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Grass smears in ‘Times’, plus new translation of his ‘I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy’ poem

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Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass

Below we have an improved translation of the Gunter Grass poem about breaking silence on Israel’s nuclear threat.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is treating the Gunter Grass poem as an artifact of his service in the Nazi SS as a teenager. “Story inadequate and tendentious by omission, without being exactly false,” writes a friend. “The headline calls it a poem ‘against Israel.’ It is not against Israel. It is against the sale of a German submarine to Israel which is capable of launching nuclear weapons. It speaks against ‘the burdensome lie’ of silence. Silence in general, about wrongs one knows of; and specifically German silence in the face of Israeli wrongs, because of the preemptive operation of self-censorship through an accurate awareness of guilt. It asks: why should Germany not speak the truth now, precisely because of its self-knowledge of the wrong of wars of aggression.”

At the Times, Nick Kulish and Ethan Bronner:

Others said that it was not a coincidence that Mr. Grass so often found himself at the center of controversy, but that controversy was instead his goal in the first place.

“He wrote this poem knowing from the way he wrote it that there would be condemnation,” said Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who was interviewing Mr. Grass when he made his revelation about the Waffen-SS membership. “He needs the condemnation to move on to the next step, which is to say that it is impossible in Germany to criticize Israel.”

Mr. Grass, the author of plays and essays as well as novels and poems, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. He admitted that he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a boy and believed at the time in the group’s aims, but long claimed that he was drafted into an antiaircraft unit, never mentioning the Waffen-SS until he was 78.

In the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer, a weekly columnist, devoted his Friday essay to Mr. Grass under the headline “The Moral Blindness of Günter Grass.”

“Logic and reason are useless when a highly intelligent man, a Nobel laureate no less, does not understand that his membership in an organization that planned and carried out the wholesale genocide of millions of Jews disqualified him from criticizing the descendants of those Jews for developing a weapon of last resort that is the insurance policy against someone finishing the job his organization began,” Mr. Pfeffer wrote.

More from my smart friend: “The Grass is a true and sober statement. It’s just wrong of Tom Segev to say that Meir Dagan has told Israelis everything they could get from the Grass poem. Who in Israel has spoken of the sale by Germany to Israel of a new submarine?”

Segev: Former Mossad director Meir Dagan, for example, shares the same opinion as Günter Grass. He is also opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran. He talks about it almost every day. There is a very lively discussion about this issue in Israel.

Der Spiegel: Grass also names a reason for his silence: the threat of being accused of anti-Semitism.

Segev: Meir Dagan has never been accused by anyone in Israel of being an anti-Semite. And it has been a long time since people in Germany were not able to criticize Israel — even if some in the Israeli government might regret that fact.

My correspondent: “Who has spoken of the scandal of European and American silence  on the subject of Israel’s possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons? Who has signaled the danger of Israeli use of nuclear weapons? It is not true, either, that there is no ‘incitement’ in Israel.'” Segev again:

And it is not as if there is incitement against Iran in Israel. There is even a peace campaign on Facebook.

My correspondent: “Barak, Netanyahu, Lieberman and a half  dozen others have been inciting panic-fear in remarks made almost every day for months now.”

And Idrees Ahmad has posted this translation of the Grass poem by Michael Keefer and Nica Mintz of Günter Grass’s “Was gesagt werden muss”:

Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.

It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.

But why do I forbid myself
to name that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a usable nuclear capability has grown
beyond all control, because
no scrutiny is allowed.

The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.

But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.

But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country
to which I am and will remain attached.

Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses.

And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too
may free themselves from silence,
challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.

Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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75 Responses

  1. edward on April 7, 2012, 11:45 am

    No non-Jew will ever be in a position of saying something meaningful to a Jewish person. Gunter Grass is just another false god that should be exterminated.

    It doesn’t matter if you saw with your own own eyes the country of your birth being turned to ashes because of somebody’s bad idea. What you have to say is of no interest whatsoever.

    Until a Jewish person has that experience of watching his own country turned to ash for the very same reason, there is nothing to be learned. In fact, we don’t care about Gunter’s bleatings at all. He’s just a piece of pascal lamb that won’t disturb anyone very much longer.

    Zionism is like a giant machine for chopping off anyone who stands a little taller than the rest. Carter goes, Dershowitz stays. Grass goes, Mandela goes, Tutu goes, anyone who dares to question the orthodoxy. It’s hard even to remember their names. So the result is a monoculture of mediocrity. Everyone is rightly terrified that a mis-step can easily – no, will almost certainly result in unbearable pressure.

    When somebody or other gets to decide whether or not Peter Beinart can be interviewed on KPFA for goodness sake by somebody who is not orthodox, it seems we are in the grip of an iron headlock, not just a lock step as our President likes to say, but our mental spheres have been occupied to such an extent that we can’t even talk about a clearcut path that could lead to nuclear holocaust.

    To see grown men pretend that for 50 years Gunter Grass fooled them, that if they had only known about his activities as a 17 year-old, they would have certainly dismissed as the “tainted” ravings of anti-Semite sworn to the destruction of every Jew on earth such works as the Tin Drum. Now come on ! These people claim to be so easily hoodwinked !

    I feel sorry for our children.

    • Cogeo on April 8, 2012, 8:36 am

      “No non-Jew will ever be in a position of saying something meaningful to a Jewish person.”

      Thank you, Edward, for your monumental revelation. In one sentence, you manage to push our noses right into the heart of the question of how anti-semitism comes into being: exactly because of that Jewish attitude you describe. No person with a minimal amount of self-respect will just shrug and go on when he is being snubbed in the way it happens daily in interactions with Jews, exactly because of this most arrogant and racist attitude you so concisely describe.
      Put the rule to the test by turning it around:

      “No Jew will ever be in a position of saying something meaningful to a Gentile.”

      If you believe that there wouldn’t have broken out a deafening roar of protest against this ‘utter racism’ and ‘blatant anti-semitism’ (and rightly so), I have a beachfront property on the moon to sell you. But of course, Gentiles in their overwhelming majority believe in Universalism, so they don’t write racist stuff like that.

      Dump this racist attitude of “chosenness” and you will encounter open-mindedness, sincere gentile interest in Judaism and the grief at the heart of what you believe is ‘anti-semitism’, ‘hatred’ and whatever terms there are to conceal the validity of criticism directed at Judaics, Jews, Zionism and the State of Israel.

      • Fredblogs on April 9, 2012, 3:09 pm

        Great, except it’s a complete straw man argument that I’ve never heard in any form from any Jew, except facetiously if Edward is Jewish. So basically, what he has done is lied about what Jews think in order to bash Jews. That is pretty classic racist tactics.

  2. pabelmont on April 7, 2012, 11:58 am

    I think GG knew what he was doing. His poem was bound to be noticed, but would receive so VERY much more notice if tagged as anti-Semitic!

