The government of Iceland has forgiven the mortgage debt for much of its population. This nation chose a very different way of stopping the crisis from the rest of European countries. It decided to hear the requests of the population and to put politicians and bankers on the bench of the accused three years after their financial excesses would sank one of the most prosperous economies in 2008. teleSUR
On 4th April, eminent German writer and Nobel laureate, Günter Grass published a poem in the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. The poem is called What Must Be Said, and deals with Israel’s nuclear programme and the threat it poses to world security. Grass’s stimulus to write the poem was Germany’s recent sale to Israel of submarines that carry nuclear weapons. The poem has sparked a huge amount of media and political attention, and the Israeli government has banned Grass from entering Israel.
This weekend, musician and writer Gilad Atzmon is appearing at the Wenlock Poetry Festival to perform, and to present a composition workshop. In the light of the ongoing storm of debate around Grass’s poem, he has been invited to lead a discussion on the role of the artist in contemporary political debate. Atzmon has written widely on Jewish identity politics and has first-hand experience of public reaction to critical opinion about Israel.
The Brighton-based ‘Wandering Who? Reading Group’ met for the third time on Wednesday 11th April, this time in a tower block with a fantastic, if dizzying, view over Brighton & Hove. We were considering Chapters 4 and 5 of Gilad Atmon’s book, ‘The Sabra, the Settler and the Disapora Jew’, and ‘Fagin vs. Einstein’ respectively.
Atzmon makes an interesting distinction between the Sabra, a native born Israeli whose ideal is to be tough outside and tender inside, and the Settler, who dispenses with any idea of compassion. The Sabra ‘can ethnically cleanse the entire Palestinian nation on Friday and then attend a “Peace Now” demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.’ In this he is the negation of the soft Diaspora Jew. While he resembles a German soldier in certain respects, ‘he is loose, he likes to walk in Biblical sandals …’ Atzmon objects that this constructed identity is fundamentally inauthentic, while that of the Settler, however much we may dislike it, is authentic. The West-Bank settler, who arose after the 1967, ‘doesn’t shoot and sob; he is driven by conviction.’ Whereas the Sabra negated the Diaspora Jew, the Settler negates the Goy.
Chapter 4 (like Chapter 5) is so full of philosophical ideas which are difficult to evaluate that we were left struggling. What did ‘negation,’ ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ mean in this context? Nevertheless, on reflection we were able to see that Herzl’s ideal Jew was a ‘negation’, at least, of the ghetto Jew, and perhaps that negation grew with time to include all non-Israeli Jews.
(It should be noted at this point that at least one of our number was unhappy with the use of the word ‘Diaspora’, since this implied a certain view of history which had been well and truly debunked, first by Arthur Koestler and more recently by Shlomo Sand. In other words, the idea that the Jews were expelled by the Romans from Palestine, and then spread all over the world doesn’t stand up to historical investigation. The concept of the Diaspora is, rather, a mythical construction which serves Zionism’s interests.)
It was also possible to see how killing people one day and being warm-hearted and peace-loving on another is inauthentic. Perhaps the problem here is simply that we are not Israelis, and we therefore have some difficulty getting inside the Israeli psyche. On the other hand, this phenomenon is hardly limited to Israelis. At the end of the war Harold Macmillan was involved in the Keelhaul operation which required the deportation of 70,000 POWs to the Soviet Union and Tito’s Yugoslavia, as as result of which large numbers of them were killed. And yet a more avuncular figure it is difficult to imagine. Was he an inauthentic character too?
We were also unsure whether we agreed that there was a clear distinction between earlier settlers and those after 1967. Were those Jewish women settlers of the thirties who would gun down Palestinians just because they were attempting to return to their land, any better than the post-1967 settlers? There was, however, no doubt that Israel had largely abandoned its earlier socialist (albeit ethnocentric) ideas, and was less ambiguous in pursuit of its aims.
In Chapter 5 Atzmon reiterates his oft-stated objection to groups which specifically link their Jewishness to various forms of activism; so there are ‘Jews for Peace, Jews for Justice, Jews for Jesus and so on.’ The Jewish connection is supposed to give such groups a special status, according to Atzmon. Yet he points out the anomaly that while Jews themselves make much use of the Jewish signifier (as he calls it), others who do so get into big trouble unless they are praising Jews for their particular talents and virtues. Here is how he illustrates this phenomenon:
‘… most Jews are not that concerned when being associated collectively with some great minds, adorable violin players or conductors … but you may get into some serious trouble once you mention the following list of real and fictional characters: Bernie Madoff, Fagin, Wolfowitz, Lord Levy, Shylock, Alan Greenspan, Netanyahu and Nathan Rothschild [in the context of their Jewishness].’
This was indeed a phenomenon which our group had encountered, especially in relation to ‘Holocaust’ memorialisation and Jewish studies. When combined with serious sanctions against anyone who spoke critically of Jews collectively, it resulted in a distortion of political and social thought of which almost everyone in our society is consciously, or at least unconsciously, aware.
We didn’t get as far as discussing Atzmon’s attitude to Anthony Julius’s article ‘Trials of the Diaspora,’ which is a pity, because it contains a strong argument against anti-Zionism. If we don’t take it up at the beginning of our next meeting, to which Atzmon is invited, we will no doubt encounter it again in our discussions. Fundamentally it says: ‘We’re only doing what everyone else does, or has done in the past’.
