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German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute

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oginome,

I'm afraid you are still, as we in Germany say, "barking up to the wrong tree".

Three aspects. First: Guenther Grass has been controversial before. Back in 1990, he strongly opposed the German re-unification, claiming that the division of Germany in West and East Germany after WWII was some kind of punishment for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and therefore, in order to atone for that, Germany should have to stay divided eternally. Back in the day, this was, notabene, an extremely leftwing position. Well, we took it in stride and got us the re-unification despite Grass's verdict.

Second: You're still exaggerating the "ex-Nazi" aspect. I'm not sure you fully grasp the impact ANY criticism of Israel has in Germany. Being German, you DON'T criticize Israel. You simply DON'T. At least not in public, and definitely not if you want to be taken seriously further on. Criticizing Israel puts you either in the extreme leftwing or in the extreme rightwing political corner, albeit with opposite motives. It's as simple as that. Even if there is absolutely nothing "Nazi" or "ex-Nazi" in your personal history to be found, you'll still be labeled "anti-Semitic" forever, which is, for all that matters, more or less the same as "Nazi".

So, the fact that he has been a member of a Nazi organization in his youth may have been abetting the reaction in the public but not, as you seem to think, causing it in the first place.

Third: I think you're wrong in claiming that he is just seeking attention or, as nip&tuck first put it, "for a thrill". No - he means what he says. In saying what he means and "what must be said" (in his opinion), he didn't care for the "firestorm of media attention" he would create by saying it. Claiming, at least implicitly, that he published the poem in order to get attention grossly misreads the man.

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@ oginome @ SuperLib I'm afraid it's not that easy. On the one hand, there is (at least here in Germany) a pro Israel lobby trying to pin kind of a "once SS always SS" stance on Grass. While it is indeed, and rightfully so, regarded as a scandal that he took six decades of self-righteous furor against all that (or whom) he considered to be "Nazi" or "rightwing"or "racist" in any way before revealing that he himself had been a member of the Waffen-SS, it is (here in Germany) also an easy way of tabooing anything you don't want to hear or read by calling it anti-Semitic or "Nazi". That way, those who criticize Grass have an easy way of avoiding to discuss the poem on grounds of its content.

On the other hand, what would make me worry is not the poem itself but the kind of support Grass is receiving. For example: Willi van Ooyen, who is cited as "a spokesman for a group that organizes the traditional peace marches held each year on Easter weekend in Germany" is not only a member of the party "Die Linke" ("The Left") - a political party which shares the subliminal anti-Semitism of the left (even if that is not in the old-fashioned Nazi way but in the pro-Palestinian way) - but has a history of membership in pro-communist organizations as well.

Besides, I think that the outrage is indeed exaggerated. For once, there is nothing in the poem that hasn't been said before. Furthermore, I think that Grass simply doesn't (want to) understand the situation in the middle east. So everyone just breathe.

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"So everyone just breathe."

Heh, it's the Israeli/Palestine issue. You ask the impossible.....

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oginome,

Again, very well thought out and written posts.

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Ben Jack,

Assuredly, he published his poem in the hopes that it and he would be ignored. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

I get the feeling that you're misunderstanding me intentionally. Of course Mr Grass wanted to get attention for the poem. Every poet or writer wants that. But did it ever occur to you that a writer might want to write and publish a poem because he wants to say something - and not just to be in the news once again?

Make no mistake: I don't agree with Grass. (Funny thing that I should be compelled to stress this as if this were an inner-German discussion.) As I've stated in an earlier post, I think that Grass doesn't understand the situation in the Middle East.

So for the record: I fully agree with you that he does ignore Iran's threats to Israel and its stance in the nuke issue. I agree that it's not Israel that threats to wipe Iran off the map but the other way round. I hope that clears matters up or you as well.

But all that still doesn't make the poem simply a publicity gig as it has been claimed.

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But did it ever occur to you that a writer might want to write and publish a poem because he wants to say something - and not just to be in the news once again?

I think I understood you well. As Madverts points out, your English is quite good. I believe he wanted both. I was not suggesting it was merely a publicity stunt. Sorry if you thought that. However, I think he is also very happy with the media response and attention to it.

