Part-time anti-Semites / Op-ed: Grass affair revealed the nature of most contemporary European anti-Semites (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Manfred Gerstenfeld Published: 04.23.12, 18:49)
YNet News - Yediot Achronot
YNet News - Yediot Achronot Articles-Index-Top
“Guenter Grass, this big fish of letters, this turbot frozen by 60
years of posing and lies has finally decomposed,” wrote French
philosopher Bernard Henri Levi. It is easy to fill an article with
other quotes from the past weeks criticizing German Literature Nobel
Prize winner and former Waffen SS member Guenter Grass. His
defamatory poem about Israel is full of lies, of which the main one
is that Israel intends to commit genocide on the Iranian people by
launching atom bombs.
That Grass’ poem is anti-Semitic is not difficult to prove. One only
has to place it next to the European Union’s definition of anti-
Semitism to see that. Yet focusing on the hate poem’s content and on
the many criticisms of it leaves a number of other substantial issues
in the shadows.
One of the main items of the public debate was whether Grass is an
anti-Semite. This misses the point. In contemporary Western
societies, mainly neo-Nazis and a substantial number of Muslims are
full-time anti-Semites. The predominant type of European anti-Semite
is the part-time one. It is a typical expression of contemporary
society in which structures, attitudes and opinions have fragmented
and many personalities are split.
Grass is a part-time anti-Semite. He demonizes Israel, yet claims in
his poem that he’s a friend of Israel. However false that claim is,
no full-time anti-Semite would take the trouble to say it.
It is also important to observe who supports or whitewashes Grass –
the poet who called Israel a danger to world peace. The enthusiasm
shown by Iranian Deputy Minister Dschawad Schamadari for Grass is
revealing. Perhaps Grass’ most prominent whitewasher is Sigmar
Gabriel, Chairman of the German Social Democrat Party. He called the
attacks on Grass “exaggerated” and partly “hysterical.”
Flawed Israeli reaction
Gabriel said that the poem was a permissible expression of “opinion.”
He should have more accurately stated: “of incitement.” Gabriel added
that Grass is not an anti-Semite. He then expressly stated that the
SPD would continue to appreciate the support of Grass in future
A few weeks earlier, Gabriel had accused Israel of apartheid
policies. After much criticism leveled against him, he said that he
only mentioned that it took place in Hebron. The SPD chairman has
stated falsely that he is a friend of Israel. If this were true, he
would have asked the German government to bring Iran before an
International Court long ago due to its breach of the United Nations
Genocide Convention, as Iranian leaders wish to eradicate Israel.
Germany is a signatory of this convention and the Social Democrats
were a partner in the coalition government until 2009. The Grass
affair thus helps us unmask Gabriel as a hypocrite even further.
Much can also be learned by looking at Israel’s reactions to Grass’
poem. Why did Prime Minister Netanyahu get involved with a poem,
however ugly? Why did Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman do so also?
Why did Minister of Interior Eli Yishai declare Grass persona non
grata? The poet had not announced any intention to visit Israel.
Israel does not usually declare which ones of its many haters will be
Grass thereupon compared Minister Yishai to former DDR Minister Erich
Mielke, who was head of the Stasi Secret service. If Yishai had
competent advisers, they could have told him in advance that a
politician cannot win a shouting match with an author who can say the
most absurd things. The Israeli travel ban also enabled other German
politicians to criticize Israel without risking accusations of
whitewashing the anti-Semitic poem.
The Israeli government’s reactions illustrated once again the
helplessness of the authorities in the propaganda war against the
country. Not having analyzed it, nor having understood it, the
authorities produce only ad hoc reactions to each new incident.
If there had to be any Israeli reaction at all, it should have been
made by a low official who could have said: “When it was fashionable,
Grass was a Nazi. When that became objectionable, he hid his past. He
revealed it only late in his life, when little harm could be done to
him. When it became fashionable to demonize Israel, he published his
lies in poetry form.”
Finally there is the question - why did five major European papers
publish an anti-Semitic poem? One must mention that the Italian
Repubblica did so, yet published critical articles next to it. The
answer to this seems simple because the German Suddeutsche Zeitung,
the Spanish El Pais, the British The Guardian and the Danish
Politiken are not contemporary mutations of the Nazi paper Der
Stürmer. Like Grass, who is a part-time anti-Semitic poet, they are
part-time anti-Semitic publications.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Several of these
address anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY