The wide exposure enjoyed by Gunter Grass' poem, in which he dubs Israel a threat to world peace and warns that Israel could wipe Iran off the map, led to high expectations followed by deep disappointment. Why have Israeli writers, whose voices are often heard in Europe, and namely in Germany, not spoken out against this poem by Gunter Grass?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the poem and the Israeli Embassy in Berlin viewed the poem's publication on the eve of Passover as an anti-Semitic act. But in the face of such a respected writer as Grass, a Nobel Prize laureate, would it not have been more appropriate if the response had come, first and foremost, from our own respected writers, those Israeli writers who never hesitate to make their voices heard on other controversial issues?
As of the time these words were written, other than Eli Amir's condemnation of Grass' poem, where are the rest of our writers? After all, our writers are often called upon to contribute to discussions of the hour, and they usually criticize the government's policy.
Here in Israel, that is their right, as they commune with their fellow writers overseas and their respective audiences there. Today there are no boundaries. A remark made in Berlin or Rome is heard in Tel Aviv, and vice versa.
Grass' sentiments go far beyond the bounds of polemic questions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is telling us, essentially that we are not allowed to live in Tel Aviv, that we have no right to exist in it, or in Israel in general. He declared that Israel has adopted a menacing policy to the point of threatening Iran's general existence.
If Israel is a threat to world peace, as he explicitly wrote, perhaps Germany should not supply Israel with another submarine, as he recommends. In other words, perhaps Israel should be disarmed of its deterrence weapons, the submarines, and be left exposed. The threat, says Grass, is not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – it is Israel.
But Israel is certainly not the only country that assigns grave significance to Ahmadinejad's threats – Germany, the U.S., the International Atomic Energy Agency and many more do too. Nevertheless, according to Grass, Israel - the big threat - has no right to exist. Perhaps that is not surprising, written by someone who admitted to serving in the Waffen S.S.
This is not a debate on this or that policy - this is the classification of Israel as a threat to world peace. We believed, for instance, that the presence of thousands of German soldiers in Afghanistan was their modest contribution to peace and security in the face of threats made by Osama bin Laden's followers in the world.
Our writers' silence is both unfortunate and thunderous, in light of Grass' idiotic experiment and anti-Semitic effort to dismiss the legitimacy of Israel's existence.