Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dear R

When we last met, about a month ago, you were very angry, very very angry with me for having asked in my blog  whether Israel had the moral right to wage its [November] war in Gaza. Whatever we think, you said, we should not criticise Israel abroad.

You have now sent me an email, in which you agree with many of my arguments adding that Israel’s internal as well as foreign policy puts a fright on every thinking person. You also write that the general mood in Israel is seriously depressed. Not only Netanyahu/Liberman policies but also the fact that we are stuck like a bone in the Arab throat make you doubt that there is a future for your children’s generation in Israel.

And yet, you ask me to stop spreading my criticism – which you refer to as hatred - in the world. External pressure and isolating Israel will not change Israel’s way, you say. On the other hand, spreading such criticism, leading to external pressure will, according to you, bring about even more of the already rising anti-Semitism.

I agree, we should change from within. We would all be happier and prouder if we would become better people without external pressure. But, Israel’s demographic makeup is such that this is unlikely to happen. Israel’s population permits the current leadership not only to cause terrible injustice to others but also to kill what the founders of the state have established. This must be stopped. 

Israel is in a terrible downward spiral and it may be that only trauma will bring about the necessary change. In this case, I prefer the trauma of serious external pressure - which to be effective would have to hurt politically and economically - to the trauma of war with many casualties. Without the one, we may get the other.

As to the harmful impact of my writing, I do not think you need to worry. I wrote this about two years ago. As you can see, dear R, the world did not listen to me then and I am unlikely to have too much of an impact now.

Best etc…

PS: How do you propose to prevent the Israeli press, such as Haaretz, from publishing its often very sharp criticism in their English editions? 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

German Parliament circumcises Cologne Judge

Five months ago, a judge in Cologne ruled that circumcision was to be considered bodily harm and that religious freedom did not have priority over the welfare of a child. All hell broke loose in the Jewish community of Germany and Frau Merkel promised the Jewish community to sort it. She has. Now, the Bundestag, the German parliament, has overruled the judge.

Merkel did not need much convincing. She did not want Germany to be the one country that prevents Jews from practicing their religious practices and rituals. This is understandable. 

And yet, it is a bit of a shame, not because of the boys but because it would have been interesting to see how the supreme constitutional court of Germany would have dealt with this important question of how far you can go in the name of religious freedom.

Everyone can breathe freely again and the little boys get cut, or as some have it, mutilated. Take it from me: the trauma – if there is trauma - does not last long. 

German Sodomy

In English sodomy normally means non-vaginal intercourse between humans, whereas in the German language sodomy refers to bestiality, that is sex with animals. It was illegal in Germany until 1969 when sex with animals was decriminalised. Now, Bavarian Catholic Minister of Agriculture, Ilse Aigner, wants to make it an offense again. She considers human sex with animals to be cruel to…the animal.

I am just wondering whether killing animals isn't rather more cruel than using them as sex objects? Perhaps, Frau Aigner, who is evidently interested in animal welfare, should ban hunting or go even further and ban the eating of meat and fish? I wonder how fast she would lose her Bavarian voter base then? 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Frau Merkel - be tough with Israel

To "punish" the Palestinians for applying for UN recognition, Israel has announced the building of more settler houses in the Occupied Territories. This time they want to build in an area that is to make it even more difficult to reach a two state solution. 

Who will punish Israel for this outrageous response? The USA cannot be relied upon. But, unless Israel will be made to pay a high price for its belligerence, it will not stop. Keeping European criticism to verbal displeasure is not enough. 

There is a substantial proportion of Israel's population and an important majority in that part of the population which forms the economic power base of Israel who do not like this right-wing activism and settlement policy. And yet, many of them vote for parties that either declare their wish to hold on to the occupied land or quietly support it without fully showing their hand. This population  may not gcontinue to do so once Israel gets to pay a price for its expansionist policies. 

In two days, Netanyahu and his cabinet will be coming to berlin for their annual get together. Ideally,  Mrs. Merkel should have found a way to postpone the visit. Because of Germany's history, Merkel is unlikely to do so.  nad, six weeks before the General Elections in Israel, Netanyahu will milk this visit to the end to prove his international standing to his own population. This must be prevented. 

Mrs. Merkel believes that Germany, because of its history, shares responsibility for Israel's security. This can sometimes be accomplished by the supply of U-boats. Sometimes, other measures are called for. She should now be cruel to be kind and help save Israel from its own self destructive spiral.

The least Mrs. Merkel should do is to prevent any photo opportunities, any show of public sympathy or any cultural programme for Netanyahu and his colleagues. 

Please, Mrs. Merkel. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Germany and Israel on Palestine

Until this morning, Germany together with the USA, Canada, Guatemala and let’s not forget Micronesia were the only countries that were about to vote against the Palestinian bid to become a non-member-observer-state at the UN. Now it seems that Germany has decided to abstain.

