Posted in Palestine and the Middle East

Günter Grass criticises Israel and the soft and hard Zionists criticise him

Moshe Zimmerman, the “Historian”, is probably best known in Germany for his participation in an “Independent Historian Commission”, which was called into existence by the then Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer. The role of the commission was to research into the German Foreign Office during the National Socialist period and how that period continued to exert an influence after 1945. The findings of the commission were then published in a rather unremarkable book called ‘Das Amt und die Vergangenheit: Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik’ (The Foreign Office and the past: German diplomats in the third Reich and in the Federal Republic). The book was unremarkable in that it revealed nothing new on the topic and it is fair to say that most of its findings can be found in Hans Jürgen Döscher’s book ‘Das Auswärtige Amt im Dritten reich’ (The Foreign Office in the third Reich) and Walter Bussman’s article ‘Das Auswärtige Amt und der Nationalsozialistischen Diktatur’ (The Foreign Office and the National Socialist Dictatorship), both of which were  published in 1987.

Nevertheless, while we might debate Moshe Zimmerman’s limitations as a historian, we should at least give him some credit for his opposition to the policies of the present Israeli government and to the occupation, even if his understanding of that occupation is post -67. Moreover, in crediting him with that we might at least hear out his opinion regarding Günter Grass’s “lyrical warning of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran”. Unfortunately, when we do hear him out we discover that we are confronted with irrelevant clichés that have neither very much to do with Mr Grass’s reasons for writing the poem, nor with the substance of what is a rather poor poem. Indeed, they are nothing more than an array of the usual clichés that are used to bring to life that version of the past which the Zionist state invariably invokes to justify its brutal occupation and its ethnic cleansing of someone else’s land. Indeed, take them away and Israel’s raison d’être becomes implausible to say the least. Mr Zimmerman accuses Mr Grass of a number of things, including by implication, anti-Semitism, but it is in seeing an “Art von Aufrechnung” (a type of coming to terms with the past), meaning Günter Grass’s SS past, that the link is established.

However. the Zionist state needs its liberals and Mr Zimmerman is the typical soft Zionist liberal intellectual defender of Israel. Therefore, for the less subtle more proverbial bull in the china shop approach we should look to Netanyahu whose assault on the actual content of Grass’s poem is almost limited to a predictable,  nonsensical,  “It is Iran, not Israel, that is a threat to the peace and security of the world.” Of course, if “intellectuals” such as Moshe Zimmerman cannot really offer much better then it is to be expected that any “arguments” will be couched in puerile polemics rather than based on any real content or any attempt to synthesize. Indeed, they cannot argue against the content and we are soon confronted with the usual tactic to discredit any criticism of the Zionist state, with Mr Netanyahu continuing by saying.: “For six decades, Mr Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS.”

For both Moshe Zimmerman and Benjamin Netanyahu It doesn’t matter that Grass didn’t volunteer for the SS and that he was called-up for the Waffen SS as a seventeen year old in November 1944, by which time Nazi Germany was throwing its “Letzte Aufgebot” (its last offerings) into the fray.By that time and that time the Waffen SS was”the last” Germany had to offer, a motley assembly of die-hard fascists, old men, and brain washed youth. Still, we should be careful and Nazi Germany, even in December 1944, was not occupied Palestine.  However, Mr Netanyahu  throws caution to the wind and he actually draws and parallels between that “Letzte Aufgebot and those Palestinian kids who throw stones at Israeli panzers. Nevertheless,one question that might be asked is why Günter Grass kept this a “secret” for sixty years? He does give an answer of sorts in this article.

Nevertheless, if the crime here is keeping silent, then surely Grass is atoning for that crime in his criticism of Israel. After all, what is he saying? Well, he says that, “Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace”, and we might want to ask ourselves the question which of the two countries definitely has nuclear weapons and how many warheads does that country actually have? Moreover, apart from anything else, he is still a German citizen and a member of the SPD (Social Democrats) so what is wrong with him calling for Germany to cease supplying Israel with Dolphin-class submarines that can can carry nuclear-tipped missiles? Is his call for an “unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear facility and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity”, and his warning that Israel will attack Iran anti-Semitism? Well, if Zionists genuinely want to attempt to substantiate that claim then they just have to state publicly that they will not attack Iran.

Günter Grass has written a bad poem, but to be honest he was never my favourite writer and, anyway, bad authors tend to be less of a danger than bad historians and bad politicians. Still, without me wanting to delve into his character in any great detail, he might have mentioned that he had been called-up for the Waffen SS in November 1944. Of course, someone who acknowledges “that he will inevitably face accusations of antisemitism” is hardly going to give a tuppence for my opinion and that is probably good. For this is not about the quality of Grass’s writings or about any of his personal failings, this is about someone taking aim at Germany’s reluctance to offend Israel while making the very valid point that Israel and not Iran endangers world peace. Therefore, while all the attention is being focused on Grass’s “anti-Semitism”, German citizens might want to think about the potential cost of a war on Iran because with the news that “Israel currently has three Dolphin submarines from Germany – one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin – two more are currently under construction, and the contract for a sixth submarine was signed last month,” German taxpayers are already funding their own potential Armageddon.

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There are a lot of poor bastards out there being used and abused; it is just not cricket "old bean". Something tells me that ignorance is not bliss, but is, in fact, simply ignorance and in the global village we cannot look the other way.

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