Israeli Government Screws Up PR Again

It’s hard to imagine a more mundane story–and yet somehow, Israel and its less clever defenders managed to turn “Dog Bites Man” into “Man Cries Hysterically and Overreacts Over Minor Nibble.” For those who haven’t been paying attention, Günter Grass, a German writer and Nobel Laureate who for some reason or another was seen as the moral conscience of a generation (something to do with opposing Nazism, though seeing as how it was the 1960’s at the time, it should have been a no-brainer)  recently wrote a poem, in which he made some critical remarks about everybody’s favorite ethnically chauvinistic state (Jewdar is not being critical–it is our favorite ethnically chauvinistic state). Now, this should have been barely a blip on anybody’s radar screen, for several reasons.

  1. It’s a poem, for God’s sake. Really, who the hell cares about poetry? Moreover, it’s the kind of crappy poetry that doesn’t rhyme, that’s full of trite, hackneyed lines (“aged and with my last ink”, really?  Shall we expect that Mr. Grass won’t be writing anything else, now that his last ink has been used?) and that reads less like a poem than prose broken up into awkward sentence fragments.  When you consider that–aside from a few lines about his personal feelings as a German criticizing Israel–it’s mostly an assortment of policy suggestions (like calling for Israeli and Iranian nuclear sites to be regulated by an international agency), the thing reads like an op-ed piece narrated by William Shatner (go ahead, try reading it like Captain Kirk, you’ll see what we mean.)  Ode on a Grecian Urn, it ain’t.
  2. It’s from Günter Grass. Granted, a Nobel Laureate, but the last thing he wrote that anybody paid attention to was the first installment of his memoir where he admitted to having been in the Waffen-SS.
  3. He was in the Waffen-SS. Now, Jewdar knows enough history to neither care nor lay blame for a 17-old kid serving in the Waffen-SS. But you’d think it gives you some ammunition to work with if he engages in hyperbolic but fairly insignificant criticism of Israel.  How about simply saying “Waffen-SS veteran criticizes Israel.”  Hyperbolic but fairly insignificant, and gratifying and gets the point across.
  4. The criticism was hyperbolic but fairly insignificant. Certainly, in its fairly mundane calls for international nuclear oversight, it’s hard to detect antisemitism, and accusations to that end seem a bit much.  So he doesn’t want German to provide submarines to Israel that could be used to launch a nuclear strike on Iran, and he says that “the nuclear power Israel endangers the already fragile world peace.” One might argue that it is “the wannabe nuclear power Iran that endangers the already fragile world peace by threatening the nuclear power Israel,” but who are we to argue with a great intellectual light and moral voice like Günter Grass?

Now, as the headline of this piece suggests, this should be been nothing with nothing, except that a few days later, the Israeli gov’t announced that Grass was banned from Israel. In other words, after being negatively compared to an autocratic theocracy that penalizes speech, the Interior Minister from Shas penalizes speech, and in the most moronic way possible–by banning a writer who wasn’t coming to Israel anyway.

Now, of course, Israel’s less clever defenders will doubtless bristle and point out that while Iran issues death sentences against writers, Israel just bans them.  But at the point at which your defense is that you are not as bad is Iran, haven’t you already lost?

What do you think?

About The Author


The Tel Aviv-born, Milwaukee-bred Jewdar has a bachelors' from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters from NYU, and an Honorable Discharge from the US Army, where he spent two years as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division. He's the co-author of "The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies", the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine, and a watcher of TV. Smarter than most funny people, funnier than most smart people, he lives on the Lower East Side with his wife and two sons.

6 Responses

  1. Mark

    Unfortunately I seriously doubt that those “less clever defenders” of Israel are going to see your point. Time to get out the raincoat and umbrella.

  2. Lorraine Conley

    Günter Grass is old enough to have dished out, he is old enough to take it. Günter Grass poem didn’t upset me it was an opening to let him know that it maybe him silencing others also, and I did let him know, I posted to his facebook page . Sharia Law – “She’s buried chest high”

    By TXE Moderate

    “They are crucifying our First President” by TXE Moderate. The Moderate’s only words.” They are crucifying our First President.”

    First President to bow to Shari Law, “They are crucifying our First President.” by TXE Moderate.

    ‘She’s buried crest high’. “They are crucifying our First President.” by TXE Moderate.

    First President crucified on his. Neither his right nor left. ‘She is buried crest high’.

    By Lorraine Conley, Standing Tree Spirit Woman, February 10th 2012
    Related, Adolf Hitler was a Austrian, and before he returned to Austria to committed his crimes they had spent 4 years doing the theatrics to the German people – How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

  3. Jon

    I always appreciate Heem magazine’s views on these issues. To be honest I am not sure what the answer is here. I am one clueless Jew I guess. Or maybe I am simply not clever enough to come up with the answers.

    Gunter Grass in my view may be completely flawed. So am I in my own way. Though in his case – he is probably more flawed than I am.

  4. Jon

    I am so flawed that I even misspelled the name of this magazine. Sorry sorry sorry!!!!

  5. kosherkingdom

    I actually find the reaction of the Israeli government far worse than the poem itself. IMO only people who are a physical threat to any country should be banned from entering it (terrorists…), NOT people who disagree with some of its policies.


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