Is the Pope also barred from entry into Israel?

Israel/Palestine

The Gunter Grass case:

On Sunday, Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai used a law permitting a bar on entry to former Nazis to declare Grass persona non grata for his “attempt to fan the flames of hatred against the state of Israel and its people, and thus to advance the idea to which he publicly affiliated in his past donning of the SS uniform”.

Grass was conscripted into the Waffen SS.

Pope Benedict XVI was born in Bavaria, with the name Joseph Ratzinger. Young Ratzinger, according to Wikipedia:

Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth—as membership was required by law for all 14-year-old German boys after December 1939[9]—but was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings, according to his brother.[10] In 1941, one of Ratzinger’s cousins, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime and killed during the Action T4 campaign of Nazi eugenics.[11] In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier).[10] Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry.[12] As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family’s home in Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist, just as American troops established their headquarters in the Ratzinger household.[13] As a German soldier, he was put in a POW camp but was released a few months later at the end of the war in the summer of 1945.[13] He reentered the seminary, along with his brother Georg, in November of that year. –

About Caroline Pinder Cracraft

Caroline Pinder Cracraft lives in Chicago

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48 Responses

  1. David44
    April 10, 2012, 12:51 pm

    While I saw nothing wrong with Grass’s poem, and think it is ridiculous to ban him from visiting Israel, there is a substantial difference between his case and that of the Pope. The Waffen-SS was – unlike the regular divisions in which the Pope served – an elite force which was broadly implicated in war crimes. The fact that Grass was conscripted of course makes a big difference to his personal responsibility, since he did not (as far as anyone knows) commit war-crimes himself; but it still looks rather different from the Pope’s case, especially since Grass, by his own account – and unlike the Pope – did actively volunteer for military service even while still below military age, albeit not for the SS in particular (see link to faz.net ).

    • piotr
      April 10, 2012, 1:34 pm

      “since he did not commit war-crimes himself”

      One should also add that he was 17 year old and grew up surrounded by propaganda. I actually did not read about war crimes committed by tank divisions of SS in general and Wiki page on the division to which Grass belonged does not mention any.

      Chomsky and Finkelstein were denied entry to Israel purely on the basis of political views, and the accusations against Prado, the most popular clown in Spain who planned a parade of clowns in Ramallah were ludicrous.

      I actually never heard about people denied entry to Russia or Iran on the basis of their unfriendly political views. To enter a Communist dictatorship of Vietnam you simply scan your passport, e-mail application and get visa by e-mail back. Israel is the world champion in petty harassment and juvenile name calling executed by Cabinet members. At least, it is clear why a clown was denied entry: Israel has too many clowns already. Prado could invite them to take part in his parade, and how could they refuse?

      • David44
        April 10, 2012, 3:53 pm

        As I said, I agree with you in general about the wrongness of refusing Grass (and the other people you mention) entry to Israel. I also agree with you about the mitigating circumstances for his military service. Just one factual correction (which doesn’t affect your main argument): tank divisions of the SS were in general certainly involved in war-crimes – see e.g. link to en.wikipedia.org (which did not involve Grass’s division, just to be clear).

        But my basic point remains (this is also a reply to Citizen and Woody Tanaka below). For all of the perfectly good points that you and they make in defence of Grass, there is still a distinction between Grass and the Pope, partly in the considerably greater reluctance with which the latter served, and partly because of the extensive involvement of the Waffen-SS in war crimes. Again, to be clear, this does NOT make Grass a war-criminal by association; but it does mean that a former member of the Waffen-SS, however personally untainted, is always going to be viewed differently from a person who served in ordinary divisions of the Wehrmacht.

        Hence Caroline’s suggestion that the logic of Israel’s actions over Grass means that they ought to ban the Pope too is a poor argument based on a weak analogy. There are plenty of perfectly good arguments to show why Israel is acting wrongly and stupidly here; we don’t need to add bad analogies into the mix.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 10, 2012, 4:49 pm

        David44, I get your point, but mine is simply that the conclusion — that viewing a former member of the Waffen-SS, who is personally untainted, differently from a person who served in ordinary divisions of the Wehrmacht — is simply unreasoable when you are talking about the Waffen-SS at that point in the war, given the history.

