Tag Archives: Palestinians

Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

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Dear Bernie,

When I found myself writing a similar letter to you 4 years ago, I was so filled with disgust for the distorted way in which you approached Israel I found myself feeling a disdain I never want to feel for a fellow Jew.

CLICK HERE FOR OPEN LETTER DATED APRIL 10, 2016

You see, the fact is that I would rather like you than not like you, but as a proud Jew, Zionist, and son of Holocaust survivors, I feel my priority is with the ideals that support the long term survival of the Jewish people.  When I stop and realize this fact it becomes very clear to me why I have such a problem with your positions.  It is not so much in their logic as it is in their motivation.

You see Mr. Sanders, I am open minded to a discussion about what is wrong in this world, even when it pertains to actions by those with whom I feel I have a personal connection.  However, your positions towards Israel are so distorted and one-sided against it that it is clear that you take your positions not for the sake of peace and well-being of both sides, but rather for the purposes of achieving your own, very self-serving political goals.

You portray yourself as a caring, fair man, one who wants equality for all, but when it comes to the safety and future of the State of Israel you seem to conveniently put fairness and balance on the shelf.  Perhaps you have wealthy Arab donors.  Who knows?  Perhaps you see a voting block in the increasingly anti-Semitic, BDS influenced college elite.  Who knows?  But what I do know is that if the well-being of people is of such importance to you, why is it that you over compensate in the wrong direction when it comes to the safety and well-being of your fellow Jews?

You’re a clever man.  You know that the safety of Israel is directly connected to the safety of Jews worldwide.  I believe that you also know, if you take the time to think about it and care enough to be honest, that most anti-Israel sentiment is rooted in anti-Semitism.  I know you are attempting to change that discussion, but as someone who deeply cares about the future not only of Israel, but of the free world as well, I can not and will not remain silent when someone such as yourself distorts reality.

It is really not all that complicated if you truly wish to understand the situation.  The Jewish people all over the world are far less safe without a strong Israel.  You do not push to support those that wish to change some of Israel’s policies, you push to support those that wish to bring Israel to its knees.  Israel has made countless attempts to reach peaceful solutions with the terrorist organizations that fraudulently represent the Palestinian people.  Why do you not attack those organizations?  Are you afraid of them?  Do you need their money?  I am sure we will never get an honest answer from you to this question, but in case you are in such denial of the truth that you are not aware of the following, allow me to enlighten you.  The so-called leadership of the Palestinians is nothing more than a group of self-serving criminals, largely financed by Iran with the sole function of using hatred against Israel and Jews worldwide as a means of generating support from an abused and manipulated populous.  Their priority is not to help their people but to hurt Jews, particularly those in Israel.

Sadly the description of the Palestinian leadership sounds a lot like that of Nazi Germany in its somewhat advanced stages.  As concerning as this is, it is far from shocking.  The ultimate motivation is the same.  A weakened Israel is a weakened Jewish people, and for any Jew to be part of that is not only disturbing, it is unforgivable.

You want to do good for the country and the world Mr. Sanders?  Start by remembering who you are, and by understanding that those who do harm to themselves are not good people, they are damaged people looking for ways to compensate for unresolved, sometimes dangerous personal issues.  It is my hope that you will either wake up or shut up.  Either way, the status quo is unacceptable.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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A Rosh Hashanah Message

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Being very flawed myself, I make every effort to avoid ever sitting in judgment of others for behaviors that can be considered nothing short of human.  Human behavior allows people to make choices not everyone else will agree with as well as permitting people to do that one thing we all do.  Make mistakes.  So since I try my best not to be a hypocrite or cross the line, I am not going to spend any of my time criticizing my fellow Jews that make the choice not to live in accordance with Jewish law.  Having come pretty close to making that choice at certain points of my life, I get it. I also believe these choices to be between man and God only.  The issue I want to address is pride in being Jewish. Or lack thereof.

