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PV Vivekanand: Opportunism at its best
April 10, 2012
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The problem with Israel and its supporters is that they insist on centuries-old thinking but their actions are based on modern-day realities. They give an impression of self-denial, but it is clearly aimed at keeping everyone off balance.

They argue as if Jews continue to be subject to persecution as they were in some parts of the world centuries ago and want the international community to offer them preferential treatment. Those who refuse and those who criticise Israel are immediately labelled anti-Semite.

The latest to get hit in Israel’s ever-present campaign is Germany’s most famous novelist,  Günter Grass, a 1999 Nobel Prize laureate in literature.

Grass, 84, is under fire for having written a poem saying Israel’s nuclear weapons are “endangering the already fragile world peace.” The poem, aptly titled “What must be said,” was published by several European newspapers and the New York Times.

Israel seized Gross’s words like a lizard snapping up a fly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Gross’s poem as “shameful.”

The poem was published as tensions remained high over reported Israeli plans to launch military strikes against Iran. Grass said Israel must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran and also criticised German arms sales to Israel in his poem. He also suggested that an international agency should be set up to take permanent control of both Israel’s nuclear weapons and Iran’s atomic plant.

The German writer, a critic of Western military interventions such as Iraq, wrote in his poem:

“Why do I say only now ... that the nuclear power Israel endangers an already fragile world peace? Because that must be said which may already be too late to say tomorrow.

“Also because we – as Germans burdened enough – may become a subcontractor to a crime that is foreseeable,” he wrote, adding that Germany’s Nazi past and the Holocaust – Shoah in Hebrew – were no excuse for remaining silent now about Israel’s nuclear capability.

“I will not remain silent because I am weary of the West’s hypocrisy,” wrote Grass.

The respected writer was immediately labelled “the eternal anti-Semite” by the Welt newspaper in a front-page article. “Grass is the prototype of the educated anti-Semite who means well with the Jews,” Welt wrote. “He is hounded by guilt and feelings of shame and at the same time is driven by the wish to weigh up history.”

Why should Grass feel guilt or shame? Why should any German for that matter continue to pay for the deeds of their grandfathers?

Grass publicly admitted in 2006 that he once served in Hitler’s Waffen SS, the main unit that was accused of carrying out the bulk of killings during the Nazi era, but said that he never fired a shot.

While there could be no justification for the Holocaust, Israel and its supporters want to rub it in on Germans and indeed the rest of Europeans “for not doing anything to help the Jews” condemned to death or to live in Nazi concentration camps. The total number of people killed by the Nazis is not known.  Six million Jews is the European-held figure, but the Nazis killed not only Jews but also communists, political and religious leaders, hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma from Germany, the Baltic region, Ukraine, Croatia and Serbia and many thousands of the physically and mentally disabled, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, socialists and trade unionists.

It does not mean that the killing of a million or less is more justifiable than the extermination of six million people. But it underlines the opportunism of Jews to exploit every given opportunity to remind the world that they were persecuted and continue to be persecuted.

One of the key missions of any Israeli diplomat posted abroad is to keep his/her hosts constantly reminded of the Holocaust and the “continued campaign against Israel’s legitimacy.”

An Israeli ambassador recently suggested that the Spaniards still had the “Spanish Inquisition mentality” of the 15th century.

By speaking out against Israel, Gross has given it yet another opportunity to use the “anti-Semitism” card.

In 2002, another Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Portuguese writer José Saramago, drew Israeli fire for comparing the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories with the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. “What is happening in Palestine,” he said, “is a crime we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz... A sense of impunity characterises the Israeli people and its army. They have turned into rentiers of the Holocaust.”

And Israeli commentators descended on him as if they were waiting for someone to say exactly such a thing. It was as if as a tonne of bricks hit Saramago, but the Nobel laureate did not care.

Today, Grass is coming under blasts after blasts in the Israeli media.

“In a time when Israel faces a menacing Iranian regime, and Jews in France are being killed merely for being Jews, Grass and Social Democratic party head Sigmar Gabriel are fanning the flames of modern Jew-hatred,” Giulio Meotti, an author, and Benjamin Weinthal, a researcher wrote in a column on Israel’s online Ynet news.

Their target was not simply Gross. They accused a large part of the German population of harbouring anti-Jewish sentiments.

Among their grievances:

 Last month, Gabriel referred to Israel as an “apartheid regime” and this view was endorsed by a substantial number of commentators.

Last month, ZDF television broadcast an interview in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned Israeli claims of the Holocaust. If that was not enough, the  interviewer “failed” to ask questions about the repression of Iran’s democracy movement.

“Across much of Europe, and in large parts of German society, people remain in denial about modern-day anti-Semitism,” Meotti and Weinthal wrote.

Their column suggested that it is Grass’s job to go after anyone and everyone who criticises Israel or acts against Jewish interests.

They found fault with Grass for not criticising “Iran’s state-sponsored policy of Holocaust denial, as well as Iranian terrorist attacks against Jewish sites, Iranian dissidents, and Americans” and Tehran’s alleged links with Al Qaeda (that were never proven).

The writers  questioned why Gross did not refer to Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, who is believed to have killed  a rabbi, three Jewish students, and three French soldiers last month.

As far as the writers are concerned, “Grass, like Sigmar Gabriel, embodies this post-Holocaust tradition of anti-Semitism and envisions a world cleansed of the Jewish state. They never consider the possibility that their absurd obsession with Israel’s wrongs has less to do with its policies than their pathological failures to grapple with the legacy of Nazism in Germany.”

What is the legacy of Nazism? Are the Jews being still persecuted in post-war Germany? If anything, Germany is Israel’s staunchest supporter in Europe, and it has some of the toughest laws against racism. But few Israelis and pro-Israelis could be bothered to acknowledge it.

“With his latest work, Grass has become the leading anti-Israel author of the European intelligentsia,” Meotti and Weinthal conclude. “It is a disturbing sign of intellectual malaise, anti-democratic thinking and nihilism that he can use major media outlets to stoke hatred of Israel. To many Germans, anti-Semitism is apparently no longer a shock.”

Well, talk about Israeli opportunism. Anyone listening in Germany, or Europe for that matter?

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