        I personally don’t care for the analogy, myself, more because I find Mr. Ratzinger troubling on other grounds, than the WWII connection, so if it were dropped, I’d be okay with it.

      • lysias
        April 10, 2012, 4:51 pm

        Members of the Waffen-SS, besides perpetrating war crimes, were also sometimes themselves the victims of war crimes, even at the hands of American soldiers. Years ago, I was told, by more than one veteran of the U.S. Army campaign in Europe, that, after the Malmédy massacre during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, it was the practice of American soldiers not to take SS prisoners, but instead to shoot them on the spot. Since I heard them say this, a number of histories have confirmed that that is what happened.

      • Fredblogs
        April 10, 2012, 5:46 pm

        If you served in the Waffen-SS, you are personally tainted, regardless of whether you individually committed a war crime. We have no way of knowing what Grass did as a Waffen-SS man. Maybe he personally is innocent, but we have no way of knowing that. For a criminal conviction, you have to prove guilt (well, maybe not in some countries). The standards for denying entry into a country are somewhat lower.

      • Citizen
        April 10, 2012, 11:58 pm

        Fredblogs, do you consider Israelis who served the Zionist cause before the state of Israel was established criminals since they were recognized by the Western World as members of terrorist organizations at the time?

        Also, where do you get the notion mere membership in the Waffen SS of a conscripted 17 year old makes him a criminal?

        In the USA, one is assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

      • Citizen
        April 11, 2012, 12:24 am

        Grass’s unit was never involved in any atrocities; Germans with a bone to pick with Grass (there are many) have researched the hell out of that subject.
        Unlike the Pope, he actually was in battle, and wrote how he pissed his pants when confronting Russian tanks.

      • Theo
        April 11, 2012, 8:38 am

        I would like to remind you that history is always written by the victors and the history of WWII is just as inaccurate as any other. A lot of hearsay, some facts and a great amount of simple lying can be found anyplace.
        Even the Bible, the holliest book of christians and jews, was changed many times. I just read a report over the findings of israeli archeologists, that says not Jerusalem, but a city north was the location of the original great temple. At that time Jerusalem had only a population of estimated 1,500 and only centuries later, when the assyrians conquered Juda in the north, did Jerusalem become the center of jewish religion. To be sure, the priests in Jerusalem changed the Bible accordingly, removing all traces of the truth.
        After Nicée the Bible was again greatly changed, so I would never bet on any written account of any event.
        Even to speculate on “war crimes” of a 17 years old is nothing, but stupidity, it is being done t0 “kill the messanger, because you do not like the message”!!

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 11, 2012, 9:10 am

        ‘If you served in the Waffen-SS, you are personally tainted, regardless of whether you individually committed a war crime.”

        And Fredblogs shows, scratch a Zionist, uncover a fascist. No, he is not personally tainted, unless he personally did something wrong. Unless you are calling every memeber of the US military as personally tainted for every attrocity it has committed in its long, ugly history of committing attrocities. But why limit it to just organizations which Grass was involuntarily made a part of? Why not hold all Germans to be personally tainted for being German?? And if that’s the case, then why not hold all Jews personally tainted for acts of immoral bankers who happen to be Jewish?? Is that where you want to go, idiot?

      • Fredblogs
        April 11, 2012, 3:43 pm

        It doesn’t make him a criminal. It makes him persona non grata. Which is a lower standard than criminal conviction. Hell, just having visited Israel is enough to bar you entry to most Arab countries. When you complain about that, you won’t sound so hypocritical complaining that a Waffen SS man is being denied entry into Israel.

        In fact, most of the complaints about Israel from people on this blog take place in a vacuum. Israel is being compared to a hypothetical ideal country, rather than any real country in the Middle East, or even in the world. Israel is condemned for things that are routine internationally and not as bad as what the majority of countries do.

      • Fredblogs
        April 11, 2012, 3:51 pm

        Grass chose to serve in the Waffen SS. He may have been conscripted, but he could have refused to join that organization of war criminals. He could have run. Instead, he helped them.