I am not afraid to call someone out if I feel there is blatant self-hatred, but since this post is directed more to the many in that grey area I realize it is important to be careful about stepping over a line.  If I am to address a subject that goes after people for something as reprehensible as being ashamed of who you are, I need to speak in generalities.  After all, I may have an opinion, even one shared by many, but even so I do not know what is in someone’s heart.  Let’s just say that if what I am to say applies at all to you, or wakes you up to a different perspective, then maybe I’ve done something right.

It should not be a surprise that much of this discussion comes back to the Holocaust. Specifically in regard to the main issues I wish to address.  The first being support for the State of Israel.  Support does not mean blind agreement in all policies and actions of whatever government is in place. There are many people who have done more for Israel than I may ever have the opportunity to do that are much more opposed to the decisions made by the Israeli government than I am.  This is not about stifling opinions.  This is however about being balanced and fair as well as addressing the disingenuous motives of the BDS movement.

Fair and balanced means if you are to criticize Israel for its actions, you don’t fail to mention the years of dealing with a Palestinian Authority showing no indication of being a willing partner in peace.  It means if you are going to go after Benjamin Netanyahu for a hard line approach you also recognize that he is not only dealing with officials that reward terrorists financially for killing innocent Jewish residents of Israel but in many cases officials who once lead or performed acts of terrorism themselves.  And it means that when you criticize Israel for collateral damage that leads to the death of innocents that it happens when targeting enemies not looking for peace but preaching the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  So yes, criticize Israel if you feel it is appropriate, but realize that if you do so in a vacuum that ignores the actions of the other side that you are not only wrong for doing so, you are part of the problem.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, aka BDS, had proven time and time again that it is not about helping Palestinians, it is about ridding the land of Israel of Jewish people.  It is a movement designed to cripple Israel economically regardless of who it hurts, Jews or Palestinians.  If an organization is to claim that its purpose is to advance the cause of a people, what does it tell you when it causes the closing down of factories employing the very people it claims to be helping.  But don’t take my word for it.  Just look at the name of the organization. It is all about hurting the Israeli government with no mention about helping the Palestinian people.  Partially because the people running the organization work hand in hand with the leadership that has for decades pocketed and misappropriated funding desired to help Palestinians and use hatred against Jews as a means of motivating the masses, much like Hitler and the Nazi Party did in Germany.  So if you are Jewish and support the BDS movement you need to know that the goal of the organization is to destroy a country created to keep you safe.  A country born from the ashes of 6 million murdered Jews.  Which leads me to my final and most important point.

You can find Jewish practice antiquated, pointless or even wrong, but make no mistake. You can’t hide from who you are.   You might try, but history shows us that our enemies don’t care how you feel about being Jewish, they care that you are and want you gone.  And with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year approaching I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this question. Why would you want to hide from it? The Jewish people have major global impacts on education, science, medicine and pop culture. And for those of is who believe in it from a religious perspective, it has given us the Torah, a moral compass of how to live a good and productive life, regardless of how precisely or traditionally one chooses to interpret it.

Finally I want to wish all my fellow Jews a happy and healthy year ahead. Whether or not you believe or not, and even whether or not you accept who you are or not, I wish you blessings in the coming year.  I may not like how you think and I will call you out, but that very thing you want no part of is the very thing that teaches me to wish good upon you.  And when all is said and done, only you know what is truly in your heart.

A Happy and Healthy Year to all.

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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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Open Letter to NFL Player Michael Bennett regarding his cancellation of trip to Israel

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Dear Michael,

I just finished reading your statement as to the reasoning behind you cancelling your trip to Israel, and although your message was masterfully articulated, it is sadly riddled with an enormous undercurrent of serious & unfortunate ignorance.  You see Michael, what you and so many others fail to realize, is that over the years filled with constant terrorist attacks murdering Israelis and manipulated uprisings, citizens of Israel have been victims more than the Palestinians have and most of the victimization of the Palestinians has been predominantly at the hands of their very own leaders, not the Israeli government.

