The German writer Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum) had already predicted the response to his poem in SdZ. There is no reason to be surprised, but there is every reason to be disgusted. Within Germany both the elite and a layer of the population by their words and actions appear to have accepted the disgraceful Goldhagen thesis whereby all German were guilty for the crimes of the Third Reich. This thesis has now been developed further: all Germans are guilty for eternity for the crimes of the Third Reich.
Behind this thinking is the Zionist and Zionophile argument that the crime against the Jews of Europe was unique in the annals of history. This was true as far as the method of extermination was concerned, but not in any other way. The Belgians massacred the Congolese in greater numbers: over 10 million according to the historian Adam Hochschild. The killing of Armenians during the First World War was systematic and we could go on and discuss the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but comparing one massacre or genocide to another is a futile exercise. Raul Hilberg the most authoritative historian of the Judeocide was angered by the uses that were being made of that crime today.
Some members of the extreme-right government and Lieberman in particular, that rules Israel today have used proto-fascist language against the Palestinian Arabs. Are we not allowed to point that out? That the Israeli government pushed the Bush administration to make war on Iraq is hardly a secret. Nor is the statement of the Israeli Ambassador to the US the day after the fall of Baghdad: “Don’t stop. Move on to Damascus and Teheran.’ Are we not allowed to rebuke him? The targeting and killing of young Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere is fine, is it?
Gunter Grass was very mild in his criticisms. He concentrated on Israeli warmongering in relation to Iran. He could have said a lot more. The fact that it needs political courage to say even what he did in Germany or France is a sad reflection on the political culture of both these countries. As for the attacks on Grass for his wartime activities, these are beneath contempt. The Israelis were delighted when the former Italian minister, Gianfranco Fini, whose party is in lineal descent from Mussolini, went to Israel and praised the Wall. He was forgiven his party’s past. So the past only matters if a person is critical of Israel. The former Nazis in various positions in the postwar Federal republic who pushed through reparations and backed Israel, they were never criticized either.
German citizens should ponder the following: it was not the Palestinians who were responsible for the murder of millions of Jews during the Second World War. Yet they, the Palestinians, have become the indirect victims of the Judeocide. Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return to others. So why no sympathy for the Palestinians?
Tariq Ali is the author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power. He can be reached