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Gunter Grass Used To Be Pro-Israel

Did you know that  Gunter Grass, author of the anti-Israel and antisemitic poem What Must Be Said, used to be pro-Israel? Neither did I until I read this interesting op-ed.

Excerpt:  

DURING November 1968, in the aftermath of the previous year’s Arab-Israeli Six Day War, a ”Joint Declaration by 20 representatives of the German left” appeared in the American left Zionist magazine Jewish Frontier. It argued that the left ”would lose its credibility for all time to come if, through one-sided sympathy for the Arabs, it were to contribute to a new Auschwitz”.

The declaration condemned the inconsistent ”crying out against the war of destruction being perpetrated by the Americans against the population of Vietnam and passing over in silence the far worse Holocaust being planned by the Arabs against Israel”. Signatories included the leading Marxist scholar Ernst Bloch and novelist Gunter Grass.

As many Western leftists abandoned Israel following its post-1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights, instead embracing the then novel Palestinian cause, Grass remained pro-Israel. Some four decades later, few would describe Nobel-prize-winning author Grass, 83, in the same terms.

Grass’ controversial recent poem What Must Be Said, published in the German daily Sü¨ddeutsche Zeitung, severed any friendship that existed between himself and the Jewish state. Grass alleged that a nuclear-armed Israel ”threatens the already fragile world peace” and railed against the inability of Germans to take Israel to task for fear of being labelled anti-Semitic. Nine stanzas of poetry sparked a global outcry.

It is self-evident that a former Waffen SS (Nazi military unit) member should exercise extreme caution when commenting upon the actions of the nation-state he unwittingly brought into existence.

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Much of the debate over Grass’ poem has centred on the equation of democratic Israel with the Iranian theocracy and his trivialisation of the existential threat posed by regime in Tehran (whose leader has threatened to ”wipe” Israel from the map). Yet, perhaps the most repugnant element of Grass’ poem was his Freudian suggestion that Israel was contemplating an attack in order to ”annihilate the Iranian people”.

At best, Grass is guilty of attention-seeking opportunism. At worst, his attack constitutes classical anti-Semitism in two respects.

Read the whole thing.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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