As always, this report has been approved by those attending the meeting.
Everyone and his dog now knows Israel is the problem
Can’t say I’m crazy about the German Nobel laureate’s poetry. Much is lost in translation, of course. But the sentiment expressed in ‘What Must Be Said’ is spot-on.
And now that the dust has settled we can marvel at how the avalanche of outraged squawks and screeches sent the needle clean off the Richter Scale of Zionist paranoia.
Brave Gunter Grass should wear the insults like a badge of honour.
The Jewish Chronicle reported http://www.thejc.com/news/israel-news/66360/gunter-grass-not-welcome-israel-after-iran-poem-sparks-hate-charges Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying:
His [Gunter's] declarations are ignorant and shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them.”
What constitutes an “honest person” in Netanyahu’s eyes? Does he know any?
Would Eli Yishai, Israel’s interior minister, be one of them? Yishai lost no time blacklisting Grass and said he could no longer enter Israel. http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/66408/gunter-grass-israel-ban-burma-or-stasi .
If Gunter wants to spread his twisted and lying works, I suggest he does this from Iran, where he can find a supportive audience.”
No need, Eli. He already has a huge and appreciative audience here in the West.
Yishai is boss of Israel’s Shas party. Shas opposes any freeze in Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank. In other words, he’s all for land theft and ethnic cleansing. Not surprisingly Shas is a magnet for freaks and crooks. Several of the party’s MKs have been convicted of offences such as fraud and forgery. Its former leader was indicted on corruption charges. The party’s founder called Palestinians “evil” and said “God should strike them with a plague….”
As for Arabs generally, “it is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”
Shas has a real down on homosexuals too. One Shas MK accused gays of being “a plague as toxic as bird flu”. http://www.haaretz.com/news/shas-mk-gays-are-causing-israeli-society-to-self-destruct-1.238216 .
The party is also against dividing Jerusalem and wants the Temple Mount for Jews only, regardless of irrefutable Muslim claims.
As if that weren’t enough, The Zionism and Israel Encyclopedic Dictionary http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Shas.htm tells of “unscrupulous election practices that include distributing amulets against the evil eye and rabbinical blessings in return for promises to vote for Shas, and apparently, voting by deceased persons. In several Shas districts in 1999, over 100% of those registered participated in the elections.”
And is Yishai any good as a minister? “Yishai is a bad interior minister,” according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/business/the-shekel-drops-what-kind-of-minister-is-eli-yishai-1.407733 . “It seems the job simply doesn’t interest him. Perhaps even worse, that hasn’t hurt his political reputation, because the people of Israel don’t realize it.” So Gunter Grass needn’t lose any sleep over the mouthings of this third-rater.
In any case, Gunter in his poem only expresses what truly honest men have been saying for decades…
Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no inspection is available?
Actually inspection is available but Israel claims exemption, which is dutifully granted by our subservient international élite.
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say…
Israel frantically points the finger at Iran… but for what? To distract attention from the fact that Israel itself is the one with the runaway nuclear weapons programme that menaces the region and beyond.
UN Security Council resolution 487, in 1981, called on Israel “urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards”. Israel hasn’t done so. Its huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical and biological – is obviously what’s undermining the “fragile world peace”.
In 2009 the IAEA again called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, open its nuclear facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Again Israel did not comply.
Everyone and his dog now knows that Israel is the problem. It is the only state in the region not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran is). It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. As regards biological and chemical weapons, Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Netanyahu needs to explain all this before getting heavy with other people.
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,
I say what must be said.
Two months ago Defence Industry Daily reported
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/germany-may-sell-2-more-dolphin-subs-to-israel-for-117b-01528/ how Christian Schmidt, Germany’s secretary of state for defence, had signed a contract with Israel to supply a sixth Dolphin-class submarine with the German taxpayer chipping in a huge subsidy. This latest U-boat will be fitted with a new type of propulsion system. Schmidt reportedly said that Germany was looking to increase its defense co-operation with Israel and “was specifically interested in learning from the IDF about training and military doctrine”.
The German government must be mental to have provided any subs, let alone half a dozen. Dolphins are diesel-electric attack subs that can fire torpedoes and missiles from their tubes and carry out underwater surveillance. Germany donated two of these killer vessels to the Israeli navy in the early 1990s. Israel then bought a third submarine for $350 million – half price – with the German taxpayer paying the other half. In 2006 a deal was done for two more at a total of $1.27 billion, with the Germans picking up 1/3 of the tab.
These Dolphins have 10 bow torpedo tubes, four of which have a 650mm diameter for launching the larger cruise missiles. Rumour has it that Israel tested a nuclear-capable version of its medium-range “Popeye Turbo” cruise missile from those tubes.
It’s the stuff of nightmares when you see the lethal idiots whose fingers are all over the buttons. Angela Merkel needs a good spanking for this lunacy. Any volunteers?
It is to be hoped
That this will free many from silence,
That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger
To renounce violence and
That an unhindered and permanent control
Of the Israeli nuclear potential
And the Iranian nuclear sites
Be authorized through an international agency
By the governments of both countries.
Amen, Brother Gunter.
Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk