Tag Archives: Never Again

Open Letter To Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun regarding his critique of Israel’s tactics

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Dear Rabbi Lerner,

Allow me to start by being honest with you.  I read your article    https://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/israel-has-broken-my-heart-im-a-rabbi-in-mourning-for-a-judaism-being-murdered-by-israel/  and stopped when I felt I could go on no longer.  Before I resolved to read any further I told myself I would only do so under one condition.  The inclusion of 2 words.  Never Again.  Having not found them anywhere in your piece I chose to not read it till the end.

I wish you to understand 2 very important things.  First and foremost, I am not without compassion when it comes to the death and suffering of innocent Palestinians.  Secondly, unlike many who may even appreciate my letter to you, I respect your  intentions and do not see you as a traitor to the Jewish people.  I do however find your approach apologetic and weak and subsequently potentially harmful to the very cause you claim to promote. Peace for all.

You seem to somehow be afraid to call out for Hamas for being what it truly is, an instrument of evil.   They care little if at all for their people, and wish to see, if possible oversee the destruction of our people.  Whether you wish to see it or not, the greatest perpetrators of abuse on the Palestinian people are their very leaders.  Whether it is the misappropriation of funds by the Palestinian Authority or the building of terror tunnels by Hamas, the leadership has shown anywhere from little to no concern for their citizens to a desire to use them as pawns in a self-serving conflict with Israel.  Even in your piece, you try to spin Hamas’s lack of recognition for Israel into something resembling a desire for peace.  They have shown nothing to indicate that is what they want.  On the contrary, they’ve shown nothing but contempt for the peace process and manipulation of Gaza’s population.

Before I address the most important issue regarding your stance, let me first state a very important point.  The Israeli government is by no means without fault.   There are certainly events that have taken place that very likely could have been handled differently and in a more productive and yes, maybe even more merciful manner.  That being said, as a Jew and son of Holocaust survivors, I do not question the overall approach and actions of the government for one split second.  You see Rabbi, and this is something you fail to address in your latest piece, the modern nation of Israel was founded on an often unspoken promise of the words, Never Again.   The Jewish people have throughout the ages been targeted for death and destruction merely for being Jewish.  From the ashes of the brutal murder of 6 millions Jews the State of Israel was born.  I am comfortable in saying that the majority of Jews I have known over the years have preferred peace over conflict.  That being said, sometimes you must fight fire with fire, and if that means those who protect you must choose between your safety or the safety of others, I thank God that they do what they are designated to do, see to it that the mass murder of Jews never happens again.  If anything, knowing what is at stake, I have grown to increasingly admire Israel’s restraint, and challenge you to find any nation or organization, particularly their enemies that would show anything close to that shown by Israel.

Golda Meir once said the following:

“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

I urge you to not only read that quote Rabbi Lerner, but to study it, meditate on it, pray on it, and sleep on it.  If after that you don’t restructure your thought process, maybe I will conclude I was incorrect about your intentions, an outcome that will sadden me significantly, but do nothing to change how I and many other Jewish people feel.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Exposing the Double Standard

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a smart man.  He knows history as well as the rest of us.  Unlike many others I’ve spoken to and likely reading this article, I personally refuse to jump on the anti-Bibi bandwagon.  It is my belief that the recent comments made by Netanyahu at a World Zionist Congress conference claiming that the Palestinian Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini convinced Adolph Hitler to kill the Jews, was part of a much larger overall strategy to bring the situation to the forefront and expose the blatant worldwide hypocrisy as it relates to the value of Jewish life.

I’ve listened to a lot of people express their anger or disappointment in Netanyahu’s statement regarding the Mufti’s influence on Hitler and how damaging his Holocaust revisionism is to the overall situation.  Let’s see now.  What negative impact will it have exactly?  Will it open the door for random terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians?  Will it cause the world to turn a blind eye to the murder of Israelis?  Will it cause Israel’s allies to open the door to a nuclear agreement with a terrorist government hell-bent on Israel’s destruction? Will it cause Palestinian leadership to tell lies about Israel? Oh wait. Those things are already happening.

Being the son of Holocaust survivors and having penned a book that covers their experiences during the Nazi occupation, I understand how sacred the discussion and memory of the Holocaust is to so many.  I understand the responsibility a Jewish leader has to guarding this sanctity.  That  being said, Israel’s leaders have one overwhelming responsibility, and that responsibility is to keep Jews safe, not only in Israel but all over the world.  Did Netanyahu’s comments make Jews less safe?  Were they safe before his speech? Will the world remain silent as Jews get murdered in towns that were once peaceful homes?  Was the world showing any real anger before his speech?

We all know the answer to these questions whether we care to admit it or not. Instead of expressing outrage for the murders of innocents in Israel, the UN was preparing to discuss the merits in declaring the Western Wall, the holiest site in the world for Jews, a Muslim site.

Let’s pretend that Netanyahu knowingly revised history here. Is it worse than Hamas consistently accusing Israel of targeting civilians?  It’s certainly being approached as though it is.  Is it wrong if Netanyahu is playing their game, telling a lie for impact? That’s debatable.  I understand the concept of taking the high road, of not sinking to their level.  But truth be told, Netanyahu’s comments brought the entire situation far more to the forefront.  In fact the frequency of attacks seems to have slowed down since his comments.  Maybe the Palestinian leadership that claims to have no direct influence on its citizens’ fury are actually reeling in the violent protagonists.  And maybe, just maybe, in making this claim today, Netanyahu is attempting to alert the world to the real intent of today’s Muslim extremists.  That intent is clearly another genocide committed against the Jewish people.  Exposing them is not incendiary, it’s enforcing the concept of Never Again.

Is what Netanyahu said accurate?  All evidence I know of shows it not to be.  Is what he said commendable?  On its own merit we would have to say no.  But if we dig deeper and see its true impact we have to be careful to jump on the anti-Bibi bandwagon.  Maybe, just maybe his comments do more to protect Jewish lives than hurt them.  Either way, as the world tends to remain quiet as Jews get randomly murdered, I personally believe attacking Netanyahu, even if based in some legitimacy, does nothing more than feed into the double standard, something far more damaging.

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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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What does Never Again mean to you?

Yad_Vashem_BW_31This year more than most, I did some serious introspection on Yom Kippur.  Like anyone else I have my moments of introspection throughout the year, but as it is for many, on Yom Kippur it’s a priority, and on this Yom Kippur it was more of a priority than usual.  As I regularly put my opinions out there for people to read, and I may have some influence on those who take the time to read them, I needed to come to a personal conclusion as to whether or not I am taking the correct approach.  As I was doing this, 2 words kept popping into my head.  Those 2 words were Never Again.

Unless someone is supremely egotistical there is no way they can be 100% sure their methods are always correct.  However, often they can be sure their motivation is pure.  My personal motivation, one ingrained in me by my personal background as the son of Holocaust survivors, is to do my part, however small it may be, to fight against evil, be it blatant or deceptive.  For me that is the meaning of Never Again.  I believe it is critical to the survivor of the Jewish people and to all of all civilization to be aggressive instead of passive when confronted with threats.  We must always try to do what is right, but as my father of blessed memory taught me, that sometimes means not being very nice.  But when the words Never Again reverberate through my very soul, I am far more concerned about our safety than I am about whether or not I am being nice.

The 18 year old soldiers fighting in the IDF or the American military are more heroic than I will ever be, but we all have our war. To me Never Again means exposing and damaging threats within my own personal capabilities, to whatever extent my efforts have an impact.  If that impact is merely galvanizing others than it’s already a worthy fight.

We all must do what we think is right.  What is important is that we at the very least do something, for apathy and inaction can and ultimately will be our worst enemy.  I have no doubt that the concept of Never Again is as important to those reading it as it is to me.  That doesn’t mean it has the same meaning.  Which leaves me with the question, what does Never Again mean to you?

 

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An Open Letter of Appreciation to the Christian Community

120810091855-jerusalem-skyline-story-topMy dear friends,

From time to time I refer to the words of my mother, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland who compares what is happening today to 1938 Europe.  I always respond the same way, focusing on the fact that the very existence of the State of Israel makes this dangerous and frightening time unlike any other time in the past 2,000 years of Jewish history.  There are other factors I refer to as differentiating today from 1938 such as the tremendous leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and the countless amount of Jews with the thought of “Never Again” ingrained into their very soul.  There is one other difference from 1938 and it is not only not to be overlooked, it may turn out to be the most important difference in the long-term struggle for survivor.  That difference is the unwavering support of the Christian community.

