Tuesday, May 29, 2012


SUMMARY                                                                                                                                                                                                         COMMENTS ON THE GRASS CONTROVERSY

C=The Blow by Blow-25;
 D=Grass as Moral Interventionist-32; E=Poetics-45
The Poem, in English and German-39

On April 4, 2012 the S.Z. [Sueddeutsche Zeitung and in Italian Repubblica and in Madrid El Pais publish a Günter Grass poem entitled “What needs to be said”:

LINKS to the archive for the entire controversy

And to treasury of pieces on the political fallout, and to the original text:


and to various ensuing discussions

A compendium of critical opinions

 And of positive takes http://summapolitico.blogspot/05/defense-of-beast-post-mortem-part-ii-of.html

For a discussion of the poetics of the poem and the controversy surrounding that aspect, there is

For Scott Abbott’s take there is

I could also follow how the story played in Italy and Spain and in France, but did not. The above links allow you to survey the battle field, “rife with opinion, reading is dear!As I wrote in a comment I left at the Financial Times [June 8]
 and there was yet another utter misreading and regurgitation of received opinion at the Minnesota Paper a joint enterprise with the Christian Science monitor.
 The controversy has reached the provinces and it is time to put it to bed. Links in the archive

It has been a fascinating controversy, not just for the poem but for the fractures that Grass’s detonator revealed. The matter is not encouraging.


Grass starts out:

Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.
It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.
[German and English as footnote # 1,  at the beginning of Section II]
Subsequent to this funereal opening the poem elaborates several times on the theme of silence and no longer being so, foretells its own damnation for being regarded as anti-Semitic, contorts itself into contrition not only for his country’s unique crime, [the self-immolation of a civilization, I would say, from which it will never recover] but also for the mark of Cain that attaches to him, that he has assumed; then the text proceeds to provide the good news of German sales of Dolphin Class submarines, at cut-rate as part of the ongoing reparation for said irreparable crime, capable of heaving rockets with atomic warheads, confirmed June 3rd by the Spiegel investigative team.
    What was the good man thinking when he put these various components into his pipe? What was he smoking?

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The poem among political poems is unique of its kind and lands like an atomic dart at no end of news desks; but, also for its mix of, an American might say, Robert Lowell-like personal elements with editorial and daily news content, produces confusion, consternation, instant judgments are passed, and knives are unsheathed. Yet, you could also find it immediately parochial.  
As the University of Marbach professor Thomas Anz
for the entire discussion there, also the link  to Professor Hinderer’s piece and Esther Dischereit’s comment.
 points out - 
Das wenige Tage vor den Osterfeiertagen erschienene Gedicht „Was gesagt werden muss“ von Günter Grass hat zu vielen empörten Reaktionen provoziert, obwohl es ungemein vorsichtig ein Problem aufgreift, das viele andere längst ähnlich angesprochen haben. Wie kommt es, dass ein ganz offensichtlich in der pazifistischen Tradition der Friedensbewegung und der Ostermärsche stehendes, auf Völkerversöhnung und -verständigung zielendes Gedicht derart feindselige Reaktionen hervorruft? Und zwar genau jene, die es antizipiert und denen es vorbeugend entgegenarbeitet?

the tract’s most even-handed assessment - when it became evident that no one seemed to give the text a reading but only reacted to its provocative editorial parts – tht the poem is in the tradition of Easter and Pacifist peace movement.  
As the fine professor Walter Hinderer pointed out, also at Literaturkritik, the poem is not only in the above tradition but is the secularized version of an Orphic religious poem and it took yet one further several stellar professor, Detering of Tubingen, to exercise the poetics of the beast
 and point out that, no matter whether you agree or disagree with the poem’s proposition, it hoes an honorable poetic tradition, that of Brecht’s arythmic rhymeless free verse
Über reimlose Lyrik mit unregelmäßigen Rhythmen
it is a text that is full of tension,  in its metrics as well in the relationship of the personal and the objective nature of its subject, war, politics, U-boats, atomic rockets.
I myself would suggest that Grass’s verse is lent extra tension with the pathos of its opening and its general funereal tone, which has Hoelderlin at its back, as became clearer with the second political poem that Grass issued, toward the end of May, accusing Europe of being niggardly in its treatment of its patrimony, Greece
and here you can hear Grass read it both in German and in  English

Put to the side for the time, or forever, whatever easy time you may have charging Grass with grandiose self-importance: he is TRYING for a Hoeldernisque earnestness. Hoelderlin, Brecht – a great formality, an easygoing-seeming free verse, emotionality, objective political concepts... lie uneasily together. Therefore I agree with Detering and others that criticism of the poem as a poem begins at that intersection of subjective elements with the editorial political language and reference to daily events, and those who have already voted:  you might give the matter more thought, if only for the sake of political poetry. For one matter has not been addressed, and it lies at the heart of the attacks against the poem: it’s ambiguity mixed with straightforward entirely unambiguous assertions into a world  ruled by the Manichean dichotomy friend/ foe. No wonder the defensive aggressive so insecure Netanyahoo & Co. are so upset! After all, this may be the most effective political poem in the West in a very long time. And it is for reasons of aesthetic impurity. I mean, the poem might also screech expressionistically, with ample justification for the prospect it envisions, and don’t think Grass does not know the available repertoire.
The Grass poem thus conjures out of the past the ancient rules for what is permissible in poetry and what is not. Judging by the response of the fairly numerous aesthetes - Gruenbein [crude], Menasse [unpublishable without the name of its author], Reich-Ranicki [dreadful],  Struck-Keuschnig and many another - whom the poem rubbed the wrong way for aesthetic reasons – indeed, aside “old ink” and one or the other touch it is devoid of the accustomed usual verbal felicities - allowing or forcing them - whatever - to ignore its grave subject matter - the poem is unsuccessful; it upsets them to such an aesthetic degree that they dismiss it for that reason. One might get one or the other of these worthies to concede Grass a few points if they slowed down their reading to the pace that the poem establishes, but I doubt that anyone of them would fall sufficiently in love with it to concede its political import. To be upset and on such a deep aesthetic level is not part of their expectations of what poetry should do to their pleasure principle. They prefer to be “verzueckt”, as is Struck-Keuschnig’s want. Which brings me to the proposition, what if the poem had been as great as one of the great political poems that still resound?  I could go on at some length on political poetry, since I write it myself, but this link to a fine piece by Sarah McGuire will have to do
In the bye and bye it occurred to me that the creator of the fabled Oskar Mazerath, himself a person of small stature, with the weening ambitions of dwarves, might not only be versed in Brecht’s free verse, but, as small persons need to be, also had learned slyness from the so sly Bert Brecht. MIGHT, I say, for we may never know what Grass intended with his most provocative line:
“a strike to snuff out the Iranian people””
Most certainly, the Netanjahu/ Liberman government, which Grass then allowed he had had in mind, had never voiced the intention to snuff out the Iranian people with a its planned first strike of its atomic facilities. Was Grass a bit ahead of himself envisioning the final outcome of what started as a first strike after the oft-reported war games? However, as we know, Israel does assassinations of Iranian atomic scientists, the American president is into assassinations himself, for breakfast he goes over the hit-list with his national security council and approves each killing personally, sometimes no matter whether child and wife of a presumed “grrist” will be droned to death, too. Our President is also into cyber warfare “stucknis” or “flame” or whatever these exotics are called. Here the link to Misha Glenny in the Financial Times musing on the huge mistake made with this kind of warfare.,Authorised=false.html? 