      • Citizen
        April 11, 2012, 5:24 pm

        Well, yes, Fredblogs, Grass could have shot himself too. Or simply refused, taking whatever punishment meted out to him. Any draftee can run away while his nation is fighting its last desperate measure defending the homeland. I’m sure you would have done the right thing at age 17 under similar circumstances, and having been reared and schooled in a closed society with little outside information coming in…

      • Citizen
        April 12, 2012, 12:42 am

        Yeah, Fredblogs, all those other countries have been occupying foreign land for decades; it’s a real sign of contemporary times, eh?

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 12, 2012, 6:34 am

        “It doesn’t make him a criminal. It makes him persona non grata.”

        If this makes him a persona non grata to you, that still demonstrates the point that to scratch a zio is to uncover a fascist. To hold someone morally responsible for someone else’s actions is morally reprehensible and the thinking of the bigot. (Not that I expect better from the likes of you.) If that is the case, then we should treat every Israel — hell, every Jew in the world — for the criminal acts of Bernie Madoff. Not to treat them as criminals, but merely persona non grata… That okay by you???

        Well, it’s not with me, and it’s not okay to do the same to Grass.

        Unless you’re a fascist.

        “Hell, just having visited Israel is enough to bar you entry to most Arab countries.”

        There is no legal relations between them, and Israel regularly sends its spies and assassins overseas to those countries to commit crimes, including murder. It’s a wise policy, if you ask me. (And this pariah status is by Israel’s choice, I might add. The Arab Peace Plan, which would change the situation, has been ignored for a decade, even though it gives Israel everything it claims it wants, but doesn’t permit it to inflict a Judeo-fascist state over the Palestinians. Which explains what they REALLY want.)

        “Israel is condemned for things that are routine internationally and not as bad as what the majority of countries do.”

        Name all the other countries in the world that has held a population equal to the size of its population stateless and without full civil and political rights and equality, and has done so for three generations, based on ethnicity and religion. If this is so “routine internationally” then you should able to name a couple.

      • Antidote
        April 12, 2012, 6:57 pm

        “where do you get the notion mere membership in the Waffen SS of a conscripted 17 year old makes him a criminal?”

        Nuremberg, perhaps? The Allied decision to declare and treat the SS as a criminal organization? That automatically made any member, be he a volunteer or conscript, a criminal. This approach did stop short of the summary execution of SS members and Wehrmacht officers, even of NSDAP members, without trial, as advocated by Henry Morgenthau during the final phase of the war. Nevertheless, many SS members, most of them easily identified by the characteristic blood group tattoo on their left arm, lost their lives in wild executions performed by allied soldiers, during the liberation of the camps (such as the Dachau Massacre), by the Jewish Brigade, or by civilians across Europe. Other violations of the Geneva convention involved the use of millions of German POWs (Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS and civilians, even returning exiles) as forced and slave laborers for months, years, even decades in the US, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union.

        Victor Gollancz wrote, in 1947:

        “AMONG THE PLACES we visited were Neuengamme and Recklinghausen, two of the civilian internment camps where members of the organisations declared criminal at Nuremberg are awaiting trial. They are excellently run, within permissible limits, by commandants of great humanity, who cannot be held responsible for such mean regulations as that which limits incoming mail for each prisoner to one letter a week, even if a dozen arrive for him. Many of these men, it must be remembered, have been interned for more than two years, and their families outside are often destitute. But it is the injustice, not of this regulation or that but the whole procedure, that is so deplorable. Man after man whom we interviewed was clearly guilty of nothing worse than of doing what at the time he considered, and what as things were he was often almost bound to consider, his patriotic duty. Nuremberg is retrospective legislation of the cruellest and most reactionary kind.

        In both camps there was great bitterness about something which at first we didn’t understand. In the British zone, it appears, but not in the American, anyone in the Nuremberg categories, unless acquitted, is to be vorbestraft: i.e. entered in the police register as a man with a criminal record. He is to be vorbestraft even if the punishment is only a moderate fine or a short term of imprisonment, which, in view of the years already served, commonly means release. The young fellow we interviewed, who joined the Waffen S.S. in pretty much the spirit in which an Englishman might have joined the Guards, will become, at any rate for some considerable period, a stigmatised criminal. I say nothing of the fact that every one of these young men considers himself, and some of them not without cause, to have been unjustifiably excluded from the Sholto Douglas youth amnesty.

