Tag Archives: Secretary of State

Open Letter to John Kerry regarding the State Department Approach towards Israel

John_Kerry_second_Secretary_of_State_PortraitDear Secretary Kerry,

Although I am a Jew and a Zionist, as an American I am fully aware that when we vote for our leaders we are electing individuals whose job is to do what they perceive as best for the United States of America.  I am fully aware that despite the importance Israel has to me and millions of other Americans, your job is to do what you deem as strategically beneficial for America first.  I respect that, and to be frank as an American voter, even expect that.  With that in mind, despite my admitted personal bias, I still have serious issues with the actions of this administration and as I write this letter, primarily with the State Department.

I will begin to make my point by asking an important question.  What is the difference between negotiating with terrorists and legitimizing them?  I understand the Israeli/Palestinian issue is a complicated and troubling one.  I personally no longer hold a moderate view towards how it should be handled, but I know many of my fellow Jews and Americans who are more moderate and even optimistic that a two state solution is possible.  I know of many people who believe in what is best for Israel while opposing the building of settlements in the West Bank and questioning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies.   I tell you this to emphasize that despite the fact that I strongly disagree with these people, I know many of them love Israel as much as I do. The issue however is the importance of making a clear distinction not only between innocent Palestinian civilians and Palestinian terrorists but in properly addressing who is responsible for the problems they, the innocent people face.

I think it is fair to say that when Jen Psaki speaks in the name of the State Department, she is doing so with your approval and under your authority.  To be frank, if this is not the case that would represent an entire different set of problems.  But assuming she is indeed doing so, it seems more and more clear that there is an unfair balance as to the amount of criticism and expectation put on Israel by the Department of State.

I’ve heard the argument that Israel, as the democracy that it is needs to be held to a higher standard.  I also know that despite some of the problems currently between Israel and this administration there still exists a positive working relationship.  What I believe to be at issue here, and can not be justified by the rationale of diplomacy, is the fact that Israel gets pressured and criticized by the State Department in ways that imply it is fighting against an enemy of equal legitimacy.  If you wish to concern yourself with the well-being of the Palestinian people equally to that of the Israelis, I will quietly understand and accept that as a fair premise.  However in doing so, besides how morally incorrect it is,  you are defeating your own purpose if you manifest this into equal treatment of Israel’s government and Hamas.

I am sure the response would be that the State Department has condemned Hamas on occasion and that should be enough, but it’s not enough if you don’t properly address the fact that it is indeed Hamas and those factions within the Palestinian community that discourage peace with Israel and encourage violence and terrorism from their able-bodied men that is mostly responsible for the problems the innocent Palestinians are facing.

One more important point I wish to make, going back to my original statement, is that this approach which not only legitimizes but emboldens terrorist organizations is an approach that has the potential to cause serious harm to the United States and its allies.  If nothing else motivates you to rethink your strategy, I certainly hope that this does.

It would be wonderful to receive a sincere thought out response to this letter, one which details how the current actions are beneficial to all legitimate parties, but to be quite frank I’m not expecting one.  Please however be aware that many people feel as I do and are disillusioned and losing faith in the current administration’s ability to handle the serious events taking place around the globe.  Seeing that there seems to be more of an emphasis on satisfying the concerns of outside parties than the concerns of the American people, the State Department may want to reconsider its approach.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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A Shaken World needs to Wake up Fast

ap_canada_shooting_1_kb_141021_4x3_992As someone who has recently experienced his first case of writer’s block in almost 4 months, it would stand to reason that today’s tragic events would have gotten my creative juices flowing. However, maybe it is because a terrorist attack in Jerusalem killing a 3 month old baby and a shooting spree by gunmen in Ottawa is so overwhelming that I found myself unsure where I should even begin.  After all, you start to ask yourself if the people who can make a difference are even listening. Or even worse, they’re listening but don’t care.

