Günter Grass Goes From Bad to Verse

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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The only surprising thing about the anti-Semitic “poem” that Günter Grass published last week, and that has created an international firestorm, is that he waited so long to write such a thing.  Anti-Semitism, after all, is all the rage these days among left-wing European literary intellectuals (excuse the multiple redundancy), and Grass has always prided himself on being in the forefront of these trends, not being a Johann-come-lately.

Who is Günter Grass, you ask?  For decades after the 1959 publication of his first and most famous (and highly overrated) novel, The Tin Drum, he was described by admirers as the conscience of postwar Germany.  His detractors had other words for him: smug, arrogant, obnoxious.  Even Richard Gilman, a writer for the left-wing The Nation whom one might have expected to celebrate the guy, complained in 1982 about his “lofty, hectoring tone,” stating: “Today there is no writer more swollen with self-importance…than Gunter Grass, who has begun to think of himself as identical with the fates of German literature, German politics, and German mores.”  John Updike, for his part, saw Grass as a “cautionary case” for politically engaged writers: “he can’t be bothered to write a novel; he just sends dispatches…from the front lines of his engagement.”

During the Cold War, Grass’s specialité de la maison was – naturally – equating capitalism and Communism.  A highlight of the 1986 PEN writers’ congress was a debate that Salman Rushdie later described as “a heavyweight prize fight between Saul Bellow and Günter Grass.”  Bellow made positive observations about America’s founding values, the freedom of the American writer, and the proper separation between the U.S. government and “the higher life of the country”; Grass replied by sneering predictably about conditions in the South Bronx.  Writers from behind the Iron Curtain – Adam Zagajewski (a Pole who had emigrated to France in 1982) and Vassily Aksyonov (a Russian who had lived in the U.S. since 1980) gave Bellow a thumbs-up, Aksyonov saying that “I would love German writers to think twice before making parallels between the USSR and USA.”

But making such parallels was Grass’s stock-in-trade.  By stuffing his books with predictable, lockstep left-wing politics, Grass established a position for himself in German literature – and in European culture generally – that he wouldn’t have been able to earn simply by means of his frankly feeble gifts for plot, characterization, and the like.  One thing’s for sure: if his novels hadn’t been jam-packed with just the right kind of politics, he’d never have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

With the Nobel, he reached the summit.  Then, seven years later, a bombshell: in a memoir entitled Peeling the Onion, Grass revealed that, as a teenager, he’d belonged to the Waffen-SS.  His fans were stunned: after all, as the critic Ted Gioia has put it, Grass made his name by “holding up to derision those who refused to take full ownership for Germany’s Nazi past.”  Indeed, the Swedish Academy, when it gave him the Nobel, specifically praised Grass for “recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget.”  As Gioia observed, the exceedingly belated SS revelation imbued the Swedish Academy’s words “with unintentional irony.”

In Germany, the news about Grass being a onetime SS member was so big that writers held public debates about it.  One playwright, reported Deutsche Welle, “said he couldn’t get excited about Grass’ fall as a moral authority for the simple reason that he never believed in Grass as a moral authority.”  Author Henryk Broder, perhaps the sanest and most reliable guide to goings-on in Deutschland, said: “I always found him foolish and unbearable….But the public excitement is justified. If it had turned out that Mother Theresa had worked in a brothel, after being declared a saint – just as Grass was with his Nobel Prize – there would have been public outrage, too.”

Probably the only decent thing for Grass to have done after his SS revelation would have been to slink into obscurity – and perhaps volunteer anonymously at an Israeli hospital, or something like that, to atone for his hideous past and his rank hypocrisy.  But no.  Now he’s written this lousy poem, “What Must Be Said,” of which The Atlantic has published an English translation by Heather Horn.  Where to begin?  For one thing, no one would mistake this for Goethe or Heine: it’s a crude, clunky op-ed in verse in which Grass explicitly rejects his fellow Germans’ supposed hesitation to criticize Israel, assails Israel for threatening Iran with nukes, and condemns the German government for supplying arms to the warmongering Jews.  For another thing, Grass’s pretense that he is bravely violating some nationwide code of silence to speak a vital truth is hogwash: such attacks on Israel are daily fare in the German media, as they are in the media throughout Western Europe.  Grass’s poem doesn’t break new ground; on the contrary, every word of it is a European cultural-elite cliché.

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  • crackerjack

    Grass may be an old crank, but his message is right on the spot…..stop backing the religious lunatics and nationalistic radicals that are taking over the Knesset and stop giving them more toys for their secret nuclear arsenal. One day these madman will be blackmailing the West with its own weapons.

    • Anthony

      I bet you, crackerjack, are as physically ugly as the garbage that comes from your wormy brain.

      • stern

        And that is precisely the kind of response this post deserves. I normally try to answer garbage with facts, but in this case, Anthony, you are spot on.

    • Zionista

      grass is just another german slug who can't live with the guilt of knowing the horrors his countrymen inflicted and finds it so much easier to hate the object of that guilt

    • Choi

      Once again,the vile Jew-Hating "crackerjack": TROLL is "at work" when he/she posts here.
      "crackerjack" is either a PAID TROLL or is such a HUGE JEW-HATER that he/she can't get enough of SERIAL POSTING of JEW-HATRED!
      EEEEETE SHYYTTTTT! "crackerjack-off"

      • crackerjack

        Apparently, freedom of speech must end when Zionism decides. LOL. A petty, pathetic ideology on its way to join all the other petty, pathetic ideologies in the great scrapyard of history.

        • cjk

          More like freedom of speech deserves ridicule when those who disagree with your evil agenda speak up and defend what's good and true or dare to ridicule the likes of a genocidal creepy fiend like yourself. LOL
          We like when you creeps speak because you expose yourselves, but don't expect us to embrace that cesspool of evil that you swim in..

        • johnnywoods

          It seems to me that your freedom of speech is still in tact as you keep posting here.

    • Ghostwriter

      I just read his poem that was translated into English,crackerjack. It was unnecessary and stupid,kind of like your Jew-hating posts on this site.

    • a poet in India

      Gut, Wave Review and Nerve
      (a poem in response to Letter-poem to Grass: If We Go, Everyone Goes by Israeli poet Itamar Yaoz-Kest)

      He witness.
      How are yah?
      I’m hurting,
      Claiming responsibility world said.
      Veronica
      Can’t get out.
      Probably
      Superior
      That’s her state-run TV.
      To think captain
      Come back to it
      In a world filled with war.
      All this mischief,
      All this dustbin,
      All this problem,
      The fault of the neighbors.
      We’re gonna annihilate the world
      In an open letter to Samson.
      There stand atonement?
      I don’t understand.
      Waitin’
      Israel
      A little more flavor from you
      Of brother
      And school.
      Now,
      You didn’t
      Give a crossing for him.
      Is he White?
      He isn’t Jewish.
      (An open parallel.)
      What about that up here Nancy?
      A White one
      Grow by the principles
      Grown from the elements
      A Jewish state.
      Her individual dawn
      If I am a common thinker.

      Now what do we do with Adam?
      Exterminate further?
      No that dead show.
      Gimmie my flashlight.
      (Illuminates the room.)
      I’m not comin’ back.
      Oh you’re not comin’ back?
      You’re defenseless
      (He was a real loud photographer.
      Here I might be able to help him.)
      In hold humanity,
      The change I’m not really supposed to tell.
      Then tell.
      No matter who’s walking
      They’ll have a right of crossing.
      Change now ahead.
      Consider it done.
      There’s victory in there somewhere.

      What are you talking about?
      On the other hand,
      Why don’t you shut your mouth?
      Good idea,
      Now I’m uncle on the floor
      In a blue outfit.
      Even spiritual
      You’re gonna wanna beat me up.
      I’m lensing
      Right here:
      The parentheses around Spirit will be taken off –
      Spiritual victory.
      We’ll all be in a different world.
      Slowly
      Abigail,
      We’re all livin’ in this one.
      I just wanted you to see it
      Through the lens
      Of poetry’s nodule.
      Not secular,
      No religion.
      Is he dead or alive?
      No, this is not heaven.

      At the rift.
      Picket no longer.
      Are you gonna tell me about this neighborhood?
      Somebody last screamed it.
      I ain’t exercisin’ no new restraints.
      This is the only kind one of a people,
      Superman’s brother,
      A tough customer,
      Earth activated.
      Just think,
      You’re part of it
      Whole thing,
      A full nelson,
      And we got our full moon.
      A camera
      Analogy with pain
      Put the broad on our feet,
      The teacup
      While our hairs are going down.
      The world is so very small.
      Put in our face
      Everybody
      As you.
      Touch it
      To see where I’m going.
      What do you take me for?
      I’m not blaming you.
      In that camera
      Is our hopscotch item,
      Toll we count.
      Better than a machine gun.
      Coming events
      We take a peer at
      In a nodule.
      I’m fixin’ your plate,
      Mine too by the looks of it.
      Will you look at that?
      Out of danger.
      Before I forget,
      God makes this perfect.
      You take it home.
      Good idea.

  • Anthony

    I would have liked a sample of the poem here to read. “The Tin Dum” was to me a weird novel with perverse characters eating raw eel. The movie made me sick.

    Jew hating hatred comming from an old Nazi is no surprise. But that old Nazis still hate Jews, and seem to love Moslems and Marxists, who together will soon rule the European roost is a sign of the disorderd thinking of left.

    • waldemar

      Nazism is part of the left's folklore. Hitler loved Islam, Muslims loved Hitler and even gave him an SS-Division in Bosnia.

      "Totalitarians of the World, Unite."

      Did you notice whom Does Obama love?

    • intrcptr2

      Links, brother, links; they're in there.

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    I would advise every one to read the book written by Arthur D Morse: While the six million died.
    The same ,shamefull ignorance,the same turning of heads the other way, of then, is happening
    anew to the Jewish people with Iran the new Germany and his new Hitler.

  • Amused

    crackerjack has his head screwed on backwards . Israel has not threatened Iran . Israel has had nukes since the time of the Shah , and was in fact an ally of sorts with Iran . So in crackerjack's mind of fractured fairey tales and revisionism , he sees Israel as a threat [ as do the rest of the unmitigated jew haters of Israel ] . Crackerjack is also blinded by his bigotry to Irans numerous unending threats and the reality that Hezbolla a proxy of vthe Iran-Syria axis has intiated from within Lebanon the "Summer War " which went far beyond threats , and was without a doubt facilitated by Iran visa-vis Hezbolla …and that they are still presently being supplied by Iran and building offensive positions on Israel's northern border .
    So who in the hell are YOU kidding crackerjack ?

  • Larry

    Remember this well "Once a Nazi always a Nazi"

  • Schlomotion

    It is a good poem. Predictably, it is being trashed by Zionists, who will impugn its literary quality because they are dishonest Marxists at heart. Bawer is an intellectual backstabber for putting the word "poem" in scare quotes, as the poem is in fact a poem and not a "poem." Routinely, Bawer chooses bitterness over intellect. Can he prove the poem is not a poem by using literary criteria? Absolutely not. Can he prove it is a bad poem using objective criteria? Absolutely not.

    What amuses me the most is that Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai declared that Grass' writing belongs in Iran and saw no irony in preventing a poet from entering the country because of his verses. Yishai is therefore an intellectual Iranian. This is PRECISELY the problem we would have had in America if the hubristically named Center for the Study of Popular Culture were ever vested with any quasi-governmental authority instead of morphing into the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Their writings against poets and musicians have the same obnoxious tenor.

