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Switch to Forum Live View Günter Grass declared persona non grata in Israel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 11:39AM #1
CharikIeia
Posts: 8,301

German Nobel Prize for Literature winner (1999) Günter Grass published a poem last week in which he accused "the nuclear power Israel" of "endagering the anyway shaky world peace".


Now, one thing is whether it was a good idea to write such a poem. In my view, the man is borderline senile when he writes such stuff, and suffers from a good degree of hubris - as if it mattered what his reasons for anything are.


Quite another thing is the reaction by Israeli minister for the interior Eli Jischai, who declared the poor old man undesired, and banned him from entering Israel (no such plans are known, by the way - it's quite an exclusively rhetorical stance).


I guess historian Tom Segev has it right when he says:


"This is an absolutely cynical and ludicrous step by the minister. And the fatal aspect: It moves Israel closer to fanatical régimes - like for instance Iran, countries, to which we absolutely do not want to belong. To question people's political convictions before they even come here, that is censorship. In Israel we have a very free and open atmosphere, everyone is allowed to speak his opinion ...


Apparently, the objective is to surpass everyone else in the political public offendedness competition. The different ministers compete for being the most extremist here. Everyone wants to show himself as defender of national interests. For the minister of the interior, this is the attempt to secure his own political future."


How is this reported in Israel, I wonder?

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 5:28PM #2
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,181
Poisonous Poetry
By David Pryce-Jones
April 7, 2012 8:52 A.M.

Günter Grass thinks that Israel is a threat to world peace, and he’s written a poem to say so with the title “What must be said.” It is really rather amazing how adept and persistent the man is at getting things wrong.

. . .

Throughout his career Grass insisted that Germans had to confess to the wrongful ways in which they had allowed themselves to be deceived. Only after some six decades of heavy moral bombardment of other Germans did he let drop that he too had been a member of the Waffen SS. The hypocrisy of the concealment is as rich as any example to be found.

This expert in double-dealing now claims that he is tired of “Western hypocrisy” for calling to end the Iranian nuclear program while tolerating the Israeli nuclear program.  Not so fast, please. It was Nazism that finally drove numbers of post-war Jewish survivors to seek safety in the state of Israel.  Again it is intellectually and morally bankrupt for a former member of the SS to come up with warnings and prescriptions to these survivors or their descendants, most of whom have been driven to extremes precisely by the SS.  Grass is blaming the Jews of Israel for taking steps to stay alive and also delighting those who still want to kill them — and that’s what must be said.
. . .

www.nationalreview.com/david-pryce-jones...


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3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 5:48PM #3
KindredSai
Posts: 5,749

Is free speech no longer allowed in Israel as with it's Middle Eastern neighbours.


Any nuclear power is a threat to world peace I suppose, is Noam Chomsky barred from entering the UK for his critique on Cameron and the British elite? No.


The thing with the Pro-Israeli party line Chariklea, it over-exaggerates anti-zionism is seen as hatred and anti-semitism, criticism of Israel and it's policies is seen as extremism.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 6:14PM #4
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,181

And in response to Chari's question.


Israel no longer taboo in Germany?


Former Israeli ambassadors to Germany disagree over whether Guenter Grass's controversial poem breaks German taboo in criticizing Israel


Aviel Magnezi


www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-42140...

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 6:34PM #5
CharikIeia
Posts: 8,301

Apr 8, 2012 -- 11:39AM, CharikIeia wrote:


... Israeli minister for the interior Eli Jischai ... declared the poor old man undesired, and banned him from entering Israel (no such plans are known, by the way - it's quite an exclusively rhetorical stance).



I just read that his new demand is to retract the Nobel Prize.


What kind of clown is this Yishai?


-


Thanks, Squirrel, for the Primor / Stein piece. I think they're both right, in their own way.


I wonder if there is any representative opinion poll on this in Israel. Do people buy the staged outrage, or do they realise their government is off its trolley?

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 6:52PM #6
LeahOne
Posts: 16,396

Apr 8, 2012 -- 5:48PM, KindredSai wrote:


Is free speech no longer allowed in Israel as with it's Middle Eastern neighbours.


Any nuclear power is a threat to world peace I suppose, is Noam Chomsky barred from entering the UK for his critique on Cameron and the British elite? No.


The thing with the Pro-Israeli party line Chariklea, it over-exaggerates anti-zionism is seen as hatred and anti-semitism, criticism of Israel and it's policies is seen as extremism.




To quote a friend of mine "this is toilet" - or at least 'toilet' is where it ought to be, flushed.


