Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Choose Life?

During the onset of the AIDS epidemic, the first victims were infected before it became clear that you could prevent it. After that, many more were afflicted from carelessness, accidents, sex addiction (just like smoking but then, you’re dead in no time), you do not want to know. The gay world seemed like a battlefield.

During the height/deepest depth of the epidemic, I had an acquaintance, a very sweet guy, Paultje, who decided he wanted to part together with all the others who had died. Without telling anyone, he deliberately got himself infected and died within 2 years after terrible suffering. He was no better than the others.

We would say: modesty is beautiful but to live by, not to die by. His friends were unanimously furious and refused to nurse him. I do not judge anyone, not Paultje and not his friends because judging is too easy.

I thought about that now that Dutch television will broadcast a documentary about Etty Hillesum. During the war, she refused to go into hiding and, despite her solid Jewish background, she had developed a sort of a relationship with Christianity.

We would say: Spirituality is beautiful but not to die for. She, like most Dutch Jews, was murdered in Auschwitz. She left behind a war diary. American Christians in particular are obsessed with her story. That’s easier than Anne Frank’s because the latter was Jewish and murdered by Christian Europe. But Etty did not avoid suffering – just like Jesus. (Yes, she was Jewish, but so was Jesus.)

I find that glorification somewhat distasteful and a kind of robbery: she seems stripped of her last bit of Jewish identity.

Today, Dutch TV will broadcast the documentary Etty Hillesum – Search for a writer in wartime by director MĂ©linde Kassens based on a new biography. I wonder if that can restore a little bit of her Jewishness, return her a bit to the fold.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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