    • reader

      "Eli Yishai declared that Grass' writing belongs in Iran and saw no irony in preventing a poet from entering the country because of his verses. Yishai is therefore an intellectual Iranian."

      This is an intellectual Borat in all its glory.

    • cjk

      Well, well what amuses me is that you agree that the term 'intellectual Iranian' has a negative connotation.
      It's nice to see that you appear to agree with 100% of just and sane men on at least one point. You can still try to explain your slip away via an NBCesque lie I suppose.
      However, the example itself of Israel's Interior Minister as acting like an 'intellectual Iranian' is as flawed as Gunter 'Waffen SS' Grass' equating Communism with Capitalism.

    • UCSPanther

      You a white supremicist of some sort, because that crowd is REALLY obsessed with the supposed connection between Marxism and Jews.

      • Schlomotion

        The supposed connection? Is that like the "supposed" connection between ice cubes and the freezer?

        • Schlomotion

          I never said every Jew is a Marxist. Ask Marx if he was a Marxist.

    • stern

      Schlockmeister has demonstrated on numerous occasions that it is a confirmed Jew-hater. The best response to the garbage it posts is to ignore it completely.

      • Schlomotion

        I was never confirmed. There was no anointing or laying of hands.

        • http://prosemiteundercover.phpbbnow.com/index.php Andy Lewis

          Gotcher annointment right here.

    • Ghostwriter

      Personally,I think Dr. Seuss is a far better poet than Gunter Grass. And far more wittier too. Also,he didn't bash Jews,like you and Grass seem to do.

    • Touchstone

      The translation I read barely contains any figurative language. The figures it does contain aren't interesting or original. I don't detect any brilliance or profundity of thought in this poem. Perhaps the language is pleasing to the ear, but I don't speak German so I can't comment on its sound or rhythm. Certainly the content is mediocre and uninspired.

      The poet's sentiments are purely self-serving. An Israeli strike on Iran would harm the world economy by triggering a rise in the price of oil. Europe would be hit very hard, so naturally Grass wants to control Israel's actions. He seeks power over the decisions made by the Jewish state, because those decisions might harm the German state. Grass arrogantly and condescendingly demands that Israel forfeit its right to defend itself.

      Grass expresses his predictably self-serving op-ed (masquerading as a poem) using language that reduces the Jewish state to something so purely militaristic and demonic, it resembles a cartoon more than the multi-faceted place it is:

      "Israel, whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence of a single atomic bomb is unproven"

      So Grass, a former member of the gang of continent-occupying butchers known as the SS, is telling us that Israel excels at unprovoked aggression and unjustified destruction. My, what a credible voice he has. And while he slanders Israel, he ignores the explicitly genocidal statements made by regional leaders like Nasrallah and Khamenei. Audaciously, he argues that Israel should be deprived of its nuclear deterrent in the face of such genocidal threats.

      If there's one nation that richly deserves to possess a nuclear deterrent, it's the Jewish nation of Israel. Heck, it was a Jew who came up with the science behind it in the first place.

      • Schlomotion

        This is why I said it was a good poem and not a great or an outstanding poem. But the people who are out to prove that it is not even good don't really care about the poem, they care about vilifying any blacklisted enemy of Israel. You say "the poet's sentiments are purely self-serving." Are you trying to posit that poets should be altruists as well, and their poetry should be philanthropic? Are you trying to throttle the act of giving out of poets and be a poet's tyrant? The man is free to compose as he sees fit. Again, Israel is the nation that cannot tolerate poetry and has to close its border to poets because they dislike the particular verses. That is very totalitarian.

        • Touchstone

          What a load of BS. Had Grass written the same sentiments in an op-ed prose piece, he would have been just as maligned. He can't hide behind the sacrosanct title of "poet" just because he put his hateful sentiments in verse. Israel-bashers like you who desperately grasp at straws won't get anywhere putting the man on a pedestal as a "poet" and then vilifying Israel for "banning poets". Grass tried to elevate his prosaic sentiments by putting them in verse, and apparently he did manage to fool you and your ilk, but he's certainly not fooling everyone.

          And how do you make the leap from my opinion that Grass is "self-serving" to demonizing me as a "tyrant"? Yet another hysterical overreaction on your part, another desperate grasping at those same straws. All I was doing was giving my opinion of a mediocre poem, which is less of a poem than a transparent attempt to dress an unoriginal, self-serving polemic in the garb of literature. If, as you say, "the man is free to compose as he sees fit", I'm free to analyze as I see fit.

          • Schlomotion

            You said "the poet's sentiments are purely self-serving." My response is: why shouldn't a poet's sentiments be purely self-serving? Why do you obligate someone's sentiments to serve organized Jewry instead? Why is the man not entitled to put his self-serving sentiments to poetic verse? Why does this place him on a blacklist and impede his ability to travel to different nations?

          • Touchstone

            "why shouldn't a poet's sentiments be purely self-serving?"

            Never said they couldn't be. But Grass presumes to speak on behalf of humanity, forgetting that Israelis are part of humanity too, and they have the right to decide for themselves what's in their own best interest. A self-serving poet who claims to speak on behalf of others exposes himself to the charge of hypocrisy, which is obviously what I was really getting at, oh obtuse one.

            "Why do you obligate someone's sentiments to serve organized Jewry instead?"

            Never said that either. You're nuts. You pull this sh** in every post. You take ridiculous leaps of logic. You make false accusations. You create straw men so you can knock them down and feel righteous. You can't adequately criticize what's actually written, so you distort words and meaning to create a new straw man to attack. Your tactics are as pathetic as they are transparent.

            "Why does this place him on a blacklist and impede his ability to travel to different nations?"

            Different nations? Again with the dishonesty. Don't you ever stop? Isn't it just one nation, the one he slandered? The one he demonized? The one he seeks to disarm? The one he seeks to render vulnerable to attack? I'm sure the "poet" had zero intention of ever traveling to a nation full of the same people he once helped to exterminate. Why don't you spare us your crocodile tears?

            OK, now you may begin distorting my words and accusing me of all manner of imagined evils, as is your habit.

          • Schlomotion

            I see what is simply occurring: A man writes a poem critical of Israel, so a team of Hasbara people attack the poem and the poet, trying to negate everything from his childhood to his meter to his rhyme scheme, to the existential quantity of his penmanship, to his self-motivation, to his passport.

            I am not leaping anywhere. I am viewing the totalitarian nature of Israel. You on the other hand are trying to broker his speech and broker the impression it makes on other people, and broker people's positive response to his work. It is exactly like Alan Dershowitz telling people what they must think and what they must say about Gilad Atzmon, and who may permit him to play his musical instruments, and who may read his books, and who may enjoy them. Zionists have revived the Stasi.

            Do I feel great about saying so? Yes I do.

          • Touchstone

            "people attack the poem and the poet"

            Boo hoo. Maybe that's par for the course when one is a Jew-baiting Nazi, oh Obtuse One.

            "Zionists have revived the Stasi"

            You traffic in hyperbole, Obtuse One. Nobody's coming to arrest and interrogate Grass. He's still free to incite his followers against Israel and lead a campaign to disarm it and strip it of its ability to act in its own defense. The only consequences are well-deserved public opprobrium and Israel taking away the welcome mat. My my, what a steep price. Stasi indeed!

            I'm sure the genuine victims of the Stasi would applaud you for trivializing their many years of suffering in a police state. Well done, Obtuse One.

          • Schlomotion

            In the meantime Grass has just said the same thing I did about the Stasi:
            http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4215255

          • Touchstone

            Citing a discredited figure like Grass only weakens your argument (assuming you have one) and strengthens mine. Thanks for the thinly disguised forfeit.

          • Schlomotion

            "Discredited" is an amusing word when used by Zionists. According to the Zionist accreditation process, if they dislike someone, he becomes "discredited," but in real life it's not like losing your accreditation. It's like being blacklisted.

          • Touchstone

            Why accuse anyone of trying to broker anything? We're all just ordinary people giving our opinions. I don't have more authority here than you do. Why are the pro-Israel bloggers the controlling ones, but the pro-Grass types get a free pass? I could just as easily accuse you of trying to exert control over the opinions of others.

            And I'm not part of a "team", even if that's how it may APPEAR to you, Obtuse One. Like you, I'm not acting in concert with anyone, regardless of what your misperceptions tell you.

            Your posts are splendid examples of hypocrisy and paranoid, delusional thinking.

          • Schlomotion

            We live in 1984 world, and Grass is the Emmanuel Goldstein of the week. First he's Grass, then he's Iran, then he's Hitler.

            My foot, no one is trying to broker anything.
            German politicians, Israeli writers call to muzzle Grass:
            http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeq

          • Touchstone

            You're deflecting and distorting again. Originally you specifically accused ME of brokering and ME of being part of a "team". You're wrong on both counts, and you're wrong about it being 1984. People getting offended isn't new. It doesn't amount to 1984.

            You keep getting things so laughably wrong because you're paranoid and delusional. You see Nazis and Stasi and Thought Police behind every lamppost. Your hysteria is getting tedious. Enough is enough. Seriously.

          • Schlomotion

            You are part of the team. You are part of the Israeli Lemming Team, obligated to opine and offend accordingly.

          • Touchstone

            You really have a problem with basic perceptual skills.

            Individuals whose opinions on a particular topic happen to be in alignment don't constitute a team. People who work together for a common goal comprise a team. I haven't coordinated my efforts within anyone here, nor have I received any memos from anyone here, nor am I working in any way with anyone on this site or any other site. I'm an independent individual with my own opinions, as I presume you are as well. Or are your efforts deliberately orchestrated with those of others?

            Maybe you just need to feel like you're fighting a team rather than one individual here and there. I presume you'd derive much less satisfaction if you didn't feel like you were taking on THE WORLDWIDE ZIONIST ARMADA with every overwrought post you scribble.

          • Touchstone

            "with anyone", I mean…

          • Schlomotion

            That was a pleasant lecture on decentralized fourth generation warfare in layman's terms. How can you count yourself an "individual" with such corn pone country opinions? Demagoguery requires a demos, and you act the part of the demos when you jump on the hatewagon against someone who simply wrote a poem critical of Israel. How do you "independently" arrive at the conclusion that Gunter Grass is "discredited" when you really mean "shunned?" How are you an individual when people who disagree with your favorite tribe are branded dishonest, perceptually challenged, paranoid, hysterical, obtuse, counterfeit poets? How can an individual resort to so much perception management and apodiction over one man's departure from Israeli Soci.alist Realism?

          • Touchstone

            Summing up all supporters of Israel as "Shactmanites" is an example of your OWN brainwashing. You spew the predictable boilerplate that anyone pro-Israel has come to associate with the hard left. You're such a robotic, obedient child of leftist groupthink, you even take issue with the objectionable messenger of a British video depicting brazenly extremist Muslims rather than with the dangerously intolerant jihadists themselves. You've fallen so far down the rabbit hole, you're in too much darkness to see who and what the real dangers are.

            You're not a in a credible position to presume your discernment is superior or the product of an independent thinker. You play the role of snooty leftist so well, you can't help but sneer at the lowly "corn pone" opinions of someone who disagrees with you on Israel or Grass. Your condescension is expected; it's an essential part of the anatomy of the arrogant, sneering leftist. You're on your own "hatewagon", influenced by your own pet demagogues.

