much bigger target, anyone not Muslim.  Those who feel these mobs will stop at the Jews is not only not paying attention to what is happening, they are not being honest about its source.  If these mobs care so much about dead children, where have they been till now?  Ask them how many children have been murdered in Syria? Or better yet, tell them.  Over 9,000.  Let me repeat that.  Over 9,000 children have been killed in Syria. Where are the mobs protesting that?  Where are the signs equating the Syrian flag with the Swastika?  Then there is Mosul, a city of 1.8 million.  Interesting number.  Why?  Because Gaza has 1.8 million residents. But here is the difference.  150,000 Christians were recently attempting to flee because if they did not they would be slaughtered or forced to convert like those Christians that did not leave.  I am sure there are thousands of children in that number as well, but unlike Gaza, where the Israeli government actually wants people to see the truth, Mosul is unreachable by the press.  This allows ISIS to run rampant murdering and destroying anyone and anything they feel doesn’t help towards their goal of an Islamic Caliphate.  Where are the mobs protesting this?  Where are the signs comparing ISIS to Nazis?  Nowhere.

My point is that for these mobs it is not about the concern for the well-being of children, it is either about pushing their agenda or voicing their hatred for Jews.  When the time comes that governments need to fight against evil entities such as ISIS in Iraq or Boko Haram in Nigeria, or a nuclear Iran, just to keep Europe and the rest of the civilized world safe, the mobs will form all over again, and just like they are doing now, will pretend it is about dead babies.

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A Liberal with Zero Tolerance

img65649I am a self-proclaimed Liberal.  I believe in being tolerant.  However, like everything else in life, tolerance has a breaking point as well.  Today mine was broken.  With the murder of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, I no longer believe a peaceful solution is possible with our Palestinian enemies.  Yes, I said enemies.  I did not say partners, I did not say neighbors, I did not say counterparts.  Just as the Germany that existed between 1933 and 1945 were enemies of not only the Jewish people but the entire civilized world, so too the Arabs in and around Israel have developed into the same opponents of decency not seen since Nazi Germany.

I am by nature, a pacifist.  I am no “tough guy”, nor do I ever proclaim to be. However, tolerance and liberalism needs to be saved for human beings who you have differences with, not with animals set on the destruction of anything decent.  With that said I wholeheartedly support the harshest of actions.  I also will no longer, and urge every human being who believes in what is right to do the same, support any government’s policies that stand in the way of Israel doing what needs to be done.

And now I will make a statement totally removing myself from my Liberal positions.  All of you out there, be you anti-Semites who like seeing Jews suffer, residents of civilized nations who thinks it is only the problem of Israel and the Jewish people, or Liberal Americans, Jew and non-Jew alike, listen very carefully.  They’re coming for you as well.  Like the Nazi sympathizers who thought they were exempt, anyone who supports this cause or does not fight against it will only be useful for as long as they are needed to push their agenda.  Once they do, if they can reach you, me, all of us, they will kill us as well.

To President Obama I say this.  At best you are exhibiting a similarity to Neville Chamberlain, at worst you’ve picked the wrong side.  Either way  you’ve got it wrong.  You want a legacy Mr. President?  Try using your powers as leader of the Free World to keep it free.  If nothing else please stay out of Israel’s way.

Sadly I now feel that the slogan “Bring back out Boys” needs to be changed to “Avenge our Boys”.