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"What must be said": Poem about Iran-Israel relation by German poet Grass draws fire

Source: Radio Zamaneh

A new poem by Günter Grass, the prominent German author and 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has stirred controversy for its portrayal of Israel as threatening world peace with its plots against Iran.

Günter Grass

Published in the magazine Süddeutsche Zeitung, the poem entitled "What must be said" expressed frustration with the "Western hypocrisy" that challenges Iran's nuclear program when Israel's own secretive nuclear program has never been officially acknowledged.

Grass writes: "Why do I say only now, aged and with my last drop of ink, 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."

What must be said

Why I am silent, silent for too much time,
how much is clear and we made it
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes.

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb.

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years - even if secretly covered -
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims - even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” -
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said.

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to.

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because - as Germans and with
enough faults on the back -
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision.

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too.

Translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli ambassador to Berlin, condemned Grass's poem in a statement, saying: "What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder. Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate."

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has expressed deep shock over Grass's poem, describing it as "an aggressive pamphlet of agitation."

German leftist groups, however, expressed their support for Grass's effort. Wolfgang Gehrcke, the deputy leader of the German Left party, lauded the poet's courage for speaking out about the situation when everyone else has remained silent.

A spokesman for Angela MErkel's govenrment Steffen Seibert tried to stay out of the controversy, saying: "There is artistic freedom in Germany and there thankfully also is the freedom of the government not to have to comment on every artistic production."

The West is suspicious of Iran's nuclear program and in addition to widespread sanctions; the U.S. has repeatedly maintained that all options, including a military invasions, are on the table to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has maintained continuously that it has no intention of building nuclear weapons and that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Israel has also made overtures about a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities in recent months.

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