Also, for the record, I don't think oginome is exaggerating Grass's Nazi past, but merely mentioning it.

For the record, I did find your post very interesting regarding Grass's history.

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Ben Jack,

Thanks for clearing that. I'm with you in that Grass might be secretly happy with the media attention he gets, even if he accuses the (German) media of "Gleichschaltung" (for this term, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleichschaltung).

What caused my response to oginome is the following sentence:

The ONLY reason this case has gotten so much attention is because Grass is an ex-Nazi.

That, I think, is exaggerating. Of course, Grass's having been a member of a Nazi organization has contributed to that kind of media attention. But it hasn't caused it. As I've tried to explain above, I think that any contemporary German author would have caused a media firestorm by publishing this poem. The point is not being ex-Nazi but being German and an Israel-critic.

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Perhaps oginome will join this discussion again and explain. However, I assumed he was talking about attention outside Germany. Of course, this particular article is talking about inside Germany, so that is a different story. Maybe you are right though. It is possible that he would have attracted a lot of attention just for being German. Thanks for your insight.

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However, I assumed he was talking about attention outside Germany.

That could be the case indeed. Thanks for pointing that out, Ben Jack. Maybe I'm being too German-centered on this issue. As far as I can learn by browsing the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, or the Telegraph, the reactions seem to be more relaxed than in Germany or, not surprisingly, in Israel.

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"I'm not exaggerating at all, he volunteered to fight for the Geman army and put his life on the line to defend the Nazi regime."

One young man's actions more than 60 years ago really have little to do with the topic at hand. You're blowing it all out of proportion Oginome methinks, but a good read nonetheless. I presume you're Jewish by the way, though you don't have to answer.

"If Israel did not over react, most of the world would never have heard of this poem."

I think that is the most relevant post on this thread. Otherwise, other than the Usual Suspect, there was some good adult arguments here for a change.

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oginome,

Since you seem to be able to evaluate Israel's motives so well and even gauge it's potential reactions

if a German writer born after 1945 had written that poem, then Israel wouldn't have have banned entry

would you care to explain one thing for me: The fact that Grass was in the SS has been revealed in 2006. It caused considerable outrage in and outside Germany. At least in Germany, Grass has completely lost his moral authority. But oddly enough, this revelation didn't prompt Israel to ban Grass from entry. If I understand correctly, Grass could have traveled to Israel just two or three weeks ago unimpeded.

And now, the same SS past (which hasn't and the evaluation of which hasn't changed since then) is the (only?) reason for Grass's being banned from entry?

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detlef langer,

Thank you for your thought provoking and well written response. I agree with what you wrote. What irks me about this unbalanced poem by Grass is that when people say they don't like it, some try to assume that we somehow want Israel to nuke Iran. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

I certainly would never wish for Israel to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. However, I do not think Israel would ever do this. Why? First, there is absolutely no country on the face of the earth to which Israel would be able to turn if they did such a thing. Second, Israel themselves would be in the track of any resulting fallout from such a bad decision to detonate a nuclear bomb in Iran. Third, Israel has never used such weapons before, even when they took out Iraq's attempt to build a nuclear facility. Israel has been in situations in its history when its future existence was in question, but they did not turn to those weapons.

As to a conventional attack, I don't see this as a likely possibility, either. First of all, I am sure Iran is taking very good care that their facilities are not easy targets. In Iraq's case, I don't think they thought Israel would really go after it. Iran knows Israel has done it before and would definitely be preparing for such an event. I think Israel will continue to create distractions such as viruses to slow the progress.

Yes, I too wish Grass had made his poem balanced. He should have stood for peace, Instead, he makes people who support peace appear as if they support war. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know this is true of you, oginome and myself.

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Its interesting and encouraging to see an ex-SS openly expressing anti-war views and being supported by German peace activists.

They are supporting his views, not Grass himself. Grass' poem isn't some kind of revelation, many Israelis even criticise their country's policies. Grass was looking for attention.

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He should go to Iran and protest against their government as well.

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Heh, it's the Israeli/Palestine issue. You ask the impossible.....

