Sunday, The Israeli Governmentbarred German author Gunter Grass from entering Israel over a poem the Nobel Laureate wrote on Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons. So called pro-Israel Hawks often accuse people who are critical of Israeli policy of anti-Semitism. I, myself, have had the honor of being called a self-loathing Jew.
But what makes Grass’s relationship with Israel and anti-Semitism more complicated is that heserved briefly in the Nazi SS Waffen, as he revealed in 2006. I don’t think that Grass is an anti-Semite. He was drafted at age 17, just like the Pope was drafted at age 14, and has dedicated much of his life to anti-Nazi writing. But his past makes it that much easier for people to dismiss his criticism as anti-Semitism and even Nazi ideology. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said,
“For six decades Mr Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS…. So for him to cast the one and only Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace and to oppose giving Israel the means to defend itself is perhaps not surprising…. But decent people everywhere should strongly condemn these ignorant and reprehensible statements.”