Goldberg Slipping on Grass
Günther Grass’s poem What must be said has been defended and attacked throughout the globe. The poem protests against the German sale of a nuclear submarine to Israel;appeals for international control of the Israel and Iranian nuclear program by an authority accepted by both governments; and, though by a German author, refuses to be silent aboutIsrael’s nuclear power, despite Germany’s past crimes against the Jewish people (and humanity). Grass speaks as a German who does not want to be indirectly responsible for a horrific catastrophe, but rather, as he puts it, wants to give help to Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the region – “and, finally, to ourselves as well. This part of Grass’s poem, the main part, is eminently reasonable. Only a twisted mind would find it anti-Semitic or even anti-Zionist.
The poem employs, however, rhetoric that is offensive to Iranians and to Israelis.