When you’re a German Nobel Laureate, a member of the Waffen SS, and the worst thing you can say about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is he has a “big mouth,” you might just be an antisemite. Jeff Foxworthy analogy aside, a poem by noted 85-year-old German writer and poet Guenter Grass, published Wednesday in several European newspapers, claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – not Iran’s – threatens world peace.
Grass’ “anti-war” poem titled “What Must Be Said” paints Israel as an aggressor and Iran in a non-threatening light. It goes as far as calling for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the poem by Grass shameful and said his motives are antisemitic, given his six decade membership to the Waffen SS:
“This comparison says very little about Israel and a great deal about Mr. Grass. It is Iran, not Israel, which poses a threat to world peace. It is Iran, not Israel, which threatens to destroy other countries. It is Iran, not Israel, which supports terror organizations that fire missiles on innocent civilians. It is Iran, not Israel, which supports the massacre that the Syrian regime is carrying out on its civilians. It is Iran, not Israel, which stones women, hangs gay people, and ruthlessly suppresses the tens of millions of citizens in its country.”
As we would all expect, the poem drew sharp criticism in Germany, Israel and among Jewish organizations worldwide. The Israeli embassy in Germany stated that the poem was in line with the “tradition of blood libel ahead of Passover.”
Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel “The Tin Drum,” sparked outrage in 2006 when he revealed, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS. Critics of Grass concur his poem speaks volumes about his Nazi past and little about reality.
The European newspapers who published this hateful and irresponsible poem from Grass put themselves in the same lot. The facts speak for themselves. Israel is the only Jewish country in the world while there are over 50 predominately Muslim countries. Yet Israel is the only country who receives rockets from Gaza and now the Egyptian Sinai, both of which are predominately Muslim.
Poems like Grass’ may suggest a growing lack of support for Israel at first glance, but underneath they point to growing hatred towards Jews worldwide. I suppose the European newspapers forgot Passover is the most widely celebrated holiday of the Jewish calendar, which teaches us the importance of being freed from religious persecution and the oppression of hunger, poverty, homelessness and want. Grass’ poem will no doubt be discussed at Seders around the world as a real-time example of why we have to be vigilant against countries like Iran and poets like Grass who continually to seek our demise. Both are already on my family’s Passover agenda.