General Antisemitism

What must be said: A former Nazi named Gunter Grass and what Germany owes the Jews

I’ve never believed that children inherit the sins of their ancestors.

In the American context, the history of slavery and segregation (de facto and de jure) doesn’t impute guilt to Americans several generations removed from such hideous institutions, nor does it absolve the nation completely of the profound responsibility of “never again”.

Never again will the U.S. allow any form of institutional racism to reign within its shores.

Similarly, I don’t, in most respects, view modern Germany through a Nazi lens. When I backpacked through Europe in my 20s, and interacted with Germans who must have seen the Star of David prominently displayed beneath my chin, I saw modern, liberal, democratic Europeans unburdened by the bondage of a Judeophobic ethos.

Here’s a poem by a “liberal” German writer named Gunter Grass, dutifully published at the Guardian.

Grass revealed in 2006, 60 years after WWII, that he had been a member of the Nazi Waffen SS during the war.

What must be said

Why have I kept silent, held back so long,

on something openly practiced in

war games, at the end of which those of us

who survive will at best be footnotes?

It’s the alleged right to a first strike

that could destroy an Iranian people

subjugated by a loudmouth

and gathered in organized rallies,

because an atom bomb may be being

developed within his arc of power.

Yet why do I hesitate to name

that other land in which

for years—although kept secret—

a growing nuclear power has existed

beyond supervision or verification,

subject to no inspection of any kind?

This general silence on the facts,

before which my own silence has bowed,

seems to me a troubling lie, and compels

me toward a likely punishment

the moment it’s flouted:

the verdict “Anti-semitism” falls easily.

But now that my own country,

brought in time after time

for questioning about its own crimes,

profound and beyond compare,

is said to be the departure point,

(on what is merely business,

though easily declared an act of reparation)

for yet another submarine equipped

to transport nuclear warheads

to Israel, where not a single atom bomb

has yet been proved to exist, with fear alone

the only evidence, I’ll say what must be said.

But why have I kept silent till now?

Because I thought my own origins,

Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,

meant I could not expect Israel, a land

to which I am, and always will be, attached,

to accept this open declaration of the truth.

Why only now, grown old,

and with what ink remains, do I say:

Israel’s atomic power endangers

an already fragile world peace?

Because what must be said

may be too late tomorrow;

and because—burdend enough as Germans—

we may be providing material for a crime

that is foreseeable, so that our complicity

will not be expunged by any

of the usual excuses.

And granted: I’ve broken my silence

because I’m sick of the West’s hypocrisy;

and I hope too that many may be freed

from their silence, may demand

that those responsible for the open danger

we face renounce the use of force,

may insist that the governments of

both Iran and Israel allow an international authority

free and open inspection of

the nuclear potential and capability of both.

No other course offers help

to Israelis and Palestinians alike,

to all those living side by side in emnity

in this region occupied by illusions,

and ultimately, to all of us.

There’s so much pathos in Grass’ political “lyricism” its difficult to know where to begin.

  • The Holocaust denying Iranian President who openly seeks the end of the Jewish state – representative of a regime which has provided religious and moral justification for genocide against Israel, a fatwa on the lives of millions of Jews – as merely a “loudmouth”.
  • The classic antisemitic victimological conceit: that criticism of Jews will bring unfair “punishment” over false claims of antisemitism…and, that such critiques of every conceivable sin, real and imagined, of the Jewish state are brave and, yes, rare. Grass is breaking the silence“!
  • The fiction that Israel is considering a nuclear “first strike” against Iran. Anyone following the issue would surely know that the only thing Israel (and, it should be noted, the U.S.) is contemplating is a strike (with conventional weapons) specifically targeting Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.
  • There are at least nine nations with nuclear weapons, yet Grass’ poem is strangely concerned with the nuclear capabilities of just one of those countries – not North Korea, not Pakistan, and not the U.S. (which possesses the largest nuclear arsenal by far with over 5,000 warheads, and the capacity to strike any target in the world).
  • Finally, it is only “Israel’s atomic power [which] endangers an already fragile world peace.