Senior Israeli government spokesmen – in various tones of brutality - have warned that if Abbas would go to the UN it would be the end of the Palestinian Authority. But then, the Israeli government has been doing its utmost to dismantle the Palestinian Authority anyway. The way the vote is going, Israel is being shown what the world thinks of its conduct and its policies. It is sadly fast becoming a pariah state. 

It must have been a hard decision for Mrs. Merkel. Supporting Israeli governments has been one of the means by which German governments have attempted to make reparation by supporting the Jewish people after the Holocaust. Yet, had Germany voted against the Palestinian bid, it would have done so against German public sentiment. Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, its arrogant obstinacy and its deteriorating moral values have become too much even for Germany. Germans are becoming more and more anti-Israel.

Not only Germany, Israel too - instead of opposing - should vote for the Palestinian bid. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Is Israel morally entitled to wage its current war in Gaza?

On the face of it, this should be an easy one. After all, Hamas who control the Gaza strip have been bombarding Israel with rockets and missiles for a long time. Hundreds of rockets emanating from Gaza have been making life miserable for the residents of many southern Israeli towns.

On the pragmatic level, the question should be asked what is achieved by such wars?  Will they bring down Hamas or will they convert it to recognise Israel’s right to exist? Going by past experience, this will not happen. 

This, however, assumes that the Israeli regime wants a two-state solution. If – despite its rhetoric - its purpose is to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and to continue with its colonisation of the West Bank, then such attacks on Gaza make sense. To that end, the Israeli government has systematically weakened the moderate leader Mahmoud Abbas and thereby proven to the Palestinians that moderation does not get them anywhere. The result is the strengthening of the alternative body - Hamas.

The misery of its own population shot at from Gaza is the price Israel seems to be willing to pay in order to entrench in the West Bank.

Israel may have the legal and even moral right of self-defence vis-à-vis the Hamas – However, as this seems to be part of a bigger picture, the morality of Israel’s war in Gaza is questionable. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Anecdotes from German Reading Tour

I have recently travelled around Germany reading from ”Ist es noch gut, für unser Land zu sterben?” Had interesting discussions and generally enjoyed the hospitality of the organisers.

It actually started in Basel, which of course is in Switzerland, not Germany. Before my reading event, friends invited me for tea at Les Trois Rois. As a special treat they arranged for me to see the room that was used by Theodor Herzl during his 1897 stay in Basel for the first Zionist Congress.

Occasionally things did not go to plan. The purpose of a reading tour is to promote book sales. I was therefore, not amused when on reaching the venue in Baden-Baden, I was greeted by the local bookseller who proudly showed me stacks of the… wrong book. Would I be willing to sign them?

To continue with my trip, I had planned to take the train, then I saw it and took up a friend’s offer to travel by car.

On reaching the northern town Kiel, I was greeted by a poster that invited me to an open day at the Crematorium. Bizarre is the friendliest word I can come up with.

The German term is Tag der Offenen Tür, which translates to Open Door Day. I wonder what happens if a not so young member of the public forgets or has not noticed that the Open Door Day ends at 16:00, and stays longer? At 16:00 sharp the efficient caretaker closes the door…

From there to Mainz where I had to correct the misnaming of my book on a blackboard outside the event’s venue. They decided to change the name of my book to “Lohnt es sich noch …” instead of “Ist es noch gut…” 

The one question that is repeatedly asked after such reading events is why the book has not yet been published in Israel. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Pay Up

Nine men and women stood bail totalling £114,000 to guarantee that Julian Assange (the wikileak man) who is wanted by Sweden on rape charges would not run away. Assange, if you forgive the pun, screwed his friends, ran away, and is now hiding inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Tail between their legs, the guarantors asked the court to allow them to keep the money.

They must have felt very grand when they signed bail. They must have enjoyed applause at dinner parties at which they will have explained how important it was to keep Julian Assange free from Swedish justice.

Why the hell should they not pay up? Standing bail for someone or something you believe in is honourable and admirable but it is only honourable if you are willing to pay up. Otherwise, you are no more than a loudmouth. 

The court showed compassion because of the hardship paying in full would cause some of the guarantors and reduced the amount to £93,500.   

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Readings/Lectures October-December 2012

Here are some dates for my lectures and readings in Germany. Please come, if you can and please forward to friends who may be interested.

17 October            Basel
19:30 at the Gemeindehaus der Israelitischen Gemeinde Basel, Leimenstrasse 24.

18 October            Baden Baden
19:00 at the Spiegelsaal, Kurhaus.

22 October            Berlin
19:00 at the Akademie der Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung

23 October            Kiel
19:00 at the Literaturhaus, Schwanenweg 13.

25 October            Bonn
18:00 at the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, Godesbergerallee 149.

26 October            Mainz
19:30 at the LOMO Buchbar, Am Ballplatz 2.

29 October            Saarbrücken
18:00 at the Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung, Futterstr. 17-19.

