Mondoweiss, Philip Weiss, April 7, 2012
The New York Times is treating the Gunter Grass poem as an artifact of his service in the Nazi SS as a teenager. “Story inadequate and tendentious by omission, without being exactly false,” writes a friend. “The headline calls it a poem ‘against Israel.’ It is not against Israel. It is against the sale of a German submarine to Israel which is capable of launching nuclear weapons. It speaks against ‘the burdensome lie’ of silence. Silence in general, about wrongs one knows of; and specifically German silence in the face of Israeli wrongs, because of the preemptive operation of self-censorship through an accurate awareness of guilt. It asks: why should Germany not speak the truth now, precisely because of its self-knowledge of the wrong of wars of aggression.”
At the Times, Nick Kulish and Ethan Bronner:
Others said that it was not a coincidence that Mr. Grass so often found himself at the center of controversy, but that controversy was instead his goal in the first place.
“He wrote this poem knowing from the way he wrote it that there would be condemnation,” said Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who was interviewing Mr. Grass when he made his revelation about the Waffen-SS membership. “He needs the condemnation to move on to the next step, which is to say that it is impossible in Germany to criticize Israel.”
Mr. Grass, the author of plays and essays as well as novels and poems, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. He admitted that he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a boy and believed at the time in the group’s aims, but long claimed that he was drafted into an antiaircraft unit, never mentioning the Waffen-SS until he was 78.
In the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer, a weekly columnist, devoted his Friday essay to Mr. Grass under the headline “The Moral Blindness of Günter Grass.”
“Logic and reason are useless when a highly intelligent man, a Nobel laureate no less, does not understand that his membership in an organization that planned and carried out the wholesale genocide of millions of Jews disqualified him from criticizing the descendants of those Jews for developing a weapon of last resort that is the insurance policy against someone finishing the job his organization began,” Mr. Pfeffer wrote.