Its truly hard, especially in the context of Grass’ past, not to contextualize this grotesque caricature of a Jewish state which threatens world peace with the Nazi fear of world Jewry, whose very existence was similarly seen as a threat to humanity.

Modern day anti-Zionist imagery includes similar tropes:

Trafalgar Square, London, 2011: Al Quds Day rally organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission

It would be easy to dismiss Grass’ contempt for the Jewish state as a one-off, the musings of a perhaps senile octogenarian former Nazi, but, as a recent essay in ‘Comment is Free’ by Hans Kundnani (editorial director at the European Council on foreign relations) argued, the poem can reasonably be seen in the context  of Germany’s increasing anger at Israel:

what makes the…the poem significant is that it expresses a sense of anger against Israel that – justified or not – many Germans seem increasingly to share. This anger is partly a response to Israel’s rightward shift during the past decade.  But it seems also to be a product of developments in Germany and in particular the way that the Holocaust has receded in significance during the last decade. Increasingly, Germans seem to see themselves as victims rather than perpetrators.

Nearly half of respondents said they saw Israel as an “aggressive country” and only around a third of respondents said they felt Germany had a special responsibility towards Israel. Sixty per cent said Germany had no special responsibility…This anger against Israel is exacerbated by the sense some Germans have of not being able to say what they really think… [emphasis added]

Please, any Germans out there within range of this post, by all means tell me what you think.

We can start off by telling you what I (a Jewish citizen of Israel) really think about what responsibility you have towards us – what you owe the Jews.

To those of you without ancestors who were complicit in Nazi crimes – those who simply inherited the shared national legacy of German’s attempt to annihilate the Jews, all you owe us is a passionate commitment to defend against even the slightest resurgence of antisemitism in your country, and moral seriousness in the face of similar (often murderous) Judeophobia in the larger world (whether from the radical left, the radical right, Islamist movements, or the Republic of Iran.)  That’s what “never again” should mean to you.

To those of you whose parents or grandparents were complicit in the Nazi’s murder of one out of every three Jews on the face of the earth, I think its fair to say that, although you don’t inherit the sins of your fathers, neither can you ignore them.  You have a greater responsibility.

Perhaps, an understanding of what I mean can be derived from a particular Jewish tradition.  

The most profound Jewish principle I came across during my time of study (on the traditions of death and mourning with Judaism) following my father’s death in 1997, and one which I still find relevant and inspiring, was “The merit of the children“.  What this means, according to Jewish tradition, is that the surviving child, by living a moral, just, and purposeful life, can, in the eyes of G-d, redeem the imperfect life of his deceased parent.

At first, the ethical connection between my current life and my father’s previous life (a quite counterintuitive moral calculus) eluded me. How could what I do now in any way effect how the life he once lived is judged? After some time, however, the inspired moral logic became apparent. The way I live my life is necessarily connected to the way he lived his life – serving as a living testament to who he was, as a father, and as a man. For, I am the living embodiment of the sum of his moral life. My virtue inherently emanates from his virtue. I am, after all, and will always be, my father’s son.

So, to Germans struggling with how to deal with the sins of your fathers, the merit you achieve in this world necessarily reflects both on you and your family. It doesn’t provide posthumous moral atonement, but how ethically you behave and the values you teach your children is a powerful testament to the redemption of your family’s name, your country’s honor.

The historical context of your national T’shuvah (recognizing and repenting for a sin) necessarily must involve a responsibility to living Jews, not simply the millions of souls who were murdered (in death camps named Auschwitz, Sobibor, and Treblinka) 65 years ago.

This is what you owe us: a rigorous duty to never again succumb to classic (and still supremely dangerous) antisemitic narratives of Jewish villainy.

And, finally, a quick word to Gunter Grass, who, in your own life, and out of your own volition, was guilty of complicity with indescribable evil:

If this ever gets translated to German I sure hope the admittedly far less than lofty prose I’m about to employ is properly expressed in a manner which native German-speakers can understand.

If you served in the Nazi Waffen SS killing machine, perhaps the best thing you can do when contemplating lecturing Jews on morality – what you owe us, and the world,  if you have even a shred of decency remaining in your soul – is to show humility, feel a healthy degree of shame, and, to please, whatever you do, keep your damn mouth shut!

