Aijaz Zaka Syed
Speaking truth to power is the ultimate jihad, said the Prophet. Few of us dare to open our mouth, let alone say what must be said in the face of tyranny and oppression. Germany’s most celebrated living author and Nobel laureate Guenter Grass therefore deserves three cheers for holding a mirror to the West’s hypocrisy, as he puts it, and the strife and chaos its Frankenstein has unleashed on the Middle East and the world.
The 85-year old litterateur has set off a storm in Germany and across the Western hemisphere by terming Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. Considering the prevalent culture of mollycoddling Israel in the West, especially in a Germany weighed down by its oppressive past, the Nobel laureate’s audacity to confront Zionist crimes is nothing short of jihad.
In a poem aptly titled, What Must Be Said, Grass minces no words in warning the West of consequences of continuing appeasement of Israel. “Why did I wait until now, at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink, to say what I say now that the nuclear power Israel endangers an already fragile world peace? Because that must be said which may already be too late to say tomorrow,” writes he. “Also because we as Germans, burdened enough (by past), may become a subcontractor to a crime that is foreseeable. Germany’s Nazi past and the Holocaust are no excuse for remaining silent now about Israel’s nuclear capability. I will not remain silent because I am weary of the West’s hypocrisy.”
In the poem published by Suddeutsche Zeitung and other European dailies this week, Grass warns of catastrophic consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran, demanding international community take control of Israel’s nukes to save the region and the world. He also calls for checks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This comes at a time when Germany has announced the sale of a sixth Dolphin submarine to Israel and is even going to shoulder part of the cost. For the uninitiated, the highly advanced Dolphin subs are capable of carrying and launching the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons against distant, tempting targets like Iran. The country has been in Israel’s crosshairs—and those of its guardian angels–for some time with its defiance.
The Israelis have been increasingly obsessing about taking out Iran, with or without US blessings. And the world seems to have psychologically and mentally resigned itself to the inevitable. In an election year, US politicians on both sides of the isle, forever dancing to Israel’s tune, can’t wait to do an Iraq to Iran. And no one in Western capitals seems to be losing sleep over the apocalyptic price the world would inevitably pay for the Zionist shibboleths.
This is not just about the coming Armageddon over Iran, defying common sense and collective wisdom of US-Western intelligence agencies. The issue here is and has always been the criminal and evil nature and agenda of the regime that has driven the original inhabitants of the land from their homes, continues to occupy the territory of at least four neighbors and is nothing but a clear and present danger to the peace and well being of the world.
Yesterday’s victims have been quick to cross over to the other side, forgetting their own predicament as they visit the worst possible abuse and suffering on a helpless, proud people. And to top it all, in a typical kettle-calling-the pot black case, it has the cheek to shout from the rooftop about the existential threat it faces from the ayatollahs, just as it did from Saddam Hussein’s fabled weapons of mass destruction. By the way, it was Israeli jets that attacked Iraq in 1981, destroying its civilian nuclear installations, not the other way round. Today it’s once again itching to repeat the history, keeping the volatile region and the world forever dancing on the edge of a nuclear precipice.
So is Grass really exaggerating when he sees in Israel a clear and present danger to world peace? I wouldn’t think so. He is only holding a mirror to the reality of Israel, something that European and American politicians and elites have failed to do all these years. In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2001, soon after 9/11, he offered his own solution for the Mideast peace: “Israel doesn’t just need to clear out of the occupied territories. The appropriation of Palestinian territory and Israeli settlements are also a criminal activity. That not only needs to be stopped, it needs to be reversed. Otherwise there will be no peace.”
Of course, the deaf ears in Washington and European capitals never heard that voice. But, thankfully, Grass’s is not a lone voice of reason in the wilderness. Of late, an overwhelming majority of humanity has rallied around the Palestinian quest for justice. It’s losing patience with the obfuscation and intransigence of the Apartheid state founded on stolen land.
Thanks to the emergence of alternate media, truth cannot be controlled and manipulated anymore. You can’t fool all the people all the time. The world is beginning to see that Israeli crimes and their suppression by its powerful patrons are fuelling extremism and have made our world a dangerous place.
Not only does Israel refuse to give up an inch of Arab territory and continues to build those ghastly settlements for people born in Europe and America on the land where Palestinian homes and olive farms used to be, it’s perpetually plotting and using US-Western arms and power to destroy one Muslim country after another. Yesterday, it was Iraq. Today, it appears to be Iran’s turn. Who knows who is next on the hit list?
Not content with the recent sanctions that have crippled the Iranian banks and financial sector, including its oil trade, Obama has just unveiled the ‘third party’ curbs targeting countries still doing business with Tehran. The yes-we-can president, however, has no answer to Israel’s continuing defiance, constantly expanding Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, in violation of international law and numerous UN resolutions. But then it has always been like this, whether it’s a neocon or a Nobel laureate in White House. Is it any wonder then Grass says he is ‘weary’ of Western hypocrisy?
The man who promised a fresh start and a “new way forward” with Muslims and is often suspected to be a “closet Muslim” by the famously informed Americans is trying hard to prove that when it comes to fealty to Israel, his credentials are as impeccable as anyone else’s.
Yet he is accused by rivals like Romney of “throwing Israel under the bus” and of not doing “enough” to confront Iran. In other words, he’s a traitor to the cause of glorious Israel for not hitting Iran. By the way, no one seems interested in talking about what is in America’s own interests.
The US has bankrupted itself in fighting Israel’s wars across the Muslim world, not to mention the burning anger and hatred its blind support of Israeli policies and actions have sparked across the globe. The recent killings in France were a chilling reminder of the toxic harvest the West has earned itself. If speaking truth to power demands courage, it requires even greater audacity to accept it. The world would ignore the voice of sanity from Berlin at its own peril.
*Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Gulf based commentator. Write him at email@example.com