The American President playing war games as though he were still a kid in an arcade. Or it it the Mau-Mau coming out in him now that he is reading Kagan – you can see where Grass might have taken his poem if he were less parochially oriented. Grass’s diatribe, for that is what the so composed poem is too, might easily have been twice as long if had addressed the powers that be behind the Netanyahu / Liberman gang. And what of it, if the poem does not subscribe to the going, fussy aesthetic imperialist criteria, what if it is a bit crude and simple, and intentionally lightly freighted? If only folks were as upset by the subject it addresses as they are by the form Grass takes. The immense media effort taken to avert the subject of the poem and to foist anti-Semitism on to Grass, to make Grass’s youth the subject, and avert the subject he addresses!
   However, it is a poem with a shadow… how many poems have shadows… echoes… some very great ones of course do, too… that accompanied the new German President, Gauck, to Israel. You can declare a poet persona non grata, but not his shadow.
   What was Grass thinking or suggesting by his most contentious line? The result of the dissemination of all that destroyed atomic material?
The poem is evidently provocative in the extreme, we can’t tell whether Grass who wrote the poem in a Brechtina manner also absorbed some of Brecht’s slyness in ending up being enviably provocative. I myself don’t think so, I think Grass bumbled into a far greater controversy than he had anticipated, and venture that guess because Grass didn’t tie the links between the US Neo-Cons, the US Congress and AIPAC and Netanjahu / Liberman into the airtight warmonger imperialist reprise case as he might have. Grass is bringing the news, but it is mostly old news, we’ve been hearing of the first strike against Iran for years, it would follow two other first strikes, against an Iraqi and a Syrian atomic reactor, it actually was on the past January 2012, Netanjahu had just been in Washington in March to pitch the same game plan. It is old news but for the Dolphin class U-boats and their ability to deliver rockets with atomic war heads, a capacity  just confired by Der Spiegel on Sunday June the 3rd The puzzling line -
“a strike to snuff out the Iranian people..”
got everyone’s attention but especially Netanjahu’s, and I am still wondering whether our Tiger Tank turret gunner would be U-Boat captain may have some secret knowledge…or maybe Bibi thinks he might have, Bibi and his crowd not merely insecure. A first strike would lead to a conflagration where the U-Boats fired their atomic warheads? A first strike that immediately employed nuclear weapons –“let’s not fuss around if we are going to do it, let’s get it over with at once”? Netanjahu could say with a clean conscience: it is the Iranians, or A. who has spoken of eradicating Israel from the map, we have never uttered anything along the line, especially not against the Iranian people as a whole. 
The other bone of contention and opportunity for the attack dogs were the lines:
“under a loudmouth’s thumb are pushed into organized cheering”
Amindebejad may not be the monster that Western propaganda makes him out to be, he may indeed be more demagogue than monster, yet he is also a lot more than your Maltese barking from Big Bertha’s lap. He is more than just a useful idiot for propaganda purposes. The revolutionary anti-imperialist Islamic fervor that empowers him is not be discounted. Nor ought Israeli anxiety to be discounted, no matter the degree to which Israeli demagogues exploit it.
   Professor Hinderer points out in his piece in Literaturkritik that Grass tends to be a bit tendentious in other poems, too. Professor Suesselbeck, also at this one sane venue, has pointed out that Grass has been obsessed with an Atomic apocalypse for many years.
   Günter Grass might have merely written an encyclical along the lines of his final stanza:
Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbor-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.
Or been so grandiose as to pass a “Günter Grass U.N. Resolution.” But in that event WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD A SCANDAL, WE WOULD NOT BE ARGUING ABOUT THE POEM. It would not have been a successful intervention, a success de scandal that caused consternation in two governments that are very close. None of this would have happened. For in every other respect the poem’s facts are indisputable! Grass could even have drilled them home far more forcefully as no end of people are doing instead of taking this funereal approach.  
Or did our old diver[CAT AND MOUSE] with those Navy connection come on something even more dire? At any event, warning of the apocalypse appears to have cost him a lot of pathos and emotional wrenching, whereas you and I might just give a horrendous shriek instead of putting ourselves through all that art effort.   
     Utterly, deadly serious, yet sly? Or perhaps Grass just bumbled into the controversy? Did not mean to be provocative? His warning “the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known” would seem to militate against that supposition.
        My fourth professorial authority of Germanics, Jan Sueselbeck, also mentions in his piece in Literatur Kritik Was geantwortet werden muss  
Grass’s poetics lectures at Frankfurt’s Goethe University in the 90s, finds that Grass cannot be said to be up to snuff of Adorno’s [always misunderstood] suggestion that poetry could no longer be written subsequent to the Shoah [my reception of it, and it appeas to be Grass’s too, is that as a measure the end of civilization is a moment that must always be with you],  and finds that maybe Grass, although not anti-Semitic, may have “a problem with Jews” as several other Jewish acquaintances of Grass mention along the way.
I have indicated previously and do so once more that I think it is entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand whether Grass happens to be either overtly or unconsciously anti-Semitic. What he stated, editorially, is first of all something that had been known for years, so even if an aging SS general stated it, it would still be the case that various Israeli governments have been contemplating a first strike, and it is more than likely that President Obama will greenlight such an attack after the fall elections, so we can gather from Martin Indyk, twice US ambassador to Israel.
Sueselbeck also hints that Grass may have notions about Germans being victims that do not subscribe to the official line. Again, a matter that may or may not be the case, but is irrelevant, since Grass envisages a worldwide catastrophe - why hasn’t Grass also been accused of secretly belonging to a some Christian sect that believes in the “rapture”
After all, Schirrmacher of the FAZ  (4.4.12)proceeds to find a huge secret in the poem because he learned in school that poems have secrets, and so if you can’t find it, make it up. As Professor Detering says with marvelous efficiency, the kinds of readings that Schirrmacher and Joffe [see anon] project into the poem’s back cannot be “falsified.” True, all you can do is repeat these phantastic suggestions, or make up one of your own. But what an immense effort to destroy the poem and the poet?
Aren’t we living in a world, at least in the U.S. where Tony Kushner can turn Brecht’s Mother Courage into yet another gay Cabaret and everyone is delighted that we can kiss Brecht’s pathos goodbye as well?

The Context
I have more than alluded to the context [s] into which Grass dropped his bomb shell. Thus a sketch and substantial footnote for the context into which the Grass poem issued may elucidate why it continues to be an irritant two month after publication, one that Grass himself keeps igniting with yet another political poem  [Grass verurteilt in Gedicht Umgang mit Griechenland - Yahoo ...
Nachrichten Deutschland lesen. Nach seinem umstrittenen israel-kritischen Gedicht hat sich Literaturnobelpreisträger Günter Grass in einem neuen Poem zur ...
"Europas Schande" - Günter Grass dichtet wieder
Nach seinem letzten, durch Bürger und Medien zwiespältig aufgenommenen Werk "Was gesagt werden muss" (ShortNews berichtete), hat Günter Grass ein liest Gedicht "Europas Schande" | - NDR Kultur
Günter Grass mischt sich erneut in die internationale Politik ein: Der Literaturnobelpreisträger aus Lübeck kritisiert nun Europa für seine Griechenlandpolitik.

