Thursday, April 5, 2012
Gunter Grass poem critical of Israel creates international furor
Usually poems do not create international furor but a new poem by Gunter Grass the famous German novelist who wrote the Tin Drum has sparked international controversy.
Grass now 84 defended himself saying:"The overall tenor is to not engage in the content of the poem, but instead to wage a campaign against me and to claim that my reputation is damaged forever." In the poem Grass was sharply critical of Israel's policy towards Iran. Grass had the temerity to write that "nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile,"
As Grass had expected he is now being called anti-semitic by some. Grass remarked:"It has occurred to me that in a democratic country in which freedom of the press prevails, there is a certain forced conformity which stands in the foreground along with a refusal to even consider the content and the questions that I cite."
The CEO of Springer newspapers Mathias Dopfner wrote that Grass is "using the murmuring tone of a moralist to disseminate just one thing: politically correct anti-Semitism. He's trying to qualify the guilt of Germany by turning the Jews into perpetrators." I did not realize that there was such a thing as politically correct anti-Semitism! We are still awaiting an official English translation of the poem.
Surprise, surprise. Reaction in Israel was negative.Netanyahu intoned:"Günter Grass' shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran, a regime that denies the Holocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel, says little about Israel and much about Mr. Grass," But press TV in Iran had a quite different tone: "Never in the history of postwar Germany has a prominent intellectual attacked Israel in such a brave way as Günter Grass with his controversial new poem. Metaphorically, the Nobelist has delivered a lethally lyrical strike against Israel." For more see this Der Spiegel article.
NOTE: For further information about Grass see this Wikipedia article. In 2006 Grass admitted that at age 17 he had been drafted into the German Waffen SS . He was captured by the Americans. Many critics use this association which Grass did not reveal for many years against him. Netanyahu notes the fact in his critique of Grass' poem.