            As for my opinion of Grass's poem, it was truly my own and not influenced by anyone else: I read through it, looking for the tropes I've always associated with poetic thinking, and found very few. The ones I did find didn't impress me. What's more, he clearly slanders Israel sophomorically when he reduces it to a cartoon character whose "specialty" consists of unprovoked, wanton destruction. I cited SPECIFIC EXAMPLES within the poem to make my case; I didn't rely on the opinions of others, not even columnists I've come to respect and admire. You, by contrast, reflexively and fatuously described it as a "good poem", with no argument at all to back up your claim. So who's actually guilty of apodiction? Who's the one who, to his own arrogant satisfaction, belches out hollow, self-serving claims, believing them to be incontestable? I'd tell you to look in the mirror, but like I said earlier, your perceptual skills would fail you. You'd probably think you're looking at an intellectual.

          • Schlomotion

            You can't even speak outside of a Hasbara rubric. I "spew?" I issue "boilerplate?" I sum up "all" supporters of Israel? I am a "leftist?" It is wrong to take issue with the Clarion Fund? I am helping "the jihadists?" I am blind to the "real danger" of Muslims? I am an "arrogant, sneering leftist?" I have those anti-Semitic physical features of my caricature? I support which demagogues? Saul Alinsky?

            Please issue something not from the 1989 Abe Foxman playbook.

            I am "self-serving?" Is this like Gunter Grass being "self-serving?" Where does all this vicious Platonism come from? I too am supposed to be engaged in this altruism toward all things Israeli? Perhaps I am being altruistic by defending a poem. Who is the arbiter? Why wouldn't Gunter Grass be allowed to serve himself? Why wouldn't I? Why is serving Zion morally superior?

          • Touchstone

            Wow. Since when are words like spew, boilerplate, leftist, jihadists, real dangers, arrogant, sneering, etc the exclusive province of any one faction? It never occurred to you that, just as your predictable arguments follow a pattern, so will the responses you receive. If you keep making the same weak arguments, you'll keep receiving similar counter-arguments, and yes, that means many of the same words will keep popping up — not because those words are on a circulated list, but because they exist in the same English language that your opponents use to respond to your provocations .

            Is it not arrogant and sneering to deride someone's opinions as cornpone?

            is it not ignoring real dangers to give a pass to violent fanatics who march down the street calling for the overthrow of the UK government?

            If a radical Muslim marches down the street screaming for blood, most people are going to draw what YOU in your perpetual groupthink mode would reflexively dismiss as a Hasbara-inspired conclusion, when in reality it's more like common sense. You'd be busy demonizing the horrified bystanders!

            Do you not see something wrong (and in line with leftist boilerplate) with rallying unthinkingly and reflexively to the defense of Grass's anti-Israel "good poem" WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO DEFEND WHAT'S ACTUALLY GOOD ABOUT IT???

            Why would you expect NOT to be accused of "spewing boilerplate" and ignoring "real dangers" and so on if these are precisely the things you keep doing? You label me a "Zionist", and since I argue in Israel's defense, I don't reject that label. By the same token, since your opinions strike me as very much left of center, I called you a leftist, never believing it to be a label owned by Zionists or any other faction, but rather a ubiquitous term, just as relevant in countries where there aren't any Jews or Zionists.

            I choose my words carefully. Just because other people have used them in the past doesn't mean I haven't thought through my own choice to use them in stating my own opinions.

            And I've already explained (read slowly this time) that Grass can be as self-serving as he wants, but he'll be criticized for it when he purports to speak on behalf of humanity. And no, I don't demand that anyone be pro-Israel, but I'm justified in criticizing people who caricature it dismissively and seek to render it vulnerable to genocidal attack. Sure hope all this finally registers in your sclerotic brain tissue, oh Obtuse One. Maybe you'll finally stop making me repeat myself.

          • Schlomotion

            The words you chose are definitely the province of one faction.
            Here is a boolean to prove my point:
            http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=frgbld&am

            Not only it is not arrogant to describe someone's corn pone country opinions as corn pone. it is Twainian.
            http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/cornponetwain.htm

            There is no real danger of Islam. There is a spooky specter, post Cold War anti-antigasmic whimper of a specter of a danger of Islam. For anyone who lived through the Cold War, the fear of Muslims is anticlimactic bathos, and PG-13 gothic horror remakes.

            What an inversion, to accuse a critic of Hasbara propaganda as a groupthinker. Hasbaras are the very squeezeboxes of groupthink and Zionist consensus opinion. No imaginary walking shrieking Muslim shrieks so loudly as Zionists in the American press.

            I can certainly defend what is good about Gunter Grass poem, from good meter, to good concept, to good public deployment, and great defense of his work. It was a well-timed and well-played move of public spectacle.

            I am still convinced that Gunter Grass is speaking on behalf of humanity and also of the humanity of humanity. On the other end, Zionists are wailing and scathing on cue much like how the Catholic Church seethed and gnashed when The Last Temptation of Christ came out, or like how the lunatic zealots of Qom would beat themselves with chains and jump up and down if somebody made fun of Ali.

            You'll never stop repeating yourself. In fact, I would suspect that you write for Pajamas Media. Your writing matches Victor Davis Hanson after he read Mark Steyn.

          • Touchstone

            High praise indeed. If only I was the equal of those brilliant men. Not sure how I went from corn pone to VDH clone so rapidly, though.

            I suppose I owe Abe Foxman a royalty every time I say "arrogant" or "sneering". Didn't know he invented those words. Didn't realize using them makes one a corn pone tool of a sinister cabal. Imagine that.

            The comparison between Islam and the USSR is apples and oranges. The threat from Islam involves terrorism (possibly nuclear terrorism, should Pakistan fall or the Mullahs make good on their endless threats) and a more insidious, Trojan-horse type of demographic imbalance over time. Effects of the latter can be seen in Europe very clearly these days. You saw it in the video you dismissed. MPs in the UK can't say a friendly or even neutral word towards Israel without receiving death threats. Throngs of Muslim men in Paris gather to claim streets as their own on which to pray, intimidating passersby and preventing transit. Examples abound of radicalized Muslims intimidating non-Muslims in Europe, sensing their growing numbers. And then you have the rise of Islamists across the Middle East (e.g. Turkey, Egypt), increasing the chance of a regional war that could easily go nuclear or turn into WW3. Facts are stubborn things.

            I doubt very much any book on poetic technique would contain chapters devoted to "good public deployment" or "great defense of (one's) work". "Good meter" sounds not only like the least of all poetic challenges, but also like you're damning with the faintest of praise. You can't elaborate on why the poem's any "good"; you can only spit reflexively on folks who find little that's poetic about it.

            As for "wailing and scathing on cue", it's called BEING PROVOKED. Why should Grass get to demonize and provoke with impunity? Why shouldn't the counter-arguments be heard? Do people who support Israel have to sit in silence and submit to very public attackers like Grass? Newsflash: Unlike Israel, the Catholic Church and the zealots of Qom don't embody the 2000-year hopes and prayers of the world longest-persecuted people. (Quite the opposite, in fact.) Jews have more than earned the right to complain when the need arises, and when a very prominent German authority figure with the power to influence millions incites ill will towards Israel, the need has arisen.

            Don't be so hypocritical. You and your haughty ilk do more than your share of wailing and scathing and contemptuous sneering. Israel is by far the most demonized place on Earth thanks to relentless groupthinking hatewagon-riders like you.

          • Schlomotion

            I would fall over dead in amazement the day that people who support Israel learned the ability sit in silence.

            Here are some things a modern person with access to electricity and news does not believe:

            1) That Israel's political media machine reacts, rather than acts.
            2) That anti-Semite means "person who hates Jews" and not "person who Jews hate."
            3) That people use the Vilifying V-Word list (vile, venomous, vitriolic, virulent) due to a capacity to think for themselves or alliterate.
            4) That Pajamas Media is a real media company.
            5) That there is an Islamic cultural or nuclear threat to the United States.
            6) That The Lobby judges media products on quality and craftsmanship, rather than ordains a particular Zionist gospel.
            7) That everyone who disagrees with a Neocon is a "Leftist."
            8) That Alan Dershowitz is other than an ambulance chaser for Israel.
            9) That The Lobby press sits in silence rather than yammering, cross-plagiarizing, and issuing fatwas.
            10) That Jews hold the record for "longest oppressed people and deserve a prize and indulgences.
            11) That Germany is never allowed to say anything again because of Hitler.
            12) That all that fatuous rumination over obscure Jewish cultural achievements makes for good public television.
            13) That countries can close their borders because they hate poems.

            Craziness. Absolute primitive craziness.

          • Touchstone

            As for your first "point", do YOU ever sit in silence? Do your comrades? No. So how can you complain?

            As for your hysterical litany of all-too familiar hyperbolic self-gratifying sarcastic non-points:

            1) Grass launched the attack. How is the reaction to it not a reaction but an action? How does a nation with news media in conflict with each other (like the left wing Haaretz and the right wing Jerusalem Post) possess a unified "political media machine"? Only in the conspiracy-minded brains of its critics.
            2) Antisemitism is not only real, it's becoming less taboo, more mainstream and more prevalent, concurrent with the rise of a hyper-intolerant, intimidating, rabidly Jew-hating element among Muslims, but it's quite prevalent among the sneering, corn-pone mocking, extreme left wing as well.
            3) It doesn't matter if the word begins with a "v" or any other letter if it accurately describes a person or an argument. A cliche (whether an expression or one single word) may be stale, but it's still true. Expecting everyone who debates you to be a human thesaurus is unrealistic. Words like "the" and "of" and "at" appear with great frequency as well, but I don't see you criticizing their overuse. Perhaps it's because your opponents consider all the words mentioned, including the v-words, to be required to construct their arguments. Picking on a very short list of oft-repeated words is petty, supercilious, and pointless. Perhaps you'd focus on the SUBSTANCE of what people try to communicate to you if you weren't so shallow, and so eager to reduce your opponents to thoughtless idiots who can't think for themselves.
            4) Pajamas Media features articles by authors you don't agree with, so naturally it couldn't possibly be "real", meaning "legitimate" or "deserving of respect". Clearly, it's just as "real" as any other media outlet that provides content to a very polarized market. Assuming you're capable of more than just juvenile snide remarks, perhaps you might explain WHY it's not a "real" media company.
            5) There isn't much of a cultural threat from Muslims to the USA; that's why I've focused my attention on Europe in that regard. But there certainly could be a nuclear threat posed by Islamist terrorists, should the right geopolitical circumstances arise.
            6) I knew you were paranoid. You probably see "The Lobby" lurking everywhere. Tell me, did you come up with that term all by yourself? Or did Walt and Mearsheimer plant it in your brain? And you pretend you're not guilty of groupthink. Next time you sneer at someone for vilifying you with a v-word, or accuse them of using Foxman's tactics, remember that your own use of "The Lobby" as a construct came right out of W & M's playbook. Got any other field manuals in your library, hypocrite?

          • Schlomotion

            I don't have comrades. The Anti-Communist stance is overplayed. I am not one. I am not a red diaper baby who turned to anti-Communism and hardcore Zionism either. I am an American who ridicules the Zionist guilt trip. It's like you are trying to out me as a fellow gay and I am not gay.

            Just because a country has a wingnut newspaper doesn't mean that it does not also have a highly effective and cohesive propaganda machine with a bigger transmitter and more barking lemmings.That is true of the Israeli transnational Hasbara.