        My reference to the Waffen S.S. and the Guards (whose conduct I am not for a moment comparing) will no doubt be misunderstood. A writer in the Press has suggested that I am “ready to forget many things”, including unspeakable atrocities committed by members of the Waffen S.S. and other Nazi organisations. Often in my nightmares I have wished I could: just as I have wished that other would remember – those, for instance, who sent the remnant of the gassed and incinerated back to Germany, and the British public that failed to protest against so contemptible an iniquity. But you have to think yourself back into other people’s shoes. Some of these fellows were nine when Hitler came to power; they were 17 when they joined the Waffen S.S.; and they joined it because, in that environment, they thought of it as the corps d’élite of the German army. And remember that no personal participation in atrocities [can] even be alleged against them. Unless they can prove, and one doesn’t see how, that they didn’t know what was happening, their failure to “resign” – with what chance of survival in times of war? – will mean punishment now in the way described. That they should have had the moral insight which would have prompted them to the sacrifice even of their lives is what everyone must wish; but was it to be expected of them with such a history as theirs?”

        link to library.fes.de

        Some alternative: commit suicide or become a criminal. Is there any other alternative in war? I suppose mass suicide of German conscripts would have saved Allied soldiers from having to kill them. Reminds me of Golda Meir: “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.”

        Not all camps were as well run as the ones described by Gollancz. See this memoir for treatment in France. Also have a look at the last page/conclusion

        link to amazon.com

      • Citizen
        April 13, 2012, 6:38 am

        “Regardless of the record of individual combat units within the Waffen-SS, the entire organisation was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg Trials, except conscripts, who were exempted from that judgement due to being forcibly mobilised.”
        link to jewishvirtuallibrary.org

        “…at the Nuremberg Trials, the Waffen-SS was condemned as a criminal organization due to their involvement with the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), except conscripts sworn in after 1943, who were exempted from the judgment on the basis of involuntary servitude. Therefore Waffen-SS veterans were denied many of the rights afforded to other German combat veterans who had served in the Heer, Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine. Waffen-SS soldiers were held in separate, more rigorous confinement by the Western Allies and were punished severely by the Soviet Union, which held some Waffen-SS prisoners until 1956. As well, many Waffen-SS men recruited from German-occupied countries in Europe were punished by their home countries.” link to en.metapedia.org

      • Antidote
        April 14, 2012, 9:02 am

        Citizen:

        “…at the Nuremberg Trials, the Waffen-SS was condemned as a criminal organization due to their involvement with the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), except conscripts sworn in after 1943, who were exempted from the judgment on the basis of involuntary servitude.”

        If this had been the case, and if it had been consistently applied in all occupied zones of post-war Germany, the conscripted Grass could not have been kept as a prisoner until 1946 — about twice as long as he served in the Waffen-SS (he was sworn in Nov 10, 44), doing forced labor (dishwasher for the US occupational forces), presumably also “on the basis of involuntary servitude”. Not that this presented undue hardship, given the circumstances: he was probably safer and better fed, working in an US army kitchen, than he would have been had he been released as a Waffen-SS conscript at the place of his capture, Marienbad (Czechoslovakia)

      • pabelmont
        April 10, 2012, 7:27 pm

        “One should also add that he was 17 year old and grew up surrounded by propaganda. I actually did not read about war crimes committed by tank divisions of SS” — this is surely a definition of the (horrible) Israeli teens that have been quoted and video’d w.r.t. the deaths in a bus crash of some Palestinian children. They seemed (from the quotes) entirely monstrous. If so, are they more or less culpable (whatever that means) than GG of the SS?

      • Antidote
        April 12, 2012, 7:10 pm

        pabelmont: do you think British or American youths did or do NOT grow up surrounded by propaganda? Evil Huns? Evil Nazis? Evil Communists? Evil Arabs? …

    • Citizen
      April 10, 2012, 1:45 pm

      David44, the article you link us to merely has Grass saying times in Germany were black and the people responded with enthusiasm to ways to get out of their severe condition, including Grass. Although the link you give us does not have Gunter saying so, he did volunteer for submarine service when he was underage, but he did not volunteer for the Waffen SS–as Phil points out, he was drafted (right after he turned age 17). I fail to see how he differs from any lower-middle-class kid I know, growing up in the USA–and their country was not in the dire situation Germany was between the wars.