    These days, everyone knows the hair-trigger likelihood that enthusiasts for Israel’s war-making and territorial expansion (which must, must remind GG of the 1930s in Germany, what with the armed German aggression in those days against most of Europe aimed at securing “lebensraum”) will land like a ton of bricks on a cleverly crafted criticism of Israel if made by an ex-SS (although no Israeli would think of apologizing for Israel’s election to premier of former terrorists such as Begin and Shamir and Sharon).

    Germany has two things (w.r.t. Jews) to apologize for: the Holocaust (which they have apologized for) and their failure to stand up to the USA and openly and noisily criticize Israel’s wars and its territorial expansionism and its malign mistreatment of Palestinians (something Germany has not done, even though a leader of the EU).

  3. atime forpeace on April 7, 2012, 12:06 pm

    “Israel first”

    and then these great american journalist will wonder later why the american public turned no them, and the jewish american community will think it just came out of nowhere, evidence of the anti semitic gene in the white european gene pool.

    Israel first is an apropos appellation for the ad hominem smear mongers whose job it is to discredit the messenger in order to diminish the value of the message and to keep their peeps in the dark.

    Israel first

  4. hughsansom on April 7, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Very predictable. Ethan Bronner lead the Times smear campaign against Jimmy Carter when Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid came out.

  5. LeaNder on April 7, 2012, 12:34 pm

    There is a really good article by Jakob Augstein on Spiegel Online:

    Why We Need an Open Debate on Israel

    This is what Grass’ wants.

    • on April 7, 2012, 8:37 pm

      what was “really good” about Augstein’s article, LeaNder?
      He had major theses inverted.

      Augstein wrote:

      “It is a discussion about Israel and whether Israel is preparing a war against Iran, a country whose leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel, referring to it as a “cancer” that must be “wiped off the map.” Israel, a country that has been surrounded by enemies for decades, many of whom believe that Israel has no right to exist — even independent of its policies.”

      This paragraph contains an internal inversion; incorrect information; and evidence of a confused timeline.
      1. Somehow, Augstein flips “Israel preparing a war against Iran” into “Iran threatening Israel.” His facts are wrong. Israel IS preparing a war against Iran; some can argue credibly that Israel and the US are already waging war against Iran — economic warfare IS warfare; assassinating civilians ARE acts of war.

      2. It was Khameini, not Ahmadinejad, who said “Israel is a cancer.” His analogy expressed a sentiment similar to Grass’s statement that nuclear Israel threatens world peace: cancer threatens the well-being of the body; so, nuclear Israel threatens the well-being of the world.
      And no matter how many times the misstatement is corrected, reckless –or careless –pundits continue to misquote Ahmadinejad: He did not say “Israel should be wiped off the map” — much less “threaten” “war.” He DID say “zionism will disappear from the pages of time” — the context is that zionism will fail of its own internal contradictions, just as USSR communism “disappeared from the pages of time.”

      3. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad has been Iran’s president only since 2005. Before that, as Yossi Melman writes in “Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran,” nobody — not Mossad, not CIA, not British intelligence — had Ahmadinejad on their radar. But Israel/AIPAC drafted US executive orders and sanctions on Iran in 1995, 10 years before anybody knew anything about Ahmadinejad.

      A few paragraphs later, Augstein writes: “He also warns against the annihilation of the Iranian people, which is certainly not part of the Israeli agenda..”

      Whence does Augstein come by this sense of certainty?

      1. In the 1980s war in which US backed Iraq against Iran, Saddam used chemical weapons against Iranian civilians. Iran petitioned the United Nations numerous times to halt these acts which were in defiance of UN commitments since post-WWI, but NO ACTION WAS TAKEN by the international community to stop Iraq’s gas attacks on Iran. Nevertheless, Iran did NOT retaliate with chemical weapons. But the situation did not convey to Iranians the notion that the international community would step should Iranians be threatened with “annihilation.”

      2. Israel HAS threatened Iran with annihilation. Israel has carried out rogue attacks on Iraq’s nuclear plant at Osirik, and an unauthorized attack on an alleged nuclear facility in Syria. Israel considers these acts to have been ‘heroic’ and productive, and imagines them as models for an attack on Iran.
      However, such attacks on Iran would have far more serious — and ‘annihilatory’ — consequences. Marsha Cohen spelled out those consequences on Mondoweiss about a month ago. A few weeks ago, Sanam Anderlini, co-founder of the International Civil society Action Network whose 80-year old grandfather lives in Tehran, told OccupyAIPAC conferees that even a surgical attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities near Isfehan could trigger earthquakes in a large regions highly prone to quakes, and could harm chemical plants, causing chemical plumes to kills thousands, hundreds of thousands of people and pollute the region for generations. In a discussion with Trita Parsi and Ephraim Sneh, Barbara Slavin asked Sneh if Israeli planners had calculated how many human lives would be lost or harmed by escaping nuclear radiation should Israel attack Iran. Sneh said he was not permitted to address the moral question and not in a position to discuss the tactical question. Slavin expressed concern about the “annihilatory” impact of an Israeli strike on Iran. Has Augstein given that possibility any thought?

      really LeaNder, I can’t continue with the rest of Augstein’s diatribe — he’s just too crazy. Is everybody in Germany suffering from holocaust sickness? You people cannot think straight! You are so protective of your guilt complex that you allow Israel to get away, literally, with murder.

      Stand up for yourselves, already. You have been bullied long enough.

      • annie on April 7, 2012, 9:19 pm

        hmm, i didn’t read it that way ww, in fact i drafted it and it may go up tomorrow. i mean let’s face it, it is a discussion about lil ol israel preparing a war against a country whose leader has threatened it, referring to it as a “cancer” that must be “wiped off the map” who’s surrounded by enemies believing it has no right to exist.

        that’s basically the extent of the global discussion, isn’t it? until now, until this poem. read the article again. then google the author. do a rethink.

      • Thomson Rutherford on April 8, 2012, 12:27 am

        … a country whose leader has threatened it, referring to it as a “cancer” that must be “wiped off the map” ….

        Annie, if you don’t know yet that the “must be wiped off the map” part (as a minimum) of this statement is not true, I suggest you also might do some rethinking or at least re-reading on the subject.

        The meaning of your comment on the whole seems obscure to me. Can you clarify it if you are planning to write further about it, as you say?

      • on April 8, 2012, 6:59 am

        Annie, before you post tomorrow, look up the definition of “threaten.” Also explore the concept of contingency, as in “IF” you do X, then we will respond Y.

      • annie on April 8, 2012, 8:16 am

        of course i know it is not true thomson. we also had a discussion about a land with no people and a people with no land for decades too, doesn’t mean it was true. i read the article differently than you did. if it doesn’t go up today i will discuss it with you further in this thread.