            If you are going to pretend that the new pot is more dangerous than the old pot and that antisemitism is on the rise, more mainstream, more intimidating and less taboo, then I am going to pretend that today's Jews are more obnoxious, more pushy, more kleptomaniacal, more loudly defensive of their crimes against humanity and that the new "antisemitism" is just the natural disgust that it inspires.

            I do expect the people I debate to be a human thesaurus. Why should I dumb down my expectations simply because the opponent uses the crutch of a 1989 timestamped Anti-Defamation League alliterative technique? Perhaps if he could update his wordbase, he could also update his old-fashioned tribalist attitude and give up his ethnic cleansing as special pleading.

            So you are going to hide behind "the," "of," and "at" to obscure your beholdenness to Foxmanisms? Hide behind a single letter, or a piece of punctuation. I'll blast you there as well.

            I am not blasting style over substance. Your style is your substance, or rather, Foxman, Hanson, and Steyn's style are your substance. If you are going to put on a Marx Nose of canard adjectives in order to passive-aggressively attack poets, religions, and races of people, I am going to beep the nose. It does matter that your invective has ethnic features to it, and that it is bone-in-the-nose tribal. That is the way you are trying to advertise Muslims so that I will think that Jews are a better brand.

            Pajamas Media is not a real media outlet in the same way that Alex Jones, Matt Drudge, Chuck Munson and Andrew Breitbart are not real media outlets. They are lone windbags surrounded by a coterie of blaring, cacophonous mouthpieces who manage to harmonize out of key. In short, they are bagpipes, if you can imagine such a thing as the sound of Jewish bagpipes. It works like the Glazov Show, which is really just Jamie at a laptop talking to Daniel in a microphone while Mark pretends to be a call-in, and David puts it in the center column like it was a groundbreaking event.

            Pajamas Media is tabloid aggregated and cross-promoted drivel on a megablog, a reincarnation of Little Green Footballs with a pop-cultural column, it's purpose being to promote Israel in America, tear down elected representatives and get rich by duping Tea Party Activists with a decoy news service. Of course, they will be mistaken for a media service because standards are slipping, and the internet is making people dumber.

            There isn't much of any threat at all from Muslims to the USA. And we shouldn't let Clarion Fund tug the harpstrings of Europhilia, just like we shouldn't let Benjamin Netanyahu stand on the American dais and threaten us that our buses will start blowing up here too if we don't affect a more pro-Israeli policy. The Kulturkampf or Diaspora World War between Jews and Muslims should be contained, because it has gone on for too long at other people's expense. It is like watching Pro-Magnons fight Con-Magnons when they should just be forced to mate or kill one another off on a remote Island.

            Before it was called "The Lobby" it was called "The Israel Lobby" and before that "AIPAC, ZOA, the ADL, JDL, JDO, JINSA, AEI, The National Review, and other elements of the pro-Israel Lobby." Mearsheimer and Walt were smart to condense the term to The Lobby, but they didn't invent the term. I was certainly using it before then. Their paper was accurate though, and fortunately we don't all have to be short of breath describing the Rikki Tikki Tembo political machine that to this day the most rabid Zionists deny even exists. Before that it was called ZOG, but that is a misnomer, because it presumes that The Lobby is actually embedded and not more like a fake ATM set up near a real bank. PJ Media is one of those fake ATMs.

          • Touchstone

            7) Well, that's just plain dumb. Paleo-conservatives like Pat Buchanan demonize people with the word "neocon" constantly. It's not a term owned by the left.
            8) You single out the eloquent Dershowitz because his intelligence and debating skill make him a threat to your agenda, and because he's an easy target, having been attacked by your intellectual brethren in the media for years.
            9) See #6, ye paranoid disciple of W & M.
            10) Make all the lame sarcastic remarks you want, but once again, facts are stubborn things. Just like you tire of hearing the v-words even when they apply, and you tire of hearing the label "antisemite" when it applies as well, so you tire of hearing the sad truth that demonization and persecution of Jews LONG predates the Arab-Israeli conflict. It's an unchanging feature of the world we live in, not a political card to be played when circumstances warrant. I myself am tired of all the short-sighted, ignorant SOBs who have decided it's time to pretend that antisemitism doesn't exist, that Jews have nothing to fear but fear itself, and that Jews dare not even whisper any reference to centuries of mistreatment, lest they subject themselves to charges of playing the victim card.
            11) Could you be more fatuous and hyperbolic? Nobody's stopping people like Grass from speaking his mind. But if anybody did, it would be the Germans themselves. For instance, Germany herself outlawed making the Hitler salute; it's not just Jews who recognize the potential danger of waking the sleeping giant of Teutonic antisemitism. But if you're lamenting Germany's reluctance to criticize Israel, consider that they walk on eggshells where the Greeks are concerned too, not to mention the Russians and many other nationalities. It'll take a lot longer than 70 years to diminish the effect of the carnage they inflicted on humanity in two world wars. The issue of the taciturn Germany is bigger than Hitler and the Jews.
            12) What obscure achievements are you referring to? What does this bigoted garbage have to do with Israel or Grass or Islam or anything political? Wow, what a surprise: an Israel-basher who peppers his diatribe with some completely irrelevant anti-Jewish slanders, thrown in for good measure. You just proved the accuracy of the axiom "anti-Zionism is antisemitism".
            13) Another fatuous hyperbole. (Uh oh. Is my repeated use of these words becoming suspect now in your paranoid brain? Quick, check to see if Abe Foxman uses the same words!) Israel doesn't hate poems; it hates unrepentant ex-Nazis who seek to demonize and disarm her, whether they do it in verse or at a Nuremberg rally. "Close their borders" – what hyperbolic drivel. Israel closed her borders to ONE INDIVIDUAL, not the world, and it's really more of a tit-for-tat protest than an actual punishment, since the octogenarian has no intention of visiting anyway. Your hysterical, reactionary brain can't distinguish between true discrimination and a show of pique. The "primitive craziness" is entirely your own.

            Whenever you tire of debating or simply have no valid point to make, you scribble some quasi-facetious blather which is the intellectual equivalent of "Oh yeah? Well, your side sucks".

          • Schlomotion

            Neocons should be demonized since they are demons. Demons hijack the Constitution and wage war from the Executive branch, prop it up in the press instead of voting for it in Congress. Demons eat all the money and claim there is no money for anything useful, from schools to roads to fuel, to fresh vegetables. Demons knock over countries just to hand out no-bid contracts to companies whose only goal is to make all natural resources more expensive for all customers. Demons use a credit system to inflate the prices of food, clothing, and shelter, eat through democratic republican social contracts with their acid saliva, and drop white phosphorus on children. Demons meet in increasingly remote places in places like Davos, Switzerland. We should exorcise those demons. We should exorcise the servants of those demons too, even if they have now cobbled together a long and sad history as the most persecuted people on earth, a story they plagiarized from Jews who died in the Holocaust.

            We should demonize the demons who side with Nibelungs who would hide freedom and poetry in the same dark cave as they have hidden all the oil, electricity and gold, and we should not leave them to nibble away at Habeas Corpus, Common Law and the Magna Carta. Of course I demonize neocons. They are the new cons.

            Calibos is screaming "Don't demonize me." Calibos should not have murdered all of the winged horses and enslaved Andromeda. Abyzou says "Don't demonize me." She should not have caused women to carry Fendi bags instead of wombs. Jikininki says "Don't demonize me." He should not have lived a life of greed and fed on corpses. How do you humanize people who cheer for $4 dollar gas, invasions of five countries at a time, beg for internal national checkpoints, love being backscatter x-rayed, want to bulldoze and incinerate not only brown people on the Mediterranean, but white people in Texas, who gladly throw a Soviet magnifying glass on black-white relations every twenty years when there is a surge in Hasbara nationalism, who think bribing equals voting, and who let out a harpy's screech every time something critical of Israel is published, how do you humanize that?

          • Touchstone

            OK, you're not obtuse. You're very thoughtful and intelligent and you have a vast breadth of knowledge. Why don't you post what you've written here under a VDH column at Pajamas Media? Or maybe touch it up and send it in as an article? You'll probably get some thoughtful replies. There are quite a few intelligent people who post there who probably would be willing to answer you in detail.

            "If you are going to pretend that the new pot is more dangerous than the old pot and that antisemitism is on the rise, more mainstream, more intimidating and less taboo, then I am going to pretend that today's Jews are more obnoxious, more pushy, more kleptomaniacal, more loudly defensive of their crimes against humanity and that the new "antisemitism" is just the natural disgust that it inspires."

            I don't think I'm "pretending" that antisemitism is on the rise, at least not in certain quarters. In any case, it doesn't mean that you'd be justified in a tit-for-tat sense to slap the above labels on today's Jews. In fact, most Jews don't support those you'd identify as neocons. (By the way, you contradicted yourself here, because earlier you claimed that "antisemite" means people whom Jews don't like. Now you're telling me that antisemitism does exist and it's the natural reaction to the types of Jews you've identified. I don't buy that you're "pretending" you really mean this.)

            "I do expect the people I debate to be a human thesaurus."

            Well then, expect to be disappointed, because your expectation is simply unrealistic. People will debate you using whatever vocabulary they have, and if that means you might come across the v-words you scorn, well, it doesn't mean that whoever's using them deliberately plucked them out of a playbook. Better to focus on the meaning of what it is people are trying to tell you, even if their diction is suboptimal. Otherwise, restrict yourself to debating academics and keep away from websites open to the general public. Your expectations don't match the forum you've chosen.

            "It does matter that your invective has ethnic features to it, and that it is bone-in-the-nose tribal. That is the way you are trying to advertise Muslims so that I will think that Jews are a better brand."

            First of all, "Muslim" isn't an ethnicity. It might refer to people of Arab, Persian, Turkish, Indian or any other descent, whereas "Jew" almost always refers to those of Ashkenazi or Sephardic background. Second of all, most conflicts do wind up being reduced to one tribe versus another. It's probably biological. It's not unique to Semites, either, but it probably has a lot to do with what happened in WW2. Unlike the monsters of the Inquisition, the Nazis provided no convert-and-live escape hatch to their Jewish victims. Jews were targeted racially, regardless of nationality or political leanings. They were targeted as a tribe. Jews are STILL targeted as a tribe, whether in word or deed. You should blame the hardcore enemies of the Jews, rather than Jews themselves, for imposing tribal unity.

          • Schlomotion

            I will take up your suggestion/invitation to engage and court thoughtful replies on Pajamas Media. I have only been commenting on Frontage, and it regularly reaches the Procrustean limit of discourse, then the saws come out.

            I concede that some people are always in it for the racism, and antisemitism does rise in some quarters. To me, the issue is more one of linguistic markedness, because "antisemitism" is marked as it has no real opposite. No one speaks of "semitism" only antisemitism, this oppositional simulacrum that precedes its target. Thus it makes sense to me that Jews who fight antisemitism try to push the simulacrum as far as it will go away from the core of Jewishness. But then Jews are accused of antisemitism as well, and the whole thing collapses. There might be in all of that, an inconvenient truth that semites don't really exist except as some unimportant genetic variations and a series of observances and hairstyles that could really be done by anyone. To me this is part of why racism and ethnic bigotry don't really have any validity. I don't hate Jews in the slightest, because how can you hate people for wearing small hats and eating large crackers, reading left to right instead of right to left, using fewer vowels but more diacritical marks? For the same reason that racism makes no sense, racial chauvinism as a bulwark against racism makes to me only limited sense.