We know that Israel and the rest of the Western World wants to stop terrorism.  There is little doubt about that.  But while the world crumbles around it, the United Nations makes settlements in the West Bank its priority.  While bombs explode in Iraq, women get raped and murdered in ISIS controlled territory, babies get run over by terrorists in Israel, and the Canadian parliament gets attacked, people make excuses for all of this bad behavior.  Secretary of State John Kerry implies that Israel’s behavior somehow fuels Islamic extremism and when a woman gets beheaded in Oklahoma by a radicalized Muslim, U.S. government officials prefer to call it workplace violence.

We are either headed towards or already in the midst of a global catastrophe. It all depends on your perspective.  But one things is certain, we are headed in the wrong direction fast.  I hesitated to write something that could be construed as negative and pessimistic, but I believe I would be doing a far bigger injustice if I ignored the reality.  That reality is that the world is in big trouble, and as long as those in power refuse to openly face the facts that Islamic extremism is destroying the planet, it will only get worse.

It’s time the world woke up before it is too late.  Keep in mind that the fact that I am willing to consider the possibility that it might not be too late already is the only optimism I am willing to provide on what has been another very tragic day in a very dangerous world.

 

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ISIS-ISIL-IS: The only Constant is Islamic

isis-2No matter what you call the terror group now running an area of land the size of Belgium, the one thing you must call them is Islamic.  I wish this was the worst of it, but the whole name thing is making me a little crazy. First they were called ISIS:The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  Then they were called ISIL:The Islamic State of Syria and the Levant. Finally they are IS:TheIslamic State.  Or are they? Depends on who you listen to.  Even then pronunciations seem to change.

In the beginning everyone called them ISIS, pronouncing it as one word sounding almost identical to the English world Ices.  Back then, when the administration saw them as the JV(Junior Varsity) team, they went along with calling them ISIS as well.  Even when the terrorists started calling themselves ISIL, initially most people  still called them ISIS.  Now however, the administration has such an insistence on calling them ISIL they won’t even acknowledge the name ISIS when mentioned.  What makes it even more bizarre, or even irritating is that the President and Secretary of State call the group ISIL and pronounce close to the English words, ICE-ILL, while the President’s Press Secretary and Pentagon Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby spell it out, referring to them as  I-S-I-L.   This all creates an annoying distraction at press conferences.  A CNN reporter might ask: “What’s the next move against ISIS (ICES)?” Then, depending on who answers, “We must degrade and destroy ISIL(ICE-ILL) or I-S-I-L.”  One area in which the administration is coordinated though is that they never respond using the name ISIS anymore.

Despite the theories from those most suspicious of the President’s motives, I don’t believe the insistence on calling it ISIL is based on something dangerously devious, rather an acknowledgment that it is a threat to a greater area, since the IL covers significant more territory than the IS.  The last IS that is.  The first IS, whether you call it ISIS or ISIL stands for Islamic, which means very simply this group is an Islamic group, no matter what anyone including the President might want you to believe.  And more importantly, no matter what you call them, they are very dangerous.  This is a war.  Oh wait. Not sure if that’s what it’s being called either.  It just might also depend on who you ask.  At least I hope what we have now is a coordinated effort to conduct this whatever they’re calling it against whatever it is they call them.

 

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And the DOPA goes to…

dove of peaceStarting today Holland’s Heroes is rolling out a new feature.  It is called the Dove of Peace Award (DOPA).  The DOPA will be presented to friends of Israel and the Jewish people who display exceptionally strong and vocal support when it is needed most.  The people I speak of are people who have a clear understanding of  the damage and carnage being caused by, and as a result of the actions of Hamas and terrorists organizations like it, as well as a clarity about Israel’s true motivation, PEACE.  Normally there will be one at a time with an unspecified degree of frequency, but since there were 4 people I wanted to start with today, I am starting with a countdown of my assessment of the 4 most deserving of this weeks DOPA’s.