Gunter Grass' POW record

76 replies »

  1. Israel just banned Grass from entering the country. Its one of those times I feel exceptional pride in the Jewish State, for all too often, Israel acts like it ought to please the worst anti-Semites on earth. Every now and then Jews show they can act with dignity and self-respect. They need to do it more often! Israel owes Grass and his ilk among the nations of the world nothing and that is how it should be!

    • I think that the ban is not a good idea. Israeli society could very easily respond to Grass were he ever to show his face in Israel. (Unlikely anyway).There are German intellectuals, not necessarily supportive if Israel, who are responding on German soil and in German to this outrage with rational thought and condemnation of Grass.

      Our Interior Minister has little respect for free speech. All he and his party know how to do is to subvert the democratic system in Israel to get his party’s hands on my tax money to support the party’s parasites.

    • Grass has not made any generalized bigoted comments about Jews.
      It is simply ludicrous to group him among “the worst anti-Semites on earth“.

      Every now and then Jews show they can act with dignity and self-respect.

      Some do, some don’t – just like any other people on the planet. What’s your point?

      • Pretz, you don’t think that being a Nazi, and member of Waffen SS, allows one to accuse such folks as being among the worse antisemites on the earth? He was a Nazi…and don’t think rhetorical restraint (typically an admirable trait) when criticizing him is a virtue in this case.

  2. “Please, any Germans out there within range of this post, by all means tell me what you think.”

    I feel inclined to raise to the occasion … online polls are currently seeing overall approval ratings for Mr. Grass’ comments here in Germany in the higher 70, lower 80%.
    Financial Times Germany show an online poll with more than half, or 52%, of their readers agreeing with what Mr Grass is saying while another 25% or so find his ideas “worthy of discussion”; and that’s supposed to be the educated part of the population – hmmmm…
    Sorry, but you’re positive experience appears to be a little out-of-synch with the realities this country hides below the surface of a “modern” and “liberal” image…
    There’s a saying here: finally, after 60 years, you can walk the street with a kippa again – so long as you hide it under your hat.
    Cheers, though, and keep up with your good work, you people at cif

    • Ich bin kein Deutscher. Ich bin American. Guenter Grass stinkt !

      His most revealing and truthful work might just be the POW record you posted.

      • well, over here most people still like to think of mr. grass as the best they’ve got — so imagine what must be the worst …

          • Hey Pretz – welcome to the world of the banned and blessed – what was your sin on the dark side?

            • Not sure, really (zero feedback, of course) – but I suspect it was the incessant off-topic waffle I am notorious for.
              (and that’s something my friends and family tell me)

            • @ AKUS

              What do you make of the hateful, bigoted comments from steinzeitmarxist and Dimitri?

              Just kids? Or should they be sectioned?

      • got me, sweetie 😀 so it’s time for the good old ariernachweis again? jolly good indeed, I dare say, the good old gestapo-training pays off, right?
        of course, a clever mind like you sees right through the ruse – but as a necessarv precaution: don’t be so sure of yourself you guardian of national identity

        • so it’s time for the good old ariernachweis again … the good old gestapo-training pays off

          Good God, what a sad little universe you live in.

            • Anybody else here agree that this poster – who called me a Nazi! – is a pathetic scumbag bereft of any kind of moral credibility?

                • OK, Gerald. So you are calling me a Nazi?
                  I’ll remember that once this crazy troll has been banished.

              • pretty obviously yor’re the one who’s not shy of verbal injuriae, but that’s what makes you so typical 😀

                  • now look,dear, I’m really not interested listening to you talking to yourself, so why don’t you do yourself some good have a nice cuppa and do everybody a favour and get lost, all right?

                    • Hilarious!
                      I’m a long-time poster to this site – and an active contributor.

                      All you have to offer is juvenile quips and some fake bollocks about “insights” from Germany.

                      Hab’ dich sowas von erwischt, wa?

