Jeffrey Goldberg: Israel-Iran History, Holocaust Perverted in Grass’s Poem





Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. The opinions expressed are his own

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.

The poem, published in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and elsewhere, was titled “What Must Be Said,” which is quite a vainglorious title. There is very little in the world that is safer (or less novel) than criticizing Israel in a European newspaper....

The German historian Ernst Nolte argued in a 2004 speech that “the only difference between Israel and the Third Reich is Auschwitz,” a statement exceeded in intemperance by Grass’s fellow Nobel Prize recipient, the late Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago, who once compared Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian West Bank, to Auschwitz, and who accused Jews of worshipping a “spiteful” god....

Grass, however, is a former member of the Waffen SS, and being a former member of the Waffen SS means having to say you’re sorry. Unfortunately, all the harshness directed against Grass after he revealed this fact in 2006 -- six decades afterward -- seems to have made him angry at the SS’s victims. Thus, our poem....



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