            It is understandable that for a period after WWII, or after a pogrom, where people were slaughtered for being Jews, there might be a period after which the remainder lift weights and get feral eyes, invent Krav Maga, make nukes and watch for antisemitism while wielding a giant thermal laser. Antisemitism itself, though implies that Philosemitism is normative. Everyone thinks that anti-me is not only a blindside but preposterously wrong. How could anybody hate me? I am me.

            Personally, it is when a me identifies as a we and then hammers on creators, builders, children and lovers that I feel like a fighter. I did say and did mean that I think much "antisemitism" is a reaction to actual Jews, and also much of it is contrived, universal human villainy ascribed unfairly to Jews alone. I also think that some very shrewd Jews use that as a pretext to be villains. I definitely do not think all Jews or even most Jews are villains or shrewd by stereotype. I am painfully troubled by the Holocaust and by pogroms and massacres. I grew up thinking that was he worst that people could do, and feel like I watch a big overdraft being drawn against that horror.

            Really I do not look down on anybody for using their full vocabulary, whether the stock is small or gigantic. I attack what look like canned words. I see "high academic standards" being touted in this forum, because this forum is part of an assault on colleges, and the "academic dishonesty" card is thrown down regularly. I see what appear to me to be intellectually equivalent groups CAMERA/CAIR fighting over the same scrap of student group lecture funds and a tendency of both groups to shout one another down and affix scarlet letters to the universities that cut their events short. It looks to me like a parlor game. It looks like a game of Othello or a game of Latke vs Hamentashen, except of course that it squelches out all kinds of discourse that is not Muslims vs Jews.

          • Touchstone

            It's not that Jews are a better brand, it's that Muslims (generally speaking) are lagging behind virtually all other brands on Earth right now. There's a violent, severely intolerant fanaticism among Muslims which is not to be found among any other identifiable group, at least no other group of global stature. If Muslims were as small in number as Jews, the phenomenon of Islamophobia wouldn't exist. I find it extraordinary that so many critics of Israel draw equivalencies between Muslims and Jews when the former so vastly outnumber the latter. Don't you find it disturbing and revealing that so many majority Muslim nations have authoritarian governments, low GDPs, extremely low rates of translations of books, low numbers of Nobel prizes and academic papers, severe oppression of the female half of the population, a state-run press, and so on? What's so great about living in a police state? The police state brand does indeed suck.

            It's not racial, it's cultural. Jews are a far more advanced brand than Muslims, culturally speaking. But so is the West in general. I'm biased in favor of the West over Islam.

            "the most persecuted people on earth, a story they plagiarized from Jews who died in the Holocaust"

            Who's saying that today's Jews are as persecuted as the victims of the Nazis? That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that anti-Jewish massacres and other forms of persecution occur with alarming regularity throughout history. Why should I believe there's no chance of more persecution, in whatever form in might take? For instance, what might happen to Jews if Israel attacks Iran and the price of oil rises and economies crash and people suffer and the grumbling about the corrupt Jews of AIPAC or Wall Street turns to screaming and angry mobs start rampaging? Jews need to remember history and do something to prepare for another swing of the pendulum. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying Jewry is being persecuted now; in fact, much of Jewry has enjoyed peace and prosperity for quite a while. But it could change rapidly. It's happened before. The world has a lousy track record and Jews can't possibly forget that. It could be suicide to forget that.

          • Schlomotion

            I acknowledge that if you took the words Christian Fundamentalism, Jewish Fundamentalism, Islamic Fundamentalism, and Buddhist Fundamentalism and ranked them, Islamic Fundamentalism would be at the top as some serious craziness, Christian next, Jewish next, and Buddhist and Amish Fundamentalism at the bottom as humor. I have left out Eco-fundamentalism (ATWA) which is really like violent Jainism and also ranks in the middle somewhere. Muslim fundamentalists really do take the cake, and it took Genghis Khan to extirpate the Assassin sect by doing Hassan i Sabbah in the same manner as Osama Bin Laden got his. I admit that some people just have to be grabbed by the head and have it blown off to stop what they are doing, and if they have assassins everywhere it behooves people to point them out and blow their cover. Also one need only look at the Taliban in Afghanistan with sunglasses, cell phones, motorcycles and AK-47s, and see that yes they do lag as a brand somewhere behind the Toecutters in Mad Max. They do suck, as do police states and the Stasi. We can all agree. I don't think Muslims have unique intolerant violent fanaticism, though they do blow themselves up spectacularly. Even though many of the most obscure and vicious aspects of Islamic fundamentalism are mainstreamed, I still think that Ismailis do not dominate Islamic culture. I also think smoking a lot of hash and wanting to kill someone is a universal human behavior, and it brings us all together as a species. It's not unique to Persian and Syrian Fatimids. Some of that stuff is also appealing. The singing, the Zarb playing, the coffee, the knives, the masculinity, the unshakeable ferocity of being unstoppable. I try to do all of that on my own terms. To me it's a pity that over there it comes at the expense of hating women and having to believe in God, because both of those things I find self-alienating and unnatural.

            I can't say they are a better brand than Jews because I have only the smallest experience in partaking culturally of either group, though I consider myself avid.

            I do find authoritarianism severely disturbing, and I do acknowledge that for all of its rich cultural heritage, I would not want to live in the as yet non-federated Islamic world. Maybe Oman or Mali, but not Iran, Yemen, or Egypt.

            Jewish contribution to everything is undeniable, as is Muslim contribution to everything Western. The Torah is a good read in Hebrew, the Koran is a good read in Arabic. I don't agree that a low number of Muslims are represented in the sciences. In my experience, mathematical, computer, astrophysics, and medical science are abundantly stocked with Egyptians, Pakistanis, Arabs, Tajiks, and of course Jews, Russians, Chinese, and Indians.

            Regarding numbers, There are more Muslims in the world, but they are concentrated in deserts and islands. Jews on the other hand proliferate in global metropoli, and really seem to know the value of money, power, and media much better than Muslims, or many Westerners for that matter. Al Jazeera only just came into existence, and Muslims are only just beginning to learn to put the oil money into transmitters, terraforming, propaganda, and things other than goats. So, I think it takes fewer Jews to balance out more Muslims in a state of political parity. Muslims have discovered, though, that one Muslim can blow up several Jews along with himself. In a Western Leviathan, Muslims try to control the Leviathan's car gas tank, but Jews make sure they get the driver's motor cortex, the adrenals, the testicles, the eyeballs and the eardrums. But the Muslim still has the threat of that transportation blowing up at any time. Benjamin Netanyahu likes to remind of this. I think this leads to a lot of people just hating Muslims and Jews together, especially AIPAC. I think people are starting to hate AIPAC as much as they hate OPEC. They even sound the same.

            In all of that, I do support Jewish Nationalism. From "Der Judenstaat" to Golda Meir, I support the basic concept and much of it in practice. Where I see it use press control, ethnic cleansing, preemptive strikes, mass hysteria, and inquisitions is where I think it takes its place in a Manichean pantheon of wicked binaries: left-right, liberal-conservative, Muslim-Jew, black-white, right-wrong, Israel-Palestine. Total hard limit extirpation of the other strikes me as something that only breaks political systems and cultures in half, replacing them with nothing better. That is what drives me to respect J-Street, Tikkun (and tikkun olam), and Gilad Atzmon. I believe one can be so defensive that it is an offense to all and inspires more offense in a feedback loop, like people cannot function outside a dialectic of oppression. I want to break the dialectic, also in the interest of preventing a slow suicide.

          • Touchstone

            (See below; I posted this already.)

            Hanson is a classical scholar; your prose is full of classical allusions. Don't look now, but you two have something in common after all.

            "It is understandable that for a period after WWII, or after a pogrom…"

            Perhaps you need to have been born into a tribe which was hunted down across a continent and nearly exterminated, not to mention blamed and ghettoized and persecuted for centuries, to understand that the seemingly excessive vigilance you detect in Jews is the logical result or natural residue of all that suffering. Even current generations who DON'T endure the same suffering their ancestors did surely understand, after taking even the most casual glance at history, that they must fear what could be coming next. Hitler in particular cemented that sense of vigilance and dread in world Jewry. Jews simply don't have the luxury of concerning themselves with defense "for a period". In fact, it's precisely when the pogrom ends that vigilance has come too late. It's more logical to reason that defensive preparations must be made to avert or mitigate any FUTURE pogroms, not the one that just occurred. History repeats itself, and the history of Jews is one of largely uninterrupted persecution; it follows that Jews will have to face this dragon again at some point, so vigilance and preparation are to be expected.

            I realize that non-Jews who hear this type of thing probably think we're whining about shadows, but there are tomes full of very sad facts which support my position over that of my detractors.

            "Antisemitism itself, though implies that Philosemitism is normative" — Why would that be true? I think indifference is the norm. I don't expect anyone to love Jews or any other tribe. When a seething hatred of a tribe takes hold in a region, it probably means the people of that region have been incited by a steady barrage of propaganda.

            "many of the most obscure and vicious aspects of Islamic fundamentalism are mainstreamed……I can't say they are a better brand than Jews" — The mainstreaming of fundamentalist intolerance is a good reason why the Muslim brand isn't too appealing these days. The Muslims who marched in that UK video don't have a Jewish counterpart, threatening to topple governments and change the fabric of societies where they reside, and generally discharging hatred for non-members of the tribe into the atmosphere.

            "The Torah is a good read in Hebrew, the Koran is a good read in Arabic." — The Judeo-Christian Bible was written by many different people over many centuries; the Koran was written by one man. The Bible is a source of endless popular quotations and memorable stories and characters; the Koran can't compete in this regard. I'm agnostic where religious belief is concerned; I don't defend the violent passages in the Bible, and I'm no religious snob. But with respect to literary merit, I doubt any case could be made for the two books to be equated as you've done.

            "I don't agree that a low number of Muslims are represented in the sciences." — I'm not talking about journeymen scientists, engineers or technicians. I'm referring to world-leading innovators and thinkers, recognized by prestigious accolades such as Nobel prizes. It's been many centuries since the Muslim world was on the cutting edge of scientific innovation and the betterment of humanity through technology and learning.

            "Gilad Atzmon" — I don't know much about this guy except that he has a reputation for making caustic, offensive remarks about Jews and Judaism, such as "I hate the Jew in me". Doesn't sound like someone terribly deserving of praise.

          • Schlomotion

            I replied to your other posting, the one that has more space.

    • Touchstone

      (I'm replying to you here because the posts are getting stretched.)

      Hanson is a classical scholar; your prose is full of classical allusions. Don't look now, but you two have something in common after all.

      "It is understandable that for a period after WWII, or after a pogrom…"

      Perhaps you need to have been born into a tribe which was hunted down across a continent and nearly exterminated, not to mention blamed and ghettoized and persecuted for centuries, to understand that the seemingly excessive vigilance you detect in Jews is the logical result or natural residue of all that suffering. Even current generations who DON'T endure the same suffering their ancestors did surely understand, after taking even the most casual glance at history, that they must fear what could be coming next. Hitler in particular cemented that sense of vigilance and dread in world Jewry. Jews simply don't have the luxury of concerning themselves with defense "for a period". In fact, it's precisely when the pogrom ends that vigilance has come too late. It's more logical to reason that defensive preparations must be made to avert or mitigate any FUTURE pogroms, not the one that just occurred. History repeats itself, and the history of Jews is one of largely uninterrupted persecution; it follows that Jews will have to face this dragon again at some point, so vigilance and preparation are to be expected.

