Tag Archives: Nazi

My Plea for Unity

Jewish-unityWhen I got into this activism mode a few months back, I did so to fight the enemies of the Jewish people. As I feel more and more like the debate is turning into Jew against Jew it becomes increasingly exhausting for me.  I am by no means afraid to confront ANYONE, but I reserve the right to show more tolerance for Jews than I do for others sharing opinions I feel incorrect or even damaging to the Jewish people. We speak of 6 million dying at the hands of the Nazis. What would happen if we found out that 1.5 millions were so liberal and overly tolerant that they wanted to try to negotiate with Hitler. We know they’re wrong, but do we alter our discussion? Do we only truly mourn 4.5 million slaughtered Jews once we know this? As I love to do I quote these wonderful words by my father Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory:

“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). But being as we are a homogenous society, no one can ever be left out. And as it is by the very
inclination of the human race, the dark shadow of the wicked will play an overpowering role in leaving behind the marks in the way of scars brought upon them by society.

If the worst could ever be turned into good, the only lesson to be learned of that is, never ever forget. For in the past lay the present, and in the present the future. Without that, we will be repeating our mistakes and shortcomings, and as a result the world will not be the place it was created to be.

In order to live, you still have to be able to somehow believe in the goodness of mankind.”

 

Whenever we pray to God for forgiveness we hope our worst actions will be understood as being a result of weakness or stupidity.  We turn to God and hope he will accept the failings that coincide with our humanity.  I am not saying we tolerate someone who puts us in clear and present danger, I am merely saying we allow the same courtesy to decent albeit misguided or weak people that we ourselves beg from God.

And as my father, a man who lived a good life till the age of 87, a man who worked against the Nazis in the Dutch resistance, saved the lives of innocent people, fought in the Dutch Marines and then served the Jewish community as a Rabbi for decades and was anything but naive once said, “In order to live, you still have to be able to somehow believe in the goodness of mankind.”

I’m all for standing up for one’s principles, but my first priority is to fight against those that want to do harm to the innocent and harm my people.  I am not here to fight Jews.  There are enough people who want to do that.  I refuse to be one of them.

 

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In Defense of Nicki Minaj

"The Other Woman" - Los Angeles Premiere - ArrivalsAs everyone knows, I have no problem going after anti-Semites.  I am also not an apologist.  Bryan Adams sang my favorite song of all time and I went after him. George Clooney has been an actor whose work I’ve enjoyed and I’ve gone after him twice for showing no signs he disagrees with his anti-Zionist/Anti-Semitic wife.  I used to think Penelope Cruz was beautiful and now I can’t even look at her.  If I am convinced someone is against the Jewish people, I want no part of them and I am not shy about saying so.  That is why it may come of some surprise to those reading this that I am choosing to defend Nicki Minaj.

There are two reasons I’m defending her.  First of all, personally, I just didn’t see it when I watched the video, which I did from start to finish.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I wrote a book about what my parents went through during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  I am proudly sensitive to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment.  I personally did not see the connection to Nazi symbolism in the video other than to the extent I was looking for it due to the reactions it garnered.  That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good video nor do I think the feelings of those it offended should be ignored, especially since many of those it offended are people just like me, proud Jews.  All it means is that in the name of honesty I can’t sit here and pretend to be offended by something that personally did not offend me. Incidentally, this is why I remained silent on the subject yesterday.  That and one other very important reason.  I wanted to see how Nicki Minaj would react to the criticism.  Which brings me to the second reason I am defending her.

Yesterday I wrote an Open Letter to Peter Gabriel.  In this letter I made the following point in regard to what motivates me to write these Open Letters.

“My philosophy, when it comes to writing one of these letters, and you can look it up and verify it if you wish, is that I write them primarily based on the words one utters.  In some instances I will address someone’s silence, but that is only when that silence indeed speaks volumes.  When someone expresses an opinion to me that someone is on what I consider to be the wrong side of the fence, I look for evidence to back it up.  Nothing provides better evidence than the words one speaks.”

Minaj made the following comments on Twitter regarding the controversy caused by the video.

“I didn’t come up w/the concept, but I’m very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone.  Both the producer, & person in charge of over seeing the lyric video (one of my best friends & videographer: A. Loucas), happen to be Jewish.  I’d never condone Nazism in my art.”

Although after watching the video I might disagree with Nicki Minaj on what is called art, she makes it very clear in her words that offending Jews and glorifying Nazism was not the desired effect of the video.  I for one believe her.

Many months ago in one of my posts I made the statement that there are enough outspoken and proud anti-Semites that we really don’t need to be spending our time going after someone who openly says they are not anti-Semitic.  In my opinion this is a prime example of what I was eluding to when I made that point.

One last thing.  I never have and never will be one of those people who believe it is a problem if you offend everyone else except for the Jewish people.  With that in mind, despite my defense of Minaj and the fact that I personally was not offended, if she does want to show that “full responsibility” she was referring to and achieve what I think should be seen as a slam dunk in the Jewish community, pull the video.  Show the respect evident in your words, acknowledge the sensibilities of the Jewish community and make a statement of great significance, for it offended enough people to be a problem.  Pull the video and leave little doubt as to your true intentions.