    • Woody Tanaka
      April 10, 2012, 2:41 pm

      “The Waffen-SS was – unlike the regular divisions in which the Pope served – an elite force which was broadly implicated in war crimes.”

      I understand your point, but the fact that it was the Waffen-SS is not the question. The question is whether Grass’s unit, during his time there, was implicated in war crimes (actually, whether Grass himself was is the real question…). There is no such evidence that I’ve seen, especially given that it was a Panzer Unit on the Western Front at that time in the war. It is a falacy to assert personal responsibility on Grass for his compelled inclusion in an organization that, at another time, in another place, by other people, committed war crimes. The fact that it was the Waffen-SS as opposed to the Heer or the Kriegsmarine is irrelevant in this context, although it could be relevant in other contexts.

      • lysias
        April 10, 2012, 3:16 pm

        The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich was responsible for the notorious massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane in June 1944, on the Western Front.

        The Malmédy Massacre during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 was perpetrated by the Kampfgruppe Peiper, part of the 1st SS [Panzer] Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, again on the Western Front.

        So Waffen-SS Panzer divisions certainly could commit war crimes even on the Western Front. It’s just that I’m not aware of Grass’s unit having done anything of the kind.

      • pabelmont
        April 10, 2012, 7:31 pm

        I suppose this/these massacre(s) was/were bigger (more people killed) than the rather piddly Deir Yassin (a massacre by pre-Israeli terrorists before June 15, 1948). Does it matter? The leaders of pre-Israeli terrorists became prime ministers (Begin, Shamir) — Israel showing the right way to treat former criminals.

      • Antidote
        April 12, 2012, 7:22 pm

        “The leaders of pre-Israeli terrorists became prime ministers (Begin, Shamir)”

        So what? Eisenhower became president. Churchill, idol of the neocons, is revered as the greatest Briton ever and credited for saving European civilization or something. You can’t walk 5 steps in Canada without tripping over a Churchill statue, road, airport and what not. How absurd and hypocritical. And not just because of his European victims

        link to time.com

        link to open.edu

  2. eGuard
    April 10, 2012, 2:13 pm

    Why does Mondoweiss follow this red herring (2nd time even)? Cannot one find or write a good analysis, not even in English?

    Try this one ei: Poem sparks debate about whether Germany should absolve Israel’s crimes

    • ToivoS
      April 10, 2012, 7:51 pm

      This not a red herring at all. What is keeping this story alive for 5 days now is Israeli over-reaction. It is putting the spotlight directly on Israel’s efforts to push the US into war with Iran. Their efforts to portray Grass as a Nazi will just alienate more Germans from Israel — Grass is certainly more popular than Israel there.

      There is something interesting going on here. Whatever public relations efforts Israel and her supporters push these days, simply allows for a broader public discussion and education of gentiles into what Israel and Zionism represents. Israel simply cannot win these debates at this point. Every time they try, they just peel away a few more supporters and reduce their core supporters to a position of irrational fanaticism (who then become even less convincing in public debate). I love the smell of desperation in the morning.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 10, 2012, 8:12 pm

        toivo, this reminds me of a passing thought i had recently after i read The first Mr. Hasbara: Mike Wallace’s 1958 talk with Abba Eban by Noam Sheizaf and watched the videos

        link to 972mag.com

        i recalled the history of PR in the US, the brother of Freud, the bbc documentary. not sure if it was the power of nightmares or the other one. people were so unaware of pr and so gullible, but i think we’ve wised up. it took a few decades. it’s not working anymore. israel was born in a time that merged with the birth of pr. it would be an interesting study.

        edit: the documentary by Adam Curtis is called The Century of the Self

        link to icahdusa.org

        the power of nightmares was about the rise of the neocons in conjunction with the fear of islam/islamophobia and ‘islamism’, but i think The Century of the Self could actually be more applicable wrt israel’s relationship with american society. carefully nurtured.

      • ToivoS
        April 10, 2012, 10:20 pm

        Annie (or should I call you annie) good link to 972mag. I remember Aba Eban well. When I first heard him he sounded like the most reasonable and articulate person I even listened to (that was 1967 or so). OMG was I ever naive then. Those transcripts of him make him appear as dishonest and despicable as Netanyahoo today.

