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.
It’s a measure of how seriously Grass is still taken in many quarters that Benjamin Netanyahu thought it advisable to speak up. “It is Iran, not Israel, that is a threat to the peace and security of the world,” Netanyahu said. “It is Iran, not Israel, that threatens other states with annihilation.” Other Israelis also weighed in. Israel’s embassy in Berlin pointed out that “it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder.” And Haaretz writer Anshel Pfeffer marveled at Grass’s failure to “understand that his membership in an organization that planned and carried out the wholesale genocide of millions of Jews disqualified him from criticizing the descendants of those Jews for developing a weapon of last resort that is the insurance policy against someone finishing the job his organization began.” Neatly put.Indeed. But Grass is hardly the only writer to pen pithy Zionhass pieces. There is, for example, "trendy" British poet Tom Paulin, who is every bit as antipathetic toward Israel as is Grass--and then some. He hasn't won a Nobel literary prize, but late Portuguese communist and Zion-loather Jose Saramago has. Who can forget this "love letter" Jose penned to Israel and the Joooos (as quoted here by David Solway)?
...educated and trained in the idea that any suffering that has been inflicted…will always be inferior to that which they themselves suffered in the Holocaust, the Jews endlessly scratch their own wound to keep it bleeding, to make it incurable, and they show it to the world as if it were a banner… Israel wants all of us to feel guilty, directly or indirectly, for the horrors of the Holocaust.The Nazi (snake-in-the) Grass could not have put it better. Or worse.