  3. Aus dem Kommentarbereich der Welt:

    T-Online: Ist die Kritik von Günter Grass an Israel berechtigt?
    – –
    Ja: 79,7 % (34.718 Stimmen)
    Nein: 18,3 % (7.960 Stimmen)
    Keine Meinung: 2 % (905 Stimmen)
    (43.583 Stimmen, ca. 15:10)
    – –
    – –
    Financial Times Deutschland: Die Israel-Thesen von Günther Grass sind …
    – –
    richtig: 57 %
    diskutabel: 27 %
    irrsinning: 8 %
    gefährlich: 4 %
    antismitisch: 4 %
    (8.428 Stimmen, ca. 15:15)

      • “we”? – how many are you, or do you think you are by the way? though I assume that you may have entirely missed the point I was making I take it that you will now easily refute and demonstrate that these results coming from an online-poll are entirely out-of-sync with all other empirical data on the subject, beginning with the study down by the uni bielefeld in 2011 – be my guest 😀

  4. I don’t know how you go about it , but this article deserves a far wider ranging readership . Any chance you can get it published in one of the German broadsheets plus on line equivalent ?

  5. Grass is sick of western hypocrisy? I would say Grass personifies that hypocrisy; possessing a visceral hostility to the Jewish collective that is paraded as humanitarian concern for world peace. What was the slogan on that SS belt of his – Got mit uns – God is with us – the height of sanctimonious moral degradation. He hasn’t changed much since his youth has he.

  6. An excellent exposure Adam. Grass articulates, what many Germans (and many Europeans for that matter) would like to now project , which is its way of expurgating itself of guilt for what happened. And what better way to do it, but by falsely maintaining that it is Israel, and of course Jews, who are now the threat to world peace. Is this a case of Pontius Pilate washing his hands AGAIN!?

    • An excellent exposure Adam. Grass articulates, what many Germans (and many Europeans for that matter) would like to now project , which is its way of expurgating itself of guilt for what happened.

      Never actually met any Europeans, have you?

      What a horribly bigoted post – with the full thumbs-up from the BTL bigots here, of course.

      • From my limited experience Pretzelberg, it is common today (more so than before) to find the following traits existing in discussion that I have been having with people and have read about speeches in which the following quite often is said in one form or another:. “It happened a long time ago.” “You Jews should get over it.” “Israel are the aggressors when it comes to Palestine”. And so on. The real victims of years of anti-semitism are being forced to consider reliving the potential nightmare of another genocide. It’s mainly in word format at the moment, but it is in physical violence format in specific places including the Middle East of course.It’s not comfortable being a Jew in Toulouse for example. No security at the school door?

        Does this sound familiar Pretz? Why do you think people feel compelled to make these comments? And along comes a Nobel Prize winner, an ex (?) Nazi no less, to falsely remind you that you are the real cause for concern about World Peace. Putting the above comments, which seem to have no limits of any decency, together with Gunther Grass’ views in”poem” format, to give his view some kind of pretentious authenticity of feeling, and the support it gets from a number of quarters, that it is a clear indication that our society in Europe has undergone another transformation. Being anti-semitic no longer carries any stigma. It’s a badge of honour in some quarters and it is gaining ground. If not challenged or checked it becomes open season again.

        That’s not bigotry. That’s a cause for concern.

        Grass is german of course, but the problem is not just limited to Germany, which is my point.

        • it is common today (more so than before) to find the following traits existing in discussion that I have been having with people and have read about speeches in which the following quite often is said in one form or another:. “It happened a long time ago.” “You Jews should get over it.”

          It is far from common in my experience. Perhaps you need some new friends?

          The real victims of years of anti-semitism are being forced to consider reliving the potential nightmare of another genocide.

          Which parallel universe is this in?

          If not challenged or checked it becomes open season again.

          You mean anti-Semitism? No, what you are drescribing is not reality.

          • The real victims of years of anti-semitism are being forced to consider reliving the potential nightmare of another genocide.

            and you ask: “Which parallel universe is this in?”

            In the parallel universe of the UK pretzel, where to preaching the good old blood libel is acceptable by the court.

            Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, this week won his appeal against a deportation order imposed last year, despite the judges’ acceptance that his comments would “offend and distress Israeli Jews and the wider Jewish community”.

