Monday, August 11, 2014

A Righteous Man My Father-Redux

NOTE: this post is political. I don't care. If you want help with autism related issues you are welcome here. Just know that I am Jewish. Not some left leaning trembling descendent of Hebrews. But a proud, strong Jewess, who will not be cowed by haters and the evils of the world. Now if you believe that Jews above all people in the world have no right to self-determination, have no right of self-defense and hold Jews to a double standard that you hold no other people, especially those bent on genocide against the Jewish people, then seek advice and succor elsewhere. This is also not something negotiable. Jews like other peoples in the world do not have to negotiate their right to exist and be free. I have no care to help those who support a philosophy that celebrates persons who would slit my children's throat, kidnap and murder children or fire rockets into civilian areas hoping to kill as many innocents as possible. We Jews are smart enough to know that those who attack Israelis would gladly attack Jews world wide. I have no care to help those that excuse and revel in such hate on any level.

The interesting thing about all this is that I had written something very similar to the above 4 years ago during an international uptick in antisemitism also due to events in Gaza. Here is how it started:

A note to my readers-The following is a political post. If you believe that it is permitted to walk into a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv and blow yourself up, or that is OK to blow up a school bus full of children in Jerusalem or attack a Jewish center in Argentina, Seattle or the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.; if you think its OK to deface a Jewish cemetery or synagogue, or attack people because they wear the Star of David; if you think that the Holocaust did not happen and call it a war crime to teach the Holocaust to children, or send over 10,000 rockets into civilian areas, while calling for genocide against another 6 million Jews, if you think there is a vast Jewish conspiracy to control the world and that the Jews and/or the United States caused 9/11, if you think that the only nation on the planet that can't defend itself is Israel, if you repeat anti-Semitic blood-libels and and if you think it is OK to behead people in the name of God you are NOT welcome here.(Read about the 3 Ds to identify antisemitism and how they apply to special needs children here.)

Read the rest of the 2010 post HERE.

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This music reminds me of my father, who passed away 2 years ago this week. He afterall was a youngperson of the 1950s. This was his music.

I have been thinking of him alot this summer. His life was dedicated to many ideals. One of them was the survival of the Jewish people and  Israel. The news has been horrible this summer. Hate and evil are on the march and noone seems to really care beyond simple platitudes. March after march supports the evil that is the Islamo-fascists of Hamas. I do not understand people. They never march against the crimes and human rights abuses found throughout the third world, when Moslem kills Moslem (more Moslems have been killed in sectarian violence than have been killed in all Arab-Israeli wars), when Assad was starving the Palestinians in Yarmuck refugee camp there was not a peep of worldwide protest (the number is thought to be over 150,000 slaughtered so far in the Syrian civil war). Not one protest against the human rights violations of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority has ever been held in cities and towns that now call for Jewish blood. Not one march on behalf of the Christians who are being ethnically cleansed out of the Middle East, no mass rallies for the Kurds or the unfortunate Yazidis (recent reports have IS burying alive over 500 Yazidis including women and children, never mind those that are dieing on Mount Sanjar). I suppose we should be used to the worlds double standard, their desire to dehumanize Jews and to delegitimize the state of Israel and her supporters. The calls for another Holocaust are met with limpwristed denouncement by the world's remaining spineless democracies. Jews have always said that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. We were poo-poohed and ridiculed. Not so much anymore.

With antisemitism spiraling out of control worldwide part of me is glad that my father isn't alive to see the resurgence of Nazism dressed up in leftist-anti-imperialist-crap. But my mother sees it differently. She says if my father were alive he would be out there screaming organizing and fighting. I suppose in truth I was just looking for a reason that he is no longer with us.....

Someone online accused me of being angry...you bet I am. And if millions worldwide were saying your children have no right to freedom, life and a future, you would be angry too. But then again, when it comes to autism and specialneeds, we do face that every day, don't we? As I have always said, my sons are twice threatened by hate and ignorance.....



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It's two years this week....

My father died last week at the age of 78. Here is a quick version of his story:

Richard K. 1934-2012


Born to Jewish immigrant parents my father grew up in the Bronx, New York. He attended Taft High school. He ran away at age 17 and joined the navy during the Korean War. He went to New York University on the GI Bill and became a teacher. He helped start the 600 school system in NYC (which no longer exists). Today we would call him a special education teacher. He left teaching as a Vice Principal.

From teaching he went into Jewish philanthropic work. But not content to give up his teacher calling he also taught at Memphis State University and helped create the program today known as Head Start.

