[Debate] Gunter Grass' poem is more pathetic than anti-Semitic

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sun Apr 8 20:46:08 BST 2012


Would Israel's nuclear policy be any different under Labor or Kadima?
The past record suggests otherwise, as does Tom Segev's reaction to
Günter Grass.

On Sun, Apr 8, 2012 at 2:38 PM, Dave Hollis <david.hollis at netzwerkit.de> wrote:
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> Hi,
>
> As I said, whether this is a poem or not, is not something I am
> qualified to judge.
>
> Grass, as you correctly stated, has qualified his statement by saying
> that he should have avoided the generalisation "Israel" (the German
> adjective "pauschal" is not so easy to translate). He said that he
> should have made it more clear that he was primarily opposing the
> Israeli government led by Ńetanyahu.
>
> For those who can read German here is a report from Deutsche Welle:
>
>> Ja, ich würde den pauschalen Begriff 'Israel' vermeiden",
>> antwortete Grass in einem Interview der "Süddeutschen Zeitung" auf
>> die Frage, ob er den Text inzwischen anders schreiben würde. Zudem
>> würde er nun deutlicher machen, dass er sich in erster Linie gegen
>> die derzeitige israelische Regierung von Benjamin Netanjahu wende.
>
>
> Be that all as it may, Israel's reaction has led to a number of red
> faces among the critics here. All this for a statement that is
> reasonably mild and had it be said by anyone else would have scarcely
> made it into the press.
>
> Dave
>
> On 08.04.2012 20:00, Henning Melber wrote:
>> You summarise the tendency correct, Dave. But interesting enough,
>> one op article in Der Spiegel also explicitly welcomes the taboo
>> break committed by Grass, though I haven't heard anyone praising
>> the 'poem' for being close to any form of art. It is a somewhat
>> pathetic pathos with some dubious generalisations, which undermine
>> the message (Grass himself admitted he was not nuanced enough to
>> strengthen his point). This act is also difficult to separate from
>> the controversial interventions by Grass and his highly egocentric
>> personality on other matters. But the announcement of the Israeli
>> foreign minister to declare Grass a persona non grata (thereby
>> effectively banning him from entering Israel) adds an interesting
>> dimension and provokes some more critical reactions. What ever the
>> intention of Grass, the merit of this stance taken is to bring
>> once again the dilemma to the fore that everyone daring to
>> criticise the Israeli government, especially when being German, is
>> in a knee jerk response declared to be anti-semitic. -------
>> Henning Melber (Executive Director) The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
>> Övre Slottsgatan 2, S-753 10 Uppsala/Sweden Tel. +46-18-4101001;
>> Fax +46-18-12 20 72 Henning.Melber at dhf.uu.se, http://www.dhf.uu.se
>>
>> "IT IS WHEN WE ALL PLAY SAFE THAT WE CREATE A WORLD OF UTMOST
>> INSECURITY." Dag Hammarskjöld
>>
>>
>>
>> On Apr 8, 2012, at 7:45 PM, Dave Hollis wrote:
>>
>> Hi Peter, hi everyone else
>>
>> I think it is more prose than poetry, but I am the last person to
>> judge that.
>>
>> What is interesting is that the press, inclusive of the public tv
>> channels, have gone ballistic. They all have done their best to do
>> a demolition job on Grass as a person and secondly have declared at
>>  length why they think he is talking nonsense. Just about anyone of
>>  any note has gone on record against him.
>>
>> In all my years in Germany I cannot think of a more vehement attack
>>  than this one. It seems that he has put a finger into a rather
>> large wound. Or, to put it differently, he has most probably
>> disturbed the establishments efforts to prepare the public for an
>> attack on Iran.
>>
>> Regards,
>>
>> Dave
>>
>>
>> On 08.04.2012 19:17, peter waterman wrote:
>>>>> Just read it, Dave, and the English translation suggests that
>>>>>  this is not Nobel-winning poetry. I find it rather banal.
>>>>>
>>>>> However, I think Grass has provided another nail to the
>>>>> coffin of Israel's 'don't speak; don't tell' nuclear weapons
>>>>> - a supurating and infectious wound about which the Liberal
>>>>> West preserves radio silence (do doubt on the grounds that
>>>>> you can't deny nukes to a state founded on holocaust
>>>>> survivors). The major result of Israel's nuclear weapons has,
>>>>> of course, been to justify to Iran their production of Such.
>>>>> About which, of course, the Liberal West practices non-stop
>>>>> Loudspeaker Condemnation.
>>>>>
>>>>> Since you have presumably read it, and have read it in the
>>>>> original, what do you think of it?
>>>>>
>>>>> PeterW
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On Sun, Apr 8, 2012 at 5:51 PM, Dave Hollis
>>>>> <david.hollis at netzwerkit.de
>>>>> <mailto:david.hollis at netzwerkit.de>> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> Just an idle question: have you read the poem?
>>>>>
>>>>> Dave
>>>>>
>>>>> Am 05.04.2012 10:56, schrieb Riaz K Tayob:
>>>>>> Published 04:19 05.04.12
>>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/gunter-grass-poem-is-more-pathetic-than-anti-semitic-1.422674
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
> Gunter Grass' poem is more pathetic than anti-Semitic The famed
>>>>>> Nobel Prize-winning author drew criticism from German
>>>>>> newspapers, politicians and members of the Jewish community
>>>>>>  after
>>>>> saying
>>>>>> nuclear Israel is a threat to world peace. But what he said
>>>>>>  has been said by many others, both in and out of Israel.
>>>>>> By Tom Segev Tags: anti-Semitism Iran Israel nuclear
>>>>>> Mossad
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> "What Must Be Said" was the title Gunter Grass gave his
>>>>>> controversial poem in which he labeled Israel a threat to