If even a small fraction of the funding given to the Palestinian leadership had been put into developing their neighborhoods and cities, the Palestinian quality of life would be so much better we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.  Instead the billions of dollars received has primarily been used for funding terrorism and making their leaders extremely wealthy people.  Naturally they do not want you to know this because that would destroy their illegitimate narrative of having a plight similar to those of non-white citizens of the former Apartheid regime in South Africa.  The truth is that even blacks from South Africa have come out often attacking this comparison saying that what happens in Israel is far from being Apartheid. I urge you to view this video of a South African member of Parliament and a man of color, Kenneth Meshoe,  discussing the misguided view that Israel is an Apartheid State. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykFVV9QdvZU

I further encourage you to take note of these 3 quotes from the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose picture you chose to exploit as evidence for your misguided stance.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!”

“The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world”

“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

No one with any decency and reason will say or has ever said that Israel has done everything right, but the stance you have taken puts the entire burden of blame of the government of Israel.  That is not only disingenuous and harmful towards the very people you claim to now care so much about, it is also blatantly anti-Zionist, and if you are to use Dr. King’s picture as a tool on your Twitter page you best know that he would have seen you as being anti-Semitic as a result. Whether that is your intention or not, your judgment and subsequent actions create that perception and destroy your credibility.  I suggest you revisit this issue and reconsider your stance.

Sincerely,
David Groen

 

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Bernie’s Double Down on Israel is About Fear, Not Courage

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After watching the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some commentators went on the record as saying they felt Senator Sanders showed courage in his continuing insistence that Israel’s military action in the most recent Gaza War was a “disproportionate response”.  Their analysis was that a Jewish politician coming to New York and taking this unpopular stance in, of all places Brooklyn, took bravery and character, regardless of whether you agree with his viewpoint or not.  The reality is, despite how it looks on the surface, nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t blame the commentators for feeling this way.  I do recognize that when Van Jones, a journalist for CNN and an African-American showed a degree of admiration for Sanders for not backing down, he was very clear about the fact that it was whether you agree with him or not.  His admiration for his character was not an endorsement of the viewpoint.  Nevertheless, just as I can intellectually understand but not comprehend what it means to be black in America, so too Van does not understand what it is like to be the son of Holocaust survivors. Incidentally, neither does Bernie Sanders.

Even when discussing his Jewish background and experience with Israel, Senator Sanders comes across more as he is talking about them than us.  I hardly ever use the term self-hating Jews anymore, not because I don’t believe that some Jews fall into that category, but because I believe it to be inappropriate to declare what someone hates or loves unless they come right out and say it.  However, I do know that the perspective of a cultural Jew whose parents immigrated from Poland with little money is very different than a proud Jew whose parents lived through Nazi-occupation first hand. But more importantly I recognize that those who take the side of the enemy hardly ever do so because of a courage of convictions, rather they do so out of a fear so deep-rooted, they either don’t know it exists or they deny it to the world.

The enemies of the free world are dangerous and frightening people.  Most of these enemies hate America and its way of life with a passion.  To an Islamic Extremist, there is almost nothing worse than an American with American values.  Almost. The one thing worse is a Jewish American.  That’s not to be taken lightly in today’s world. After all if history proves nothing else, it proves that hatred for Jews is easily converted into violence against Jews.  Throughout time, but most notably during the time of Adolph Hitler, there were always Jews who took the side of the enemy because they felt it would save them.  The harsh reality is, that it not only ended up in the loss of their lives, it ended up in the destruction of their soul.

I have absolutely no problem with a presidential candidate speaking of the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity.  I have also gone on the record many times as being someone completely willing to blame Israel when they deserve to be blamed.  That being said, a sovereign nation defending its very right to exist and retaliating against missile attacks on its population centers by a terrorist organization is not the guilty party.  Furthermore, being a Jewish politician in America and taking the side of the terrorist organization not only does not make you an individual of courage and character, it ultimately does nothing to make you immune from those who hate the Jewish people.  All it does do is make you another typical politician pandering to a certain demographic, albeit not the demographic of those born into the same religion as you.  It also makes you a coward more than it makes you a hero.  Taking on Israel is not the same as taking on Wall Street.  Taking on Israel is easy.  In the world in which we live today, it might even help a politician get more funding, and generally speaking, and I say this with pride,pro-Israel Jews don’t commit acts of violence against those who oppose their views.  I have little doubt Bernie Sanders knows that as well.