Gunter Grass stands by poem about Greece and Europe - KathimeriniGermany's Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass has confirmed he wrote a poem which attacked Europe for its treatment of Greece. The poem, called “ Europe's ...]
the threat I suppose being that Grass will become a kind of “extra-parliamentary poetic opposition” of one. Just goes to prove I suppose that a Nobel Prize and a considerable body of work can haunt those in power, we are reminded of Stalin’s wanting to censor the Shostakovitch symphonies and many similar attempts through the ages.
To date, various German attempts to neutralize his poems with satire have fallen flat, in my estimate, but for a single highly amusing light touch one on German radio that in a long report on the state of the country merely alludes to Grass’s endeavor by periodically chiming in “Günter Grass is said to be writing a poem about it.”
 As of this writing early June 2012 – the Israel poem is shadowing the new German president, Gauck’s visit, to Israel and Palestine.  
In March 2012, Netanyahu came to Washington to receive yet another green light for a pre-emptive attack on Iran, he had had it once in January, but it was called off. Election year-wary Obama did not green-light him, but told him that come what might Israel had the U.S.’s “back”, and as a parting gift gave him a vase full of Rose Garden daffodils, no, a few plane loads full of bunker busting bombs. Netanyahu went back to Israel but not before addressing the U.S. Congress and AIPAC, both organizations backed his war which you can find recorded and accessible via Youtube and AIPAC.
And just in case anyone forgot John McCain Indian Fighter’s refrain “Bomb bomb bomb Iran” of four years ago, or the slogan “Wimps go to Bagdad, real men go to Teheran”, here is our very own Max Boot of the Council of Foreign Relations this year
3-See the extensive Context Footnotes  
It is the consequences of a then –Spring 2012 - immediate first strike scenario is what troubled Gunter Grass to launch his I imagine intentionally provocative intervention. Perhaps he is just a vain aging showboat as which the fine poet Durs Gruenbein and lots of other home-boys like Karasak and Rudi Dutchke, whom it afford the opportunity to be back in the news themselves at least in this fashion, to accuse Grass, saying, Hey Günter, it’s time to shut up. “Ta geule!” a character in Handke’s latest spectacular novel, THE GREAT FALL would shout, and magnificently written, his joy in writing makes me want to live. However, just as that nearly congenital exhibitionist Handke invariably really has something to show, isn’t just a loudmouth, GG’s wooden mallet usually hits the big bass drum.
The situation in Israel, however,  to provide just a hint or two, is more complicated than in the U.S. for Netanjahu and the Netanjahu doctrine. Far more restraint than from the imperium whose 3 billion dollar year aircraft vassal Israel, the tail that might wag the dog, is, plus yearly “supplementals.” Also, negotiations with the Iranians have resumed, whether for real or merely for show and yet an even better excuse for a first strike –we can speculate, that is all. BUT HEY, GRASS IS NOT WORKING IN THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS, HE DOES NOT HAVE THE GRUESOME JOB OF WRITING EDITORIALS, although the integration of edititorialeeze with emotionally subjective lines… appears to have been a problem. A pure lyric it sure is not. And where pathos enters the pathetic fallacy is just one keystroke away.

The Blow by Blow
Within hours of the poem’s publication, nay prior to it, Deryk Broder [a former chief pornographer of the St. Pauli red-light district in Hamburg, now working for the Springer Paper Die Welt in Berlin, who – as he later admitted - had got a stock tip from Munich, and who may even have been alerted to the poem’s existence by his friend Josef Joffe, editor in chief of Die Zeit, who had turned down the poem] started the piling on. “Educated anti-Semitism.”   Broder in "Die Welt" (4.4.12) in DIE WELT. And he continues to two months later. Broder is now in my maternal ancestral province, in the Lausitz! And he convicts Grass once again of anti-Semitism because Grass states that Israel is a threat to peace! It appears the audience was non-plussed by his advice to forget about Auschwitz, and that the Jews already had. Mr. Broder is a clown, Mr. Joffe is a died in the wool Nazi I think.;art13826,3827154#formular

From Broder the accusation zips to [or bounces back and forth] to his friend Josef Joffe ZEIT (4.4.12) [what WAS Grass thinking in even submitting it to him? Or did he think his name couldn’t be turned down?] to F.A.Z. co-publisher Schirrmacher F.A.Z. (4.4.12),to Tobin at Commentary, Heilbrun at the National Interest,  co-founded by Joffe, to the New Republic who enlist hireable gun J. Herf, to The Weekly Standard, to the Wall Street Journal, Joffe again, my all-purpose bête noir, this time in his frothiest Amurrican [see anon],
to Bernard Henry Levy at Huffington who suggested other countries worthy of peace efforts and for once has no sense of what “immediate” means… Back to the FAZ who trumpet the allegedly universal U.S opposition to the poem back to the US which announced the universal opposition to the poem 
the charge of anti–Semitism bounces, a self-confirming and quickly self-congratulatory daisy chain, a forever hermetically sealed echo-chamber, overwhelmed, sought to ruin Grass Easter bonnet bomb – turn it against him, make him the issue not the issue that troubled him and so many others – it’s really interesting to follow the time line of this - and not a once was the poem even quoted, not one line! But in the Atlantic where the poem then stands accused of not being pretty by the pretty pretty girl who has not the faintest of the barnacles that attach to it – to Netanyahu in Israel, who condemned the poem at least a half dozen times, “How dastardly to put Israel and Iran on the same moral plane”, press conferences, interviews, zeroing in on its most contentious line “a strike to snuff out the Iranian people” no matter, no not one iota of a matter or cognizance taken of Grass’s attempt to self-inoculate himself against the attack writing the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known. No dice!  He is declared persona non grata in Israel, a self-perpetuating echo-chamber, it admits of no opposition, or mention of disagreement, and comments to that effect are quickly expunged if they happen to appear long enough for Google to cache them. [As it did mine at the WSJ, but whose 72 comments where then reduced to 12 with the “revised” version of the Joffe!] It was a nearly unique experience for me to watch the creation of a self-censoring bubble. I say “nearly”, because I had noticed something over the course of a far longer time line with Handke’s impermissible interventions in matters Serbian, but at that time there was no Google and no Google spiders, I had to tie 12 search engines together and pretend I was my great grandfather with his horses and his carriage!
The masses of support that Grass’s poem is acquiring is taken no notice of, at most a brief acknowledgement of Jakob Augstein writing in Der Spiegel. http://summapolitico.blogspot/05/defense-of-beast-post-mortem-part-ii-of.html
contains a list of several dozen intellectuals of real import who came out to support Grass. In the U.S. among noteworthy publications with on-line presence, Salon did, so did Mondoweiss, the World Socialist Journal, Huffington then ran a fine piece by a British “Independent” Journalist.  
Yet, First Amendment rights for the sealed echo-chambers are intact.
The news spreads to the lower reaches, Bloomberg, Atlantic, the Daily Beast. Aldaily, allegedly under the non-censoring auspices of The Chronicle of Higher Education, picks it up and passes on the dregs… Within four weeks the scandal reaches the provinces where it will stick the way I found ancient American now de-mode words and institutions and vehicles stick around in Mexico, not only the yarderos, the clunkers that are bought by the yard at yard sales, but “unisex” barbershops or, most wonderfully, expressions such as “okey-dokey” – indeed so much better than the boring “oh kay” - that it became a fad, that is residual there, in Mulege (Moo-lay-hay) of which Linda Ronstad sang “besame muchos…” and where Woody Allen and Madonna scandals become ageless. The little girl at The Atlantic plaints that this is not the prettiest prose
but at least provides a translation of the poem, with a bit of rudimentary reporting. Bloomberg does not beat around the bush Guenter Grass, the German writer and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, brought forth last week an odious little poem that focuses on the threat to world peace posed by the Jewish state, and congratulates its author for the courage to point out this truth.”
If Bloomberg does not do the trick with its description as an odious little poem    there is the FAZ recommended 
“For some reason, people still care about what Günter Grass, German author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has to say about things. He wrote some novels more than fifty years ago that he somehow was able to convince people were good, even if they were just overwrought and overhyped piles of nothingness. Germany thinks of Grass as its own Philip Roth, even if he is in reality just a second-rate copy of Thomas Mann, with cookie-cutter grotesqueness instead of stiff philistine blathering.”
Thus the dirty deed done to Grass will persist equally long, I know that the dirty deed that the allegedly stellar Bob Silvers committed on Handke, or that Robert Wilson of The American Scholar committed when Handke got out of line with his defense of the Serbs from one-sided blame, using third stringers J.L. Marcus and Michael McDonald, leads an equally vivid underground life among the nearly infinite long list of regurgitators of opinions – say in THE FASTER TIMES [!] universal lethargy in discrete quantities. Choked by the gossip vine. Effluent breeding weeds in lakes depriving the water of oxygen. In the instance of Grass it may be that “heeb,” recommended by the FAZ in their eagerness to find support for their take on the poem, will have the last word; who needs anti-Semitism if you have “heeb”! It is not so much the dreadful journalists as the editors who employ them, and the publishers who employ these editors to commit constant perjury.
Fox of course was in on the case as well. 
And here a few other links