          • May I remind you Pretzelberg that it was you who accused me ( and those who clicked)of bigotry.

            You said: “What a horribly bigoted post – with the full thumbs-up from the BTL bigots here, of course.”

            Bigotry against whom? Against Grass? Against Europeans? Against Germans? Against ‘reality’? Against Pretzelberg?

    • Learn to *actually* speak English


      But to think you have so much hatred even for German children dying of leukaemia.

      And you call them “psychotic fucks”???

      • “But to think you have so much hatred even for German children dying of leukaemia.”

        What we have here is:
        1. A naked appeal to emotion
        2. Completely unrelated to what I said

        That’s two layers of bullshit between you and whatever point you’re trying to make.

        • Its completely related to what you said.

          You called all Germans “psychotic fucks” and seem to think that even kids have sins to atone from the moment they’re born.

          What sick biblical passage did you get that from?

  7. This so couled poet Grass don’t really care what the radical Muslims think about Israel he has plenty of them in Germany and he and other Germans hate them, this is his chance to show the true him and his feelings about Jews , still Nazi antisemite born in the time of Hitler and fed this antisemitism from the day he was born, fed his children and grandchildren same, he still lives in the glory of III Reich in his dreams, as saying that he in anyway cares about Iran it’s a lie, it’s a chance for him to say what he feels under cover of this poem,there is many others in Germany like him ex Nazi soldiers who indoctrinate they children and grandchildren with this Nazi antisemitism.He should have been in prison for life! I wonder how many Jews he killed in WWII?

  8. What difference does it make to day We have lost 6 million (MILLION) Jews
    They have brought us to the bottom of hell but we did not disappear we are here – This is a constant reminder of their failure – They can say what ever they want it does no longer matter we know what we have lost we know what they did to us and this in itself has tainted them for life – We shall go ahead we will strive for a better world free of prejudice and we shall succeed. From day one we are taught to be fair just and respect others We gave them the LAW the code of ETHICS so that they could live as they should have done THEY FAILED.

  9. i gave a talk to germans in a jewish-german dialogue in the usa in which is said that if germans wanted to be proud about their identity, they could lead the world community in denouncing the genocidal anti-semitism in the muslim world today, have exhibits in all their muslim-country embassies and consulates about the protocols of the elders of zion, and the response i got was, “i didn’t come here to listen to someone bash muslims…”

    • which is said that if germans wanted to be proud about their identity, they could lead the world community in denouncing the genocidal anti-semitism in the muslim world today

      The German government is already more outspoken about anti-Semitism than any other except Israel’s.

      I think Germans can be proud about their identity without “exhibits in all their muslim-country embassies and consulates about the protocols of the elders of zion”.

      Please do try to have a more open mind when it comes to the rest of the world.

    • yes. when i was there last year, a number of them said, we’re more afraid of our own fascism than islamic fascism. (i’m saying what they wouldn’t even say in the second part of that comparison.)

  10. I don’t understand why people are so upset about this, the poem seems pretty balanced in it’s criticism.

    The Israeli’s would lose any kind of moral high-ground (real or not) should they attack Iran, this needs to be said.

    And of course, the way the Palestinians have been treating is a disgrace, the more leaders and artists talking about this issue the better, IMO.

    • You are void of comprehension re A) the subject of the Palestinian just to get you reading a little go before 1948 and see what happened to the Jewish people in the then Palestinian territory OK if you do not see the picture then I am sorry for you and I will waste no more time on your rhetoric

      B) By now the Jewish people would have thought that this hatred by a man of Mr Gross calibre having received the Nobel prize for the Jews/Zionist/Israeli would have been understood – He would have seen what is happening in Israel the constant DEATH threats they are facing if they let their guard down – It is not the case A leopard never changes his spots – Mr Gross is a living SS NAZI those who made respectable German Jewish citizen walk naked on their knees in the park on a Sunday afternoon Having forced their spouses to climb on trees and tweet tweet like birds lmeanwhile those SS were looking up the skirts of these DECENT MARRIED WOMEN and MOCKING them as if they were less than nothing.