I am Jewish.  Although my personal conviction doesn’t always translate into behaviors consistent with my beliefs, I believe in the Jewish religion.  It was how I was raised and although I often question the dogma, it is still the religion my life at least to some extent revolves around.  However, I am very grateful for being raised with a respect for those who believe in different things than I do, even if and when I do not agree with them.  I have had very close friends with whom I have had some very enjoyable religious debates. What I always came away with from those debates, and is more evident to me today than during any other time in my life, is that if you truly believe in God, a God that created man in his image and is a God of love and mercy, there is no room for hate, destruction and violence.  I know that as I write this there are some of the more extreme within the Jewish community that are asking if I am unaware of the past.  The answer is that I am very aware of the past, however I am even more aware of the fact that today’s Christian generally lives by a special and moral standard, and that part of that standard is a love for Israel and the Jewish people.

I had been considering writing this letter for quite some time, but it was not till tonight when I saw an interview done by Bill Maher of Benjamin Netanyahu that I felt inspired to get it done(CLICK HERE TO WATCH).  When Bill Maher, someone I like but differ from in philosophy when it comes to the discussion of God, tried to compare Muslim extremists desire for a post apocolyptic world to how Christians speak of the end of time, Netanyahu set him straight.  He clarified that the difference is based on 2 important points.  First of all, even when Christians believe there will be an end of time they are not trying to make it happen by blowing people up. And secondly he stated that the biggest difference is that regardless of how extreme their beliefs may be, Christians are sane people.

I am fully aware of the fact that Christians believe that Israel is a critical element in their belief of how the future of the world plays out.  When I say that it is of no importance to me, I say that with the utmost of respect.  It does not mean that I have anything other than respect for how you feel and what you believe, what it means is that all I care about as a Jew and a Zionist who believes in something different, is that your belief now translates into strong and loving support for Israel and the Jewish people.

I believe that the fight, and I believe subsequent war, is one that can only be won if Christians and Jews work together.  I have come across and continue to come across scores of Christians who appear to feel the same way.  My personal gratitude for what I’ve witnessed from my Christian friends specifically over the past few months has been a wonderful enlightenment and has given me hope for the future of the Jewish people and the planet.  As far as what happens next, once we get through this conflict against evil, and with God’s help victoriously, well we will deal with the differences then.  The good news is I am sure we will do so as friends.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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The Truth Matters Only if You Value it

liesClearly I am not objective.  I love Israel and hate Hamas.  I believe Hamas is to blame for the deaths of not only Israelis but Palestinians as well.  I believe Benjamin Netanyahu is a great man and Khaleed Meshaal is an evil man.  I agree with Netanyahu when he says, “If the Arabs put down their weapons there would be no more war.  If Israel put down her weapons, there would be no more Israel.”  Clearly I am not objective.

I make no claims to be objective.  However, despite my lack of objectivity I do seek the truth.  So much so that I acknowledge that Israel has made mistakes and done some things they should not have done over the past 66 years.  But there is no truth that justifies the attacks Israel has had to endure, be they violent attacks from terrorists or verbal attacks from anti-Semites.  If presented with factual evidence of a certain truth, even one that opposes my views, I would address it honestly and make every attempt to be fair in my assessment.  The question is, why won’t my enemies do the same?

It’s because the truth has no meaning to them.  Most anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment is not based in truth.  It’s either based in ideology or communal involvement.  People like to be part of something.  Even something motivated by hate.  The ideology however is what drives everything.  It drives terrorism, stirs up the masses, allows the leaders to make statements they know are not true, but justify with their beliefs.  A friend once said to me, “people buy with emotion and justify it with logic.”  Once the masses buy the bill of goods sold to them by the mini-dictators popping up all over the world, they search for the logic to back it up.  For example, the number one lie being told is that Israel is committing genocide.  Once that message is sold to the Muslim masses by the Imans, all they need now is a complicit al-Jazeera or CNN to show a man holding an injured or dead child in his hand in Gaza and the people have their “logic” to back up the sale.

