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Gunter Grass, antisemitism and the inflation of evil

17/04/2012 Leave a comment

My post on openDemocracy, published on 16 April 2012:

The Israel factor has politicised the business of assessing antisemitism such that the vitriolic disagreement surrounding it has become about far more than just facts, intelligent judgment and expertise. What does Israel, what does anyone gain from this?

The widespread reaction to Günter Grass’s poem, ‘What must be said’—here is the best English translation I could find—in which he criticised Israel for its ‘nuclear power [that] endangers an already fragile world peace’ and its ‘claim of a right to [a] . . . first strike to snuff out the Iranian people’, confirmed three things.

First, there is a high level of sensitivity to perceived expressions of antisemitism by major public figures in Europe. The accusations of Jew-hatred levelled at the German Nobel laureate by (among very many others) Giulio Meotti and Benjamin Weinthal for example, came hot on the heels of a similar attack on Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, for allegedly drawing a moral equivalence  between the murder of Jewish children by Mohammad Merah in Toulouse and the killing of children by Israeli military forces in Gaza. (She equated the suffering of dying children, not the immorality of crimes.)

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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