In a poem published yesterday, Günter Grass has informed the world that he is worried about Israel’s possible use of German supplied U-boats to fire nuclear missiles at Iran. I hope that the Iranians share his worry, although, I also would not want Israel to initiate an attack on Iran.
At a time, when Iran is being pressurised to give up its nuclear ambition, an important question is whether it is morally right for Israel to possess nuclear weapons. Not one of the (other) eight countries that currently have nuclear weapons has enemies threatening them with extinction. Yet, Israel, from the first day of its existence, has been under the threat of destruction. The world stood by when Arab countries threatened to wipe out the “Zionist entity”, as they used to call Israel, and it stands by with Iran promising that the Jewish state would disappear.
Israel has never conceded to having a bomb and therefore has never threatened anyone with its nuclear power. But, would it not be legitimate for Israel to make it clear that before its existence would be in jeopardy, it would use its nuclear weapons?
Grass speaks of Israel the nuclear power that endangers world peace; of Israel that could in a pre-emptive strike wipe out the Iranian people. He does not define Iran as a country that endangers world peace. Iran, whose existence is not in danger nor has it been threatened, is working towards becoming a nuclear power. Why?
Grass makes much of what he says was his own difficulty in speaking out against Israel. In his own version of “some of my best friends are Jews” Grass assures us that he is committed to the Land of Israel (mind you, he speaks of the land not the state). I have no idea and that is not the issue, but there have been suggestions that anti-Semitism is rearing its head out of the Grass.
He would have been on safer ground had he attacked Israel on its occupation of the West Bank and the settlement of Israelis in the occupied territories. Unlike the Iranian question, this is an issue that has nothing to do with survival or security. It is just morally wrong. But in his poem, Grass dealt with his own angsts rather than with issues of morality.