Poor poor poem, written defenseless, no one will engage its proposition, or Grass’s extraordinary contrition.
But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,

 for having been, my opinion, just another member of the brother horde, another child soldier whom their fathers send out to war, until too few of them see the light, is ignored. Nay, the one real Nazi in the crowd who really rubs his nose in his adolescent mistake is Josef Joffe the virulently hyper-ventilating German journalist Neo-Con in the highest standing, the suave ingratiating Josef Joffe, as which I experienced him here in Seattle at the U.W. about a decade ago, co-founder of the National Interest, member of the Hoover institute in who in my assembly of the negative takes on the poem
serves as an all purpose voodoo doll, for being the most exorbitant projector. The best German of the lot was Schirrmacher. “Es ist ein Machwerk des Ressentiments, es ist, wie Nietzsche über das Ressentiment sagte, ein Dokument der ‚imaginären Rache‘einer sich moralisch lebenslang gekränkt fühlenden Generation.“
Once more, the excellent Tubingen professor Detering comes to the rescue of my sputtering prolixity and points out that the phantasmagoric projections of anti-Semitism and resentiment with which Joffe and Schirrmacher shower the poem cannot be “falsified”; indeed, all you can do is duplicate them ad infinitum and ad nauseam. Nor can you possibly defend against them.
Joffe is both clever and vicious the way he seeks to defuse the various charges of Fascism that it is so easy to lodge against some Israelis. A suave Spaniel as which I experienced him here in Seattle, a bit more than a decade ago – oh what sorry level Die Zeit has sunk to. Yes, if there is a Nazi in the house it is Josef Joffe, the spaniel, the sucker up to the Neo-Cons as which my antennae spotted him at once at a lecture here at the University of Washington more than ten years ago, not quite up to Goebbels or Der Stuermer snuff, but a useful right hand, a good whip. Whereas his pal Heilbrun at The National Interest is merely inflamed by Grass’s carefully wrought and emotionally wrenched piece, Joffe hyperventilates in this WSJ piece. If I were Goebbels I’d use him as my Doberman. There’s a man to my liking, no compunctions! He know where the power of the world resides and he will be part of a odd coming together of American imperialist hubris, German guilt and Americanization and Israeli ambitions.
Here point by point comments on the none-too-subtle Joffe:  
ZEIT (4.4.12) and in
Nobel laureate Günter Grass, 84, is a poster boy of "re-education," America's therapy for post-Hitler Germany. Or he was. In 2006, this chest-thumping anti-Nazi laid bare his long-concealed career in the Waffen-SS. Had Mr. Grass sprung the shocker a decade earlier, his 1959 novel "The Tin Drum" would still shine forth as a masterwork, but without the Nobel Prize, which he was awarded in 1999.
Neither has Grass ever been any kind of poster boy, nor is his gradual enlightenment to where he found himself subsequent to Spring 1945 in any way comparable to the forced re-education that communist regimes practiced. Or Romney pere’s “brainwashing” to lower myself to Joffe’s level for the moment.
Joffe is not aware it seems that he does his argument little favor by characterizing being drafted into the SS for a few months or even volunteering as a teenager as a career. However, Joffe is just clever enough, as compared to “heeb” not to demolish The Tin Drum in the course of his Bombardino Demolition Co. act.

Just before Easter this year, Mr. Grass launched a bigger bombshell, a poem titled "What Must Be Said." The gist: For too long, the poet had been
cowed into silence by what he calls the "verdict of anti-Semitism."
Well no, Grass had not been “cowed”, he had been, or the personae of the poet, had been humbled into a quandary, of being a guilty German finding himself in a position where he felt he needed to criticize the successors and survivors of endangering the peace. What one might want to criticize is the presumptuousness of being “the conscience of his people.”

“But in his
dotage, he finally dared speak out against the diktat because Israel was readying a "first strike" that would "extinguish" Iran and the "fragile world peace." Germany, though, would "share the guilt" because it was arming Israel with nuclear-capable U-boats.”
dotage”: really, Joffe, you lowlife, must you sink that low? And call agenbite of inwit “diktat” is on the same gutter level.
Thus did the bard go into battle against "hypocrisy" and "lies." Never mind that Iran is routinely threatening Israel with eradication. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is but a "loudmouth," a lamb in wolf's clothing”
“a lamb in wolf's clothing”, Grass is saying nothing of the kind, and to repeat myself, see above, Grass indeed might have made the line
“against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—“
Even stronger and less equivocal, but a “lamb’s” thumb does not push anyone into organized cheering. Mr. Joffe desperately wants to maintain the fiction that Amindebejad is the same as Iran and perpetuates what even the Israelo deputy prime minister admits are mistranslations of the Persian, useful  mistranslations – and that is what is “routinely” repeated to justify the planned first strike.

“Was this anti-Semitism, as Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel's envoy to Germany, intimated? The poem, Mr. Nahshon explained, was in the "European tradition" of sticking the Jews with blood libel just before Passover. Once it was matzo made with the blood of Christian children. Today, the "Iranian people" were "slated for extinction" by Israel. Mr. Joffe might have taken recourse to his friend Broder, but he needs an authority to create an analogy out of whole cloth. And he finds a fellow fantast in Emmanuel Nashon who appears to have no knowledge of Grass pacifist heritage of Christian Easter custom – as Joffe himself, however does, and of course conveniently ignores because it would explode his polemic.
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Description: Joffe
Description: Joffe

After the Holocaust, traditional anti-Semitism is out. Jews are no longer fingered as Christ killers, usurers and despoilers of the Aryan race.
But Mr. Grass's indictment is rife with post-Shoah analogues. Carefully coded, it pins on the Jewish state what used to be applied to Jews throughout the ages.”
It keeps puzzling me why someone who so manifestly foists then must accuse someone else of foisting and doing so in “careful code?” Anyhow, “careful code” would be beyond someone like Joffe!
“We are not talking here about criticizing Israeli policy, a legitimate pursuit. Mr. Grass now charges Israel with concocting the greatest possible evil: a nuclear Holocaust to be visited on Iran and the entire world.”
Well no: Grass does nothing of the kind, again see above, but envisions a conflict that starts with a first strike developing into, ending in a nuclear catastrophe. Not that insane a fear to voice I would say under the circumstances of Nethanjahu and American threats and actions. Again: Grass is not your usual irresponsible WSJ editorial writer, he is a seer-poet! Mr. Joffe is stuffing his eyes and ears.
“Even as Mr. Grass touts his "attachment" to Israel, recalling the my-best-friends-are-Jewish refrain, he casts the tiny country as an überpower.”
Again, Grass does nothing of the kind, however Joffe’s modus operandi of mischaracterization and then attack of the mischaracterization continues apace. Grass volunteered to fight for Israel during the six day war, he has visited and has friends there, and many other Jews are his friends, whether best or not I would not know.
“Apart from threatening the globe, Mr. Grass imagines, Israel enslaves 80 million Germans by wielding the Shoah to gouge U-boats out of Berlin and to suppress "what must be said."
Herr Joffe as compared to Grass, has not been “smoking”, he has been taking Peyote at his institute at Stanford! After all, I did my graduate work there within sight of the Hoover Tower! There are those who create straw tigers, Mr. Joffe creates straw elephants, and it is not the man Irving Howe once described to me as dancing like an elephant. And then Herr Joffe says
This is mendacity to the max, “
As indeed it is! To create papier mache elephants out of whole cloth. Maybe Mr. Joffe would be more gain and usefully employed in a circus? Or as an entertainer in a madhouse?
“for critical coverage of Israel is a staple of the German media. But the falsehood is a necessary part of the indictment. If we could only speak out, insinuates Mr. Grass, we will save the planet by defanging Israel. By eliminating its nukes through a "permanent control" regime, we will bring peace to the "demented" Middle East and "help ourselves" to boot.”
Again, Grass says nothing of the kind, and that is why Murdoch’s WSJ did not see fit to publish the poem side by side with Joffe’s vile Murdochian garbage.
The motive is unbearable guilt feelings, though Germany has evolved into a model democracy since 1945. How to regain moral worth? By projecting culpability onto Israel.”