      • Fredblogs on April 9, 2012, 3:11 pm

        Yes, “we must make it vanish it from the page of history”. Is so much nicer than “wipe it off the map”.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 9, 2012, 5:00 pm

        “Yes, ‘we must make it vanish it from the page of history’.”

        Nope, there was no “we must make it” in the speech. Rather, the statement is: “the Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

        And, really, you people are still quaking in your panties from a blustering statement made 7 years ago? Grow a pair already.

        “Is so much nicer than ‘wipe it off the map’.”

        It is. Czechoslovakia and Apartheid South Africa have vanished from the pages of time; Nazi Germany was wiped off the map.

      • CloakAndDagger on April 9, 2012, 10:33 pm

        “it” referred to the regime – i.e. govt. – not Israel. But, you knew that already.

      • Citizen on April 10, 2012, 9:25 am

        The Persian word for map, “nagsheh” is not contained anywhere in his original Farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase “wipe out” ever said.Yet you, Fredblogs, believe that Iran’s president threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” despite never having uttered the words “map.” “wipe out” or even “Israel.”

        Here’s the full quote translated directly to English:

        “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

        Word by word translation:

        Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).

      • marc b. on April 10, 2012, 10:26 am


        Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).


        so you do admit that ahmedinahitler said that he wants to kill all the jews while they sleep!

        wash, rinse, repeat.

      • LeaNder on April 10, 2012, 11:59 am

        1. Somehow, Augstein flips “Israel preparing a war against Iran” into “Iran threatening Israel.”

        Look, Without Walls, I didn’t notice this before, neither have I looked at the exact timeline of the Ahmadinejad – Israel propaganda war, but Augstein may have been shocked, as I was by Ahmadinedshad’s tale at the UN among other things, he also may not like a special nitwit camp of Holocaust revisionists. Which doesn’t mean that I prefer the Israeli propaganda. …

        And if I may add, I was shocked by passages of Grass’ statement too, like suggesting, strictly he doesn’t, since he only writes about the submarine’s capabilities to direct all-annihilating nuclear weapons to were the existence of not one single bomb is proven, that Israel’s intention is to completely annihilate Iran. Now this may be picking up Israel’s imagery, and it’s reliance on the Holocaust to make the threat more real, but he suggests a complete annihilation of Iran by Israel nevertheless. But I think he willingly ignored the tiny Israel argument in this context, which gives Israel another propaganda advantage in the debate.

        After I had slightly recovered from the shock after reading it the first time, I realized Grass’ had to exaggerate if he wanted to have the reaction, he now has. I also realized he had formulated carefully, concerning this issue. He asks a question: Is Israel threatening …? Just as a writes about “capabilities” of the submarines only.

        I respect Augstein a lot, and he really did what Grass’ intended, he initially complained that not the content of his poem was discussed. Now this is exactly what Augstein does, as did others and nut all nullified his suggestion that “Israel intended the complete annihilation of Iran, see above.

        Augstein from my perspective is one of the best journalists on the left we have over here, just as his weekly Freitag is one of the best papers, small (compared to Die Zeit) but with quality, if you ask me. And someone should tell Gideon Levy, that the Welt is not a paper, he should publish in, I could give him a list of some were his stories would be better received even in the conservative field.

        I don’t have more time now, to look into your argument. Maybe I do later.

      • Citizen on April 10, 2012, 4:00 pm

        RE: “… I think he willingly ignored the tiny Israel argument in this context.”

        Tiny Israel with a population of 6 M–has the 4th strongest Military in the World, and an iron-clad MOU with the sole superpower USA to always have the most cutting qualitative edge over all other Military in the ME for free, 200-400 nuke bombs, the only ones in the ME, and a USA MOU that guarantees Israel’s security no matter the cost to itself.

      • LeaNder on April 10, 2012, 12:33 pm

        2. Israel HAS threatened Iran with annihilation. Israel has carried out rogue attacks on Iraq’s nuclear plant at Osirik, and an unauthorized attack on an alleged nuclear facility in Syria.

        Now what is it, has Israel threatened Iran with annihilation or to attack it’s nuclear facilities Osirik style?

        I am not suffering from Holocaust sickness, don’t you worry, but neither will I embrace people like Ahmadinejad purely for condemning Israel. I once wrote that the Mossad couldn’t invent a better opponent, and I still think that is the case, although lately he seems to be out of the limelight, and maybe is more controlled himself.

      • Citizen on April 10, 2012, 2:01 pm

        LeaNder, of course Israel has not declared it want to destroy Iran, or the Iranian people. Did Hitler or Stalin ever make such a public declaration about any country or people it sought to control? Imperial Japan or Mussolini’s Italy?

        So you won’t “embrace people like Ahmadinead purely for condemning Israel”?

        Jeez, maybe Churchill was right when he said “The Germans, they are either at your throat or at your feet.”

        Quit being such a stupid commenter.
        Do you know the extent of the economic sanctions on the Iranian people? Do you think Grass is wrong and your country should keep giving “reparations” to Israel in the form of nuclear-arm-ready subs?

      • lysias on April 10, 2012, 2:42 pm

        Ahmadinejad is in a real sense a creation of the Bush administration. If the Bush administration had not rejected Iran’s offer of a grand bargain in 2003, Ahmadinejad would probably not have been elected president in 2005.

      • LeaNder on April 10, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Jeez, maybe Churchill was right when he said “The Germans, they are either at your throat or at your feet.”

        Since you have Germans among your ancestors you no doubt must know it from experience. Does it still show in your case? Why should I like him, do I have to?

        Did Hitler or Stalin ever make such a public declaration about any country or people it sought to control? Imperial Japan or Mussolini’s Italy?

        Your blood pressure clearly dwindles your intelligence. Relax.

        I am not for sanctions and I am not for an attack either by the US or by Israel or by both, since people that I trust tell me that the pressure from the outside actually keeps the mullah’s in power.

      • Citizen on April 11, 2012, 12:49 am

        LeaNder, what do you have against the mullahs that you don’t have against the Zionists in charge of Israel?

        And you didn’t answer my question responding to your naivete.
        Grow up.

      • LeaNder on April 11, 2012, 2:08 am

        simple answer, citizen, I like some Israelis, and I like some Iranians, I don’t like any group en masse, least of all us Germans, but I surely don’t like their leaders, I mostly don’t like mine, I don’t like religious fundamentalists of any stripe. I wish people would resolve conflicts instead of starting wars. Yes, I am a dreamer. I wouldn’t vote for Ron Paul, although I was recently pleasantly surprised by his son. Amazing, one man! I find it hard to trust people that once in their life spread racist thought for money and populism. And I sometimes wonder, why for several years now, I find it so hard to simply ignore power, warmongering and politics.