My father was never one to sit on the sidelines of life. My first vivid memory of the life he would live (and which I am only learning alot about now that he is gone) was finding out that on a trip to the Soviet Union, he smuggled out a list bearing the names of Jewish refuseniks. One of the cause celebres of the time was freedom for Soviet Jews, but noone in the west knew anything about their organization and the people involved in the underground until that list was made available. If my father would have been caught, he had been warned, he could have been prosecuted for espionage. This list ended up in the hands of then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on his first meeting with Leonid Brezhnev.

My father wrote the original proposal for the US Holocaust Museum and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at the Justice Department. While the Jewish world gives this honor to another named individual (My father had the nerve to be a republican I suppose. We can discuss the psychiatric health issues of some US Jews at another time). You can see the original proposal with his name on it in the Carter Presidential Library (we have a "presidential sealed" copy). He was named an advisor to the OSI. In his time, he was considered one of the leading authorities on the Holocaust and Nazi war criminals.

My father was named a Presidential appointee under the Reagan Administration. He was the Associate Coordinator for Refugee Affairs. During his tenure he planned and organized the airlift of Ethiopian Jews out of the Sudan. Other than a few mentions in passing in most books and the Jerusalem Post his is a name most people would never know. So much of what my father did during those years is unknown and hidden. This is only one of the operations out of his office. Most programs would never get the publicity Operation Moses received.


My father standing next to my mother, being sworn into his State Department post by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor


As the associate coordinator for refugee affairs my father would visit refugee camps that were funded in part by US taxpayers. After one such visit to the refugee camps in Gaza, my father also attempted to help the Palestinian refugees by trying to get funding for better conditions in the camps. His attempt was not only shut down by our government, but by the UN and the Arab governments he approached. My father could not solve the middle east crisis, but he saw no reason that people who were caught in the middle of this political morass had to live in squalor. What my father saw were children, mothers and fathers. To him, everyone was first and foremost a human being.

There are events that he participated in to this day my father has never spoken about and are still highly classified. Remember this was at the end of the Cold War and so much of his time and effort was spent trying to free enslaved nations. At first he was asked to never request his government file for his own safety. The government felt several years ago that enough time had passed to send out his file if he wanted it. But when he finally received the file, the government had so redacted it, that the only words left on the pages were mainly prepositions.

From there my father was the head of the US Holocaust Commission. Yes, he ran the organization he had developed that noone ever gives him credit for creating.

After he left government my father developed a program for testing immigrants taking their citizenship exam. It was a successful program. It saved the federal government huge amounts of money. It helped people take their tests earlier than if they had to wait for the government to administer the tests. The person in the government who oversaw their program, one day told them that their program was going to be shut down because "they were republicans." Those were the exact words.  The Clintons had come into office. (Yes they are not my favorite people.) My parents lost their business six months later.

Even after he left government, my father continued in his own way to work towards a better world. He never stopped hunting down war criminals living in the US. He helped deport some very very very nasty evil men. HERE Yes, some parts of your past life do come back at times. Even last year he had been asked to help track down a war criminal in another country. (Here, here, here, here)

My fathers testimony before the Congress on the rehabilitation of torture victims. Here.

From there my father went back to his first love..teaching. He started as a special education teacher and ended up teaching regular 8th grade social studies. He taught, critical thinking and law. He loved helping children learn to learn and to appreciate and prepare for the future. He taught them a love of country and a love of the US Constitution. Most of the students he had recently taught were children of immigrants, like himself, whose parents came here, to this nation seeking a better life.

In happier times, my mother and father used to reminisce about the adventures that they lived through. My mother would then turn to him and tell him, "not bad for two little kids from the Bronx." No not bad at all I would say.

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You don't have to believe anything I have written here. You can believe that it is the imaginings of a grieving daughter. But everything here is true. Of course he was not solely responsible for every act but he was a participant in an important and scary time in world history. So I know that because my father lived, hundreds of thousands of people are alive and have children and grandchildren. Because my father lived, millions are living in freedom. Because my father had lived the world is a better place.

My father lived his life to help others. To make this a better world. The Torah says that God does not destroy the Earth because he can always find a sufficient number of the righteous among us. I have never thought that to be righteous meant that you pray all the time or study Torah all the time. I have never thought that to be righteous means you are perfect all the time. How can we be?  Afterall we are all human....So no, I do not think my father was perfect by any means...But to be righteous is to do what you can to save the world.....My father was one such righteous man......Hopefully God will be able to find someone to replace him and soon...I know I never will.



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Meanwhile  For more information about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict please go to the Council on Foreign Relations (here). It's not perfect but a descent pace to start.