April 5, 2012 § 12 Comments
UPDATE: We have just posted a new, more accurate translation of Grass’s poem here.
by Günter Grass
Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.
Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.
Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt ‘Antisemitismus’ ist geläufig.
Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.
Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.
Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.
Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.
Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.
Following is a translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher. Günter Grass is facing scurrilous attacks for this. Please feel free to share this important poem and support the great man. (For a different translation, check out MondoWeiss)
April 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By Rae Abileah and Medea Benjamin
On Friday, March 30, First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request at her San Francisco fundraiser. Instead of “Can I have a picture with you?,” one major donor asked, “Will you use your leadership to prevent an attack on Iran?” Kristin Hull hand delivered to Ms. Obama a petition against war on Iran that was signed by prominent women including Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, and Eve Ensler, and over 20,000 American women and allies. Hull implored the First Lady to think of the military families and veterans who have paid the price of war. Ms. Obama has championed veterans’ issues while in office and for this reason, in addition to her obvious proximity to the President, women’s groups have made her a focus of their peace efforts.
Ms. Obama thanked Hull for her advocacy and said, “Keep up the great work.” As Hull was walking away after her photo with the First Lady, Michelle Obama grabbed her hand, squeezed it and said, “We really need you.”
The petition implores three powerful American female politicians—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice and First Lady Michelle Obama—to use their influence to push for diplomacy, not bombing, in US relations with Iran. The next step will be to hand-deliver the petition to Clinton. CODEPINK launched this petition online on March 20th, the 9th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq (coincidentally also on the Iranian New Year, Norooz), with a call from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. “Nine years ago, I joined CODEPINK in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience to try to stop our government from bombing Iraq,” said Alice Walker. “None of us could live with ourselves if we sat by idly while a country filled with children was blown to bits using money we needed in the United States to build hospitals, housing and schools. We must not let another tragic war begin.”
March 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My friend Phil Weiss calls this ‘a historic day in the mainstream discourse’, a veritable ‘jailbreak’. He writes:
Chris Hayes devoted two hours of his MSNBC show “Up With Chris Hayes” to a discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict, with a balanced roundtable. Let me repeat, with a balanced roundtable.
I’ve watched about half the show so far and I’m blown away by the fact that in the discourse Hayes established, two Zionists, Jeremy Ben-Ami at the center-left andJennifer Laszlo Mizrahi at the far right, must share the forum with Palestinians Rula Jebreal, the author of Miral, and Leila Hilal of the New America Foundation.
Jebreal repeatedly takes on Laszlo Mizrahi for distorting her views, once puts her head in her hands as Laszlo Mizrahi talks; while Laszlo Mizrahi looks like she has a stomach ache.
Meantime, we really must applaud Hayes, who states in segment two that the debate over Israel and Palestine “is grounded within the special relationship” — which means, no Palestinians get to speak. He has done a ton to reverse that. Let’s hope his bravery is contagious.
You can read Phil’s summary of the show’s highlights here.
March 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Rula Jebreal (author of Miral) and my friend Daniel Levy wipe the floor with neocons Elliot Abrams and Bret Stephens. (The discussion begins at about 20:00.) Daniel is particularly good at keeping the discussion focused on the question of Palestine. He notes that the hysteria over Iran is being used by Netanyahu to distract attention from the expanding settlements and the dwindling prospects for peace. He also rebuts forcefully the neocon talking points about the alleged support among Gulf Arabs for a war with Iran. Kudos to Fareed Zakaria for hosting a balanced panel, a rarity on mainstream US television, and for beginning the show with a strong statement opposing war with Iran. This, without doubt, is part of the Mearsheimer & Walt-effect.
March 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Daniel Levy, one of the sharpest analysts of US-Israeli relations analyses Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington. In an insightful piece for Foreign Policy he had already predicted, based on a close analysis of Israel’s internal political dynamics, that it was highly unlikely that Netanyahu was going to attack Iran. The real danger however was that Israel would use its powerful lobby to induce the US to fight another war for it. For now this danger has been averted. But Levy warns that ‘the President may have boxed himself in…All the arguments the President made for why it’s not a good idea to have a strike now apply later on down the line as well. And yet we’re still in a discourse here where rightsizing the Iranian threat is largely out of balance.’
March 10, 2012 § 3 Comments
An interesting documentary about the history of Iran’s nuclear program. There are some smart and forthright observations by historian Avner Cohen about the real motives that animate Israel’s belligerence toward Iran. Parts of the documentary are somewhat uncritical and treat the highly compromised IAEA as if it were an independent body. In his book Target Iran, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter revealed that IAEA has shared classified information from its inspections inside Iran with the Israelis, who in turn have used it for developing their list of potential bombing targets.
In the documentary, Ronen Bergman, who in a recent New York Times Magazine article predicted that Israel will attack Iran (something I find highly unlikely), claims that one point Mossad had sought US permission to assassinate Dr. Abul Qadeer Khan, which he says the US declined. That Israelis might have wanted to assassinate Khan I don’t doubt; but I find it highly improbable that they’d have sought US permission or would have refrained because of US objections.
Is Iran really building a nuclear weapon or are its activities peaceful? And would Israel really attack Iran’s nuclear facilities? We examine a dispute taking place against much sabre-rattling but in which the truth is hard to pin down.
March 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
An excellent piece on Israel, Iran and America by the Economist’s M.S..
DURING his meeting with Barack Obama on Monday, Bibi Netanyahu said Israel “must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
“I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself,” Netanyahu said. “After all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state, to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny. That’s why my supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains master of its fate.”
News flash: Israel is not master of its fate. It’s not terribly surprising that a country with less than 8m inhabitants is not master of its fate. Switzerland, Sweden, Serbia and Portugal are not masters of their fates. These days, many countries with populations of 100m or more can hardly be said to be masters of their fates. Britain and China aren’t masters of their fates, and even the world’s overwhelmingly largest economy, the United States, isn’t really master of its fate.
March 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
Jim Lobe: There are serious strategic differences between US and Israel, but they share the aim of weakening Iran as a regional power.
March 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
US president Barack Obama today welcomes arguably his least favourite foreign leader to the White House. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit neatly coincides with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). That event offers both men a chance to appeal to some of Israel’s most ardent American supporters. We can therefore expect to hear repeated references to the “common interests”, “unshakeable bonds” and “shared values” of the two countries.
This familiar rhetoric is misleading at best and at worst simply wrong. No states have identical interests, and Israel and America are at odds on two vital issues: Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Obama should continue to rebuff Israel’s efforts to push him into military confrontation with Tehran, while reminding Mr Netanyahu the true danger to Israel lies in its refusal to allow a viable Palestinian state…