NUMBER 4:

BOB SCHIEFFER

Bob Schieffer 715In an atypical fashion for a journalist of his tenure, Bob Schieffer gave his very strong opinion of the situation in Israel and Gaza, and in doing so quoted the late great Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir.  Schieffer said the following:

In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause, a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week, I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel’s early leaders, which might have been said yesterday. “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, she said, “but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

FOR THESE COMMENTS BOB SCHIEFFER GETS A HOLLAND’S HEROES THANK YOU AND A DOPA!!

NUMBER 3:

SENATOR TED CRUZ

ted-cruz-has-just-wrapped-up-his-epic-21-hour-defund-obamacare-talk-a-thonLet me start with an overdue apology.  I once called Senator Cruz a sideshow act. Now I call him Senator Cruz and do so respectfully.  He has shown himself to be a consistently staunch supporter of Israel, has given one of the most impassioned speeches on the Senate floor  supporting Israel in the past few weeks, and has shown his sincerity even further by going across party lines and working with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of NY in pushing for a resolution condemning Hamas.  Senator Cruz said the following:

“Hamas is undoubtedly guilty of violating international humanitarian law through its deliberate, repeated, and consistent use of civilians as human shields. “The United States of America, along with the entire international community must expose and denounce Hamas’ barbaric tactics and unequivocally support Israel’s right to self-defense.”

FOR HIS CONTINUING EFFORTS TED CRUZ GETS A HOLLAND’S HEROES THANK YOU AND A DOPA!!

 

NUMBER 2:

HOWARD STERN

866px-Howard_SternWhen I heard Howard Stern’s recent assessment of the situation in Israel and Gaza, I almost stopped writing in Holland’s Heroes.  There was nothing to add. He nailed it.  It is one of the best 5 minutes you will ever spend. CLICK HERE TO HEAR HIS SPEECH. Howard leaves no doubt as to what he thinks in this humorous, intelligent, and candid accounting of what is really happening in the Middle East.  Just be careful.  If you don’t like bad language you better find the edited version.  But let’s face it, some people deserve a Go F&*(& Yourself.

He said the following:

“Israel’s at no fault,” he said. “Jews get enough s**t all over the world … Jews are the indigenous people of that area. The Arabs don’t even want those Palestinians .. nobody wants them.  If you’re anti-Israel you’re anti-America. [It’s] the only democracy over there, the only friend we have .. who’s willing to fight and stand up for what’s right.”

FOR HIS STRONG SUPPORT OF ISRAEL HOWARD STERN GETS A HOLLAND’S HEROES THANK YOU AND A DOPA

NUMBER 1:

JON VOIGHT

Jon-Voight1I have to admit, I loved Howard Stern’s 5 minute speech so much, I could listen to it 10 times a day.  So then why does Jon Voight get number 1? Because in his support and defense of Israel one forgets Jon Voight isn’t Jewish.  When he gets going he sounds as passionate as someone who was born and raised Jewish and conscience of Israel and the Jewish world.  And he not only shows his support, he makes it an obvious priority in a way that shows it is not only important, it is personal.  His passion is so strong he even goes after the administration.

Jon Voight said the following:

Instead of telling Hamas to stop sending rockets into Israel aimed at its civilian population, [Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry] say Israel has to stop killing civilians. What a travesty of justice! Every patriotic America- Jew and non-Jew alike- must show their outrage and that we will not tolerate propaganda and lies about Israel being the aggressors and suppressors of the Palestinians.”

FOR HIS STRONG SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE JON VOIGHT GET’S A HOLLAND’S HEROES THANK YOU AND A DOPA.

 

dove of peaceIf you have anyone you want to nominate for future DOPAs please feel free to leave a comment on this page.

 

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A Logical and Moral Response

aaron-david-miller-190Yesterday on CNN I watched an interview with Aaron David Miller.  Miller worked for the U.S. Department of State from 1978-2003 and was an adviser on Arab-Israeli relations under 6 different Secretaries of State.  He made a statement that I believe to be the most accurate assessment of what Israel is doing in Gaza and what can be used as an honest response to anyone who accuses Israel of brutality in the ongoing Operation.