        The Zionist have been lying to us from the very beginning and their words should not be given any credibility, ever.

        Our only response must be BDS until Israel submits to world opinion — rational discussion, negotiation, whatever it is called is useless. They lie, they lie and they lie some more. They will always lie for some temporary gain but at some point no one will believe them. Game is over then.

      • eGuard
        April 11, 2012, 4:26 am

        Toivos: This not a red herring at all. What is keeping this story alive for 5 days now is Israeli over-reaction.

        That is circular reasoning. And be assured, the story in Germany will not be dead for a long time, even without this. Recycling the Israeli reaction distracts.

        Anyway, my point is that the real topic is Germany, tag home affairs. It’s not what Israel or Israelis find, it’s what Germans find. Including their politicians (the whole spectre), media (the whole spectre), intellectuals and others. Plus the meta-question: how come all these German pundits & big shots react the same, and cheaply at that? We should ask Pavlov’s dog.

      • MHughes976
        April 11, 2012, 6:01 am

        Another spectre haunting Europe.

      • eGuard
        April 11, 2012, 4:47 pm

        You got it.

        To be more precise: a whole spectrum of spectres is folded into one Gleichgestaltet one. But in Germany only so far, not Europe.

      • Citizen
        April 12, 2012, 1:14 am

        APRIL 10, 2012

        Why No Sympathy for the Palestinians?
        The Disgusting Attacks on Gunter Grass
        by TARIQ ALI
        The German writer Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum) had already predicted the response to his poem in SdZ. There is no reason to be surprised, but there is every reason to be disgusted. Within Germany both the elite and a layer of the population by their words and actions appear to have accepted the disgraceful Goldhagen thesis whereby all German were guilty for the crimes of the Third Reich. This thesis has now been developed further: all Germans are guilty for eternity for the crimes of the Third Reich.

        Behind this thinking is the Zionist and Zionophile argument that the crime against the Jews of Europe was unique in the annals of history. This was true as far as the method of extermination was concerned, but not in any other way. The Belgians massacred the Congolese in greater numbers: over 10 million according to the historian Adam Hochschild. The killing of Armenians during the First World War was systematic and we could go on and discuss the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but comparing one massacre or genocide to another is a futile exercise. Raul Hilberg the most authoritative historian of the Judeocide was angered by the uses that were being made of that crime today.

        Some members of the extreme-right government and Lieberman in particular, that rules Israel today have used proto-fascist language against the Palestinian Arabs. Are we not allowed to point that out? That the Israeli government pushed the Bush administration to make war on Iraq is hardly a secret. Nor is the statement of the Israeli Ambassador to the US the day after the fall of Baghdad: “Don’t stop. Move on to Damascus and Teheran.’ Are we not allowed to rebuke him? The targeting and killing of young Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere is fine, is it?

        Gunter Grass was very mild in his criticisms. He concentrated on Israeli warmongering in relation to Iran. He could have said a lot more. The fact that it needs political courage to say even what he did in Germany or France is a sad reflection on the political culture of both these countries. As for the attacks on Grass for his wartime activities, these are beneath contempt. The Israelis were delighted when the former Italian minister, Gianfranco Fini, whose party is in lineal descent from Mussolini, went to Israel and praised the Wall. He was forgiven his party’s past. So the past only matters if a person is critical of Israel. The former Nazis in various positions in the postwar Federal republic who pushed through reparations and backed Israel, they were never criticized either.

        German citizens should ponder the following: it was not the Palestinians who were responsible for the murder of millions of Jews during the Second World War. Yet they, the Palestinians, have become the indirect victims of the Judeocide. Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return to others. So why no sympathy for the Palestinians?

        Tariq Ali is the author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power. He can be reached at [email protected].

  3. Annie Robbins
    April 10, 2012, 2:32 pm

    caroline, this morning the LAtimes had an article saying israel’s barring of grass was the kind of thing iran would do. it’s not worth digging up the link but i thought it was interesting/weird. the amount of attention the press is giving to this barring is kind of bizarre. sometimes i wonder how it is they choose their stories. and the chances it would make even one iota of difference, because what are the chances grass, in his later years, will want to visit israel anyway? i think they (whoever they is)just like repeating nazi over and over.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 10, 2012, 3:02 pm

      RE: “the LAtimes had an article saying israel’s barring of grass was the kind of thing iran would do… sometimes i wonder how it is they choose their stories” ~ Annie Robbins

      MY GUESS: I think it has to do with whether an Israeli “core issue” is involved. The banning of Grass does not relate to a core issue, so the press is not afraid to cover it (and even criticize Israel’s behavior in this limited instance). Far more important and very “news worthy” items like what is going on in the West Bank (especially in East Jerusalem) involve Israeli core issues, so the press is very reluctant to cover them (let alone criticize Israeli actions).

