Sun Apr 8, 2012, 01:05 PM
Ken Burch (35,907 posts)
Israelis can be angrywith Gunter Grass but they must listen to him(Gideon Levy, HAARETZ)
After we denounce the exaggeration, after we shake off the unjustified part of the charge, we must listen to the condemnation of these great people.
By Gideon Levy
The harsh, and in some parts infuriating, poem by Gunter Grass of course immediately sparked a wave of vilifications against it and mainly against its author. Grass indeed went a few steps too far (and too mendaciously ) - Israel will not destroy the Iranian people - and for that he will be punished, in his own country and in Israel. But in precisely the same way the poem's nine stanzas lost a sense of proportion in terms of their judgment of Israel, so too the angry responses to it suffer from exaggeration. Tom Segev wrote in Haaretz: "Unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently confided in him, his opinion is vacuous." ("More pathetic than anti-Semitic," April 5 ). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned Grass' Nazi past, and Israeli embassies in Germany went so far as to state, ridiculously, that the poem signified "anti-Semitism in the best European tradition of blood libels before Passover."
It is doubtful that Grass intended his poem to be published on the eve of Passover. It contains no blood libel. In fact, it is the branding of it as anti-Semitic that is a matter of tradition - all criticism of Israel is immediately thus labeled. Grass' Nazi past, his joining the Waffen SS as a youth, does not warrant shutting him up some 70 years later, and his opinion is far from vacuous. According to Segev, anyone who is not a nuclear scientist, an Israeli prime minister or an Iranian president must keep silent on the stormiest issue in Israel and the world today. That is a flawed approach.
Grass' "What Must Be Said" does contain things that must be said. It can and should be said that Israel's policy is endangering world peace. His position against Israeli nuclear power is also legitimate. He can also oppose supplying submarines to Israel without his past immediately being pulled out as a counterclaim. But Grass exaggerated, unnecessarily and in a way that damaged his own position. Perhaps it is his advanced age and his ambition to attract a last round of attention, and perhaps the words came forth all at once like a cascade, after decades during which it was almost impossible to criticize Israel in Germany.
That's the way it is when all criticism of Israel is considered illegitimate and improper and is stopped up inside for years. In the end it erupts in an extreme form. Grass' poem was published only a few weeks after another prominent German, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Sigmar Gabriel, wrote that there is an apartheid regime in Hebron. He also aroused angry responses. Therefore it is better to listen to the statements and, especially, finally, to lift the prohibition against criticizing Israel in Germany.
(note: my own view is that the poem went wrong-as Grass himself has now stated, admitting he should have rewritten it, but that the man doesn't deserve the total vilification he's received. He did not step over the line and cross into antisemitism).
7 replies, 2753 views
Israelis can be angrywith Gunter Grass but they must listen to him(Gideon Levy, HAARETZ) (Original post)
|Ken Burch||Apr 2012||OP|
|Bodhi BloodWave||Apr 2012||#4|
Response to Bodhi BloodWave (Reply #4)
Mon Apr 9, 2012, 02:15 PM
aranthus (2,772 posts)
6. Did you read the first post in this thread?
Last edited Mon Apr 9, 2012, 05:53 PM - Edit history (1)
Gideon Levy calls Grass mendacious for claiming that Israel would destroy the Iranian people. Of course that's a dishonest statement by Grass. Now he is claiming that he only intended to to criticize Netanyahu, however, a reading of the poem proves that to be false. So he's lied about that too. As for being a fool. The entire poem is utter foolishness, showing that Grass has little grasp fo the realities of this world.
Response to Bodhi BloodWave (Reply #4)
Mon Apr 9, 2012, 03:09 PM
shira (24,966 posts)
7. The fool says Israel is about to annihilate the Iranian people with nukes
WTF is he talking about?
A strike against Iran's nuclear facilities is not an attempt to annihilate the Iranian people.
Grass has it completely backwards - and IMHO on purpose. Iran is the one threatening Israel with destruction. Iran is the one currently in a proxy war vs. Israel through Hamas and Hezbollah. They are the threat. Israel's mideast neighbors are fully aware of that and they are shitting their pants thinking of starting their own nuclear programs to counter Iran. They know Israel is no threat to them. Iran is a different story altogether.
Grass is either hopelessly ignorant (a fool) or he knows what he's doing and he's an anti-Semite.
Welcome to the new antisemitism. Where black is white, up is down, and bad is good. But only when Jews are involved.