Well, you know the proverb: Be realistic. Ask for the impossible.

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I salute you on your command of the English language at least. I wish my German were anywhere near.

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I salute you on your command of the English language at least. I wish my German were anywhere near.

This coming from a native speaker of English... - thank you very much and my salutes for your taking up the battle against the intricacies of German ;-)

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So its impossible that a man with even the most slim of relationships with the Nazis could simply feel he needs to speak up on Israel? Common sense says to you there is no choice but that he was seeking attention? We obviously don't share the same common sense.

He didn't have the 'most slim of relationships with the Nazis', why are you downplaying this? He actively volunteered to fight in the German army and put his life on the line to defend the Nazi regime. Yes common sense dictates that he was looking for attention. He's already admitted to being in the SS, so he knew full well the media storm that would ensue when he wrote his sanctimonious poem criticising Israel.

But its getting a lot more airtime than usual. That might have been part of the plan, but the way you say "seeking attention" implies it was for a thrill. But that runs counter to the wisdom of his words and the fact you admit that others have said the same. Plus, as a Nobel Prize recipient its not like he really needed some cheap attention.

I see no reason why he should toss his hat in publicly with all those other people critical of Israel if he wants to.

Yes, he was seeking a thrill. The 'wisdom of his words', I'm sorry, but nothing he said isn't already said by many other people every day. The ONLY reason this case has gotten so much attention is because Grass is an ex-Nazi. And I don't know why you think a Nobel Prize winner for literature wouldn't yearn for some 'cheap attention', writers are always getting involved in silly disputes and squabbles with other writers and and generally, they're not exactly known for being the most equanimous kind of people - VS Naipaul anyone?

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Claiming, at least implicitly, that he published the poem in order to get attention grossly misreads the man.

Yes, I agree. Assuredly, he published his poem in the hopes that it and he would be ignored. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

Interestingly, he managed to ignore Iran's actions which can easily be likened to pouring gasoline on the powder keg that is the middle east by supporting, training and providing weapons to groups that have the destruction of another nation as their goal. Pretty hard to ignore that particular elephant in the room.

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I'm afraid you are still, as we in Germany say, "barking up to the wrong tree".

How am I 'barking up the wrong tree' - the media attention is mainly based on Grass' being a Nazi and Israel deciding to ban entry. If he was a German born after 1945 who criticised Israel, entry would not have been barred and this controversy would have been non-existant. We would certainly not be reading about it on Japan Today.

Three aspects. First: Guenther Grass has been controversial before. Back in 1990, he strongly opposed the German re-unification, claiming that the division of Germany in West and East Germany after WWII was some kind of punishment for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and therefore, in order to atone for that, Germany should have to stay divided eternally. Back in the day, this was, notabene, an extremely leftwing position. Well, we took it in stride and got us the re-unification despite Grass's verdict.

This just smacks of desperate attention seeking. So you've provided more evidence to prove Grass craves media attention and has a history

Second: You're still exaggerating the "ex-Nazi" aspect. I'm not sure you fully grasp the impact ANY criticism of Israel has in Germany. Being German, you DON'T criticize Israel. You simply DON'T. At least not in public, and definitely not if you want to be taken seriously further on. Criticizing Israel puts you either in the extreme leftwing or in the extreme rightwing political corner, albeit with opposite motives. It's as simple as that. Even if there is absolutely nothing "Nazi" or "ex-Nazi" in your personal history to be found, you'll still be labeled "anti-Semitic" forever, which is, for all that matters, more or less the same as "Nazi".

No, I'm not exaggerating, the 'ex-Nazi' aspect is the reason why this story has garnered such international attentional in the first place and why Israel has banned Grass, which further ignited the flames in this media storm. I never said it wasn't controversial for a German to criticise Israel, but this is amped up when the German happens to be an ex-Nazi. He knew what would happen when he wrote his poem, he was desperate for attention and he got it.

So, the fact that he has been a member of a Nazi organization in his youth may have been abetting the reaction in the public but not, as you seem to think, causing it in the first place.

It's certainly what caused the reaction outside German, and his membership of a Nazi organisation is why Israel banned him and why there is now an 'Israel dispute' (see the title).