Grass does appear to write out a sufficient sense of guilt that does not wish to see a repeat of culpability. “Unbearable” [?]– again Joffe writes things he has not the faintest of. I will stop here. Mr. Joffe now proceeds to fish and find a number of red herrings, which unfortunately seem to be real. Let me, from an analytic perspective, say that “victims do not make for the nicest people.” Otherwise, ask Peter Brooks to revive “Les Ics”.
"The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz," runs a quip ascribed to Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychiatrist. You don't need a shrink to deconstruct this defense mechanism. Our grandfathers did it, but the Israelis, who won't let us forget, are just as bad. Three classics are: "They are the new Nazis," "Gaza is like the Warsaw Ghetto," and "We learned our lesson, the Israelis did not."
Thus, the accounts are squared, with a tidy moral surplus left over for Mr. Grass and his new friends on the far left and far right. The good news is that the poem did not play well in the middle. For the past two weeks, the media have weighed in against the bard, saying "what must be said" in a very different way: that he had breached a 70-year-old moral consensus, that he had turned the moral universe upside-down by casting Israel as aggressor and Iran as victim.
The bad news oozes out from the underground. Go to the website of any paper that has run critical pieces on Mr. Grass and read the comments, thousands of them. By a rough count, 90% cheer Mr. Grass. "At last!" is but the mildest applause.
The arsonist has lost the battle aboveground. Yet below, he is the redeemer who has finally struck a blow against those—Israel, Jewry, the political class—who rob Germany of dignity and freedom.
Germany in 2012 is a normal country, a solid liberal democracy. The norm for Europe is for 15%-20% of the population to possess opinions labeled by the pollsters as "latent" anti-Semitism. Germany is not an outlier, but mainstream. Considering the past, that is reassuring.
Mr. Joffe is editor of Die Zeit in Hamburg, senior fellow of the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and fellow of the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.
A version of this article appeared April 17, 2012, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Gunter Grass's Tin Ear.
As opposed to Susan Sontag’s AGAINST INTERPRETATION the likes of Broder, Schirrmacher and Reich-Ranicki fly the flag of ONLY INTERPRET, that way you never lose an argument. Fabuloso! Schirrmacher  brilliantly constructs an airtight mental kennel for himself. I had noticed as much before, on the occasion of the controversy stirred by Handke’s odd way of seeing to Justice for Serbia in the early 90s, and its several repeat comings. I think Schirrmacher is a clinical case. Joffe is something worse, and the sad thing is that he is the editor of a once stellar weekly that was founded by one of the few members of my family of whom I can be genuinely proud, Marion Doehnhoff. However, I congratulate myself of my shit detector.  Joffe here writes exactly as you would expect a spaniel like that to write.
The Neo-Cons all sought to shout down, destroy the poem by shouting anti-Semitism, we allow criticism of Israel the more the merrier, but not from you “you SS careerist”! We don’t care about your contrition. In your case we see the return of the repressed in all its Nazi horror,

thank you Dr. Freud, we don’t really like or read or understand you,  but thank you for the odd useful concept! We’ll instrumentalize it as we will every other. It sure comes handy time and again! Yes, at Pessach the Jews are invariably accused to the worst. To hell with you and your Easter peacenik marches! Ships passing in the night with few lights. Grass and his poem aren’t the real story, I don’t think, but why his opponents are so hysterical. For I think I may be the only one to whom it has occurred that it is entirely irrelevant who points out matters that are publically known – however, Grass doing so, he stepped on very tetchy toes. Why so tetchy is the question, isn’t it?

I am not necessarily a fan of all of Grass’s now customary political interventions. It bothered me when he objected to the Reagan/ Kohl visit to Bittburg cemetery because 40 SS men were buried there. I thought maybe he’d agree it was time to “bury the dead.” But perhaps he didn’t because he feels so dreadful for his own brief youthful SS past. What do I know about how GG really feels? How many SS-men of any kind have expressed that much shame – nor did he kill anyone… And I thought Grass was far too trigger-happy when he joined in condemnation of the Serbs as exclusively responsible. Handke defended him from having his books burned in Belgrade – of course scarcely anyone in “the west” recalls the German reprisals against the “Partisans”, for every dead German 100 Yugoslav civilians were shot. One way of making yourself memorable for generations! Now let’s see whether there will be  Israeli book burning! That would complete the circle, the people of the book burning them!
   I happened to agree with Grass that Germany would have been better off split into two countries, for the DDR to pursue a democratic socialist course, and not be robbed of its, the People’s Republic of Farmers and Workers accumulated wealth of their factories and agricultural co-operatives by the Neo-Liberal West German robbers. And then the state has to re-start that economy after it has been robbed clean. The banana eaters certainly received a banana where the great majority did not anticipate it.

Bibi sure was stung! How many poems have been attacked half a dozen times by a head of state, become the occasion not just for intra but for on-going inter-governmental acrimony and apologies?  Maybe Grass is campaigning for a Nobel peace prize?
   So it is not a question of whether Grass was right or wrong but whether this is an effective poem or not, and on that score you would have to agree that it most certainly is, and if you look at the poem as closely as it deserves to be regarded, and as slowly as its editorial quality appears to have failed to make people read it, you may agree on that score and see why, also textually.
Nonetheless, it was judged to be a poor poem:
 Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.
It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.
But why do I forbid myself
to name that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a usable nuclear capability has grown
beyond all control, because
no scrutiny is allowed.
The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.
But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country
to which I am and will remain attached.
Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses.
And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too
may free themselves from silence,
challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.
Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.
Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.
Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren - wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?
Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt "Antisemitismus" ist geläufig.
Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir - als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