        And I just received this link via mail from Israel, wrote two long responses, and I think I will never see the name in my mailbox again.

      • Citizen on April 11, 2012, 9:47 am

        LeaNder, I think the same about any group en masse and about the current crop of leaders. Are you against Ron Paul’s approach to foreign policy? His approach to monetary policy? His fiscal policy? Why, exactly wouldn’t you vote for Ron Paul? And what, if anything do you like about Ron Paul? What difference do you see in Ron Paul and his son? What surprised you about the latter? Why was it a surprise to you? Do you have the facts on your claim Ron Paul personally spread racist thought for money and votes, or that he knowingly supported that? Do you think Obama does the same thing, a man much younger than Ron Paul so that even a small dip in this racist water makes him more complicit in such activity? How about the other GOP contenders for POTUS?
        What is your take on Grass’s life in his teen years, leading up to him finding himself in the Waffen SS? How much does your own generation understand about growing up in Germany back then? What are your thoughts on these questions?

      • Citizen on April 11, 2012, 9:56 am

        LeaNder, why would you think anyone here would take seriously psycho babble about Grass’s motives for saying what he said? Especially when it is accompanied by statements such as “Israel has never threatened Iran’s existence, whereas Iran’s leaders are constantly vowing to wipe Israel off the map.”
        What Iranian leader has threatened Israel’s existence? What Iranian leader has ever said he/she wants to “wipe Israel off the map?”

        So, what were your two long responses? I assume they were critical. Perhaps, ultimately we agree? Why do you send me that link, but not your two long responses? You don’t even summarize them, just suggest they were critical as you think you will never hear from them again. Why do you play cute? It does not become you.

  6. yourstruly on April 7, 2012, 2:28 pm

    “so far the talk has been of targeted israeli strikes on iranian nuclear facilities?”

    so far? nukes never mentioned? president obama never said “nothing is off the table?”

    and how come ariel sharon’s having sat in on the phalange’s planning session the night before the sabra and shatila massacre of more than 1500 palestinians didn’t disqualify him from becoming prime minister, and thus overseering the fate of the very people he had helped wipe out in lebanon?

    what’s more a past “membership in an organization that planned and carried out wholesale genoide of millions of jews {doesn’t} disqualify grass from criticizing the descendents of those jews for developing a {so-called} weapon of last resort” –


    lest he repeat his earlier mistake by remaining silent,

    it demands that he speak out –

    for himself, germany, israel, the entire world

    long live gunter grass, poet, novelist, humanitarian and friend of the earth

  7. biorabbi on April 7, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Phil, I’m a lapsed Jew on the other side of the spectrum than you. But, Grass hits me quite hard. There is an ugly rich symbolism in Grass condemning Israel(or Netanyahu as he now clarifies).

    1. That a lapsed SS man-boy would launch the diatribe. Would there be a modern-day state of Israel without the Holocaust? Would the UN have supported it? Would there have been a German Jewish aliyah to Palestine in the 30’s? Would a nascent 1948 state of Israel been successful without the Holocaust? On a broader level, would their have been the need(or possibility)of a modern day state of Israel without the vicious anti-semitism of Europe in the 19’nth and 20’nth century? Would there have been a Russian aliyah without the blood libel and the Czarist aktions against the Jew? And would the reflexive support of the United States Jew have been as supported for Israel(then and now)without the specter of the Holocaust? And would it have taken fifty years for a Phil Weiss, a Peter Beinart, or MJ Rosenberg to make their bones regarding The Jewish Question? I have no problem for Mr. Grass’ children or grandchildren to lambast Israel, but there is certainly metaphorical blood on the poet’s hands. For there is a direct linkage between Mr. Grass’ earlier vision and the perceived need for(and I would argue for the successful creation)of Israel.

    2. The issue of selective condemnation. Where is condemnation of the Iranian leadership embrace of Holocaust denial? of sponsoring Holocaust Denial meeting attended by the likes of David Duke et al? It would seem to me Mr. Grass is in a unique position to condemn this aspect of the Iranian regime.
    “It happened. I know. I was there. The people where whipped into a mass hysteria against the Jew. Without my generation’s anti-semitism, would the zionism experiment have succeeded?” But, we get silence. Only Israel are our misfortune or Bibi is behind the worlds misfortune.

    I am appalled by Mr. Grass’ comments because of who he is and who he was.

    • sciri21 on April 7, 2012, 5:28 pm

      “The issue of selective condemnation”

      Your point would be stronger if Grass was Iranian. He’s German and he’s criticizing his own country’s government for selling nuclear subs to Israel. Why should that be less important to him than Holocaust denial in Iran? As bad as Holocaust denial is, it really has nothing to do with policy. It’s purely rhetorical

      “direct linkage between Mr. Grass’ earlier vision . . .”

      So, is Mr. Grass supposed to go back in a time machine and undo the Holocaust, which would’ve happened even if he had never been born?

    • yourstruly on April 7, 2012, 6:53 pm

      answers to some of your questions –

      Q – would there have been a modern state of israel without the holocaust?
      A – most likely not

      Q – would a nascent state of israel in 1948 have been successful without the holocaust.
      A – by success do you mean would the settlers have been able to pull off a nakba?

      Q – would there have been a russian aliyah without the blood label and tzarist actions against against the jew?
      A – hard to say, even without persecution the poverty in eastern europe was a powerful motivator for people to emigrate

      Q – where is the condemnation of the iranian leadership embrace of holocaust denial?
      A – my gosh, where are your priorities, holocaust denial doesn’t kill, nukes do.

      Q – would the reflexive support of the u.s. jew been as supportive of israel (then and now) without the spectre of the holocaust?
      A – most definitely not because prior to wwii there was marginal interest in palestine among jewish-americans. and in case you haven’t noticed, right now that interest is dissipating. by the way support for israel never was reflexive. if it were there wouldn’t have been “areflexive” holdouts such as myself among many others.

      Q – would it have taken 50 years for phil weiss et al to make their bones regarding the jewish question?
      A – by jewish question do you mean how did world jewry allow zionists to steal their religion?

      as for there being metaphorical blood on gunter grass’ hands, what kind of blood is there on the hands of ariel sharon, the general who not only planned the ’82 u.s.- backed israeli invasion of lebanon (16,000 dead) but on the eve of sabra and shatila (upwards of 1500 dead) sat in as the phelange leaders prepared for the next couple days slaughter. but did his having blood stained hands prevent him from becoming prime minister? and as such did he not exercise authority over palestinians?

      so the question isn’t how can a former ss trooper criticize israel for having nukes, (which is nothing but an old-fashioned attack on the messenger), but whether its nukes do endanger an already fragile world peace.

    • on April 7, 2012, 8:42 pm

      where is Jewish condemnation of Israeli assassination of Iranian scientists?

