Thank you, MiraSound, for this post.
Here’s more on Gunter Grass’ poem from Israel’s great newspaper Haaretz:
Published 01:18 16.04.12Latest update 01:18 16.04.12
Israel should never forget its Mideast atrocities
The major problem in the Grass affair is not the way Israel blackmails every German. Rather, it's Israelis' inability to understand this country other than through the way it's portrayed in our media.
By Yitzhak Laor
The person who symbolized "the other Germany" more than anyone in West Germany, the person who was Germany's conscience throughout his literary career, has made the Israeli establishment and its clones crazy. These people have responded pettily and violently. Gunter Grass' service in the Wafen SS when he was 17 has nothing to do with his positions. You need lots of chutzpah and maybe even ignorance to think the Germans don't know how many despicable Nazis Israel catered to, as long as they supported its policies.
Grass, like many people in this world, is concerned. The duo of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak no longer has to seize a plane controlled by five hijackers, as their elite commando unit once did. They no longer have to be photographed whenever that event is commemorated. Their toys are much more dangerous now, and they declare to the world, as if they were hijackers: "We will be the only nuclear power in the Middle East! And your economy? That's doesn't concern us. We watch over the Middle East for you as if we were your security subcontractors. So shut up."
That's the message of the Israeli establishment, even when this message is adorned by references to the Holocaust. No one cheapens the Holocaust more than Israeli politicians.
But people far from Israel's media environment don't remember when the Sabena airliner was hijacked, or the other stories we're stuffed with like geese in the liver industry. And they also probably think Israel's demand is somewhat suspicious, not just because of the melodrama. It's true Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad goes on about "wiping Israel off the map," but would Israel agree that Egypt develop nuclear weapons, or maybe Turkey or Saudi Arabia?
It's enough to remember the noise Israel made over the sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia to realize what would happen in a case like this, even without "threats of destruction." And was Grass the first to claim that Israel's stubbornness about perpetuating the occupation would lead to a broad and violent conflict that would threaten regional stability? That's something people have been claiming for years, both here and abroad, without the pathetic panic that broke out here.
The major problem in the Grass affair is not the way Israel blackmails every German. It's also not the rude attitude toward a writer who has taken part in our culture - yes, through his translated books. Rather, it's Israelis' inability to understand this country other than through the way it's portrayed in our media.
Unlike Israelis' good memory of heroic operations that the media take such pleasure in, we totally forget the scope of atrocities Israel has carried out in every confrontation with a Middle Eastern country. When Grass is concerned about the Iranian people and puzzles Israelis, this doesn't merely stem from self-righteousness, even though the self-righteous are the most natural cantors in the choir of national sobbing.
So we have to remember what Israel did in the cities near the Suez Canal and its bombings deep inside Egypt during the War of Attrition, killing thousands and maiming civilians - children in a school that was totally devastated, workers in a giant factory that was bombed during their lunch break. Or for example Beirut, where, during the first Lebanon war, the air force pounded the western part of the city daily. How many dead were there in Beirut - and in Sidon and Tyre? Was it 10,000 or 20,000? The pattern was repeated in the next "wars" - the Second Lebanon War with its atrocities and Operation Cast Lead with its atrocities.
Is Grass exaggerating about what he fears Israel will do to the Iranians? After all, if war breaks out, our television stations will talk derisively about "their exaggerated claims of losses." And they will forget. And what will they say about our losses? They'll play sad, sentimental songs. You don't need a totalitarian state to confuse people. The myth about perpetual victims is enough.
The following story first appeared on Al Jazeera the 28th of March but nothing has changed, in fact conditions have gotten worse with Israel prohibiting entry of peaceful activists into Israeli territory.
Israel: A 'democratic' violator of rights?
As Israel severs ties with UN human rights bodies, we ask if it can lay claim to being the only democracy in the region.
Inside Story Last Modified: 28 Mar 2012 09:59
On Monday the Israeli foreign ministry said that it had cut working relations with the UN Human Rights Council.
The Israeli government said it will also prevent a UN team from entering its territory to assess the effects of settlements on Palestinian rights.
"'Other places are worse than us' is frequently the justification of Israeli officials. There are plenty of policies that they know that cannot be justified, no way to defend certain things that run counter to basic principles of fairness and justice..."
The move came after the Human Rights Council voted last Thursday to send an independent international fact-finding mission to look into the issue. The vote was by 36 to one, with 10 abstentions.
The Israeli decision came one day after Israel's High Court of Justice rejected a compromise deal between the state and the people of the West Bank settlement of Migron on Sunday.
The deal would have prevented Israel from having to dismantle the settlement following a Supreme Court ruling. The court ordered the demolition of Migron because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Israel has also been condemned for its use of administrative detention, which is detention without trial, and detainees are prevented from challenging it because they are not given any reason or shown any evidence against them.
Detainees are also not told when they will be released, and although the maximum period is six months, in practice it can be renewed indefinitely.
"Israel is a democracy relatively to our neighbours, we have a long history of exercising democratic values…But once you cross the green line and go into the Occupied Territories here applies different laws."
Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian prisoner, has been on a hunger strike for more than a month. She is being held without charge in an Israeli jail. Her protest follows that of Khader Adnan whose hunger strike finally ended when he secured a release date in April.
For decades, Israel has had uneasy relations with the UN, in part due to the pro-Palestinian majority in the General Assembly.
The US has used its veto power many times to block anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council.
So, is Israel violating Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Territories? What does this tell us about the Israeli government and its policy of settlement expansion in Palestinian territory? And, does that contradict its claim of being the only democracy in the region?
Joining Inside Story with presenter Hazem Sika to discuss these questions and more are guests: Jessica Montell, the executive director of human rights group B'Tselem; Akiva Eldar, the chief political columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz; and Mark Ellis, the executive director of the International Bar Association.
"Israel should not be looking at the lowest common denominator of what other democratic states do…The most powerful voice will be inside Israel…this is where change will occur. Some of the most significant and important decisions have not come from outside but from within."
Mark Ellis, executive director, International Bar Association
THORNY TIES BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE UN
The Middle East represented 76 per cent of the UN resolutions, most of them were critical of Israel
In November, Israel suspended its annual $2m funding to UNESCO after the UN cultural agency recognised Palestine as a member
Israel described the move as a "rejection of the path of negotiations"
Relations with the UN were especially acrimonious over the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, which found evidence that the Israeli military had carried out direct attacks against civilians in the 2009 war on Gaza
The report said the assault was in part targeted against "the people of Gaza"
Israel refused to co-operate with Goldstone's team