      I realize that non-Jews who hear this type of thing probably think we're whining about shadows, but there are tomes full of very sad facts which support my position over that of my detractors.

      "Antisemitism itself, though implies that Philosemitism is normative" — Why would that be true? I think indifference is the norm. I don't expect anyone to love Jews or any other tribe. When a seething hatred of a tribe takes hold in a region, it probably means the people of that region have been incited by a steady barrage of propaganda.

      "many of the most obscure and vicious aspects of Islamic fundamentalism are mainstreamed……I can't say they are a better brand than Jews" — The mainstreaming of fundamentalist intolerance is a good reason why the Muslim brand isn't too appealing these days. The Muslims who marched in that UK video don't have a Jewish counterpart, threatening to topple governments and change the fabric of societies where they reside, and generally discharging hatred for non-members of the tribe into the atmosphere.

      "The Torah is a good read in Hebrew, the Koran is a good read in Arabic." — The Judeo-Christian Bible was written by many different people over many centuries; the Koran was written by one man. The Bible is a source of endless popular quotations and memorable stories and characters; the Koran can't compete in this regard. I'm agnostic where religious belief is concerned; I don't defend the violent passages in the Bible, and I'm no religious snob. But with respect to literary merit, I doubt any case could be made for the two books to be equated as you've done.

      "I don't agree that a low number of Muslims are represented in the sciences." — I'm not talking about journeymen scientists, engineers or technicians. I'm referring to world-leading innovators and thinkers, recognized by prestigious accolades such as Nobel prizes. It's been many centuries since the Muslim world was on the cutting edge of scientific innovation and the betterment of humanity through technology and learning.

      "Gilad Atzmon" — I don't know much about this guy except that he has a reputation for making caustic, offensive remarks about Jews and Judaism, such as "I hate the Jew in me". Doesn't sound like someone terribly deserving of praise.

      • Schlomotion

        I am glad we have things in common. I prefer commonalities to disparities. For the time being, the Earth is a limited place, and I hate the endless fighting over tiny scraps of land and the incessant fighting over allegedly diminishing resources.

        I was definitely not born into a whole tribe that can claim to have been persecuted nonstop since the dawn of man. I have a hard time not seeing that as a self-pitying but aggressive worldview, despite the fact that I have pored over history books, over History of the Jewish People by Margolis and Marx, and really do agree with Theodor Herzl. Some of my ancestors were wiped out by European smallpox and scarlet fever, others cleared the trees of South Berwick, ME for Queen Anne, others were stoned for witchcraft, or killed in the Civil War, or drowned on the Titanic, but they don't represent for me a historical narrative of oppression. If you fled from Germany or Russia to the United States, for example, you were not oppressed also in the United States. By my reckoning, the last genuinely oppressed Jews came to the US from the USSR in the 1970s. If a group of Americans decided to rebuild the Magyar Empire in Hungary, I would not feel a tug to go join up, or endorse them grabbing a strip of land from Ukraine, or accuse people of anti-Hungarianism. It seems so 1800s.

        I agree with your point that the normative attitude toward semites should be indifferent, not hostile or adulatory. What I notice is theatrical recoil from antisemitism as if it were a new situation that people don't like being blamed for the Holocaust, or for Russian pogroms, or for Gazan rockets if they have absolutely nothing to do with those things, or if, as of late, they are Jewish themselves. It seems, more often than not, that the blaming comes from a very well enfranchised American Jew who either works in the media, in law, or in real estate. I think that at least inspires Semito-skepticism. When that skepticism becomes an outrage in the Hasbara press, the skepticism turns to outright antipathy toward Israelis. This antipathy then gets framed as antisemitism, and at that point people are fed up and are willing to hate Jews. I personally think it is a travesty and shouldn't get that far. I also think people like Gilad Atzmon should not be so obligated to be pro-Jewish that they feel it necessary to disavow it in order to be free to think, speak, and create. I certainly hate those aspects of Islam. They strike me as unwanted gang affiliation.

        • Touchstone

          When a Jew reminds you about the Holocaust or other historical examples of mistreatment, you consider it self-pity. My intention isn't to arouse sympathy, however; it's to make it understood that Jews have ample reason (in the form of centuries of repeating history) to be concerned about their future safety. References to antisemitic atrocities aren't a way of playing the victim, they're a way of explaining why Jews must hang on to their precious state and its armaments, including the nukes which Grass wants taken away.

          Small pox and such are not examples of genocide, the deliberate attempt to exterminate a people. Jews aren't the only tribe which can point to such an atrocity in their history, but very few can. Again, I say that NOT out of self-pity or for bragging rights. I say it because I perceive it to be a pertinent historical fact which justifies the prioritization of Jewish security and self-preservation. There's no reason to complicate or even question something so clearly logical. Jews have a history of being picked on, unfairly blamed and hated, so having their own country with their own military makes logical sense.

          • Schlomotion

            Not any Jew, only very specific individuals, professionals in what Finkelstein called The Holocaust Industry, who are waging this propaganda war against Muslims (who I admittedly care less about) and Americans or Europeans (who I care more about) that accept and endorse Israel and its right to defend itself, but who nevertheless are targets of character assassination because their opinions or art deviate from a prescribed Zionist trajectory. I already care about the Holocaust, have friends who lost relatives or fled pogroms. I don't need a propagandist to beat me over the head, or in the case of DHFC study my popular culture for me and tell me why I am a degenerate ignoramus for listening to rap music, or reading Cornel West, or liking certain poets. If I call that out in full fury, I am sure to be called an antisemite, despite my feelings, my social relationships or any heartfelt work I might have done promoting Holocaust awareness. I don't oppose Israel's existence or prerogative to own nukes in a world full of countries that own nukes. I do oppose their self-proclaimed right to despoil other countries of nuclear energy on the premise that they might get nuked, though.

            To me, the big issue is that Zionists are not simply defending Israel. As a transnational diaspora, they are not making good on the amiable separation into self-sufficiency that Herzl and Wurmser promised. It functions as a hostile political embassy meant to attack far out from the Jewish homeland. They are preemptively striking against us too.

        • Touchstone

          You made an admission which inadvertently revealed why Jews have much to be concerned about regarding their security. You referred to something you dubbed the "Hasbara press", which is itself a reductive smear. Then you concluded that antipathy to Israelis "gets framed as antisemitism", not allowing for the possibility that much of this antipathy may doubtlessly qualify as antisemitic in substance, style and intent. You eventually admitted that people simply get "fed up" and start "to hate Jews." So not only is your premise hostile and biased to begin with (i.e. that the press is corrupt and an organ of Hasbara propagandists), and not only did you imply that anti-Israel criticism is always wrongfully portrayed as bigotry, but you blithely gave a pass to people who are "willing to hate Jews", as if there's nothing morally wrong or objectionable about lumping 13 million people together and hating them, including the vast majority of world Jewry who had absolutely nothing to do with what you see as Hasbara, or the framing of anti-Israel critique as antisemitism.

          Two wrongs don't make a right, in other words. Just because a relative handful of Jews who work in the press may or may not be guilty of what you charge them with (and keep in mind that your accusations might be tainted with paranoia and confirmation bias), that still doesn't condemn all Jews and render them deserving of hatred. So what you've actually described is that it's fairly easy to incite a mob of bigots who direct their ire, which is of dubious justification at best, at an entire people who don't deserve to be blamed and hated, including all the teachers and dentists and social workers and students and elderly and children and so on and so forth who are just ordinary people who happen to be Jewish and now find themselves hated because some Jewish journalists stand accused of impropriety.

          In sum, you have unwittingly demonstrated why Jews not only aren't full of "self-pity", but in fact are immensely justified in being wary of a world that's all too quick to leap to hateful conclusions about Jews, putting Jewish lives at risk. Israel seems to me a way of confronting this ever-present danger of kneejerk antisemitism: a place of refuge and a military force to guard against a mob hopelessly intoxicated by its own delusional generalizations.

          • Schlomotion

            I agree with a lot of this and admit that I failed to make a lot of qualifications on my broad statements. (I do when asked, but usually I speak glibly). Hasbara press is definitely a reductive smear, and I only mean it toward very specific, finite media organs. I mean Frontpage, Little Green Footballs, Clarion Fund, Hudson Institute, National Review, Townhall.com, anything bankrolled by Charles Jacobs, Daniel Pipes, Eliana Benador, Raphael Shore, Bradley Foundation, AIPAC, JINSA, Kach, Haim Saban, Frank Gaffney or any of the core war profiteers from the Neocon Coup. Governments and private billionaires are the kings and queens, intelligence professionals are the knights and rooks, superblog owners and aggregators are the bishops, and the commenters are the pawns. This whole organization that is pushing aliyah, and instigating smear campaigns against candidates, covering up for mass killings and murders, and beating the constant cultural and ethnic war drum on behalf of Israel and against everyone else is what I am referring to as Hasbara press. I am also referring to the very specific individuals from the "Wikipedia Jews" who hijacked the page on Hasbara press and made sure that it redirected to something that is not itself. I am not referring to innocuous things like Hillel House, Haaretz, etc.

            I also said that it pushes people to antisemitism. I truly do think someone like Ben Shapiro does inspire and knows he inspires antisemitism, and I think he fuels himself on knowing that people want to wring his neck and wears it like a badge of honor, lacking any honor conferred by dint of having directly suffered in the Holocaust. I said that, but I do not myself actually endorse or engage in reveling in a "justified" self-righteous antisemitism. I do not think it is appropriate to self-identify as antisemitic or to tout being antisemitic and blame it on Jews.

            I absolutely agree with you that nothing a person does should be cast at the feet of every other hapless member of his race, religion, or country.

          • Touchstone

            "I truly do think someone like Ben Shapiro does inspire and knows he inspires antisemitism"

            Aren't you ascribing far too much power to Ben Shapiro? If Shapiro inspires antisemitism, doesn't the fault lie with people who succumb so easily to bigotry? To hate a whole ethnic group because of one columnist they don't like? You yourself keep reminding people how wrong it is to hate all Muslims because of, say, seditious sentiments expressed by a gang of angry Muslim fundamentalists chanting in a UK street protest. If broadly indiscriminate hatred of Muslims can never be justified, the same must be true for wholesale hatred of Jews, no matter how much Ben Shapiro ruffles your feathers.

            Human beings seem prone to making damning generalizations about identifiable groups of people, whether they be nationalities, ethnicities, religionists, economic classes, etc. When even someone of your intellect is tempted by the same devil, no wonder Jews expect the general public to succumb to a mob mentality, especially when certain economic circumstances are contributory. It's a perfectly reasonable expectation which generates much activity designed to stop the spread of potentially genocidal hatred.

            Jews have had to face wildly unfair demonization countless times throughout history, usually with catastrophic results, so it should come as no surprise that current generations of Jews are assiduous in speaking out whenever we see it happening again. History warns us not to ignore it.