 

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Nazi-style propaganda

Iran-Missiles11For those who want to even remotely consider accepting the word of a country like Iran, the following report should tell you exactly what kind of people are in control of this fascist government. In a report reminiscent of some of the most vile lies ever told about the Jewish people, Iranian state-run PressTV has come out with a report claiming that the Islamic State is selling Iraqi and Syrian children to Israel.  Their claim is that the trafficking is being done in order to take these children and populate the settlements in the West Bank.  READ REPORT HERE

This type of propaganda is the next step up from the Holocaust denial Iran has been so famous for over the years.  What makes it even more bizarre is that even as ISIL runs rampant through their neighboring countries, Iran somehow has found a way to bring Israel into the equation.  And yet, as usual, the world remains silent.  Some may have been mislead into believing that Iran has become a more reasonable and reliable player in global politics, but this report is just another example of how this Iranian government is run by liars potentially capable of the same evil as Nazi Germany.  Are these the people you would trust with nuclear weapons?  I think not.  The world better wake up before it is too late.

 

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Open Letter to San Antonio Spurs player Danny Green

DGreenDear Danny,

I decided to write this letter because I felt that in doing so I would not only be doing the right thing, but that I would also be providing a public service by using this as an opportunity to educate not only you, but others as well regarding an important matter.  The matter I am referring to is the selfie you took at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Let me start by saying that I personally believe you meant no harm by your actions nor do I believe you deserve too harsh of a reaction from the general public for what I feel was nothing more than a moment of poor judgment.  One of the reasons I feel no anger towards you is because in order to make the mistake that you made, you had to be there in the first place.  So in my eyes, there’s enough sensitivity in the fact that you bothered to be at the Holocaust Memorial to absolve you from the dumb thing you did while there.

Your effort to learn about what happened, as evidenced by your visit to the Memorial needs to be acknowledged more than your mistake needs to be vilified.  However, the proper acknowledgment is in the form of some additional education on the subject, and that is what I will do in a very brief and personal way in this letter.

Danny, I am the son of Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands.  I am by no means a moderate, so there are some who will be surprised that I am cutting you slack, but since I am also not a hypocrite, I feel it only fair that I express my feelings openly and honestly.

Let me attempt to give you a perspective you may not have been able to gain from your visit in Berlin. As a child I grew up hearing about the Holocaust from my parents.  My father lost both his parents, his youngest sister, countless friends and family and the majority of his neighborhood to the murderous Nazis.  My mother lost her father and only sibling, a younger brother, her fiance, and most of her extended family and friends as well.  My father spent close to 3 years on the run, at times imprisoned by the Nazis, often hungry and exhausted and usually alone.  My mother worked in a Jewish hospital, saw patients taken by German soldiers to their death, and barely made it out of that hospital alive.  When she did she spent close to 6 months moving from place to place, constantly in fear for her life, and then spent a year and a half in hiding, sleeping every night in a small, dark and damp underground room with no way to get out unless someone opened the hatch from the outside.  My parents lived through a 5 year period no one should ever have to experience.  But here is where I offer that perspective I can’t be sure you would have without someone sharing it with you. Compared to millions of others, my parents were the lucky ones.

As I am sure you know, 6 millions Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  Many were starved, tortured, raped, abused and dehumanized in every possible manner. There were those who survived who went through the same horrors, only to carry it with them for the rest of their lives. The evil was unspeakable and impossible for a normal person to comprehend.  If you truly stop and think about this, and imagine the impact this had not only on those who survived but on an entire group of people, I am confident this will help increase your sensitivity in the future.  If you want to learn more I invite you to read the book I wrote about my parents’ experiences during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The book is called “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland” and can be found on Amazon.

Danny, people like myself,  the offspring of Holocaust survivors, did not all turn out the same way.  Therefore I guarantee you that at least some, if not many, will not feel as accepting of what you did as I do.  Part of your developed awareness will have to be tolerating their anger, because although I may not feel as they do, I do believe they would have every right to react differently that I have.  But I want you to know that you now have an important opportunity to take a mistake and turn it into a positive.  That all depends on what you do next.  As far as that is concerned, I offer you no advice.  That part you’ll have to figure out on your on.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to the Jewish survivors condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza

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Dear Friends,

If there is one thing you learn being a child of Holocaust survivors, it is that no matter how much you try to put yourself in their shoes, you just can’t.  It is with that knowledge and awareness that I write this letter to you, those survivors that are condemning Israel over its actions towards the Palestinian people.  Despite the shock your comments and sentiments have caused to so many of us, (CLICK HERE TO READ STATEMENT) out of the respect I have for what you went through I have chosen to write this letter as more of a plea for you to come to your senses than a criticism of your actions.  I will make it a given that your intentions are pure, even if I and many more like me believe they are misguided.