      Iran did NOT deny the holocaust, but Israelis DID and DO kill innocent people on a regular basis.

      the world grows increasingly weary — and aware — of such moral blindness.

    • on April 7, 2012, 8:50 pm

      “That a lapsed SS man-boy would launch the diatribe.”

      maybe now you can appreciate why Americans might be incensed that a former IDF soldier has access to major media to propagandize the American people.

    • Woody Tanaka on April 8, 2012, 12:34 am

      Wow, biorabbi, what a grotesque display.

      First, no, Grass is no responsible for the holocaust. Sorry. He was an assistant gunner in a tank. Nothing more. You want to judge him for that? Fine. But to go beyond that, even trying to hide what can only be described as bigotry behind expressions like “metaphorical blood,” is despicable. You are saying is “He is a German who fought in the war, and even if he committed no crimes and did nothing wrong, simply because he is German who fought in the war, he has no moral right to judge the Jews.” Well, stuff that. He has every right, as does every person in the world. And if you don’t like it, it is because your thinking has been warped, not his.

      Second, I hate to break it to you, but holocaust denial may be unhistorical, unseemly and stupid, but it, in and of itself, is not worse than a preemptive attack on another state, as Israel has repeatedly threatened with Iran, and is probably not worse than a nuclear-armed state threatening such an attack. David Duke is a crank, yes. BFD. I’d rather have 6 billion holocaust denying cranks sit around talking about it than to have one person killed in a war. Only a monster would wish otherwise.

      Third, if you believe that Grass has been silent on the crimes of the Nazis then you are a moron. An absolute dirt-eating idiot.

      That is all.

    • Citizen on April 8, 2012, 10:15 am

      biorabbi, would you be equally appalled by a Jew who fought for the future Jewish state as a teen-ager, participating in the Nakba, and, having survived the war, gradually lived and learned and with the advantage of years, pursued education, self-awareness, wisdom, and came to speak out against the occupation?

      Were you once a teen-ager growing up while your country was nearing, engaged in war? And did you enlist or get conscripted while still a teen? Somehow I doubt it.
      Many young Americans did–I was one of them. Every war fought in my lifetime, especially beginning with the Vietnam War, was a mistake in my opinion. Iraq was the biggest mistake, and now we are looking at Iran.

      Grass volunteered for submarine service as a way to escape lower middle class life but he was never accepted; later, shortly after he turned age 17, he was drafted into the 10th SS Panzer Division.

      In my experience, this aspect of his life time-line differs little from many Americans I’ve known. Too bad more of them have not grown wiser over the years as adults like Mr Grass did.

    • dahoit on April 8, 2012, 1:01 pm

      From such statements conspiracy theorists leap out of between the lines.
      Every IDF member who has shot at Palestinian children,women and unarmed civilians are more guilty than any 17 year old last ditch draftee shooting at allied warplanes,sorry hasbarite.
      If Grass had condemned the Muslims,why do I have a feeling his detractors would be admirers?

  8. Talkback on April 7, 2012, 4:05 pm

    “In the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer, a weekly columnist, devoted his Friday essay to Mr. Grass under the headline “The Moral Blindness of Günter Grass.”

    Haaretz is to liberal to publish my short comment to his article. I wrote:
    “The argumental emptyness of Anshel Pfeffer.”

  9. DICKERSON3870 on April 7, 2012, 4:06 pm

    RE: “It [Grass’ poem] speaks against ‘the burdensome lie’ of silence… It asks: why should Germany not speak the truth now, precisely because of its self-knowledge of the wrong of wars of aggression.” ~ Weiss


    ITEM ONE – Nietzsche and the Nazis, 2006, PG, 166 minutes
    [A LECTURE] Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party drew upon the works of famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to justify their World War II atrocities and quest for power. In this documentary, professor Stephen Hicks explores Nietzsche’s teachings and determines whether the Nazis correctly interpreted their meaning. History buffs and philosophy enthusiasts alike will appreciate the thorough examination Hicks conducts of this controversial topic.
    Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD
    Nietzsche and the Nazis 1 of 2 (VIDEO, 1:11:24) –
    Nietzsche and the Nazis 2 of 2 (VIDEO, 1:34:52) –

    ITEM TWO – Italian Fascism in Color, 2007, NR, 100 minutes
    Using period letters, secret memos, rare archival footage and expert interviews, this documentary traces the rise of Mussolini’s fascist Italian government after World War I to its violent downfall in the throes of World War II. This penetrating exploration of Il Duce’s rule reveals why his efficient administration was initially admired across the globe as well as the reasons his growing allegiance with Nazi Germany sealed his fate.
    Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD
    The Rise of Italian Fascism
    Part 1 – missing
    Part 2 – missing
    Part 3 –
    Part 4 –
    Part 5 –
    Fascism In Color, Mussolini In Power
    Parts 1 thru 5 –…9599.18411.0.26578.

  10. DICKERSON3870 on April 7, 2012, 4:20 pm

    RE: “He [Grass] admitted that he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a boy and believed at the time in the group’s aims…” ~ Kulish & Bronner


    (excerpt) The Betar Movement (בית”ר, also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. Betar has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group Irgun Zevai Leumi. It was one of many right-wing movements and youth groups arising at that time out of a worldwide emergence of fascism.[1] Some of the most prominent politicians of Israel were Betarim in their youth, most notably Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, the latter of whom idolized Jabotinsky.[2]…
    . . . The group initially praised Mussolini for his anti-communism and fascist principles, leading it to adopt the black uniform shirt of Italian fascism for a short period. Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, however, was seen as “cowardly” by Betar and led them to break with him shortly after.[8]…

    SOURCE –

    P.S. ALSO SEE: The Hidden History of Zionism, Chapter 6, by Ralph Schoenman

    (excerpt) . . . Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.
    When Menachem Begin became chief of Betar, he preferred the brown shirts of the Hitler gangs, a uniform Begin and Betar members wore to all meetings and rallies – at which they greeted each other and opened and closed meetings with the fascist salute. . .

    SOURCE –

  11. Philip Munger on April 7, 2012, 4:47 pm

    I do like the Keefer/Mintz translation. Like Heather Horn’s, written for The Atlantic, it resonates. I wonder how many languages the poem has been translated into over the past four days?

    As I wrote at firedoglake early this morning, in an essay on Grass’ poem, “It is being quickly spread, along the lines of multi-lingual, global, 21st century Samidzat. And, like a piece of 1960s Samidzat that went viral, the authorities, knowing it is impossible to stop the word, seek to either belittle the author or claim he is something of an anti-Semitic ex-Nazi.””what-must-be-said”-and-increasingly-assertive-criticism-by-artists-of-israeli-policies/

  12. sciri21 on April 7, 2012, 5:18 pm

    Tom Segev is a hack

    He says that there’s supposedly a “vibrant” debate in Israel about Iran, yet he himself opts to simply repeat right-wing Israeli propaganda on Iran

    Rather than participate in the “vibrant debate” taking place in his homeland, he decides to attack and smear a writer in Germany for daring to express his views on the matter

    Anyone else see the irony?

