Guenter Grass´ buried hatred comes to light / He once served in the Nazi Waffen SS; today, he is attacking Isr(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS OP-ED) By Elie Wiesel 04/12/12)
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In a baffling and bizarre poem that has provoked worldwide anger and
disappointment, except in Iran, the German Nobel Prize-winning
novelist Guenter Grass has obviously chosen to set himself up as
judge over the state and people of Israel.
It’s called “What Must Be Said.” It makes the argument that Iran is
not, in fact, pursuing nuclear weapons — and that Israel is bent on
killing Iranians by the millions. “It is the alleged right to the
first strike / That could annihilate the Iranian people,” he writes,
going on to accuse “the nuclear power Israel” of endangering “the
already fragile world peace.”
How dare he? What does he know about the nuclear sciences? What moral
credentials could he claim to possess in order to act as accuser of
the democratic Jewish state?
The nuclear issue divides Israel from Iran. Israel believes in
denuclearizing Iran. Grass favors Israeli denuclearization. He is
convinced that it is Israel, not Iran, that threatens the world.
This is a man who admitted his youthful Waffen SS membership — and
did so far too late in life, proving that he very well knows when to
say what. Clearly, had the Swedish Academy known of his secret, it
would have had some difficulty awarding him the Nobel Prize.
Many readers, including myself, discovered his anti-Semitism at that
moment. Still, he denies hating Jews.
But his hatred of Israel, a land founded as the homeland of the
Jewish people, is in his poem. In fact, it is the poem.
According to Grass, in the conflict between Israel and Iran, Israel
alone is guilty — guilty of planning an attack on Iran that would put
the entire world in peril. Well, he isn’t the first to claim that the
Jewish people’s aim is planetary destruction.
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels preceded him in that kind of
An eminent German Jewish critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, called Grass’
words “disgusting.” They are.
Sadly, these despicable accusations come from someone who ranked
among the great intellectual minds of postwar Europe. His books have
had great impact. His reputation, in fact, transcended literature.
Yet this “poem” can be characterized only as misguided, mean and
Grass ignores the fact that, despite all its problems and challenges,
Israel is a democracy, whereas Iran is not. In fact, Iranians dwell
under a dictatorial regime. There, women live in shame. Torture is
part of the system. Iran’s ruler Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the world’s
foremost Holocaust denier.
Everyone who reads knows that. But not Grass.
His “explanation” or justification is simplistic and cowardly: He
didn’t mean Israel. He meant only Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Too easy. No matter what he “meant,” his words are scandalous.
Thus he accuses the Israeli leader, and consequently his nation, of
planning mass murder against Iran — and furthermore, warns German
Chancellor Angela Merkel of becoming an accomplice to this crime if
she helps Israel.
I admit I used to like Guenter Grass’s writings. I will not stop
reading them — even as I remember that they are now darkened by this
There were times when I even felt close to him. Now I see in his
hatred an abyss I shall not cross. He has gone too far.
Wiesel, the author of “Night,” was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in
1986. (© Copyright 2012 NYDailyNews.com. 04/12/12)
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