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Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

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Dear Senator Sanders,

I write this letter to you as someone who is deeply disturbed by your stance on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  If I am to take you on your word, something I certainly hope is feasible due to the fact that you are a Jewish man with ties to Israel, your feelings about Israel’s right to exist are not at issue here.  What is at issue is your approach, an approach that not only feeds directly into those that wish to see Israel destroyed, but also puts not only Israel but the Jewish people worldwide in even greater danger than the one that exists today.

To be frank Senator Sanders, I find your words to be not only damaging but terribly irresponsible.  I have been following the election with great interest and have listened to as many of your speeches and soundbites as possible.  I understand that like Donald Trump, you are appealing to a populist movement of disenchanted, angry and concerned voters.  You are clearly a very intelligent and savvy politician.  I am certain that you understand that your words, even if only soundbites, influence a great number of people.  Therefore you must understand that more of your followers are likely to remember the 10,000 number you blurted out, the number of Palestinian deaths you said that Israel was responsible for in the last war in Gaza,  than they will your insistence that Israel has the right to exist in freedom and security. They will take your words and see Israel as the guilty party in the conflict, subsequently making the terrorist organization Hamas, a group very similar to ISIS in their violent and ambitious tactics, as the defenders of the freedoms and rights of the Palestinians. Just as Donald Trump’s comments on Muslims and Mexicans create a perception of all Muslims and Mexicans by many of his supporters, your comments will have the same impact on many of your supporters towards Israel and the Jewish people.  As a smart man I am sure you are aware of the fact that modern day anti-Israel sentiment has translated into a rise in worldwide anti-Semitism.

What I also believe is happening Senator Sanders is a continuing hijacking of liberalism by those who, to be quite honest, are nothing better than blatant anti-Semites.  Clearly, as an individual who speaks openly of your Jewish background I am not accusing you of hating your fellow Jews, but I am going to come right out and say that you are perpetuating the argument of those that do, and in the process putting us at greater risk.  I urge you to listen to the words of Alan Dershowitz, someone never accused of being too conservative, in his wise and educated understanding of the Arab-Israel conflict in which he says,

“whenever I speak to audiences about the Middle East, sometimes audiences very hostile to Israel, I issue one challenge.  Name a single country in the history of the world, faced with threats comparable to the threats faced by Israel, that has ever had a better record of human-rights, a better record of concern for civilians,  a better record towards the sensitivity of legal issues and the rule of law. In a 100 speeches in which I issued that challenge, no one has ever come up with a country that has a better record than Israel faced with comparable threats”.

Even if this is a miscalculation or ignorance on your part rather than a cynical attempt to pander to an audience you feel you need to win elections, your words are still damaging.  I watched the few minutes with Jake Tapper of CNN in which you discussed this issue and was quite honestly startled by how you shrugged off what you referred to as your question of whether or not it was 10,000 people killed in Gaza as not being a big deal.  Senator Sanders, it is a very big deal.   Hamas, the terrorist organization that espouses the very same stance you take of “disproportionate response” by Israel and uses it as justification to murder women and children in the streets of Israel without remorse, does so with a claim that Israel was responsible for the deaths of less than 2,000.  Well congratulations Senator, you just increased their justification more than five fold.   After all, if an American presidential candidate and a Jew from Brooklyn wonders if it was 10,000 people, Hamas might not only be correct, they might be understating the number.