  13. Thomson Rutherford on April 7, 2012, 6:05 pm

    … German silence in the face of Israeli wrongs, because of the preemptive operation of self-censorship through an accurate awareness of guilt.

    Accurate? With few exceptions, present-day Germans are not guilty of events that happened 67+ years ago. Get over it, people! Stop letting industrial-grade accusers send you on that guilt trip for their own nefarious purposes.

  14. Sin Nombre on April 7, 2012, 6:29 pm

    biorabbi wrote:

    “But, Grass hits me quite hard. There is an ugly rich symbolism in Grass condemning Israel…

    The issue of selective condemnation….”

    Alright, let’s talk about “selective condemnation.”

    Salomon Morel was a Polish communist who rose in the ranks after the Germans were defeated and became the commandant of the prison at Lublin castle where, as Wikipedia unequivocally states it, many anti-communists were tortured and killed. Morel then became the commandant of what Wikipedia once again unequivocally states as the “infamous” Zgoda camp, which had been set up by the Soviet KGB. Prisoners sent there needn’t even have been charged with any crimes, just sent there by the communist secret police. And sometimes even their children were sent there. As Wikipedia once again says unequivocally “It is estimated that close to 2,000 inmates died in the camp where torture and abuse of prisoners were chronic and rampant.”

    For what it’s worth—nothing in my view—many of those at Zgoda were ethnic Germans who found themselves on Polish soil after the war.

    After the communists fell Morel moved to Israel. In 1998 under the new, democratic Polish government, Poland requested Morel’s extradition to face war crime charges.

    The Israeli gov’t refused, saying … the statute of limitations had run out on war crimes.

    In 2005, another extradition request was made to Israel together with fresh evidence and that charge that Morel had committed “communist crimes against the population,” including the starvation and torture of prisoners. As Wikipedia states, the new evidence was based on the testimony of “over 100 witnesses, including 58 former inmates of the Zgoda camp.” This request was again formally refused by the Israeli government. In addition to rejecting extradition on the grounds that the statute of limitations against Morel had run out, Israel said it was possible he might be the subject of an anti-semitic conspiracy.

    So you know, biorabbi, the unnatural deaths of non-jews counts a little too. And among the beasts of men have been a good many non-gentiles too, believe it or not.

    Next time you wanna talk about the Holocaust and the Germans and the Nazis then, let’s remember how “selective” that can be.

  15. eGuard on April 7, 2012, 6:34 pm

    Of course, NYT did not add a grain of weight to the intellectual discussion. It did not even publish the poem.

    More important is: what were the best rebukes of Grass, if any? Both Eli Wiesel and Netanyahu popped up with a presdictable, grotesque, and empty rejection. Other writers and historans did not make a dent (SS background? So you ar wrong. Criticizing Isreal? Anti-Semite). So that covers: Wiesel, Netanyahu, Segev, Reich-Ranicki (all nuts they show they are).

    The only one who could add something is Frank Schirrmacher, editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung (FAZ), Feuilleton section (the cultural/background section of that paper) . And what did he write? This: analysing the poem is like deconstructing an IKEA “Billy” bookshelf FAZ, 4-4-2012. First of al mr Schirrmacher, noone ever has a problem with deconstructing IKEA stuff. It is the constructing time that causes trouble. How come this mistake of image? Then, since you anologue a poem with a bookshelf: why bother to deconstruct a poem at all? You end up with debris, as you say, but why attack it with your screwdriver in the first place? The poet has put the IKEA poem stuff together nicely.

    Really, mr Schirrmacher, you adding “1934” and “Holocaust-Leugner [denier]” and “Herkunft” [background, as in family] to the discussion says it all. (“Die Herkunft zwang ihn [Grass] zur Lüge [denial]”). Nietsche’s „imaginären Rache“? — sure for someone it is.

    You still have to prove that Grass is wrong, mr Schirrmacher. Why should not a former SS-member prevent a war?

  16. mdesch on April 7, 2012, 7:13 pm

    I think the Grass poem is resonating broadly because it touches on at least two related issues: The establishment of Isreal was supposed to make Jews safer by not only “normalizing” them but also giving them a homeland in which they would be safe from another Holocaust. Of course, that was not quite the result so to achieve that end, Israel (with foreign help and our connivance) developed a nuclear arsenal to ensure the security of the Jewish homeland. Despite a nuclear arsenal the size of France’s, the current government in Israel claims to see an existential threat from a country with no nuclear weapons while ignoring the real existential threat to Isreal’s continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state: the occupation and the slow death of the two-state solution. Grass’s poem is a moderate and eloquent exposé of the ludicrous situation we’re in today; a perspective that is scandalously absent from much of our public discussion. He predicted his poem would be dismissed as antisemitic, and his own scandals provide the Likud Lobby with a way to change the subject, but the basic truth at the heart of it is powerful.

    • Sumud on April 8, 2012, 5:09 am

      Of course, that was not quite the result so to achieve that end, Israel (with foreign help and our connivance) developed a nuclear arsenal to ensure the security of the Jewish homeland.

      I don’t think Israel developed nuclear weapons to ensure the security of the Jewish homeland – after all, who was actually threatening them…? No-one of repute.

      Except for the first few weeks after May 1948 before the weapons arrived from Czechoslovakia there has never been any questions of Israel’s security. Pre-state militias and then the IDF invaded the Palestinian partition in 1947/48 and 1949. Israel joined with France and England to invade Egypt in 1956. Israel invaded Egypt and Syria in 1967. These are not the actions of a country that fears for it’s safety.

      Even in 1973, when Egypt actually attacked Israel (after two years of warnings by Sadat), the only thing in question was Israel’s occupation of the Sinai, not the security of Israel itself. Still, the nuking of Cairo was threatened.

      The primary target of Israel’s nuclear weapons is Palestinians, not in the immediate sense, but in that Israel uses nuclear weapons to continue perpetrating the Nakba. Think about why Israel hasn’t accepted the now decade-old Arab Peace Initiative. It’s more than reasonable, all Israel has to do is withdraw from the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Easy. But they don’t, and they won’t.

      If Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt joined forces and decided to liberate *only* the occupied Palestinian territories by military force what would Israel do? Get their spokespeople on every TV in the world jabbering about a new holocaust against the jews, meanwhile reaching for their version of the nuclear football. Would they use it? Can you say conclusively no? I can’t. That’s the ‘hot’ scenario, what happens when the world is overwhelming demanding of Israel that it end apartheid and transition to a single multi-ethnic state, as will surely happen in the next decade or so? How many of those neo-nazi jewish kids that keep popping up at rallies and shopping centres screaming “death to arabs” will have access to the IDFs nuclear arsenal. It only takes one nut job, and Israel has them by the dozen.