      DO you get the message I doubt it –

      • Elliot, I’m a little confused that you would accuse me of rhetoric, I am sincerely expressing my opinion, beyond a desire to discuss the issues, I have nothing to gain from this.

        I’m quite familiar with history by the way, the lesson does not need to be repeated. Rather than looking back to past events, wouldn’t it be better if sides could find a way to co-exist, either as one unified country (I suggest Israelastine or Palesrael) or two sovereign neighbors?

        My concern (and it should be everyone’s) is with what is happening right now, not 50 years ago and certainly not 2000 years ago. The aggressive threats on both sides are a disgrace and can only lead to tragedy.

        As for Grass, well I have read in recent days that he was a young man (17 I believe) when he was drafted and has since gone on to speak out against the horrors of his people, far from a living Nazi (now who’s engaging in rhetoric?).

    • it’s hard to know whether to take you seriously. adam laid out the problems at the start of this posting. did you read it? do you think it’s “normal” for someone to a) impute to israel a desire to exterminate the iranians by nuking them when that’s never been suggested by anyone, and b) ignore the desire to exterminate the israelis by nuking them, which has repeatedly been suggested by the iranian leadership, in order to condemn the israelis? if you’re fair-minded, i assume you can’t find that the discourse of a sound moral person.
      as for the palestinians, the way they’ve been treated is a disgrace, but the onus is on the arabs (and the palestinian leadership) who have used the suffering they inflict on the refugees to accuse israel. and you, via your media (BBC? CNN?) are perfect dupes for the scapegoating ploy. if you care about the palestinians, the first thing you and artists and leaders would do is start putting the heat on the arab leadership. if you want above all to dump on israel, you’ll go on writing the kind of aggressively naive stuff you posted above.

      • As far as I know nobody has threatened to “nuke” anyone in this conflict of words, yet. That said, both sides have been ramping up the aggressive language, Israel recently threaten an attack on the Iranian nuclear power plants, Iran threatens to strike first. It’s a vicious cycle that can only end in tears.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “the onus is on the arabs”, either the Palestinians have been treated unfairly by Israel or they haven’t.

  11. Grass’ “poem” was excessive in its criticism of Israel – but primarily it should’ve been dismissed simply on the grounds of attention-seeking.

    As one commentary piece in a hard-left German paper put it: “Grass complains of being ‘hushed up’ in Germany as soon as there are less than 25 microphones and cameras trained on him.”

    But the reaction to his ditty has also been excessive – and this article is an example.

    Its truly hard, especially in the context of Grass’ past, not to contextualize this grotesque caricature of a Jewish state which threatens world peace with the Nazi fear of world Jewry, whose very existence was similarly seen as a threat to humanity.

    There is no “grotesque caricature of a Jewish state” there.

    Grass is certainly not saying that the mere existence of Israel – let alone Jews – is a threat to world peace!

    Grass is quite clearly talking about the prospect of an attack on Iran.

    • Pretz, Grass is quite clearly saying that Israel’s nuclear program (and what he bizarrely claims are Israel’s intention to nuke Iran) is a threat to world peace. The text is quite clear. So, while he’s referring not to Israel’s existence as a threat to world peace, he’s conjuring a fictitious notion of Israeli malevolance to “bravely” call Israel out as a threat to “an already fragile” world peace. And, yes the fact that he’s a former Nazi makes is crude caricature of the Jewish state even more grotesque.

      • Don’t get me wrong. Grass’ SS background alone means he should shut the f**k up. And I think the content of his piece was very one-sided.

        But I see no “crude” or “grotesque” “caricature” of the Jewish state here. And I don’t believe Grass has any track record of anti-Semitism.

        Above you have clearly implied that Grass has called Israel/the Jews in itself a threat to peace. And that’s simply not the case.

    • Pretzel, I wonder if Grass was quietly humming the Horst Vessel song as he compiled his little ditty about the threat of Israeli aggression? I’m sure he knows the lyrics, he would have sung it enough times with his comrades in arms.

        • Pretzel, it bores you, that this old bastard would have sung those lyrics in his youth – ‘when Jewish blood spurts from the knife everything is twice as good’. The SS and SA marching song. No question that he didn’t sing it as part of the Waffen-SS. And he still likes to make up little ditties having a crack at the yids.