Third: I think you're wrong in claiming that he is just seeking attention or, as nip&tuck first put it, "for a thrill". No - he means what he says. In saying what he means and "what must be said" (in his opinion), he didn't care for the "firestorm of media attention" he would create by saying it. Claiming, at least implicitly, that he published the poem in order to get attention grossly misreads the man.

I think it reads him perfectly well. He has a history of attention seeking, and he knew full well what would happen when he wrote his dire poem.

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If Israel did not over react, most of the world would never have heard of this poem.

Yes, and if Grass had not written an unbalanced poem the world would have never heard of it either. If he is truly interested in peace, it would have been reflected in the balance of telling the dangers of Iran.

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"Sorry, nothing I said here was juvenile."

Nobody said you did, I acutally complemented you. My remarks were directed at the individual I won't name who insists on dragging the debate down to munchkin level.

"I'm not the one who pretends anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in Europe."

That is a twisted retort from a past debate. I did not infer that, but it was something else you tried to blow out proportions.

Ahhhh, the Israeli/Palestinan knee-jerk. Once again I regret joining it.

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Ahhhh, the Israeli/Palestinan knee-jerk.

Actually, in this case, more like the Israeli/Iranian knee-jerk.

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If anything, he seems to be trying to restore some balance.

Focusing on one side is anything but balanced.

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In addition, Iran is the one that threatens the destruction of another country and supports, trains and provides weapons to groups trying to destroy that country. Now, for people that want to see Israel destroyed, that is just dandy. However, it is not balanced.

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German Financial Times has a pole about Gunter Grass's take on Israel

An internet pole where people can click as many times as they like is not really an accurate and effective way to measure the feelings of a population. Nice try, though.

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His poem IS balanced (read it).

I read it. It does not discuss the dangerous Iran represents at all. That is anything but balanced. You see, you don't think Israel should exist and you think the world should get together to rid the world of Israel. You have made this clear many times. So, of course you would agree with a position that is against Israel and for Iran.

Yes, thank you for repeating again that Israeli talking point, which BTW is anything but balanced.

It is not a talking point. These are facts. I do remember when you attempted time and time again to deny that Iran was supporting Hezbollah and Hamas in their attempts to destroy Israel. Sadly, Iran themselves admitted to doing so, so you had to shift gears and attempt to defend the actions instead. Fine, go for it. However, what I wrote is true.

Grass was not interested in helping peace along as he was in getting his anti-Israeli piece out, which incidently and unsurprisingly got rave reviews in Iran.

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Ben Jack,

In order to finally discuss the poem on grounds of its content and not of it's author's past, I'm completely with you in stating that the poem is unbalanced and that it doesn't help peace along.

But there is one thing that gets me worried.

On the one hand, there is Iran, clandestinely or not so clandestinely developing the means to build nuclear weapons even if it claims otherwise. I think Iran's having nuclear weapons would make the world a much more dangerous place regardless of Iran's motives for having them in the first place, the more so as Iran repeatedly announced its determination to wipe Israel off the map.

But we have been knowing that Ahmadinejad character to be a loudmouth for a long time now.

On the other hand, we have always been knowing Israel not to be a loudmouth. And against this background, I'm getting more and more uneasy reading (or hearing in the news) that in Israel's government (or its military, or both) the discussion seems to be focusing on the "when" (and maybe the "how") of a preemptive strike against Iran rather than on the "if". And yes, I'm very well aware that Israel doesn't openly threat to strike against Iran and that such a preemptive strike doesn't necessarily mean that it would be a nuclear strike.

But there is so much talking about "something has to be done against Iran's developing nuclear weapons and fast" or about a "window of opportunity rapidly closing" that I'm afraid that there will be such a preemptive strike in the near future and that Israel will subsequently count on her partners stand by her and cleaning up the mess it would make.

So I'd really would have wished for the poem to be balanced at all.

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"No, it is not a twisted retort. I stated that anti-Semitism had increased in Europe over the last decade and you denied it and denied anti-Semitism was a problem because you and your friends had never come across it."

