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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Coast Guard’

It’s My Opinion: Freedom

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

A boat was intercepted in the Florida Straits on July 13. A surveillance plane spotted the vessel and directed the U.S. Coast Guard to intervene. The boat held a passenger who had fled the island of Cuba.He was parched and exhaustedand was said to have been adrift for weeks. Rescuers were shocked to see that the seven-foot craft was made of Styrofoam.

 

Since the Communist takeover of Cuba, thousands of desperate men, woman and children have flocked to the shores of Florida. Often they risk their lives in homemade and rickety crafts. Some are made of inner tubes tied together with rope. Others are makeshift rafts. One amazing “boat” was an old taxicab that incredibly was set afloat. Desperation seems to have inspired ingenuity.

 

What could drive an individual to make such a perilous journey? What could motivate a human being to put himself through such danger? The answer is compelling.

 

The quest for freedom is a powerful motivator. It can cause people to act in remarkable ways. Throughout the course of time, revolutions and uprisings, revolts and freedom movements have been sparked by this desire.

 

The United States of America was created as a bastion of freedom. The Founding Fathers understood how precious this concept really was. Cubans, as well as people from around the world, are aware of this and that is why they flock to our shores.

 

My family escaped the tyranny of Eastern Europe to come to America in the beginning of the 1900s. They came from shteiblach in Poland and Jewish enclaves in Russian cities. They suffered from state-sanctioned anti-Semitism and stifling government control. They had no prospects of improving their lot. They sought freedom from these injustices. They prospered in this country. Their story is the quintessential American tale.

 

It is quite ironic that without a fight, war or declaration of intent, America’s citizens have given up many of their hard-won freedoms. Without even noticing, freedoms of choice, finances, business and privacy have been compromised, many within the last year-and-a-half.

 

The idea of an all-knowing big government (that caused so many to run away from other countries) has incrementally been introduced here. We have exchanged the American idea of free enterprise, that gave us prosperity, for a bail-out mentality that has never worked in any of the places and times that it has been tried.

 

This seems to be an age that rewards incompetence. The same federal bureaucracy that faces a failing Medicare and Medicaid system has now taken on national health care. The same federal bureaucracy that suffered the debacle of an embarrassing “cash for clunkers” car exchange, now heads General Motors. The same federal bureaucracy that has suffered many breaches of security on its most sensitive computer data has now exposed all Americans to have their most personal and private medical records on a national data bank.

 

It is time to wake up. Freedom is a priceless commodity. The American people need to be aware of how easily it can be lost.

It’s My Opinion: Never Again

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

In 1939 the Nazi regime was gaining a terrifying momentum.  Nine-hundred-and-thirty Jews tried to flee the nightmare that was about to descend.  The SS St. Louis sailed from Germany.  The terrified passengers knew what was happening.  They were desperate.  

 

The Jews on the St. Louis carried visas to Cuba, the only harbor available to them.  However, even before the ship entered the port of Havana, they were told that the Cuban Government had changed its mind.

 

The St. Louis came close enough to the coast of Miami that the refugees could see the lights of the city.  That sight proved to be just a cruel and ironic tease.

 

Incredibly, these innocent men, women and children were refused sanctuary by President Roosevelt and the United States of America.  The U.S. Coast Guard vessels that accompanied the St. Louis were not there to protect her or escort her to the shores of America.  Their presence was to assure that no Jews would jump overboard and escape. 

 

The Jewish community in America offered politely worded pleas.  The Jewish leadership failed to mount the type of irate and massive protests and demonstrations that would grab front-page headlines and shame Roosevelt into capitulating.  The 930 were shipped back to the hell that awaited them. 

 

The message was clear.  The Nazis now knew that no one really cared about the fate of the Jews.  The Jews now knew that even if they wished to escape, no one was willing to take them in.

 

How could such a shameful incident have happened?  The answers are compelling.  The economy was bad.  The country was reeling from a depression.  Americans were hesitant to take on refugees when jobs and assets were scarce.  Jewish leadership was weak and unwilling to take strong and unpopular stands. Denial of the extent of the danger involving world politics was rampant.   

 

Recently, a 70th anniversary of the St. Louis was commemorated at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.  It was the very location that the ill-fated passengers gazed upon before they were returned to Germany.  The surviving 33 passengers attended the event.

 

There are many parallels today that mirror the circumstances that allowed the tragedy of the St. Louis to occur. As Jews, we must be especially vigilant to keep our guard up and stay informed about what is happening in the world. 

 

We are told that people who do not learn from their history are destined to repeat it.  Never again is more than a slogan.  It is a message that needs to be internalized and acted upon.  

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/its-my-opinion-never-again/2009/12/30/

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