          • No – it bores me to see you coming up with such a boringly predictable comment.

            And he is not “having a crack at the yids”. You need to get out more, broaden your horizons etc.

  12. Adam’s article was spot on. Grass is certainly an attention seeker and his “poem” lends respectibility to many left-wing or right-wing anti-Zionists / antisemites. Accusing Israel rather than Iran of threatening world peace is an inversion of the truth. Accusing both Israel and Iran of being equally bad is the ‘socialism of fools’.

    • I know what you mean – but I think you’re missing the point.

      Grass’s main (official) gripes here are a) the media’s “refusal” to criticise Israel’s nuclear capability and recent threats against Iran b) Germany delivering yet another submarine to Israel that could launch nuclear missiles.
      (yes, even though there is no question of a nuclear attack on Iran)

  13. Gunter Grass’ poem, ‘What must be said’, is an absurd and morally indefensible attack on Israel. The poem states that the Jewish state endangers world peace because of its threat to attack Iran, which has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. Instead of engaging with the complex debate over whether Israel has the right to defend itself against an aggressor, Grass singles out the Jewish state for criticism and makes no reference to Iran’s genocidal intentions. The poem also states that Israel intends to annihilate the Iranian people – a gross error, as any attack on Iran would be on nuclear facilities and not the entire populace. What Grass fails to mention is that it would be the Israeli Jews and Arabs who would be annihilated if Iran dropped a nuclear bomb. The fact that Gunter, a former member of the Wassen-SS, published the poem just before Passover recalls the European tradition of accusing Jews of ritual murder just before the annual Jewish festival. As such, Grass should be stripped of his Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded to him in 1999. Sign the petition at:

  14. And none of you had a bad word to say about the racist post from “John in Cheshire” while it was up?

    Some people must’ve seen it. But any condemnation? No.

    • Pretzel “none of you had a bad word to say about the racist post from “John in Cheshire”

      Careful with those generalisations old bean. You wouldn’t want to get a reputation for being a hystercial bigot. I for one didn’t see it, having taken you advice to ‘get out a bit more’.

    • Nothing compared to hatred towards Jews and Israelis routinely found in mainstream “liberal” papers like the Guardian.

      • I don’t see posts on CiF calling all Israelis “psychotic fucks” and not being removed.

  15. some of the posts here, like grass’ original poem, seem exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of anyone but the jews. it’s an interesting phenomenon: empathy for everyone but israelis and jews. psychologically, it suggests a deep disorder. why would people (including jews, but obviously for different reasons) have so much difficulty empathizing with this particular group? what threatens them?

    one possible explanation is envy. according to one student of the phenomenon, the envious are deeply hostile to equals/rivals, but have infinite and condescending sympathy for those they consider beneath them. what does that say about the concern for german and iranian feelings expressed here?

    • some of the posts here, like grass’ original poem, seem exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of anyone but the jews.

      I don’t see any such posts. Sure you’re on the right thread?

  16. Gut, Wave Review and Nerve
    (a poem in response to Letter-poem to Grass: If We Go, Everyone Goes by Israeli poet Itamar Yaoz-Kest)

    He witness.
    How are yah?
    I’m hurting,
    Claiming responsibility world said.
    Can’t get out.
    That’s her state-run TV.
    To think captain
    Come back to it
    In a world filled with war.
    All this mischief,
    All this dustbin,
    All this problem,
    The fault of the neighbors.
    We’re gonna annihilate the world
    In an open letter to Samson.
    There stand atonement?
    I don’t understand.
    A little more flavor from you
    Of brother
    And school.
    You didn’t
    Give a crossing for him.
    Is he White?
    He isn’t Jewish.
    (An open parallel.)
    What about that up here Nancy?
    A White one
    Grow by the principles
    Grown from the elements
    A Jewish state.
    Her individual dawn
    If I am a common thinker.