Rubbish, you trundled out a few isolated incidents. I live and travel extensively in Europe. There has been more "Paki-bashing" on one Saturday night in the UK then the attacks that you cited.

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"Peace activist" meaning Marxist retread seeking attention and a cause of some kind, any kind.

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After all, we don't need to worry about Iran using nukes at this stage do we? That is not the case with Israel.

Ah yes, because we all know how the Israeli leaders often threaten to "wipe Iran off the map", right? Because Israel is just constantly threatening to nuke other countries, right?

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If Israel did not over react, most of the world would never have heard of this poem.

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He didn't have the 'most slim of relationships with the Nazis', why are you downplaying this?

I am not. You are exaggerating it, and that is the point.

He actively volunteered to fight in the German army and put his life on the line to defend the Nazi regime.

What you imagine another man's motives to be does not make them his actual motives.

He volunteered for the Navy, which at the time was akin to asking to warm the bench. The German Navy was practically non-existant at the time. Thus his application was declined. Then he was drafted into the Waffen-SS, and just like so many drafted after 43, nobody but you assumes evil intent for obeying the draft.

And as has already been pointed out to you Hans Scholl of the White Rose joined the Hitler youth at a similar age, just as Sophie Scholl joined the Bund Deutscher Mädel. But those two were practically saints for backing out at such an age. Grass not only had the handicap of youth, but he was also a refugee from Danzig. And you cannot forgive him for being the same as just about every other German youth at the time, in a country under the firm grip of Adolf Hitler?

I have no idea what he was thinking. He may have hated every minute of it, but felt he had no choice, just like so many others. But you? You claim to know his thoughts! That is what is what is truly preposterous about you posts.

Not far behind is that after more than 60 years and lots of anti-war writings and even opposing unification just to prevent Germany from becoming belligerant again, you either can't forgive him or let it go, or you give credence to those who won't.

The man is 84 years old. Ridiculous that anyone would focus on the first 17 years of his life will ignoring the last 67.

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I am not. You are exaggerating it, and that is the point.

I'm not exaggerating at all, he volunteered to fight for the Geman army and put his life on the line to defend the Nazi regime.

What you imagine another man's motives to be does not make them his actual motives.

He volunteered for the Navy, which at the time was akin to asking to warm the bench. The German Navy was practically non-existant at the time. Thus his application was declined. Then he was drafted into the Waffen-SS, and just like so many drafted after 43, nobody but you assumes evil intent for obeying the draft.

And as has already been pointed out to you Hans Scholl of the White Rose joined the Hitler youth at a similar age, just as Sophie Scholl joined the Bund Deutscher Mädel. But those two were practically saints for backing out at such an age. Grass not only had the handicap of youth, but he was also a refugee from Danzig. And you cannot forgive him for being the same as just about every other German youth at the time, in a country under the firm grip of Adolf Hitler?

I have no idea what he was thinking. He may have hated every minute of it, but felt he had no choice, just like so many others. But you? You claim to know his thoughts! That is what is what is truly preposterous about you posts.

Not far behind is that after more than 60 years and lots of anti-war writings and even opposing unification just to prevent Germany from becoming belligerant again, you either can't forgive him or let it go, or you give credence to those who won't.

The man is 84 years old. Ridiculous that anyone would focus on the first 17 years of his life will ignoring the last 67.

Oh dear, he still VOLUNTEERED to join the Germany navy, he was not forced to do so and that showed he wanted to fight for Germany and defend its fascist regime. A 'refugee from Danzig' doesn't absolve or provide an excuse for Grass at all, how desperate. Hans and Sophie were conscripted into Nazi youth organisations but still rebelled against the regime, because they recognised what lay at the heart of the dream of 'Ayan supremacy'. They too suffered the same brainwashing Grass did, but they turned away from it, while Grass condone it, by actively seeking a posting in the army. I have no idea what he was thinking during his time as an SS, if he loved or 'hated every minute of it', what I do know is this is someone who wanted to fight for the Nazi regime as we can see from his volunteering. Um, I never said he didn't oppose war and reunification in his later years, I stated that the attention seeker knew full well what would happen in the media when a known ex-Nazi wrote a poem criticising Israel. And I'm not holding the first 17 years of his life against him either, maybe you should read my posts properly, I'm stating that it's these first 17 years which are the reason for the controversy, as he would have been fully aware of in advance.