There IS no 'pro-Israeli party line', to begin with.  And not every word directed against Israel is fairly described as  'criticism'.   For example, what that harridan Thomas had to say about 'the Jews own the White House' was not 'criticism'.  It was slander. 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2012 - 1:47AM #7
habesor
Posts: 5,722

Char,


I was going to start a thread on this topic but you beat me to it. My first message was going to be directed to you with a citation to the poem in German and to ask you to translate it into English.


www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/gedicht-zum-k... 


I used the Google translation service but computer generated translations seem to me to be questionable especially when dealing with poetry and the possibility that meaning may be attributable to allusions within the poem rather than to the language itself. So I would appreciate your translation of the poem and your interpretation of it as a German and as a European.


Now, in answer to your question, there hasn't been all that much talk about the poem here. Natanyahu had a few words of condemnation and this morning Yossi Yishai, the interior minister banned Grass from entering the country. Both of these acts are more attributable to Israeli domestic politics than anything else. There was some discussion on one of my favorite radio programs and the point was made that poets, movie stars, sports figures and other famous personalities may get a lot of press covereage for their opinions but they generally don't have any more expertise or knowledge about the subject upon which they are pontificating than anyone else. 


Now, as for my opinion about Grass's poem as translated by Google, I think that he was more than a little "over the top". He hasn't said much more than any other European Leftist would be expected to say or write. So I don't find much of the poem particularly disturbing. There are two or three elements that I disagree with or cannot fathom why he left them out. One of the left outs was the pressure that countries like Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states are putting on the USA (while encouraging Israel) to attack the nuclear facilities in Iran.  Which brings me to the next point: Grass's view of a world which only contains Israel and Iran (and German suppliers of Israel). In truth, this perspective and Grass's placing Israel as the main danger to world peace (if I understand him correctly) could be an allusion to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or if not exactly an allusion, perhaps a statement which resonates with those who believe the protocols to be true. That bothers me a bit.


Finally, like many on the left, Grass assumes the pose of the heroic messenger of truth to the powerful, no matter what the danger. I think that this is posturing with almost no basis in reality. If you really want to see messengers of truth to the powerful who are actually in danger, one might look at imprisoned Iranian or Palestinian journalists. I used the word "almost" because I can understand how a German might feel particularly self-conscious about criticism of the Jewish state, given our histories. But along with the excessive criticism, it seems to me that Grass is overdoing the posturing.


Char, I await your response.


Habesor


Habesor
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2012 - 4:03AM #8
habesor
Posts: 5,722

Char,


After writing the previous post, I opened the morning edition of the Jerusalem Post and found that the editorial was about Gunter Grass. You can read it at:


www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Article... 


Habesor

Habesor
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2012 - 7:59AM #9
BDboy
Posts: 5,809

Those who support the concept of free speech will find Israeli reaction disappointing.


Even though I do not agree with SOME Israeli policies, I always said, Israel is blessed to have a vibrant press and some democratic systems.


By barring Herr Grass from Israel, it is showing Bibi is more interested in following Saddams and Ghaddafis of the ME than having an "Open country".


Herr Grass only shared his opinion based on facts (Not fiction). First of all, Israel is the ONLY country in the ME to have WMD. Secondly, Iran did not attack other countries in recent history (Say last 100 years). Israel attacked it's neighbors many times where it used conventional military against civilian militias many times. It also grabbed more Palestinian lands from native population to build more "Jews only" settlements.


I think people can have some VALID criticism over such descriminatory policies.


In response Israelis and "Friends of Israel" decided to go for "Personal attack" to "Counter" Herr Grass's opinion. State of Israel is so afraid to face reality that, it barred Herr Grass from entering the country. It does that REGULARLY with native Palestinian population and Herr Grass is simply beinig given the same treatment.


Guess Israel slowly turning into another "Ugly dictatorship" in the ME. Hope "Friends of peace" in Israel will stand up to war mongers and intolerant government of Israel to "Protect peace" in the ME.


Shalom!

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2012 - 1:14PM #10
CharikIeia
Posts: 8,301

Hi Habesor,


I'll respond in more detail later - just briefly now: the poem is currently being translated by Grass' official English translator; a take that resembles mine (with some verses translated) can be read here: www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,151...


The poem apparently was triggered by the recent military present made by the German government to Israel, a contract for another Dolphin class submarine that Germany will sponsor with one third of the costs. The press was eager to report that nukes can be launched from this submarine, which apparently combined into Grass' fantasy about a nuclear attack on Iran...

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