although what might constitute these stellar reporters criteria we will never know.  The fine and humane novelist Louis Begley [among those cited earlier] who joined Grass in his dislike of Netanjahu but can’t see past his memory of the SS [Sturm Staffel] insignia [Runen], it turns out [“is no more a poem than a porcelain urinal could become a work of art, just because [French Dadaist artist] Marcel Duchamp decided to exhibit it as a water fountain,”] hasn’t the faintest about modern poetic conventions or, like many another, never sees past the poem’s editorial aspects.
Most puzzling was the dismissal, initially, of the poems poetic qualities, even by writers and poets who might have seen that it was composed in a Brechtian manner, as Detering demonstrated quite brilliantly. Not that a Brechtian manner is any kind of guarantee of quality, but married to a kind of emotional wrenching that a Robert Lowell would have responded to… and with Hoelderlin’s earnestness…
What was or is it in the poem that made me, too, instantly respond more to its editorial political content, which for me was not particularly new, but for the Dolphin Class submarines that can fire rockets with atomic warhead? As life-long political animal my antennae are tuned to political trouble spots. I would submit that the very mention of day to day or world politics in a poem instantly gets you out of a poetic frame of mind that you don’t even read this text with the kind of measure it actually imposes. You read it the usual way the usual speed reader you reads editorials, superficially, dismissively, it registers at a different rung. There is lots of great political poetry in the 20th century, Yeats, Pound’s Cantos are riddled with politics, Auden, Lowell, Brecht, the Spaniard and Latinos, Celan… I used to be up on contemporary poetry, about 50 years ago when I had a magazine and there were maybe a dozen magazines literary which you needed to read to get a sense of that. Now there are hundreds of magazine and a hundred writing programs that do not produce political poets. Lots of political writing of all kinds, just not political poems, except for me
but none of the magazines I have tried seem to like them, just some of my politically-minded friends. I am an occasional poet and have written a bunch of overtly unpolitical poems about the weather in Seattle and my feathered friends Steeped in Seattle and had a good time writing them. I would not deign or dare to make an over-all generalization of the many strands of contemporary poetry, but to say that you find scarcely anything that might be described as political poetry, that addresses matters of state, of peace and war.
Initially, I too seemed to think that its poetic qualities were negligible, but only because the poems politics got me hot. It wasn’t until Esther Dischereit, who had a finely differentiated response to the poem’s politics 
and in the  main archive
and I started to dwell on its versification that I began to realize that Brecht was its godfather, as Detering demonstrates.
It has been, with respect to the Grass controversy, some weeks lacking in humor of any kind. But for author Sibylle Lewitscharoff saying: “If Grass’s text is supposed to be a poem, then have I, with the help of two or three melodious farts after having eaten a trout, composed a new St. Matthews Passion,” to which I can only add, “sweet farts, Sibylle, or I won’t dine with you,” is the only memorable truly funnee response I have come upon. Now with a second Grass poli-poem, the one on Greece making the rounds, I notice the poverty of various attempts in German magazines and papers to do satire. The only good one I came on is not a persiflage, but alludes with the refrain “and Grass is writing a poem about it” to a series of less than earthshaking events. It has a nice light touch, it is not aggressive or forced or klunky as are all the others.   
 And if you read it as slowly as the poem actually makes you read it, and as Grass reads it you will get a different sense of it than as a speed-reader who happens on an editorial: defenses are up, mere words suggesting editorial content are dismissed at once as poetically impossible, which at least helps explain or suggest an explanation to the riddle why people instantly shift into their own political aesthetic sphere. Surfeit, false language. Impossible. Which is why there are times that poets resort to “agit-prop” and provocation.
During a two month focus on this kind of event and story you of course come upon oddities of all kind in this ayuntamiento of the Cien años de soledad, the Charenton of the Mind: an infinitude of uninformed opinions, from the abysm of unrelieved Neo-Con filthy-macnastiest of a Josef Joffe, the lack of anything classy but for Fritz Stern in his interview in the FAZ with Felicitas von Lovenberg, as well as cheap and easy shots from fellow poets and writers who failed to find any merit in Grass’s dirge and, like its critics, fail to acknowledge the numerous intellecuals
who took it and the issue it addressed seriously, and what little sympathy Grass received, but from me for his awkward emotional exertions,
Of course Islamic voices chimed in from all over; mostly supportive but not all; most amusingly from far off Sri Lanka – such events as the Grass brouhaha invariably elicit sideshow comedies - where Grass became a Jew who criticized Israel, Iran being portrayed as pure as the virgin Fatima!
Then there are instances such as Gregor Struck-Lothar Keuschnig’s
who exists in a world where words like “verzueckt” rule the aviary and who will see the rocket coming at the same time as Mr.McGoo, but who has written favorably and nicely about Handke. 
The most, I would say only touching and heart-rending response was the confession of a Jewish survivor and who did so by joining the Hitler Youth [but most of whose family was exterminated] and pretending to be Volksdeutsch, who states that Grass has the right to voice his opinion and agrees with it:

Grass hat das Recht zu solch einer Warnung

Aufgrund der Tatsache, dass Günter Grass den Zweiten Weltkrieg tiefschürfend erlebt hat und mit gerade mal 17 Jahren sogar von der Waffen-SS einverleibt worden ist, hat er aus seiner Lebenserfahrung ein deutliches Recht dazu, solch eine Warnung auszusprechen. Die Tatsache, dass die israelische Regierung ihm ein Einreiseverbot ausgesprochen hat, zeigt eindeutig, dass an Grass’ Warnungen etwas dran ist. Es wäre seitens Israel besser gewesen, zu bestätigen, keine nuklearen Waffen zu besitzen und zu erklären, keinen Erstschlag gegen den Iran ausführen zu wollen. Alles das hat nichts mit dem Holocaust zu tun, sondern es geht einzig und allein um die Erhaltung des Friedens heute.
Grass has the right to voice his opinion for the very reason that he was part of the SS as a young man and experienced what a world war can be like… It would have been better for Israel not to have atomic weapons and to declare that it will not do a first strike….
Occasionally, in that wasteland of officialeese, a private voice peeks through. Alas, Mr. Joffe and Co. would that you learn to be so generous in your understanding!
As I fade out from this project and as the scandal putters, but for whatever updates that will be posted at 
to resume my life in the coal mine, we can observe Grass’s shadow, the shadow of his imperfect but ever so effective, provocative poem accompany the new German President, Gauck, on his visit to Israel and Palestine, who, a man of great moral standing, takes an even-handed approach, as apparently a real friend, to Israel, and I await whether Netanjahu / Liberman will be able to deal with the same critique issuing from someone who cannot be so easily besmirched.  
        German Jewish relation the last time I had occasion to give the matter real thought [on translating Robert Schindel’s Whereborn in the mid-90s, whose report on the situation was not encouraging] judging by the kind of contortions that most though again not all German officialdom put themselves through so as not to be regarded anti-Semitic is even less encouraging fifteen years later. - A fine exception I found to be the Minister President of the State of Mark Brandenburg, the heart of Prussia, Herr Platzeck, SPD, where my heart beats, too, unless the SPD compromises too much whereupon the heart swings hard left!
Description: cleardot
Hitler’s toxic leavings, not just a ruined culture that will never recover. That those poor sods then should be at the mercy of the likes of Netanjahu and Liberman. I can’t find either justice or irony or any kind of moral in that. And of course the controversy not only allows no end of cowards to spew bile at Grass, but invigorate the actual existing anti-Semitism. 
Michael Roloff, June 2012
Handke, Context

Handke Note [from the Synopsis of the Grass Poem Controversy] 
However, SZ, the Suedeutsche is always game for a controversy, they did Handke’s Justice for Serbia back in 1993. Handke, surprisingly, fails to enter the fray [of the Grass controversy] in this instance. He did the time Grass revealed in Peeling the Onion in 2007 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS, a tank gunner, small stature, good fit for cramped spaces, U-Boats. Handke strutted forth  with the worst kind of self-righteousness, the newsfolk caught up with him in Spain [Handke had forgotten what he had learned from Milovan Djilas] ¡ esto es una vergüenza ! at that time everyone knew at age 17 what the SS was, where I felt I needed to point out that the 30 year old Handke at times seemed not to know what every normal 12 year old does.
  Surprising hat with everybody and his cat chiming in on the Grass controversy Peter Handke did not. Journalists, knowing that Handke is always good for a sexy quote, did not get anything out of him until he and his buddy Luc Bondy started giving interviews for the mid-May 2012 premiere of Die Schoenen Tage von Aranjuez. Handke, a pretty bad liar, lied, not that unusual for him, but certainly so in an instance where a star was robbing him of some of his space in the firmament his featured place in the lime light, big time, internationally, the Grass story spread to India, Thailand, Japan.