  4. eGuard
    April 10, 2012, 2:47 pm

    WWII made two German sentences into permanency:

    - Ich habe nicht gewusst I did not know (about the deathcamps, at the time)

    - Nie wieder Never again (such a horror).

    With the poem, Günter Grass warns for the war Israel is mongering. This time, he says to the Germans, I’ll make sure to say it in time. So You will have known beforehand and Germans are complicit in the Once again.

  5. justicewillprevail
    April 10, 2012, 3:05 pm

    So if we are to be consistent, should all countries bar members of the IDF? According to those Israeli ethical scholars, there is no excuse for being conscripted into an army which continually carries out war crimes, harassment, humiliation and attacks on civilians, child kidnapping and arrests, even if and individual doesn’t participate directly in the brutality. Are the teenage thugs in the IDF now barred from re-entering Israel since they are apparently in the same boat as Grass (a lot worse actually, since their crimes are documented)?

    • southernobserver
      April 10, 2012, 5:19 pm

      Without question, yes, based on Israel’s principles, no member of the IDF should be allowed to travel to any other country.

  6. Taxi
    April 10, 2012, 3:54 pm

    And what makes the arrogant israelis think that Gunter wants to spend a relaxing vacation on a stolen Apartheid beach in the first place?! I bet he wouldn’t want to go anyway for all the gold in frigging China!

    I’m just glad this story’s got legs cuz israel showed it’s ugly fascist face and lost a whole buncha cultured customers this week. It’s just been great reading the global blogs’ reaction to this archetypal battle between a moral individual and an immoral nation. It is sooooo clear by now that the majority of the people on this planet, including a sizable chunk of Americans, are not aligned with israel due to it’s Apartheid and ethnic-cleansing practices, which are now common knowledge – thanks to the internet.

    It is clear that israelis have squandered, almost to the last few drops, all the empathy and goodwill that humanity’s bestowed upon them since the holocaust. They have grimly betrayed and offended the memory of their grandfathers and grandmothers immeasurable suffering for what exactly? So that they can steal property and sneak nukes into the holy lands to annihilate neighbors with?

    Blows my mind with bafflement why euro jews had to go the criminal racist zionist way.

    • Theo
      April 11, 2012, 8:48 am

      Grass was last time in Israel 40 years ago and was pellted with tomatoes.
      I really doubt at age 84 he wants to visit that country again, so this banning sure worked out very negatively for Israel.

      • lysias
        April 11, 2012, 10:16 am

        On the other hand, it was probably smart domestic politics for the Israeli Minister of the Interior.

  7. piotr
    April 10, 2012, 4:18 pm

    Different countries violate rules of common decency in different ways. Israel on a very regular basis singles out people with incorrect views, and dependent on the severity of the error in those views either makes the entry (and/or exit) annoying, or humiliating, or denies the passage, or arrests, releases and denies the entry.

    USA does deny entry quite often, including people invited to speak at conferences or teach for a semester in a university, but I never heard about harassment, humiliations and arrests made for those reasons (actually, there is some effort to apply humiliating airport checks randomly, and, strangely enough, the planes are not blown up either).

    Googling “Iran deny entry” returns hundreds of stories on Guenther Grass, but longer search shows very little: Christine Amanpour, plus some cases that actually lead to apologies. There is a LOT of stories of Iranians being denied entry (e.g. when they want to attend a conference in USA).

    Careful comparison of Iran and Israel DOES NOT show clear superiority of Israel. Iran arrested American hikers and tried as spies before releasing. Israel would shot them dead on the border. During large demostrations in Tehran one protester was killed. Israel kills protesters quite reqularly by comparison. The legislatures of both countries approve the respective measures applied to protests, but Israeli legislators are elected more democratically. Which does not help the killed and the maimed.