          • Schlomotion

            I take your point, but I don't see it as a major disjunct. I think Shapiro tries to live up to the characteristics that people find odious about Jews. No one is forcing him to do that. There is a market for it. I don't think the reaction goes so far as as hating a whole ethnic group because of one columnist. I think they hate the one columnist and the one columnist goes out of his way to "act Jewish" or rather "pariah Jewish" (e.g. smarmy, litigious, niggling, ultraconservative, obsequious, patronizing) in the peculiar way that Khallid Muhammad thought he was "acting black" by being loud, angry, phylacteried in false pride and belligerent mythological ethnicity. Muhammad was being a Hamite and and inspiring anti-Hamitism, like Shapiro is being a Semite and inspiring anti-Semitism. I don't think the inspired response is wholesale hatred. It's more like retail hatred, as in I hate this product and its seller. I know I extended my description to "people in general," but really, people in general have not heard of Ben Shapiro, and very few have even heard of David Horowitz, or Daniel Pipes, or even Abe Foxman. I remind myself that this is a tempest in a teacup.

            I also take your point that I make damning generalizations all the time. I feel like I can eat lunch with a Muslim and play chess with a Jew and the fact that I might think their political ideology is stupid, or their religion is primitive and hostile, or their education was racist or classist doesn't spark me to anger because, well probably because I am a libertine and somewhat amoral. I can say all this crap, which I observe, about Ben Shapiro without thinking that it is going to cause a Jewish die-off. I hear Jews say things and write things every day that are bitterly racist and even genocidal, but it doesn't make me think Jewish women are any less pretty or Jewish children any less innocent, or Kohonen networks any less scalable, or Jewish painters and musicians any less colorful and melodious. I really think racism, real racism is a thing of the 20th Century which if we see any of it in the 21st Century we are looking at living fossils. I think Ben Shapiro is one of the youngest living fossils, educated at an archeological dig school and quickly hired by a fossil press. I see Hasbara to be a fossil press catering to fossil religion, fossil nationality, and fossil fuel. It ruffles my feathers when people forget that they are play acting, and they take the safety off their popgun and try to shoot real bullets.

  • ftlie

    Did anyone read the poem? Could anyone please comment on it? In football, most of these comments would get a penalty for going after the player, and not the ball….

    Please debate the matter, it makes everything so much more interesting to read, please?

    • Choi

      For your information,the "player" cannot be seperated from the" ball",because Grass' words can NOT be seperated from WHO authored them.
      Grass IS a NAZI.
      He took an oath to Adolf Hitler and the SS,FOR LIFE.
      It wouldn't be a surprise if Grass has been involved with the ODESSA(escaped Nazi War Criminals aka "The Fourth Reich.") since 1945.
      Since the SS is a DECLARED International Criminal organization,Grass IS a NAZI WAR CRIMINAL.
      Does anybody really think he didn't participate in the Holocaust?

      • fightwarnotwars

        the current Pope was a nazi too, and Santorum bows to him. What does that say?

        • Deprogrammer

          That is very true. It's also worth noting that Grass was DRAFTED into the 10th SS at 17 after being rejected from submarine service. I find it interesting that FPMers will speak out about the lack of freedom in dictatorships (by the way nobody falls for it) but suddenly they act like everyone had freedom of choice in Nazi Germany. All must be sacrificed on the alter of momentary, political expedience.
          Another pathetic showing from all the screaming fundies and authoritarian goons of FPM.
          Next time TRY to critique the guys work. That would actually be useful to others and meaningful.

          • Ray Olson

            Thank you, We shouldn't play the two-faced game of indicting tyranny and also those tyranny forces to obey it without knowing all the facts.

          • intrcptr2

            If he had built a career attacking anti-semitism, or Islam, or Communism, rather than mouthing typical leftist rhetoric; if this poem had rather highlighted the hypocrisy of the Arabs in assaulting israel in 1948 while stuffing palis in camps; if he hoped (Expected) that Germany would win the war rather than awaiting its defeat; then, and only then, might we justifiably conclude that his attendance at role call was more forced than enticed.

            From what I gather, his entire life has been one of condeming Jews, even in the face of their extinction.

            One is typically NOT drafted into a specific division. And it seems, on an admittedly cursory search, that our source for Gunther's drafting is his own mouth (Wiki states that he volunteered for submarine service, which frankly strains any credibility, considering casulty figures by that point in the war, in order to escape his parents' house). Ultimately, his being "drafted" at 17 (Which by that point in the war was to be expected, just as in 1918, due to heavy casulties), says absolutely nothing about his dedication to the cause, one way or the other.

            His literary work, though, speaks volumes.

  • fightwarnotwars

    What a great way to promote Israel as an open-minded 'Democracy" in the Middle East by banning people they don't agree with.

    • stern

      Please point out where the article talks about anyone banning anyone?

      • fightwarnotwars

        This specific article doesn't, but that's exactly what just happened –

        "Israel’s interior minister declared Günter Grass, one of Germany’s best-known authors, unwelcome in Israel on Sunday, barring him from entering the country for a poem that accused Israel of being a threat to world peace. " http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/world/middleeas

        • stern

          Now please explain exactly why Israel should be hospitable to this person?

          • fightwarnotwars

            freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and because it's a so-called "free and democratic society". I don't see how a writer in his late 80's is some kind of threat to Israel just because he wrote a poem that a few govt. officials don't like.

            Is Israel a free country or is it fascist regime? You know who liked(s) to ban artists? Iran, China, Cuba, North Korea, the former Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany.

          • fightwarnotwars

            even Dershowitz agrees with me – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/gun

          • stern

            Now explain why the barring of one hate-filled ex (and obviously still) Nazi makes Israel a fascist country?

          • stern

            this is Dershowitz's reasoning:

            "he should be welcomed in Israel and shown the real facts on the ground"

            As if that would change anything – least of all Grass's mind about the Dirty Joos.

          • fightwarnotwars

            well… he's right. A free democratic society should have nothing to fear from one of it's critics.

          • http://www.mailmagazine24.com bright knight

            this has nothing to do with critics, that's pure antisemitism and this old nazi hates the Jews.

          • intrcptr2

            It is not a question of fear.
            Please explain why I should sit down to dinner, in my own house, with a person who spends every day standing on the street corner telling everyone what a scumbag I am.

          • http://www.mailmagazine24.com bright knight

            this old nazi (who painted his brown mindset red but now, that he has gotten older, the red paint begins to peel off and the brown basic color shines through ) with his sick brain can not see the truth and why should Israel be hospitable to his enemy? Would you invite somebody in your house who wants to kill you or -of he not want to do it by himself- wants to see you killed by somebody else? I certainly would not!

          • intrcptr2

            If Grass is no threat, then why do we need freedom of the press?

            And anyway, the Mossad hasn't killed him (Unlike those other "states", all they've done is refuse him entry); he's free to say anyting he wants, just not in eretz Israel; and it is not only governmental representatives of the people of Israel (Do remember that bit, please) who are bothered by his moral equivocations. Besides, he is former SS, I expect Israel has policies banning them regardless of what they say.

            Reading the NYTimes article, it appears that many, even in Germany, have little issue with Israel refusing him entry (I do wonder why he intended to travel to Israel on Easter Sunday in the first place).

  • fightwarnotwars

    Here's the full poem, translated, seems to me like it's very critical of Iran as well:

    What Must Be Said

    Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long
    What clearly is and has been
    Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors
    Are at best footnotes.

    It is the alleged right to first strike
    That could annihilate the Iranian people–
    Enslaved by a loud-mouth
    And guided to organized jubilation–
    Because in their territory,
    It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

    Yet why do I forbid myself
    To name that other country
    In which, for years, even if secretly,
    There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
    But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

    The universal concealment of these facts,
    To which my silence subordinated itself,
    I sense as incriminating lies
    And force–the punishment is promised
    As soon as it is ignored;
    The verdict of "anti-Semitism" is familiar.

    Now, though, because in my country
    Which from time to time has sought and confronted
    Its very own crime
    That is without compare
    In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
    With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
    A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
    Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
    Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
    But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,
    I say what must be said.

    Why though have I stayed silent until now?
    Because I thought my origin,
    Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged
    Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound
    And wish to stay bound,
    From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

    Why do I say only now,
    Aged and with my last ink,
    That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
    The already fragile world peace?
    Because it must be said
    What even tomorrow may be too late to say;
    Also because we–as Germans burdened enough–
    Could be the suppliers to a crime
    That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity
    Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

    And granted: I am silent no longer
    Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
    Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped
    That this will free many from silence,
    That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger
    To renounce violence and
    Likewise insist
    That an unhindered and permanent control
    Of the Israeli nuclear potential
    And the Iranian nuclear sites
    Be authorized through an international agency
    By the governments of both countries.

    Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
    Even more, all people, that in this
    Region occupied by mania
    Live cheek by jowl among enemies,
    And also us, to be helped.

    • intrcptr2

      Nope.

      The only "criticism"of Iran is the naming of Ahmadinejad a loud-mouth.
      The anti-semitisms are all subtle, but very deep-rooted.

      2nd stanza.
      Erstschlag–This is indeed, in my reading, the translation of First Strike(As indeed Heather has renedered it). But such terminiology itself stems from the Cold War and MAD, and indicates a nuclear strike, not a pre-emptive convential attack. This is a strategic slander against the IDF, as NO such plans have been floated.
      3rd Stanza.
      That unamed nation has been, secretly (Nice dig, that) growing an arsenal which is out of control, because the IAEA has no access for inspection. Yet this is precisely the issue with Iran. The distinction is that Israel continually extends olive branches (Remember, it is Egypt who has repudiated Camp David, not Israel), while Iran continually breathes death over the entire region.
      5th Stanza.
      The only reason Germany helps Israel is because her economy is spurred by guilt. Yet supplying a submarine (By the way, this is the 4th one. The first two were in fact reparations, but not for the Holocaust; Chancellor Kohl was making good on supplying Iraq with weapons technology), which Grass horribly mischaracterizes as a missile boat (The Dolphin is an analogue of the Iranian Kilos,of which they already have 3), will only serve to endanger the entire world for sake of stanching rabid fear.
      7th Stanza.
      And I quote, "That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
      The already fragile world peace?"
      This is no idictment of Iran, but rather a clear and deliberate inversion of the "facts on the ground". Israel has had nukes since sometime in the 60s. What danger to world peace is there, if they've not used them in 40 years? And how, outside typical Muslim insanity, does the IAF attacking (Let us admit Israel will not be nuking) Iran destroy world peace?
      8th Stanza.
      The hypocrisy of the West is in allowing Iran to continue down this path, while simultaneously ignoring the rampant provocations of Hamas, Hezbollah, the MB, and any other terrorist organizations. It is these NGOs who must renounce violence (That is in fact the legal basis of the social contract which Locke and Rousseau laid as the foundations of modern democracies), not the state of Israel, who has a moral obligation to protect her own citizens, Jew and Arab, Muslim and Christian, against any and all assailants.

      Grass is indeed mouthing the all too typical platitudes of Lennonistic utopia, and blaming the Jews in Israel for the evil perpetrated against them in the name of Allah.

      This is the spirit of Judaism, and it is the spirit of modern Israel; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlcxEDy-lr0&li
      When you find Muslims celebrating their holydays like this, rather than passing out candies for a suicide bombing, then we can equivocate between the two.
      Until then, Baruch haba B'shem Adonai.

  • fightwarnotwars

    So… where in the poem are there anti-jewish or anti-semitic comments/rants?

    • stern

      Now explain to me why you are so blind to the obvious?

      • fightwarnotwars

        He's critical of saber rattling on both sides, which is pretty accurate.