>>>>>> world peace because of its nuclear arsenal. This was his
>>>>>> first mistake: It did not have to be
>>>>> said
>>>>>> because it has already been said by many others, in Israel
>>>>>> as well.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> For many months, Israel and the world have been gripped by
>>>>>> a heated debate on whether to launch a preemptive strike to
>>>>>>  halt Iran's nuclear program. Arguments for and against
>>>>>> consider the wisdom, effectiveness and possible results of
>>>>>>  such an action. The debate takes place at strategic,
>>>>>> operational and moral levels; Grass' comments add nothing.
>>>>>>  Gunter Grass.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Gunter Grass. Photo by: AP
>>>>>>
>>>>>> One of the parties to the debate in Israel is former Mossad
>>>>>>  chief Meir Dagan, who shares Grass' view that Iran should
>>>>>> not be bombed. Dagan broke the security official's
>>>>>> proverbial vow of silence and hasn't stopped talking. He
>>>>>> should be closely listened to because few people know more
>>>>>> about Iran than he does.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> But if Dagan published poems in newspapers, people would
>>>>>> say he
>>>>> had lost
>>>>>> his mind. The same could be said about Grass meddling in
>>>>>> questions of nuclear strategy; not because he is wrong - he
>>>>>>  may or may not be - but because he's no better informed
>>>>>> than the average news consumer.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian
>>>>>> President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently confided in him, his
>>>>>> opinion is vacuous. Grass criticizes the German government
>>>>>> for selling Israel another submarine. This is a legitimate
>>>>>> view on a matter that should be decided democratically by
>>>>>> the German people.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> But Grass' comparison of Israel and Iran is unfair, because
>>>>>>  unlike
>>>>> Iran,
>>>>>> Israel has never threatened to wipe another country off the
>>>>>>  map. And contrary to Grass' sanctimonious verses, under no
>>>>>>  circumstances
>>>>> would a
>>>>>> military action against Iran lead to the extermination of
>>>>>> the Iranian people, because as far as we know, it would
>>>>>> exclusively target the country's nuclear facilities.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Few could dispute that the world will be a better place
>>>>>> without an Iranian nuclear weapon. And not only in Israel -
>>>>>>  also the northern German town of Lubeck, the capital of
>>>>>> marzipan, where Grass writes, paints and sculpts, will be a
>>>>>>  better place if Iran doesn't get the
>>>>> bomb.
>>>>>> Grass basks in hypocritical moralism and agonizes over not
>>>>>>  having condemned Israel's nuclear capacity earlier. But
>>>>>> that award went many years ago to Mordechai Vanunu, the
>>>>>> Israeli nuclear technician who revealed details about his
>>>>>> country's nuclear program to the press
>>>>> in 1986.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> There are now thousands of websites dedicated to Israel's
>>>>>> nuclear arsenal. One gets the impression Grass' act of
>>>>>> "breaking the
>>>>> silence" is
>>>>>> more a self-contained personal experience than anything
>>>>>> else. Neither can one escape the notion that he seeks to
>>>>>> recreate the shock waves of his confession six years ago
>>>>>> about his service in the Waffen SS during World War II.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> He was right to assume that after his anti-Israeli comments
>>>>>>  he will be accused of anti-Semitism. Grass, it seems,
>>>>>> feels compelled to address unwarranted accusations. Either
>>>>>> way, you can relax, Mr. Grass. You've written a rather
>>>>>> pathetic poem, but you're not anti-Semitic.
>>>>> You're not
>>>>>> even anti-Israel; in any event, not more than Dagan is. You
>>>>>>  said you wrote that poem with your last drops of ink.
>>>>>> Let's hope you have
>>>>> enough
>>>>>> for another beautiful novel.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________ Debate-list
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>>>>>> http://lists.fahamu.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/debate-list
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________ Debate-list
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>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> -- *1.* Invitation: May 1, 2012! Contribute to 'New Worker
>>>>> Movements
>>>>> <http://www.interfacejournal.net/2011/06/call-for-papers-volume-4-issue-2-for-the-global-emancipation-of-labour-new-movements-and-struggles-around-work-workers-and-precarity/>'!
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
> 2.*Blog:* http://www.unionbook.org/profile/peterwaterman
>>>>> *3. EBook 2011, 'Under, Against, Beyond - Essays 1980s-
>>>>> 1990s*'s
>>>>> <http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/under-against-beyond/>http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/under-against-beyond/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
> 4. WorkingPaper *2012*: 'Emancipatory Labour Studies'
>>>>> <http://ww.iisg.nl/publications/respap49.pdf>: *5.* Draft
>>>>> EBook 2012: 'Recovering Internationalism - Essays 2000-10'
>>>>> (draft): http://www.scribd.com/doc/82125289/ReCovIntComp-A-2
>>>>>  http://www.scribd.com/doc/82129474/ReCovtIntComp-B-2 *6.
>>>>> *Essay 2012: 'The 2nd Coming of the World Federation of Trade
>>>>> Unions':
>>>>>
>>>>> <http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/peter-waterman-the-second-coming-of-the-wftu-updated>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
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-- 
Yoshie Furuhashi
<http://mrzine.org/>


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