He said the following, and I paraphrase: “Israel, without question, is not attempting to cause civilian casualties.  However, Israel is conducting this operation with a specific set of objectives, and their priority is not concern for Palestinian civilians, it is to accomplish these objectives.”

I believe this to be a fair assessment.  I will however elaborate on it somewhat. Israel’s objectives are to wipe out a terrorist organization guilty of killing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, protect Israel’s civilians in the future, and to restore a peaceful life for all Israelis.  These objectives must be met, for if they are not, a lot more children will be killed in the future, and many of them will be Jewish.  It shows the moral right Israel has to carry out this mission, despite the tragic consequences we see today.

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Free the State Department!

john-kerry-has-been-pushing-for-air-strikes-in-syriaTo quote a statement from Times of Israel,  “Washington is fuming over the negative Israeli response to the ceasefire proposal drafted with Qatar and Turkey.”  But after the report came out that the cease-fire offer was basically an offer for Hamas to stop fighting if Israel gives in to all their demands, Secretary of State John Kerry claims he never formally offered this particular cease-fire to Israel.  Kerry claiming he never officially proposed this cease-fire, one that might as well have been drafted by Hamas, is no different from celebrities like Rihanna or Dwight Howard Tweeting “Free Palestine” only to delete the tweet later.  Once you put it out there guys, we all know how you feel.

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Dear Mr. President

header_graphicDear President Obama,

I am a Jew.  I am a Zionist.  I am an American.  I voted for you twice.  I find myself not only disillusioned by your responses to the murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers, but angry as well.  This is not a time for packaged responses and clichés.  This is a time to utilize the power of your office, a power that extends around the globe if utilized correctly, to make a strong and significant statement impacting not only the well-being of Israel today but the future of the entire planet.

I begin with two questions we are all entitled to have answered.

Question number 1.  You coined the phrase “senseless act of terror”.  Does that imply that some acts of terror are not senseless?  Is that a redundancy overlooked by your speechwriters or is that part of the thinking that allows you to be willing to accept Hamas as part of a Palestinian government?  Please keep in mind that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is also a terrorist organization transformed into a political organization and the so-called “unreasonable” Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to deal with them, despite the fact that so many of their leaders formerly took part in “senseless” acts of terror.

Question number 2.  In what is clearly the administrations careful wording, since it was uttered in both your initial comments and those of your Secretary of State John Kerry, why do you feel it necessary to caution Israel to not “destabilize the situation”, be it further or at all?  I am fairly certain that the mothers of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel are not looking at this situation as anything resembling stable.  Neither am I for that matter.  And I know that most people who share the same concerns that I do would feel the same way.

I am aware that you inherited a bad economy, high unemployment and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Much to the dismay of many who will read this, I have been a defender of you and your presidency and have not blamed you for everything wrong in the country, as so many Republicans do.  I have however, as have many others, been concerned over your approach towards Israel as well as your responses to acts of terror and terrorist organizations and regimes.  My deepest fear going into your presidency was that you would make the same tragic mistake that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made when he declared there would be “peace in our time”.  He convinced himself he was dealing with a willing peace partner in Adolf Hitler.  We all know how that turned out.  It concerns me now that in comparing you to Neville Chamberlain I may have been giving you the benefit of the doubt.  It is a terrifying and potentially tragic road it leads us all down, and we all can only hope you either wake up to the realities or change your tune, whichever one is necessary to set this in the right direction.

I do not question whether or not you understand the responsibility you have at this moment, but as an American citizen and as a Jew I hope you are aware that your words and actions can make the difference between life and death for so many good people who want nothing more than to live in peace.  I can only hope that matters enough for you to change your approach.

Sincerely,

David Groen