Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Responding To Günter Grass

Politics & Poetry

By now everyone knows about the foolish poem, "What Must Be Said," that Günter Grass, the 84-year-old German poet and Nobel laureate, penned and published on Wednesday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in which he said that Israel was a threat to world peace. In PJ Media, David P. Goldman writes in "An Open Letter to Günter Grass":

Herr Günter Grass:
By now you must be tired of hearing how shameful it is for a former SS man to denounce Israel as a threat to world peace at a time when the government of Iran (among others) publicly threatens to annihilate the Jewish state. It is obscene to suggest, as you did in your diatribe “What Must Be Said,” that Israel might “annihilate the Iranian people.” Now that we have that out of the way, I would to set you straight about your own country’s tragedy. It’s all your fault. Well, perhaps not exactly your fault, but the fault of your way of thinking and of people who thought like you. I am not talking about your enthusiastic service to the Nazis.  I am going to surprise you.
It is worth your time to read the rest of the column. What I would like also to see, given my limited understanding of German, is a literary criticism of the poem. After all, it should also be reviewed and debated on its merits, in accordance with the values of democracy and an open society.


  1. Even if the poem is beautifully constructed, its message remains ugly.
    Israel is the most hated country on earth. Günter Grass has jumped on the bandwagon.
    In 1959, Eugene Ionesco wrote a play, “Rhinoceros,” in which people all turn into rhinoceroses because it is the thing to do. It is often said that Ionesco was inspired to create this work because he saw people turning into Nazis during the days of Hitler. Today, anti-Zionism is the movement that everyone is joining. Günter Grass has turned into a rhinoceros.

  2. Yes, he has. Or perhaps he was always a rhinoceros.

  3. On the issue of whether Israel reacted well on Günter Grass and his poem, I agree with Dershowitz that it was a mistake to bar Grass entry to Israel. Quite the contrary. The government should have reacted in the opposite fashion, and offered him an invitation. That would speak highly of Israel democracy. I don't see Grass as a threat to Israel's security, just a foolish old man.


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