  8. lysias
    April 10, 2012, 5:24 pm

    Uri Avnery, defending Grass, says that what is anti-Semitic is to insist that Israel should not be criticized in Germany: Uri Avnery: “Kritik-Verbot an Israel ist antisemitisch” ["Prohibiting Criticism of Israel is Anti-Semitic"].

  9. DICKERSON3870
    April 10, 2012, 6:40 pm

    RE: “Is the Pope also barred from entry into Israel?”

    AS GEORGE W. BUSH TOLD THE ADELSONS: “I can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.” Isn’t that a knee-slapper?!?!

    SEE: The Brass Ring, by Connie Bruck, The New Yorker, 6/30/08

    (excerpts). . . Last October, Sheldon Adelson, the gaming multibillionaire, accompanied a group of Republican donors to the White House to meet with George W. Bush. They wanted to talk to the President about Israel. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was organizing a major conference in the United States, in an effort to re-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and her initiative had provoked consternation among many rightward-leaning American Jews and their Christian evangelical allies. . .
    . . . Adelson protested to Bush that Rice was thinking of her legacy, not the President’s, and that she would ruin him if she continued to pursue this disastrous course. Then, as Adelson later told an acquaintance, Bush put one arm around his shoulder and another around that of his wife, Miriam, who was born in Israel, and said to her, “You tell your Prime Minister that I need to know what’s right for your people—because at the end of the day it’s going to be my policy, not Condi’s. But I can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.” (The White House denies this account.) . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to newyorker.com

  10. piotr
    April 10, 2012, 7:39 pm

    According to hasbaratim, criticising Israel is a modern form of anti-Semitism. I come from a part of the world where obsolete forms of anti-Semitism are still easy to observe, and the coincidence of modern forms and the old once is rather low. The EU countries with the highest indexes of anti-Semitic beliefs are most reliable supporters of Israel. Contrary to the normal pro-Israeli propaganda, this old-fashioned anti-Semitism is either related to general xenophobia which nowadays is directed at Muslim, Roma, or some local perceived adversaries (like Hungarians for Slovaks), or to cultural traditionalism, Jews being in the same bag as cosmopolitan intellectuals, gays, ecologists etc.

    Putting together purely political position of Guenter Grass and Passover blood libel, as done by the underlings of Avigdor Lieberman is dishonest and/or insane. Grass is criticized by “hyperbolic exaggeration” because he wrote that Israel plans annihilation in Iran. But if we check for Op-Eds in English editions of Israeli newspapers that contain phrase “parking lot” suggest that murderous dreams are very much present in Israeli public debates and hardly ever condemned. Given that, and the undisclosed nuclear arsenal, and publicly held theories like Dahiya doctrine (which is basically practice, not theory) supplying powerful weapons to Israel at least merits debate.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 10, 2012, 8:06 pm

      speaking of parking lot i read this morning about a new parking lot on a muslim cemetary. can’t remember quite where i read it but i know it was this morning. someone tweeted it, i followed and saw the photos.

  11. DICKERSON3870
    April 10, 2012, 9:53 pm

    RE: “Is the Pope also barred from entry into Israel?”

    MY COMMENT: You never know! Might Israel consider the Pope to be an “activist” and consequently “blacklist” him?

    SEE: Israeli Forces Gear Up to Confront ‘Flytilla’ Activists ~ by Common Dreams, 4/10/12

    (excerpt) Israeli forces are readying to confront thousands of peace activists who are attempting a “fly-in” or “flytilla” to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv this weekend before heading to Bethlehem in the West Bank in a call to end the occupation and call out Israel’s blockade and control over the occupied territories.
    Israel has attempted to blacklist names of activists to block them from being able to fly out of their home countries, and plans on singling out any activists when they arrive at Ben Gurion to deport them upon arrival.
    Airlines in Europe and the United States have already gotten requests from Israel to blacklist activists
    to thwart their flight plans.
    Endorsers of the action organized by Welcome to Palestine Initiative 2012 include Noam Chomsky, Hedy Epstein, John Pilger, Nawal Al Sadaawi and Desmond Tutu. Their letter of endorsement stated that “Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors.”. . .

    SOURCE – link to commondreams.org

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