    Now what do we do with Adam?
    Exterminate further?
    No that dead show.
    Gimmie my flashlight.
    (Illuminates the room.)
    I’m not comin’ back.
    Oh you’re not comin’ back?
    You’re defenseless
    (He was a real loud photographer.
    Here I might be able to help him.)
    In hold humanity,
    The change I’m not really supposed to tell.
    Then tell.
    No matter who’s walking
    They’ll have a right of crossing.
    Change now ahead.
    Consider it done.
    There’s victory in there somewhere.

    What are you talking about?
    On the other hand,
    Why don’t you shut your mouth?
    Good idea,
    Now I’m uncle on the floor
    In a blue outfit.
    Even spiritual
    You’re gonna wanna beat me up.
    I’m lensing
    Right here:
    The parentheses around Spirit will be taken off –
    Spiritual victory.
    We’ll all be in a different world.
    We’re all livin’ in this one.
    I just wanted you to see it
    Through the lens
    Of poetry’s nodule.
    Not secular,
    No religion.
    Is he dead or alive?
    No, this is not heaven.

    At the rift.
    Picket no longer.
    Are you gonna tell me about this neighborhood?
    Somebody last screamed it.
    I ain’t exercisin’ no new restraints.
    This is the only kind one of a people,
    Superman’s brother,
    A tough customer,
    Earth activated.
    Just think,
    You’re part of it
    Whole thing,
    A full nelson,
    And we got our full moon.
    A camera
    Analogy with pain
    Put the broad on our feet,
    The teacup
    While our hairs are going down.
    The world is so very small.
    Put in our face
    As you.
    Touch it
    To see where I’m going.
    What do you take me for?
    I’m not blaming you.
    In that camera
    Is our hopscotch item,
    Toll we count.
    Better than a machine gun.
    Coming events
    We take a peer at
    In a nodule.
    I’m fixin’ your plate,
    Mine too by the looks of it.
    Will you look at that?
    Out of danger.
    Before I forget,
    God makes this perfect.
    You take it home.
    Good idea.

  17. Jeez, now your article is what I call Jewish propaganda. What’s the big deal anyway with this poem? It’s not that bad if you read it carefully 🙂

    I am so sick of it the “No criticism allowed”-policy of Israel’s politicians. Israel is always screaming “Foul” and accuses the person of being antisemitic -or in case it is a German then he/she is branded as a Nazi. Then usually the Jewish Lobby in the U.S. will reinforce it in the media. It’s like someone would be called a racist just for criticizing the Obama administration. That is nuts right?!

    Why are you always bringing up the Nazies?? Do you want to justify one crime with another? Regarding his SO-CALLED Nazi past: OMG I can’t believe you really judge a teenanger who was willing to fight and die for his family and his country in times of war. The boy just did what he thought was right to protect his home from the Russians. And imagine there was no opposition and no internet, free press or free speech where he could get anything else than the propaganda of the regime. Please Note: If he would have refused to go to was they’d simply shot him point blank as a traitor, so stop using this as an excuse to discredit him. The “prisoner of war report” you have posted shows that he was just a little boy… read the column “profession” it says: PUPIL!!! And he never killed anybody BTW.

    FYI Germany is financing Israel’s wars for years. Just recently the German government has subsidized four nuclear submarines for the Israelis which led to this poem…

    Regarding the poem:
    This poem was written because the author Mr. Grass fears the danger of a nuclear war. He questions the right of the country Israel for a nuclear first strike to annihilate the people of Iran just for a bad feeling that there MIGHT be a nuclear weapons program going on. (Like the big lie of “weapons of mass destruction” in Afghanistan many people fell for.) Mr. Grass also says that by questioning Israel one is automatically branded as an anti-semitic. (Which BTW totally happened!!!) Mr. Grass is afraid Germany could participate in a future wrongdoing, where we later can’t say that we haven’t already known. He wants to achieve that both countries nuclear program is inspected/supervised by an international authority that is approved by BOTH countries Israel and Iran.

    IS THAT REALLY SUCH A BAD THING? Why do so many people twist the facts and make Mr. Grass look anti-semitic? He has a point! I pray that the people in the Mideast will one day live peacefully without suppression and wars again.

    I am with the author and believe that it isn’t the right solution to add fuel to the fire!