Here’s the problem with that.  When you use that method the truth is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is pushing your agenda.  Even visual evidence won’t matter anymore.  You passionately sell an ideal, even one of hate, show one image, maybe only make one ridiculous claim that can be used to back it up, and its sold.  Russell Brand goes on a hateful diatribe against Israel on his online channel he calls the Trews, claiming it is True News, and people who like the movie star buy into it, even though he sits there and blatantly obstructs the truth from his listeners.  Hamas sells the idea that Israel is indiscriminately bombing Gaza, targeting women and children, and those who have already bought into anti-Zionism and Jew hatred see a blown up building and they’ve seen enough.  We could have a 10 page document and 100 pictures proving that Hamas put those innocents in harms way by using them as human shields and it would make no difference.  They’ve already decided what they want to believe.  The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

Do we combat this with lies of our own?  I say no.  But I do think we need to be a little less concerned about whether or not we are unfair to those allowing those lies to be spoken and should be spending less time defending those who only express an (anti-Semitic) opinion.  Tolerance is a very charitable trait, particularly in war time, and as we all know charity starts at home.

As I responded in social media when someone criticized my letter to George Clooney, “Never Again” does not mean Never Again unless we insult George Clooney.  Never Again means recognizing the signs and doing all we can to prevent it.  I believe the truth is always the right way, but being tolerant at our own expense is not.

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Liberalism Starts at Home

targetisLiberalism, especially in this day and age is to some extent charitable.  This coming from a long time self-proclaimed Liberal.  However, when it comes to the situation in the world today and in particular to the targeting of Israel and the Jewish people, I am admittedly and proudly what would be considered a hawk as opposed to a dove.  This is because when it comes to liberalism, I believe that just like charity, it starts at home.

The definition I found of Liberalism that best helps me illustrate my point is the following one.

Liberalism: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.

I am comfortable with that definition and support it fully.  What I don’t support is putting the civil liberties of others before the civil liberties of the Jewish people, especially when in doing so I believe it is being done at the expense of the Jewish people.  When I see people showing greater concern for the plight of the people of Gaza than they do for the people of Ashdod it angers me.  As someone who has called himself Liberal I make the following demand of those who call themselves Liberal as well.  If you are going to be so concerned about human rights apply that same concern to the ongoing disregards for the human rights of the Jewish people.  Don’t read a news report about the tragedy of 4 Palestinian children being killed, because their leadership insists on war, as your rallying cry for what is right and wrong. On August 9, 2001 a suicide bomber exploded a bomb in a Sbarro Pizza in Jerusalem. 5 of the dead were from one family.  The couple, Dutch Jewish immigrants, and there 3 children ages 14, 4 and 2.  This was no accident.  This was an achieved goal by the same type of people who put these 4 Palestinian children in the position to die in this current conflict.  If you want to fight for human rights, God Bless you.  Just don’t leave out the Jewish people.

Human rights and civil liberties are not about what is the flavor of the day, it is about genuinely and sincerely recognizing which people are suffering unjustly and without bias identifying the source of that suffering.  Those who speak of a human rights crisis in Gaza conveniently ignore the fact that Israel would have no need to control Gaza if it were not run by terrorists living large off of funds meant to help their very own people.  You want to care about the difficulties they live in, I can respect that.  Just don’t pin it on the Jews because you are too ignorant or too frightened to put the blame where it belongs.

Take heed.  These enemies want the same for us that Hitler and the Nazis did, and the Nazis did not spare the ignorant and frightened.   They either used them to further their goal or they killed them first.  You want to be Liberal, be one that loves your own at least you love others.  If your fight today is with a fellow Jew because they are angered that Jews continue to be attacked and killed as we have been for thousands of years, then you have lost perspective.  Or worse, you have a misguided and dangerous perspective.

The fact that I do not cry over the death of 4 Palestinian children does not mean I am happy it happened.  The fact that I use the murder of 3 Jewish boys doing nothing other than going home from school as a rallying cry that enough is enough, doesn’t mean I support the killing of innocent Palestinians.  And the fact that I assign blame to the Arab world for fueling a war I know Israelis and Jews throughout the world do not want, does not make me racist.  It also does not mean I am any less Liberal.  It just means I recognize the truth.  If we are to say “Never Again” we can’t in turn hide and pretend when it is starting to happen again.  If we do that we are facilitating our own tragic destiny.  Something I am not prepared to do.