Handke, when he finally replied to a query whether he had read the poem, said no, he was in Paris - as though my  kiosk-hound cannot find German papers or read the translation in his daily Le Monde! Handke’s companion during the interview, Luc Bondy, had read the poem and was dismissive. Handke was surprisingly generous in recalling a powerful Grass poem of 1966 at Princeton, but then slighted Grass’s intelligence… He did pretty much the same thing in two different interviews, he and his buddy began to look like the Bobsy Twins!
However, “the comeback kid” is back in good graces, his press has been good, deservedly so, for good work, finally he won the Muehlheim Prize for the best piece of the year after not receiving it for a number of others where he ought to have, if he has continued to beat up women or indulged in other nefarious proclivities we have not heard about it, although wife Sophie Semin did look very sour in her recent Lillian Birnbaum Photo…  So why get involved in a fray that is a lose lose proposition? Attacking Grass Handke would have found himself in the company of Joffe, Schirrmacher, Naumann and Reichs-Kanickel – second raters who have given him no end of stupefying grief over the years, Ranicki turns out to be the best of that lot, sadly. Coming out in defense – there was a plenty of that, but it would have made news and not helped him. Thus “ta geule!”
And, as evidenced by the controversy, the last thing you want to do as a German language author is become embroiled in a dog fight that involves anti-Semitism. Handke briefly compared the bombing of Belgrade to Auschwitz, a comparison rapidly apologized for, but which at the very least demonstrated the authenticity of his pain at the final form of the West’s decimation of the 2nd Federation. 
Other major worthies of Grass’generation and fellow Gruppe 47 members such as Enzensberger and Jürgen Habermas have kept their public mouths ta geule, so far. Martin Walser noted, in passing, that Grass was anything but an anti-Semite, as did a lot of goyim and Jewish friends of his also citing the portrayal of the toy maker in The Tin Drum.  Muschg was the first to come out in support. Rolf Hochut felt Grass wrote and anti-Semitic poem and resigned from the German academy. I must say I have lost track of whence this quote that hits the nail on the head: “As political commentary the Grass poem, which isn’t much good as a poem, is something everyone knows. That something like that elicits accusations of anti-Semitism only testifies to the apparent impossibility of differentiating between Jews and the State of Israel, and of the continuing unsettled nature of German guilt feelings.”
Als politisches Kommentar ist das Grass Gedicht, das als Gedicht nicht viel taugt, eine Binsenweisheit. Das so was Anti-Semitismus Beschuldigungen hervorruft zeugt von der scheinbaren Unmoeglichkeit zwischen Juden und dem Staat Israel zu unterscheiden, und von der andauernden Unausgeglichenheit des Deutschen Schuldgefuehls. 

Notes: Context
Useful is Shulman’s NYRB review of Beinart
In any case, the Crisis of Zionism book is by no means entirely unoriginal: Beinart clearly has had close access to key members of the Obama administration, and has provided the most persuasive and detailed account of Obama’s step-by-step abandonment of his previous “liberal Zionist” principles and sympathies and his final humiliating surrender to the Netanyahu government, the know-nothings in Congress, and the Israel lobby

 Here are the main facts about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as reviewed by Beinart:
.The Nakba: the expulsion (or worse) of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of their homes and villages in the 1947-48 period.
. The forty-five year Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians, including the ongoing expansion of the settlements in the West Bank and their encroachment on the land, water, and agriculture of the Palestinians—enforced by severe economic pressures, home and farm demolitions, imprisonment, assassinations, and periodic outright major military attacks.
. The various forms of economic, political, and social discrimination of the Palestinian minority (the Arab Israelis) in Israel itself.
. The spread of racism, political extremism, religious fanaticism and outright violence in Israel—including terrorism and routine police violence against even the Jewish dissenters. As Beinart puts it, a vicious cycle has been created, “in which illiberal Zionism beyond the green line destroys the possibility of liberal Zionism inside it; as survey after survey has demonstrated, there has been a rapid decline in democratic and liberal values, and each succeeding Israeli generation, certainly including the current one, is worse than the previous one.
. The long history of Israeli intransigence or outright torpedoing of various opportunities to reach a two-state compromise settlement with the Palestinians—including the last serious negotiations, at Camp David and Taba in 2000. In his analysis, Beinart incorporates the scholarship and the Israeli journalism as well as diplomatic memoirs that have thoroughly refuted the standard argument that Arafat rebuffed a generous Israeli two-state offer and then turned to terrorism and violence. Today, no serious analysis of the events of 2000-2001 accepts this mythology.
6. The Israeli refusal to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, despite the growing evidence that Hamas is now opposed to terrorist violence against Israel and is increasingly likely to agree to a two-state settlement of the conflict. Indeed, not only has Israel ignored these trends, as Beinart points out it has often provoked violence with Hamas, especially but not limited to the massive Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-09.
Context footnote ctd.
The Council on Foreign Relations’Max Boot is no stranger to calling for increasingly confrontational measures to address Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But in a column in today’s L.A. Times, Boot doubles down on his calls for war while in the same breath admitting that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. He writes:

Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz last week, in response to U.S. and European Union moves to apply sanctions on its oil industry. Only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, the strait sees the passage of roughly 28 tanker ships a day, half loaded, half empty. Some 17 million barrels of oil—% of oil traded in the world—go through this chokepoint. If Iran really could close the strait, it would do great damage to the world economy. But it would also damage its own already shaky economy because Iran relies on the strait to deliver oil exports to China and 
Context ctd.

By Michael Ledeen
So we had important talks with the Iranian regime and reached an important agreement to have more important talks with them next month.  No one on our team seems the least bit embarrassed, nor do any of the pundits who predicted that some sort of nuke deal would be agreed on.  Indeed, most of the coverage that I’ve seen has to do with Israel:  will they attack or not?
On the basis of my mother’s dictum that repetition is the basis of all learning, let’s go through the basic principles again:
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is not interested in a deal with the West unless it is clearly and unequivocally a total Western surrender that ends sanctions, confirms our retreat from the Middle East, and acknowledges Iran as the regional hegemon;
The current game–call it “around the world in 180 days”–provides the diplomats with good food, luxurious accommodations, and pictures in the papers, and it leaves the Iranians free to enrich uranium, build missiles and warheads, and kill us and anyone inclined to work with us. That is the Real War and no Western leader ever talks about it;
Sanctions will neither stop the Iranian nuclear program nor stop the Real War. Only a change in regime can accomplish that.  To that end, sanctions could be a positive force if they were combined with support for the Iranian opposition.  Just ask the Revolutionary Guards how serious the resistance is:  the RG just deployed an additional eight thousand soldiers—some in uniform, others in plain clothes–in the streets of Tehran.But no Western leader cares to help the Iranian opposition, even verbally.  When  those leaders say “no option is off the table,” they mean some day there might be a  military attack against Iran.  But  financial and tactical assistance to the Iranian people willing to actively fight for freedom is totally off any Western  strategic table; “No solution but force … strong military rule. Any outbreak will bring upon the Arabs enormous suffering. We shouldn’t wait for a big uprising to start, but rather act immediately with great force to prevent them from carrying on. … If it’s possible, we should conquer any disputed territory in the Land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war. We should conquer Gaza, and parts of the Galilee, and the Golan. This will bring upon us a bloody war, since war is difficult for us –we don’t have a lot of territory, while the Arabs have lots of space to retreat to. But that’s the only way to survive here.

There is valuable experience [on this matter] we don’t pay notice to. I mean the Ottoman rule over the Arabs. The Turks ruled over the Arabs for 400 years, and there was peace and quiet everywhere. The Arabs hated the Ottomans, but every little thing they did brought mass killings and hanging in towns squares. They were hanging people in Damascus, and Izmir … every town had hanging posts in its center. … The Arabs were so badly beaten, they didn’t dare revolt. Naturally, I don’t recommend the use of hangings as a show of force like the Turks did, I just want to show that the only thing that might move the Arabs from the rejectionist position is force.”


Israel's Spy Revoly
Something has gone very wrong with Israel's posture on Iran's nuclear program. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak lead a confrontational approach -- including dramatic interviews and speeches to U.S. audiences that have convinced many that Israel might soon strike Iran's nuclear facilities -- the former heads of Israel's intelligence agencies have come out publicly against the government's position. First, Meir Dagan -- who headed the Mossad until late 2010 and coordinated Israel's Iran policy -- called an attack on Iran "the most foolish thing I've heard." In April, Yuval Diskin -- the previous head of the domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet -- voiced a scathing and personal critique of Netanyahu and Barak. Diskin questioned not only the leaders' policy, but also their very judgment and capacity to lead, warning against their "messianic" approach to Iran's nuclear program.