      • Fredblogs on April 9, 2012, 3:28 pm

        Israel hasn’t accepted the Arab “peace” initiative because it isn’t an offer, it is an invitation to bargain and contains a Trojan Horse, of a “just” settlement of the refugee issue. The only “just” solution according to the Arabs is that Israel allow itself to be voted out of existence by a flood of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. It is a propaganda piece, not a serious offer of peace.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 9, 2012, 5:05 pm

        Nonsense. The term says “[a]ttain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194.”

        If this was just a propaganda piece and not a serious offer, there would be no provision that the solution be one “to be agreed upon.” In other words, it has to be a solution which is agreeable to both sides — by this term the Arabs specifically concede that there would not be a flood of refugees, because the Israelis wouldn’t agree to that and the Arabs know it. Rather, sometimes the devil has to win a little in order for a bigger justice to be achieved.

        But the Israelis don’t want “peace,” they was Palestine, piece by piece until all that remains of the Israelis’ cancerous spread is the final Nakba of the Palestinians.

      • Sumud on April 10, 2012, 3:47 am

        Thanks Woody – you have it spot on.

        If anyone can reasonably claim the Arab Peace Initiative contains a ‘trojan horse’ it is Palestinians, especially Palestinian refugees.

        The API insists on implementation of international law with regards to all issues *except* that of refugees. On that single issue it is flexible and says it will accept whatever the two parties agree is a just solution. If the parties agree that not a single refugee will return to Israel – in contradiction of international law – the API is OK with that. If they agree that all refugees will be accord their legal rights of return, API is OK with that also.

        All members of the Arab League support API, as do all 50+ members of the OIC, including Iran. One decade after it has been proposed Israel is still yet to make a formal response.

  17. CloakAndDagger on April 7, 2012, 9:45 pm

    Hypocrisy indeed. As Grass is ashamed for his country, I am ashamed for mine. I was reminded of it again today as I watched this recent video by Anthony Lawson:

    • dahoit on April 8, 2012, 1:25 pm

      Wow,that video made me want to go get a gun and start shooting the evil bastards.
      Oops!Sorry,DHS,just acting out!

    • AlGhorear on April 10, 2012, 3:56 pm

      Wow, that video packs punch. It was especially powerful when it juxtaposed Israel’s murderous rampages with the US Congress standing ovations and cheering on Netanyahu.

  18. piotr on April 7, 2012, 10:07 pm

    “I have no problem for Mr. Grass’ children or grandchildren to lambast Israel, but there is certainly metaphorical blood on the poet’s hands. ”

    This is false, false, false. The only problem is that Grass is famous and critical.

    When Lady Ashton had temerity to say we should remember deaths of all children who tragically died, the cudgel of “anti-Semitism” was out swinging. If Grass did not have a unique priviledge of being canon fodder at the age of 17 there would be something else, be it dirty underwear or appalling tobacco habit. “Blood libel” accusations etc. are as selective as automatic machine guns in the border zone between East and West Germany: activated by motion detectors, no thinking required.

    • Citizen on April 8, 2012, 10:34 am

      piotr, exactly right–Grass was teen-age cannon-fodder when he was drafted into an SS Panzer Division.

  19. dbroncos on April 7, 2012, 10:46 pm

    “I am appalled by Mr. Grass’ comments because of who he is and who he was.”

    Which is to say the problem is with the messenger, not the message. We hear this refrain over and over from Zionists. They can’t argue the case for Israel so instead they attack any and all of Israel’s critics. It’s all they have left.

    • Thomson Rutherford on April 7, 2012, 11:56 pm

      What’s wrong with the messenger? I don’t see it.

    • biorabbi on April 8, 2012, 12:18 am

      Replies to various commenters.

      Yes, I completely agree with the assumption the state of Israel would not have been created in 1948 without the Holocaust. The trauma, the dislocation of pople, the terror all created conditions for the successful creation for Israel.

      Imagine a world without the Shoah. The Jewish population of eastern europe and Germany would have continued the process of assimilation. The admonitions of Jabotinsky and Begin to ‘eliminate the diaspora before the diaspora eliminates you’ would be a discredited joke. Yes, a few religious Jews might have chosen to live in Palestine in a minority status, as would Christians, but this was already the case from the 16’nth century to the 19’nth century mark.

      The displacement of the Palestinians from their land would not have occurred without the holocaust. In Poland alone I believe something to the tune of 90-95 % of the prewar Jewish population of 3 million was exterminated by the Nazis. Without this historical calamity, the catastrophe of the Palestinian people would not have occurred. And all of this because of a modern day blood libel initiated by Mr. Grass’ countrymen.

      The ‘zionist’ motif of Judaism for 2000 years was one of the spirit of ‘If I forget you, oh Jerusalem….’ and so on. It was the Nazi genocide of Jews in Europe which led to the conflict we are fighting over today.

      Imagine an ex clansmen who became a poet emeritus somewhere and wrote eloquent prose. He hid his past, became a humanist, a secular voice for change, then wrote an opus against affirmative action and why affirmative action is evil, threatening racial harmony; would his past have relevance?

      • Sumud on April 8, 2012, 10:08 am

        The displacement of the Palestinians from their land would not have occurred without the holocaust.

        On what basis do you say that?

        The Nakba occurred because zionists wanted to have as much land as possible with as few Palestinians as possible. The holocaust did not change that, unless you are claiming that some or all of the 6 million would have made their way to Palestine therefore negating the fact that Palestine was overwhelming populated by, well – Palestinians, in 1948.

      • Citizen on April 8, 2012, 10:40 am

        biorabbi, your imaginary ex clansman would’ve had to have grown up in deep south and been pressured into the clan shortly after his 17th birthday, and with age, uncommon wisdom would have propelled him to come out in favor of affirmative action. Otherwise, your analogy makes no sense.

      • lysias on April 9, 2012, 2:40 pm

        Sen. Robert Byrd had been a member of the Klan in his early 20’s. The future Justice Hugo Black joined the Klan in his mid-30’s. I don’t think many people think these youthful indiscretions discredited either man.

      • Talkback on April 8, 2012, 9:00 pm

        “Yes, I completely agree with the assumption the state of Israel would not have been created in 1948 without the Holocaust.”

        It was not the Holocaust which created Israel, but Jewish separatists.

        “The displacement of the Palestinians from their land would not have occurred without the holocaust.”

        It was not the Holocaust which “displaced” Palestinians , but Jewish separatists.

        “It was the Nazi genocide of Jews in Europe which led to the conflict we are fighting over today. ”

        No. It was Jewish separatism.