No one who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany needs a lesson from me or from anyone else of my generation as to the actions committed during what is one of the blackest mark in the history of humankind.  Having spoken often to my parents, my father of blessed memory and my mother who is, thank God still alive and well, I have as good of an understanding as I can in my position, as to what took place.  I know that Hitler hated the Jews from the start.  Targeted them, scapegoated them, dehumanized them, and ultimately murdered them in massive and devastating numbers.  He made the elimination of the Jewish race more than just an emotional cause, he made it a government sanctioned law.  Even before the mass murdering started, he left no doubt that he wanted Jews to be no part of society, not only in Germany but everywhere his Nazi party occupied.  As is so clearly stated in the definition of Genocide, once he managed to rally the support of a desperate German nation behind him, Hitler specifically targeted the Jews in a deliberate and systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish people.  I will spend the next paragraph outlining the similarities between what Nazi Germany did to the Jews and what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.

It will be a very short paragraph.  THERE ARE NO SIMILARITIES!

As I previously stated, this is more than a letter to all of you.  This is a plea.  I am practically begging you to come to your collective senses. Israel has not been perfect in its treatment of Palestinians, but it’s not only done more for them than many other nations do for a minority population, it’s done more for them than any Muslim nation in the world has done.

Please read the Hamas charter.  It calls for the elimination of Jews from Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide.  With that in mind I ask you this question. Had there been a Jewish army in 1943 or 1944 would it have been wrong for that army to bomb Berlin, even if in targeting official government locations it would have killed German women and children?

I appreciate and agree that dead women and children dying in war is always a tragedy.  I just urge you to realize that the deaths are not always the fault of the ones dropping the bombs.

In the name of God and all that is good and decent I ask all of you to stop this madness.  The last line of your statement may be the most important one in that it references the phrase “Never Again”.  I agree that “Never Again” means NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE, but it also means that sometimes actions, often harsh and painful actions, need to be taken to back up that phrase.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Why Holland’s Heroes?

9781468573909_COVER.inddSome of you already know the background, but for those of you that have only started reading my work recently I wanted to give you a brief explanation of why my blog is called “Holland’s Heroes”.  In short, I am here today because of Dutch heroes.  My parents, Rabbi Nardus Groen of blessed memory and my mother Sipora Groen, were both Holocaust survivors from Holland.  As I cover in the book “Jew Face: A story of Love and Heroism in Nazi-Occupied Holland”, their actions during the Nazi-occupation of Holland were nothing short of heroic.  Originally set up to promote the book, Holland’s Heroes has developed into something far more important, an avenue from which to promote the truth, defend Israel and the Jewish people, and a platform from which to join forces with all those of all faiths that want a safe and decent future.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BOOK.

My mother showed incredible courage in some of the most dire situations including sleeping in an underground room for 16 months knowing at any time she could be discovered and killed.  My father was instrumental in saving the lives of many, including my mother.  He escaped the grasp of the Nazis four times including one remarkable escape from the Hollandse Schouwberg, Amsterdam’s equivalent at the time to Carnegie Hall in New York City.   The people who provided my mother a home for 16 months, Lubertus & Geeske te Kiefte, did so knowing that if they were to be caught, their entire family would be killed.  Despite the grave dangers, they not only gave my mother shelter, they gave her a warm and friendly home.  It hardly gets more heroic than that. And there were so many others, Jew and non-Jew alike that showed such bravery in such difficult times it is almost impossible to comprehend.

So very simply put, I am here today and able to write for you because of heroes from the small nation of Holland.  I’m aware of the problems facing the Jewish community of Holland today and knowing the rich history of Judaism in the country and my own personal connection it is even more heartbreaking for me than what is happening in other parts of Europe.  None of that negates the fact that Holland’s Heroes are the reason I am here today, and for that I will always be grateful and proudly call my blog Holland’s Heroes.

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These things happened….

momnj

These things happened,

The publishing of Ulysses by James Joyce;  The first swimmer crossed the English Channel; Calvin Coolidge became president; the first Winter Olympics took place; Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean; Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse; Herbert Hoover became president; the Stock Market crashed;Penicillin was discovered; the planet Pluto was discovered; Empire State Building was completed; Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic; Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party became ruling party in Germany; Social security was established; Golden Gate Bridge was opened; Japan invaded China; Germany annexed Austria; World War II;  Japan attacked Pearl Harbor; Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 60 million people killed in World War II;  6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust; Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier; the State of Israel was founded; United Nations was formed;  NATO was formed; Korean War; Elvis Presley; Polio vaccine created;  Disneyland Opened; JFK became President; I was born; Cuban Missile Crisis; JFK assassinated; The Beatles; Vietnam War; Star Trek series; first Super Bowl; Apollo 11 landed on the moon; Terrorists Killed Israeli Athletes at Munich Olympics; Watergate scandal forced President Richard Nixon’s resignation; the movie Star Wars; John Paul II became Pope; Iranian Muslim revolution; CNN was formed; AIDS discovered; Personal Computers were invented; Soviet Union collapsed; Apartheid ended; Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa; 2 different Bush’s became Presidents; Bill Clinton became president; the Euro currency was formed; 3,000 killed in 9/11 attack in New York; Iraq War; the Internet was created; Holland lost 3 World cup finals; Justin and Kim got married.

These things happened, in the 92 years between the birth of these 2 people, my mother Sipora Groen and my youngest family member and great-niece Jara.

If this doesn’t give you hope nothing does.