Dear Readers and Friends: August edition out , Aug 17 2018

Happy Reading!

What Must be Said

Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass, German intellectual and peace activist, arguably the best novelist alive today, was born in 1927. Towards the end of the Second World War at the age of 17 Grass was drafted in the German army, was wounded, arrested and imprisoned. In 1999 Grass won the Nobel Prize for literature. No stranger to controversy Grass’s latest poem What must be said, has provoked both strong outrage and deep admiration. His harshest critic, the Sate of Israel declared him persona non grata for writing the poem. His supporters call him the conscience of the World. Read the poem here …

Gunter Grass

Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long
What clearly is and has been
Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors
Are at best footnotes.

It is the alleged right to first strike
That could annihilate the Iranian people-- 
Enslaved by a loud-mouth
And guided to organized jubilation--
Because in their territory,
It is suspected, an atom bomb is being built.

Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no testing is available?

The universal concealment of these facts,
To which my silence subordinated itself,
I sense as incriminating lies
And force--the punishment is promised
As soon as it is ignored;
The verdict of "anti-Semitism" is familiar.

Now, though, because in my country
Which from time to time has sought and confronted 
The very crime
That is without compare
In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
But through fear of what may be conclusive,

I say what must be said.

Why though have I stayed silent until now?
Because I think my origin,
Which has never been affected by this obliterating flaw,
Forbids this fact to be expected as pronounced truth
Of the country of Israel, to which I am bound
And wish to stay bound.

Why do I say only now,
Aged and with my last ink,
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say;
Also because we--as Germans burdened enough--
Could be the suppliers to a crime
That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity
Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

And granted: I am silent no longer
Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped
That this will free many from silence,
Prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger
To renounce violence and
Likewise insist 
That an unhindered and permanent control
Of the Israeli nuclear potential
And the Iranian nuclear sites
Be authorized through an international agency
Of the governments of both countries.

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
Even more, all people, that in this
Region occupied by mania
Live cheek by jowl among enemies,
In the end also to help us.

(Translated from the German by Heather Horn)