May 18, 2012 9:38 PM
Lieberman's office stated in early April that peace talks will continue when Palestinian government officials crack down on attacks against Israelis, after which the Israeli administration will reciprocate by freezing settlement construction or expansion in the West Bank.[24] That position contradicts the Obama administration's new approach to the peace efforts, where Israel is requested to freeze all construction, including "natural growth" (i.e. "within existing construction lines")[25] regardless of Palestinian commitments.[26] The office also told U.S. special envoy George Mitchell that past negotiations did not bring any real results.[26] Lieberman himself said in April, "The situation is deadlocked, and it is not because of us".[24] He argued that a stable, successful peace effort requires Americans to focus on preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.[26]
Lieberman and Prime Minister Netanyahu both planned to broaden the PR campaign overseen by the Foreign Ministry about Iran. Part of its new campaign focuses on Tehran's abuse of human rights and sponsorship of terrorism and also aims to appeal to those, such as the gay and lesbian communities, less concerned with Iran's nuclear aspirations and more fearful of its human rights abuses and mistreatment of minorities.[27] Despite his status within the government, the Israeli police have questioned Lieberman three times from he took office to 11 April about the ongoing corruption investigation.[24]

Courting Failure in Iran Nuke Talks

May 28, 2012

In rebuffing Iran’s concessions on its nuclear program, the Obama administration is bending to hard-line neocon pressures at home and Israeli demands abroad. But it also appears stuck on the notion of permanent U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, says national security expert Flynt Leverett at
By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
On Antiwar Radio, Flynt Leverett reviewed the P5+1 nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic, noting that President Barack Obama and his foreign policy team seem no more prepared to deal with the major issues that must be addressed to enable a meaningful agreement — accepting internationally safeguarded enrichment in Iran and recognizing that a negotiated solution will necessarily entail significant sanctions relief —than it was during its previous attempt at nuclear diplomacy during
Just as the United States had (and has) interests in Asia, it has “critical interests” in the Middle East. And it can only protect and promote those interests by “having positive relations with all of the important players in the region—and especially with Iran.”

This, however, is “a strategic logic” that the Obama Administration “seems no more capable of embracing than its predecessors in the Bush-43 Administration.” (Or, one might add, the Clinton and Bush-41 administrations.) It is a profound “strategic failure.”
In the interview, Flynt also critiqued myths of Iranian “irrationality” and of the Islamic Republic as too unreasoningly hostile toward the United States for real improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations to be possible.
Flynt Leverett served as a Middle East expert on George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff until the Iraq War and worked previously at the State Department and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillary Mann Leverett was the NSC expert on Iran and –from 2001 to 2003 – was one of only a few U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq. [This article was originally published at]
The stunning revelations by Mr. Sanger, The New York Times’s chief Washington correspondent, about the American role in using computer warfare to attack Iran’s nuclear program already have made headlines, and rightly so. He persuasively shows that under Mr. Obama, the United States government has been engaged in what one presidential adviser calls “a state of low-grade, daily conflict.”
The heart of this book is the chapter titled “Olympic Games,” which Mr. Sanger writes is the code name for a joint program of Israel and the United States to insert malicious software into the machinery of the Iranian military-industrial complex and so set back Iran’s ability to manufacture weapons-grade uranium. Specifically, in 2008 and 2009 the software threw off the balance of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment center. It did so in a variety of unpredictable ways, making it at first seem like the problems were random or the result of Iranian incompetence. The key to getting inside the computers — which were not connected to the Internet — was to load the virus into thumb drives that Iranian nuclear technicians, perhaps unknowingly, would bring to work and plug into the computer systems there.
Sanktionen für Günter Grass
Nach dem israelischen Einreiseverbot für Günter Grass wendet sich nach und nach die gesamte Weltgemeinschaft gegen den Autor. Grass-Häuser in aller Welt werden geschlossen, die Botschafter nach Hause geschickt; Politiker der Europäischen Union erwägen ein Tabak- und Schnauzkammembargo, um Grass zu zermürben. Auch immer mehr Schurkenstaaten gehen auf Distanz, u.a. Kim Jong Un: "Wir wissen, daß Grass seit Jahren an einem zehnten, hochangereicherten Roman arbeitet und dafür mit extrem haarspaltendem Material experimentiert. Damit wollen wir nichts zu tun haben." Auch der Iran stellte die Zusammenarbeit mit dem umstrittenen Dichter ein: "Nun gut, auch wir wollen Israel auslöschen", so Mahmud Ahmadinedschad, "aber schnell und relativ schmerzlos. Die Juden vorher mit endlosen Pfuschgedichten zu quälen, das ist grausam und barbarisch."


The Grass Poem Controversy
must be one of the oddest of all time.
Even the Israeli Military and Security Services
realize that the Netanyahoo/ Liberman government
poses a threat to world peace, it would be the case
even if an old SS general said so, but if Günter
Grass, who contorts himself into a knot of contrition
for having been a Teenage Werewolf Nazi provokes this government
with the same truth, it goes into tizzy! And so does
every Neo-Con within range of a news
Grass hat das Recht zu solch einer Warnung
Aufgrund der Tatsache, dass Günter Grass den Zweiten Weltkrieg tiefschürfend erlebt hat und mit gerade mal 17 Jahren sogar von der Waffen-SS einverleibt worden ist, hat er aus seiner Lebenserfahrung ein deutliches Recht dazu, solch eine Warnung auszusprechen. Die Tatsache, dass die israelische Regierung ihm ein Einreiseverbot ausgesprochen hat, zeigt eindeutig, dass an Grass’ Warnungen etwas dran ist. Es wäre seitens Israel besser gewesen, zu bestätigen, keine nuklearen Waffen zu besitzen und zu erklären, keinen Erstschlag gegen den Iran ausführen zu wollen. Alles das hat nichts mit dem Holocaust zu tun, sondern es geht einzig und allein um die Erhaltung des Friedens heute.

Re: Günter Grass: Was gesagt werden muss

Esther Dischereit
10.4.2012 12:41

Ich wüßte nicht, dass es irgendwo zu vertreten wäre, Präventivschläge auszuführen, die leider Teil der israelischen Militärgeschichte sind. Es wäre auch schön, wenn Israel dem Atomwaffensperrvertrag beitreten und Mr. Vanunu freilassen würde. Außerdem ist es eine Tatsache, dass die israelischen Regierungen seit Jahrzehnten versuchen, die Palästinenser in andere Länder abzuschieben oder ihrer Lebensgrundlagen zu berauben. Der Fortgang des Siedlungsbaus ist vollständig illegal und widerspricht dem Osloer Abkommen. Die Lieferung von Waffen in Kriegs- oder Krisengebiete darf und soll hinterfragt werden. Ich bin nicht dafür. Herr Grass scheint mir alles mit allem zu vermischen. Auch scheint es fraglich zu sein, wer hier welchen Kriegstreibern den Rang abläuft. Die Dämonisierung der israelischen Regierung als d i e Gefährderin des Weltfriedens ist eine Merkwürdigkeit. Sozusagen als sei das Frieden, jetzt . Israel wird bei Herrn Grass als Verursacherin der Bedrohung bezeichnet. Das scheint mir eine Simplifizierung zu sein. Da es sich bei dem iranischen Regime nun nicht um eine durch Friedensliebe ausgezeichnete Herrschaftsclique handelt, die Auslöschungsdrohungen ausstößt, kann man wohl nicht allen Ernstes von Frieden sprechen. Seit Jahren herrscht in der Region der Status Quo. Oder Krieg. Verzicht auf Gewalt und Etablierung einer internationalen Kontrolle - daran ist nichts falsch, und wäre für Jerusalem als exterritorialesgunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html Gebilde sicher sinnvoll, ebenso wie die Kontrolle aller Atomanlagen. Vor einem Krieg gegen den Iran zu warnen, ist vernünftig. Wir haben noch immer die Lügen präsent, mit denen Großbritannien dazu gebracht wurde, sich am Irak-Krieg zu beteiligen. Esther Dischereit

Link to numerous if not all FAZ pieces about the poem:

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