        “Imagine a world without the Shoah. The Jewish population of eastern europe and Germany would have continued the process of assimilation. ”

        You make the Holocaust sound like the saviour of Judaism.

  20. biorabbi on April 8, 2012, 12:30 am

    I forgot to add the point of the Holocaust changed Jewry. It created, distorted, changed the image and reality of Judaism. I have extremely deep misgivings about much of this change. Not every 17 year old German joined the SS. There were many who courageously fought against Nazism. Many Germans lost their lives. But without question, Nazism’ final solution to the Jewish problem created the facts on the ground we fight over today, and will continue to fight over.

    I have no idea how to rectify things today. I’m not even sure it is possible.

    There are those who would boycot Israel or support Israel.
    There are those who favor a one state solution or a two state solution.
    There are those who would kick the Palestinians out of the West Bank and there are those who would have the Jews ‘go home’ to Poland or Germany.

    But in looking at Israeli society and Palestinian society, I see only further radicalism, religious fervor, and bloodshed.

    • Citizen on April 8, 2012, 10:42 am

      biorabbi, Grass was drafted into the SS shortly after he turned age 17. He was cannon fodder.

  21. eGuard on April 8, 2012, 6:30 am

    Dear Germans,

    As I see in all publications, both posts and reader comments, it is difficult to discuss this topic as brought up by Gunther Grass.

    But why oh why was it not dicussed before then? Smart writers and politicians, not burdened with Nobel prizes and born after the war: when did you write about it? German’s position re Iran, preventing a (nuclear) war, giving Israel a submarine with nuclear capacity — all should have been clarified years ago not? Why not?

    • atime forpeace on April 8, 2012, 9:54 am

      Hey eguard, i think it’s because anyone who dares try to speak a truth about israel gets smeared by the zionist bund as an anti semite.

      in case you want to look up some examples of what i mean and the reason why neither men nor women too often dare to speak up on israels crimes, look up
      jimmy carter, desmond tutu, mearsheimer and walt, judge goldstone they made a real example of him and attacked him and his grandsons barmitzva, norman finkelstein, mjrosenberg had a whole article in the newyork times trying to get him fired, lets see whom else has been smeared by the dreaded ziobund see if you can search and name a few others, the numbers would astound you.

      basically all classless stuff but what else can one expect from those zionists right?

    • Citizen on April 8, 2012, 10:43 am

      Great Question, eGuard.

  22. Talkback on April 8, 2012, 7:28 am

    biorabbi: “I am appalled by Mr. Grass’ comments because of who he is and who he was.”

    The interior minister of Israel, too. He just declared Grass as a persona non grata.

    Which is quite fascinating, if you consider that the so called spiritual leader of his party Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is so spiritual that he called for the genocide of Palestinians (2001) and hat Gentiles only exist to serve Jews.

    Do you think that Grass is considered a persona non grata in Israel because òf his lack of spirituality?

  23. Talkback on April 8, 2012, 7:34 am

    Martin v. Creveld:
    “We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. … We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under”

    Grass is right. Israel is the global threat not Iran.

  24. basimz on April 8, 2012, 8:27 am

    Re GG’s Poem.

    If WWII was truly won, the defeated (Germany, and most of Eastern Europe) should have been forced to welcome back it’s close-to annihilated Jewish citizery and the billions of DM that were spent to settle them in a country ( Palestine ) that has always welcomed Jews but whose citizens were ultimately and equally cleansed from their homeland.
    These DMs should have been spent in Germany and Eastern Europe on Jewish repatriation to their true homeland.

  25. Marlene on April 8, 2012, 3:06 pm

    There were many people who were forced to serve during the Nazi regime who did not support it. But the major difference is that those who would oppose it would certainly go to their deaths as compared to those who refuse to serve in Israel and go to jail for a few months. This is not to underestimate anyone who is noble enough to stand up for their convictions in the face of overwhelming opposition, but death is a finality.

    The criticisms should not be against Gunter Grass because he once served in the Waffen SS, but the condemnations reserved for those who have the utmost audacity to walk in the same footsteps and at the same time dare to say “I accuse.” The term “anti-semitism” has also been so misused to silence dissent, and it is incorrectly applied (although a coined term) beccause all Jews are not semites, and all semites are not Jews…but Arabs are considered semitic…so perhaps it’s time that the term anti-semitism should be re-applied.

    Therefore, I accuse Israel of being anti-semitic in more ways than I could put down here.

  26. Citizen on April 8, 2012, 3:35 pm

    If you look at the history of Grass’s Waffen SS Panzer unit, you will quickly see it didn’t have much time, if any, for atrocities such as those committed on civilians; it came late into the war; about 75% were conscripts, mostly from the land service, and, most briefly, they were sent off to fight the 1st Red Army Tank Corps; then back west to fight the invasion at Normandy. Grass himself was an assistant tank gunner. The unit Frundsberg, like its sister unit Hohenstaufen, suffered a very high casualty rate, up to 80%, which had to be replaced.

    I imagine Grass never revealed he was part of such a unit as he must have figured out merely by serving in the Waffen SS, even as a 17 yr old conscript in the final phases of the war, he’d never have a writing career, let alone a Noble Prize for Literature.

  27. Citizen on April 8, 2012, 4:42 pm

    BTW, those who have read Peeling The Onion know that Grass says that he knew nothing of the Holocaust until the Americans showed him the gruesome pictures during his captivity as a POW. Even then, his initial reaction was one of disbelief. Yet, Grass says he knew that concentration camps existed and he knew the Jews were populating them. Grass’ rendition of events is believable if you take Grass’ point in that book that his childlike gullibility and faith caused him not to inquire further. Thus, at the time in question, Grass was in a state of willful indifference — of refusing to see the true nature of the regime he was serving. Thus, it is believable that many Germans simply did not know of the holocaust on the one hand, but were guilty of willful and criminal indifference on the other. Think about how that applies to the average American from a lower middle class background today, that is, if you actually know intimately any such Americans, as I do.

    As a former grunt myself, I view Grass’ description of his comically ineffective service in the Waffen SS as credible. The Waffen SS is complicated as there were atrocity units and simple warrior units who did nothing but fight enemy armies in the field. Grass is assigned to a woefully untrained unit and never fires a shot. Given the nature of those units at the time and Grass’ brief service, I suspect that Grass had no role in atrocities, especially if you bone up on the military history of his unit during the last year or so of WW2. Despite all this, in the book Grass accepts his guilt for being part of and a supporter of the Third Reich. This part of the book is extremely well done and Grass’ voice is sincere and moving. How many teen-age grunts ever write a book, let alone a Noble Prize winning book?

  28. Kathleen on April 9, 2012, 11:17 pm

    Just noticed Grass has his middle finger up in that picture

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