Writer, poet, playwright, sculptor, artist, and Nobel laureate Grass is regarded as Germany’s most celebrated author.
It credited his first novel, “The Tin Drum,” with restoring honor to German literature “after decades of linguistic and moral destruction.”
It “comes to grips with the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.”
Published in 1959, “The Tin Drum” became one of the most admired and revealing allegories of guilt and complicity. He once said he “believe(d) it….a good thing that a writer does not sit on the side of the victors.” He also called Germany a psychologically damaged society.
His writings stirred controversy. He’s done it again. On April 4, Haaretz headlined, “German Nobel laureate Guenter Grass’ new poem: Nuclear Israel is a threat to world peace,” saying:
Now age 84, his new poem “calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines (able to carry nuclear-armed missiles), and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.”
“Israel’s nuclear potential has been stealthily growing for years,” he said, with no international supervision. Fearing the worst, he added that “Germany could be responsible for a crime that can be foreseen.”
Der Spiegel headlined, “Nobel Laureate Grass Attacks Israel in New Poem,” saying:
“Germany’s most famous living author….sparked outrage in Germany….with the publication of a poem, “What must be said,” in which he sharply criticizes Israel’s policies on Iran.”
In response, Israel’s Berlin Embassy responded as expected, saying:
“What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder.”
“Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate. What also must be said is that Israel is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted.”
“That was true on the day of its founding and it remains true today. We want to live in peace with our neighbors in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Gunter Grass is trying to assign to us as part of the German people’s efforts to come to terms with the past.”
The hypocrisy and duplicity deserve no comment. They explain plenty on their own.
Germany’s Central Council of Jews called the poem an “aggressive pamphlet of agitation.”
Bundestag member Ruprecht Polenz said Grass “has difficulties whenever he comments on politics and is often wrong.” His colleague Philipp Missfelder called the poem “tasteless, ahistorical, and demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the situation in the Middle East.”
Prominent Jewish German writer Henryk Broder also attacked Grass, saying he “always had a problem with Jews, but it has never articulated it as clearly as he has in this ‘poem,’ ”
He “always had a tendency toward megalomania, but this time he is completely nuts.”
Grass was critical of Israel earlier. In a 2001 SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, he addressed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, saying:
“Israel doesn’t just need to clear out of the occupied areas. The appropriation of Palestinian territory and its Israeli settlements are also a criminal activity. That not only needs to be stopped — it also needs to be reversed. Otherwise there will be no peace.”
Then and now Grass performed a valuable service. His prominence gives his remarks special significance. They’re featured worldwide. He touched the right nerve, the same one media scoundrels avoid. He got it right. Why else would he be assailed? He deserves praise, not condemnation.
Israel’s occupation and settlements are illegal. Its open secret is it’s nuclear armed and dangerous. Not only is its arsenal and delivery systems formidable, it threatens to use them preemptively against perceived threats.
In 1986, whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu exposed it. The London Times published dozens of photos and scientific documents he provided. A long-time Dimona nuclear technician, he had access to secret information.
The Times’ article headlined, “Revealed – the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal/Atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu reveals secret weapons production,” saying:
“Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing nuclear atomic warheads for the last 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons,” with yields great enough to destroy entire cities.
Vanunu’s documents were genuine. They proved conclusively that Israel possessed sophisticated technology enabling it “to build up a formidable nuclear arsenal.”
According to Theodore Taylor, a world expert at the time:
“There should no longer be any doubt that Israel is, and for at least a decade has been, a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state….considerably more advanced than (earlier) indicated….”
Other top nuclear scientists agreed. Israel then and now is a world nuclear power. It has sophisticated technology and weapons. Estimates of its arsenal range from 200 – 400 warheads able to destroy entire cities.
For his courageous whistleblowing, Israel abducted him in Rome, secretly tried him, sentenced him to 18 years in prison, held him for years in punishing isolation, harasses him to this day, refuses him permission to leave the country, and denies him all rights.
That’s the price of truth-telling in Israel. That’s how rogue states operate, especially belligerent nuclear powered ones.
Translated, Grass wrote:
“Why I am silent, silent for too much time, how much is clear and we made it in war games, where, as survivors, we are just the footnotes.”
“That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression which could erase the Iranian people dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation, because in the area of his competence there is the construction of the atomic bomb.”
“And then why do I avoid myself to call the other country with its name, where since years – even if secretly covered – there is an increasing nuclear power, without control, because unreachable by every inspection?”
“I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs, which my silence is slave to, as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment we don’t pay attention to; the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.”
“Now, since my country, from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes, obliged to justify itself, again for pure business aims – even if with fast tongue we call it ‘reparation’ – should deliver another submarine to Israel, with the specialty of addressing annihilating warheads where the existence of one atomic bomb is not proved but it wants evidence as a scarecrow, I say what must be said.”
“Why did I stay silent until now? Because the thought about my origin, burdened by an unclearing stain, had avoiding to wait this fact like a truth declared by the State of Israel that I want to be connected to.”
“Why did I say it only now, old and with the last ink: the nuclear power of Israel threat the world peace? Because it must be said what tomorrow will be too late; because – as Germans and with enough faults on the back – we might also become deliverers of a predictable crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.”
“And I admit: I won’t be silent because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy; Because I wish that many will want to get rid of the silence, exhorting the cause of a recognizable risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control of the Israel atomic power and the Iran nuclear bases will be made by both the governments with an international supervision.”
“Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody, all people living hostile face to face in that country occupied by the craziness, will have a way out, so us too.”
A Final Comment
Nuclear armed and dangerous, Israel, like its Washington paymaster/partner, is a world menace. Others need to spread Grass’ words before it’s too late to matter.
He’s a hero for explaining what everyone needs to know. There ought to be a Nobel award for that!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.