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Nonsense. They chose to join!

They were conscripted into the Nazi youth organisations, just as Grass was later conscripted into the Waffen SS. My point was that Grass VOLUNTEERED to join the Kriegsmarine, which was not compulsory.

And then we have Saint Alexander Schmorell, who got to be a new-martyr even though he actually took part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Nobody is calling him a Nazi, ex or otherwise. Yet, Grass did nothing like invade Czechoslovakia!

Alexander Schmorrell was conscripted into the Wehrmacht, he didn't actively seek to join it like Grass did with the Kriegsmarine.

And after all the key members of the White Rose got their heads literally cut off, you expect a 17 year old to just say "no" to military service in Nazi Germany? Because if he fails to you think it must be because he wants to "put his life on the line" for fascists?

I wasn't talking about his Waffen SS membership, but his volunteering for the Kriegsmarines. VOLUNTEERING suggests at the very least, condoning the Nazi regime if you're actively seeking to fight for it. He really did WANT to put his life on the line. Sophie Scholl had everything to lose and still went against the regime.

Okay, you must be playing with me if you think his life was not already on the line just by being a 17 year old healthy male in Nazi Germany in 1944. Enough of your silliness.

So was every German in 1944, but there were those who still fought in the resistance. He is responsible for his own actions.

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One young man's actions more than 60 years ago really have little to do with the topic at hand. You're blowing it all out of proportion Oginome methinks, but a good read nonetheless. I presume you're Jewish by the way, though you don't have to answer.

Did you not read any of my posts? My point was that Grass, as someone with a Nazi past which is publically well known, would have fully been aware of and have anticipated the controversy which emerged when he wrote his sanctimonious dire poem criticising Israel. I never said he didn't have the right to an opinion, just that his attention seeking motives are obvious. He is no 'wise sage' as alot of people have tried to paint him as, but an opportunist with a great talent for self-promotion and creating publicity. And no, I'm not Jewish, but why would it matter if I was, and where did your presumption come from? Says more about you than anyone else.

I think that is the most relevant post on this thread. Otherwise, other than the Usual Suspect, there was some good adult arguments here for a change.

Sorry, nothing I said here was juvenile. I'm not the one who pretends anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in Europe.

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If Israel did not over react, most of the world would never have heard of this poem.

Yes, and if Grass had not written an unbalanced poem the world would have never heard of it either.

If anything, he seems to be trying to restore some balance. Virtuoso posted a translation of the poem a few days ago, check it out. The guy basically is pointing out that the world is focusing on Iran's unproven nuclear weapon program while ignoring Israel's current nuclear weapons arsenal. And his poem also asks why people feel that they must not point this out.

Interestingly, the German Financial Times has a pole about Gunter Grass's take on Israel, and with about 20,000 votes the results are:

ludicrous: 8 %

dangerous: 4 %

antisemitic: 4 %

discussable: 27 %

correct: 57 %

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That is a twisted retort from a past debate. I did not infer that, but it was something else you tried to blow out proportions.

No, it is not a twisted retort. I stated that anti-Semitism had increased in Europe over the last decade and you denied it and denied anti-Semitism was a problem because you and your friends had never come across it.

By the way, why did you presume I was Jewish?

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@ Guilty party

We're talking about the attention this poem has garnered outside Germany. It would be non-existant if not for Grass' Nazi past, because Israel would not have banned him.

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We're talking about the attention this poem has garnered outside Germany. It would be non-existant if not for Grass' Nazi past, because Israel would not have banned him.

I'm not so sure. Israel had also banned Normal Finkelstein (Jewish American academic, son of holocaust survivors) and he was never a Nazi. But I do believe some are exploiting Grass's Nazi link, to reinforce the false notion that only a Nazi would criticize Israel. Somehow, I doubt very much that the 57% of people who consider his poem correct are all Nazis.

Focusing on one side is anything but balanced.

I agree, focusing on one side would not be balanced. His poem IS balanced (read it).