What makes this worse is the fact that you would say that Israel is responsible for these deaths in the first place.  I am far more open minded than you might think.  I recognize the fact that Israel does things wrong and needs to work hard at changing the conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  What I also recognize however is that the main obstacle in making these changes is not the Israeli government but the terrorist groups running the show in these territories.  Millions upon millions of dollars have been squandered and stolen from the Palestinian people, not by the Israeli government but by the very people who claim to want to lead them to a better life.  In truth, these people, the very same people you have empowered with your words, are cynical and devious criminals more concerned about Israel’s destruction and their personal lot than they are about the well-being of their population.

Someone recently made the argument to me that as a Jew you need to overcompensate in order to not seem too biased on the side of Israel.  Even if I do believe that is what you were doing, the question that needs to be asked is, at what cost?  Your words mean something.  If you want to be the leader of the free world, why would you take the side of an organization that not only wants to destroy the freedom of the people of your origin, but obstruct the freedom of their own?  If it is to increase support among your constituency, you are going against the very thing you base your entire campaign on, a different kind of politics.  If you want to be a true leader, a leader that guides the country and the youth of America to a better future, I urge you to first recognize the responsibility you have towards clearly distinguishing between right and wrong.  That Senator Sanders is indeed a very big deal.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Understanding the way many are Fighting and Supporting Terror at the same time

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It’s somewhat encouraging to see the free world attempt to unite in its battle against ISIS. On the surface it would appear the world is serious about stopping terrorism. Unfortunately, if you look a little more closely, and you really don’t have to go that deep, you will realize that the same people claiming to battle terrorism are actually tolerating it, or even worse, supporting it.

All over the world there are governments claiming to take the fight against terror seriously while simultaneously opposing Israel in its fight against terror.  European governments, now frantically scrambling to defend themselves, reward Palestinian terror by calling on Israel to withdraw from the territories.  The contradiction is a glaring one that is rationalized away by a disingenuous  concern for the plight of the Palestinians.  Without delving into the topic of whether or not the Palestinians are treated fairly as  people, as long as the world’s reaction to innocent Jews getting mowed down by a car or stabbed in the street is a call to Israel to make changes, the message it sends about terror is a damaging one.  Terrorism is terrorism. It’s never freedom fighting or armed rebellion if it’s not a battle against other soldiers.  When people with weapons attack innocent men, women and children, saying it’s different than what ISIS is doing doesn’t make it so.

The two most guilty parties in this tragic comedy of errors is the United Nations and the U.S. Administration.  When the UN files a report, in today’s world, and calls Israel the world’s top human rights violator, the message it sends is twofold.  First of all, it shows a clear bias against Israel, something very counterproductive to fighting worldwide terrorism, and secondly it shows a tolerance for those countries truly involved in human rights violations.  The UN is the type of organization that would offer ISIS land to call its own, accept it as a nation, and as long as they are at least willing to lie about treating its citizens fairly, declare the Islamic State more of a champion of human rights than the democratic State of Israel.  The United Nations is an ongoing farce and doing more to lead the world down a path of terror and destruction than towards a path of freedom and safety.

The other main culprit is the current American administration.  To make a deal with Iran, any deal, is in short, making a deal with terrorists.  As much as President Obama and John Kerry go on and on about how this deal stops Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the message here is frighteningly clear.  The message is that this United States administration is willing to deal with terrorists.  The Iranian regime has funded and trained terrorists for years.  It calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.  It is a nation responsible for the murder of men, women and children.  Rather than send the message to the entire world that terror will not be rewarded with negotiation, this administration not only chose to negotiate, but chooses to release billions of dollars to a nation using its money to support and train more terrorists.  Then the administration takes this to an even more grotesque level by actually being proud of the accomplishment of making a deal with a nation that represents everything we claim to be fighting.  The only way the President might have been right when calling ISIS the JV Team, would be if he simultaneously referred to Iran as the Pro Team.

If terrorism is to be defeated, it can only be done without the interference of fear, corruption, and bigotry.  If any of those factors get in the way, the enemy will know this, laugh in our faces, and gain tactical and political strength.  If we are truly going to show intolerance towards terror, we must show equal intolerance towards those allowing it to grow, regardless of whether or not they claim to have our best interests in mind.

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