        • stern

          Now explain to me how you can be so ignorant.

          • fightwarnotwars

            Sorry, but I really don't have time to teach you about world affairs/history, I have a job to do.

          • stern

            Then explain to me why you are wasting our time here.

          • Touchstone

            You ask where Grass can be accused of antisemitism in this poem. Keep in mind that antisemitism isn't always obvious and vulgar; sometimes it's subtle. For instance, at one point Grass reduces the Jewish state to the level of a cartoon, portraying it as a one-dimensional, militaristic, demonic aggressor, rather than the multi-faceted place it is:

            "Israel, whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence of a single atomic bomb is unproven"

            Grass spews this slander as if millions of Jews were never exterminated, and as if their obvious concern isn't preempting another genocide. Is it not an insult to claim that Israel's "specialty" is unjustified destruction? He resurrects the ancient slander that the Jew is society's destroyer, except that "Israel" now plays the role of the hated Jew. Grass, a former member of the club of continent-occupying butchers of innocents called the SS, is not in a credible position to tell us that Israel excels at unprovoked aggression. That was the specialty of HIS brethren.

            And isn't it antisemitic to seek to strip the tiny surrounded Jewish state of its nuclear deterrent, when Grass surely knows that the region is becoming even more hostile to it and extremist? Consider the rise of Islamists in Turkey and Egypt, not just Iran.

            The only type of person who would reduce Israel to a one-dimensional, warmongering cartoon character, and aim to take away its most effective means of deterring a genocidal attack, is … an antisemite. The shoe fits.

      • trickyblain

        Obvious? You could swap "the USA" for "Israel" and "Russia" for "Iran," publish it in the early 1950's and it would be the same poem. It's anti-nuke, not anti-semetic.

  • Anthony

    This is a strange poem, if in fact it really is a poem.

    Or is it political commentary disguised as bad poetry to camouflage a difficult subject for a German to discuss?

    But he makes it hard to detect exactly what he is saying because of the excessively vague structure of his narrative.

    The thing that stands out to me is that first, he says he is "bound" by a stain, and wishes to stay bound to Israel.

    But then he writes in effect Israel should not have the bomb because possessing it affects the "already fragile", world peace.

    Yet any analysis of the situation Israel is in shows that if Israel did not have nuclear weapons, it would be instantly wiped out by millions of its hostile Moslem neighbors.

    So Gunther wants it both ways, to be bound to Israel, yet have Israel wiped out by disarming it of the one thing that keeps it rabid enemies at bay.

    Sounds like he hopes to remove that "stain", by promoting the destruction of Israel.

    Can't have it both ways Mr. Nobel Prize winner.

  • Ghostwriter

    To be honest,I think Dr. Seuss is a far better poet than Gunter Grass. Also,he's far wittier than Grass was.

  • g_jochnowitz

    A Pakistani girl committed suicide after having acid thrown in her face. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/world/asia/hope
    Now that this has taken place, there is more reason than ever for Guenther Grass to hate Israel and support Islamists.

  • http://www.mailmagazine24.com bright knight

    GraSS is a very good example for the fact, that the Socialists of both color, red and brown (Hitler was a SOCIALIST, his party was the NSDAP = National Socialist Deutsche/German Arbeiter/worker Party) hate the Jews. There is not such a big difference between the red and the brown socialists and in Germany, people very often change their party affiliation from “the Left” (that’s the party of the former East Germany, same idiots, other name – they renamed themselves from SED to PDS and then to “Die Linke/the left”) to the NPD (the Neo Nazis) or the other way around or even sometimes back and forth. Very often you see demonstrations of Palestinians in Germany, shouting “Jews into the gas” and the politicians of the left parties (SPD, Die Linke, Green Party) as well as the Unions (also Leftists) arm in arm with the Palestinians. It’s not criticizing Israel, but Antisemitism of the “left Intelligentsia” labeled/covered as “Israel critics”. The left isn’t better than the Nazis, I would say they are worse and more dangerous, because they “market” their Antisemitism better. GraSS was a brown Socialist and then covered the brown color with the red color of the red Socialists – but it was just a new paint for the old mind-set. Now, that he has gotten older, the red paint begins to peel off and the brown basic color shines through….

  • JakeTobias

    I only know a few things about Gunter Grass.

    One is, the first and last time I gave him any thought, was while reading a long (a very long) essay by novelist John Irving. He praised "The Tin Drum" as a brilliant first novel. And then it was down hill from there. He covered all of Gunter's novels up to that point. This essay just went on and on. So I never finished it. But Mr. Irving is quite a fan of that first book. So I always meant to read it, but never did.

    The only other thing I know about Gunter is, his poem is very, very bad. I'm not talking politics here. I read this poem a day or two ago through a different link. It is a bad poem. It is possible the translation is bad too.

    And now I know two new things about Gunter Grass. First; he use to be a Nazi. (if Mr. Irving mentioned it in his essay, i do not recall) And second; I am glad I never did read his brilliant first novel.

    And Mr. Bawer, I really enjoyed that headline. I didn't notice it at first. "From Bad To Verse." That's good. And more poetic than Gunter's poem. I am sure you will not let it go to your head.

    • http://www.objektivisten.org Wolfgang

      No, Jake. It isn't the translation anyway. It isn't a poem at all; it's a letter to the editor.

  • Hank Rearden

    …and after all that, he is a crappy writer!! So this old Nazi hates Israel and is a Rodney King acolyte – "can't we all just get along?" If the Islamists would stop attacking us all, maybe we could. You remember, Gunter, sort of like Germany rolling over the Polish border. Ring a bell? It takes a Nazi to be repelled by the Poles fighting back.

    • fightwarnotwars

      What you read above is a literal translation in English from German, so of course it doesn't read like a poem… man, are all you cons so terrible at thinking beyond what's in front of you? It's as if you all suffer from asperger syndrome .

  • Peter Laudi

    "The Jews will never forgive the Germans for what they did to them."

    This is a wrong translation of the original quote. H.M. Broder said: "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for what they (i.e. the Germans) did to them. It is one of those sarcastically twisted aphorisms Broder is known for – and of course: hated by the left.

  • Whitehunter2

    When Grass demanded “that Israel give up not only Nablus and Hebron but Tel Aviv and Haifa as well," did it occur to anyone to ask him whether this would be his "last territorial demand," or did he also have in mind some further Final Solution to the Jewish Question?

  • babyanng

    Age ain't nothing but a number for these loved-up A-Listers. My BF and I both think so! He is almost 10 years older than I. We met via ~~Agelessmeet . COM~~ a nice place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other! Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends: )

  • Ray Olson

    I'm with Bruce. That's one lousy poem. But Deprogrammer is right when he suggests we consider the circumstances under which Grass wound up in the SS before we condemn him as an unrepentant, once-and-forever anti-Semite. Certainly there are no explicitly anti-Semitic sentiments in his poem, unless any criticism of Israel as a real-world international political actor is per se anti-Semitic.

    • fightwarnotwars

      What you read above is a literal translation in English from German, so of course it doesn't read like a poem… man, are all you cons so terrible at thinking beyond what's in front of you? It's as if you all suffer from aspergers syndrome .

      • Ray Olson

        Well, give us the German text. I can hack my way through it, and anyone can scan it and see whether it rhymes, let alone uses assonance, consonance, etc., cleverly or meaningfully.

  • Y.C.T.

    Hi there, I am from Germany and I wondered if the responses were similar to the ones in Germany.

    While it is true, that Grass didn't break a taboo and instead delivered pretty typical (typical for Europe) left-wing anti-semitic half-truths and fiction, something was still remarkable: This time, lots of public figures and even politicians stood up against his writings, even lots of those who'd usually support a (seemingly) milder form of intellectual anti-semitism.

    This time, they didn't. They couldn't. Because Grass' 'poem' was intellectually indefensible.

    And not really surprisingly, the only ones who applauded Grass, were right-wing and left-wing fascists, along with a very vocal minority of the "vox populi", who has been kidnapped by the Palywood-Propaganda ages ago.

    This single situation delivers a representative overview of european anti-semitism in the year 2012 and I hope sincerely, that America won't make the same mistake as we Europeans did.

    Thanks
    BTW: Broder was quoted incorrectly, his (rather famous) ironic statement was (translated) "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust".

    • http://www.mailmagazine24.com bright knight

      Unfortunately, with the Obama regime in D.C. we'll follow Europe in any respect: Islamism, Socialism…

  • a poet in India

    Gut, Wave Review and Nerve
    (a poem in response to Letter-poem to Grass: If We Go, Everyone Goes by Israeli poet Itamar Yaoz-Kest)

    He witness.
    How are yah?
    I’m hurting,
    Claiming responsibility world said.
    Veronica
    Can’t get out.
    Probably
    Superior
    That’s her state-run TV.
    To think captain
    Come back to it
    In a world filled with war.
    All this mischief,
    All this dustbin,
    All this problem,
    The fault of the neighbors.
    We’re gonna annihilate the world
    In an open letter to Samson.
    There stand atonement?
    I don’t understand.
    Waitin’
    Israel
    A little more flavor from you
    Of brother
    And school.
    Now,
    You didn’t
    Give a crossing for him.
    Is he White?
    He isn’t Jewish.
    (An open parallel.)
    What about that up here Nancy?
    A White one
    Grow by the principles
    Grown from the elements
    A Jewish state.
    Her individual dawn
    If I am a common thinker.

    Now what do we do with Adam?
    Exterminate further?
    No that dead show.
    Gimmie my flashlight.
    (Illuminates the room.)
    I’m not comin’ back.
    Oh you’re not comin’ back?
    You’re defenseless
    (He was a real loud photographer.
    Here I might be able to help him.)
    In hold humanity,
    The change I’m not really supposed to tell.
    Then tell.
    No matter who’s walking
    They’ll have a right of crossing.
    Change now ahead.
    Consider it done.
    There’s victory in there somewhere.

    What are you talking about?
    On the other hand,
    Why don’t you shut your mouth?
    Good idea,
    Now I’m uncle on the floor
    In a blue outfit.
    Even spiritual
    You’re gonna wanna beat me up.
    I’m lensing
    Right here:
    The parentheses around Spirit will be taken off –
    Spiritual victory.
    We’ll all be in a different world.
    Slowly
    Abigail,
    We’re all livin’ in this one.
    I just wanted you to see it
    Through the lens
    Of poetry’s nodule.
    Not secular,
    No religion.
    Is he dead or alive?
    No, this is not heaven.

    At the rift.
    Picket no longer.
    Are you gonna tell me about this neighborhood?
    Somebody last screamed it.
    I ain’t exercisin’ no new restraints.
    This is the only kind one of a people,
    Superman’s brother,
    A tough customer,
    Earth activated.
    Just think,
    You’re part of it
    Whole thing,
    A full nelson,
    And we got our full moon.
    A camera
    Analogy with pain
    Put the broad on our feet,
    The teacup
    While our hairs are going down.
    The world is so very small.
    Put in our face
    Everybody
    As you.
    Touch it
    To see where I’m going.
    What do you take me for?
    I’m not blaming you.
    In that camera
    Is our hopscotch item,
    Toll we count.
    Better than a machine gun.
    Coming events
    We take a peer at
    In a nodule.
    I’m fixin’ your plate,
    Mine too by the looks of it.
    Will you look at that?
    Out of danger.
    Before I forget,
    God makes this perfect.
    You take it home.
    Good idea.