In addition, Iran is the one that threatens the destruction of another country and supports, trains and provides weapons to groups trying to destroy that country.

Yes, thank you for repeating again that Israeli talking point, which BTW is anything but balanced.

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would you care to explain one thing for me: The fact that Grass was in the SS has been revealed in 2006. It caused considerable outrage in and outside Germany. At least in Germany, Grass has completely lost his moral authority. But oddly enough, this revelation didn't prompt Israel to ban Grass from entry. If I understand correctly, Grass could have traveled to Israel just two or three weeks ago unimpeded.

That's because Grass' poem wasn't know two or three weeks ago. I agree that Israel's decision was stupid, but Grass' Nazi past would have been the justification they used when they banned him. If you, deflanger, as a German born after 1945 (I assume you are) wrote a poem criticising Israel, then Israel would not have banned you. If they did, there would be a large international outcry and Israel would be accused of prejudice simply because you're a German. Israel has a policy by which they can ban anyone with a Nazi past from coming into their country, and this is what lay at the heart of their decision. The poem just provided the impetus for their decision, but they could have banned him anyway. Grass is an attention seeker who knew full well the controversy which he would cause in advance.

Rubbish, you trundled out a few isolated incidents. I live and travel extensively in Europe. There has been more "Paki-bashing" on one Saturday night in the UK then the attacks that you cited.

So what, I also live in Europe and have travelled also. Just because you haven't come across any anti-Semitism doesn't mean it doesn't exist. What bizarre logic. I already posted links which show these 'isolated incidences' have been increasing over the last decade, which is proof of anti-Semitism increasing. Oh and just because 'paki-bashing' is more widespread doesn't mean other forms of bigotry have disappeared. People need to be vigilant against ALL forms of bigotry.

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So its impossible that a man with even the most slim of relationships with the Nazis could simply feel he needs to speak up on Israel? Common sense says to you there is no choice but that he was seeking attention? We obviously don't share the same common sense.

Nothing he spoke was revolutionary or hasn't been said before,

But its getting a lot more airtime than usual. That might have been part of the plan, but the way you say "seeking attention" implies it was for a thrill. But that runs counter to the wisdom of his words and the fact you admit that others have said the same. Plus, as a Nobel Prize recipient its not like he really needed some cheap attention.

I see no reason why he should toss his hat in publicly with all those other people critical of Israel if he wants to.

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I'm not so sure. Israel had also banned Normal Finkelstein (Jewish American academic, son of holocaust survivors) and he was never a Nazi. But I do believe some are exploiting Grass's Nazi link, to reinforce the false notion that only a Nazi would criticize Israel. Somehow, I doubt very much that the 57% of people who consider his poem correct are all Nazis.

Norman Finklestein is a completely different case, the only reason Israel banned Grass was because of his Nazi past, if a German writer born after 1945 had written that poem, then Israel wouldn't have have banned entry. Non-Israelis criticise Israel all the time, but they don't get banned. And no one is exploiting Grass' Nazi link, they're correctly identifying that link lies at the heart of the controversy. And I never said that the 57% of people who voted in an internet poll are Nazis, my criticism doesn't lie with the poem, or people agreeing with it (even though it is one sided), it is with Grass' attention seeking motives and his awareness of the controversy which would ensue because of his past. He craves publicity and has a history of saying and doing things which backs this up.

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Grass was looking for attention.

@oginome What device do you use to divine a man's motives?

None of it has anything to do with the fact that he spoke wisdom.

He should go to Iran and protest against their government as well.

@superlib So to criticize one wrong he has to criticize them all or not have a case?

I think you just want to shut him down. After all, we don't need to worry about Iran using nukes at this stage do we? That is not the case with Israel. So its pretty ridiculous to expect him to divide his focus to cover Iran too. As if Iran had a lack of critics or something anyway!

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@oginome What device do you use to divine a man's motives?

None of it has anything to do with the fact that he spoke wisdom.

The device of common sense. Someone who openly admitted to being a Nazi when he was younger writing a poem about Israel would have created a firestorm of media attention and controversy - and he was right. Nothing he spoke was revolutionary or hasn't been said before, the controversy is because of his Nazi past.

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