6 November            Berlin
18:00 at the Rosa Luxemburg Salon, Franz-Mehring Platz 1, Berlin

7 November            Kiel

14 November          Magdeburg
19:30 at the Stadtbibliothek Magdeburg

3 December            Dresden
19:00 at the Militärhistorisches Museum, Olbrichtplatz 2.

5 December            Frankenberg (Eder)
19:30 at the Burgwald-Kasino, Marburgerstr. 75.

6 December            Kassel
19:00 at the VHS, Willemshöher Allee 19-21.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Circumcision II

The Cologne court’s ruling that circumcision is tantamount to committing bodily injury continues to cause unrest. German politicians needed this ruling like a hole in the head. If they could, they would probably have the Cologne judge circumcised without anaesthetics. 

Everybody, rabbis, politicians and blog writers like me, are all chewing on the forbidden foreskin. Mrs. Merkel has warned that Germany might become a laughing stock of the world for banning circumcision. Her ministers are searching for ways to pass legislation that will allow such bodily harm (i.e. circumcision) for reasons of “religious freedom”.

Israel’s President Peres has also given it a tug: In a letter to his German counterpart Gauck, Peres explained that circumcision was a “crucial” Jewish custom, “a central aspect of our nation’s Jewish identity.” Now, 79-year-old Charlotte Knobloch, a former chairperson of the Central Council of German Jews, has come out with a bitter howl published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. For Knobloch, who survived Nazi Germany and life in post-War yet Nazi-ridden Germany, this ruling is more than she can swallow.

This general panic is a shame, as the issue deserves unhurried consideration. Everyone is talking about religious freedom – whatever that is - instead of going for a serious investigation into the fascinating questions of a baby boy’s rights and the extent to which circumcision is indeed harmful and/or traumatic.

Circumcision, Germany, Israel, Merkel, Peres

A Land to Die For?

Theo Press has considered the various suggestions sent in by participants in the title competition and has decided to name my book that is due to be out at the end of October:
A Land to Die For?   Soldier Talk and Moral Reflections of Young Israelis
The prize winner has been notified.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Prince Harry's (Not so) Secret Balls

Princes have always behaved like that, only that nowadays, modern media enable us all to participate voyeuristically. If one of the functions of the royal family is to act as role models, then Prince Harry may not be so far off the mark: Do we really think that it is wrong for an unmarried young man to party as Harry does? Do we just have a problem because he is the third in line to the British throne? Or are we just jealous? Don’t we all (well, perhaps, not all) crave to frolic around and enjoy ourselves in wild parties?

It has been reported that lawyers acting for the Prince of Wales have warned the British press not to publish the photos of his naked son, photos that are circulating all over the internet showing Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas. 

Prince Charles, an adulterer who was incapable of disciplining himself, who like his father is on record with his own stupid behaviour, has failed in disciplining his son. He now tries to bully the press: pathetic. 

Israel calls South Africa “An Apartheid State”

South Africa has shown good moral judgment in issuing a directive that calls for the labelling of goods or products emanating from the Occupied Territories to prevent consumers being led to believe that such goods come from Israel.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, reaction was "South Africa remains an apartheid state." More than that, referring to the recent killing of 34 striking miner by SA police, he added "Instead of deciding to label Israeli products, South Africa should have acted courageously towards the 34 innocent miners that were just asking for an improvement in working conditions."

He who lives in a glass house… Considering the growing number of xenophobic and racist crimes in Israel, Ayalon, should just shut up. Yet, as his behaviour seems to find favour with his superiors as well as his constituency  - perhaps he is not that stupid, just an offensive moron.

It should be notes that South Africa is not alone: many Israelis also boycott products manufactured by Settlers in the Occupied Territories. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

In Search of a Title


The end is near.

All we need is the right title.

Put on your creative hats and come up with a title for the English edition of Ist es noch gut, für unser Land zu sterben?

There is a competition and the prize for the winner is $100.

For more information on how to participate go HERE

Friday, 29 June 2012

Cut that dick! Oh no you won't?

Years ago, an Israeli friend of mine told me that he considered the fact that he was circumcised at birth, an offence caused to him by his parents. He believes that he was deprived of the fullness of sexual pleasures as a result.

A few days ago, a German court ruled that male circumcision was equal to grievous bodily harm and could only be permitted for medical reasons. Germany is a federal country and the state court ruling is not binding in the other German states. In all likelihood, however, it will be tested in the other states and probably also go up to the High Court.

Four million Muslims and about 100,000 Jews who live in Germany may have a problem. How many 18-year-old men would voluntarily undergo circumcision? The speaker of the Jewish community has already reacted with anger: "Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practised worldwide for centuries. This religious right is respected in every country in the world."

For many, circumcision is a cultural ritual that is almost as powerful as a religious command. A thirtsomething year old friend of mine told me that when his wife had announced to him that she was not having her son circumcised, he at first found it hard to accept. They are both Israeli Jews and atheists and he told me "I found it difficult to even consider that my son should not have the same kind of dick as I."

But are we to allow grievously bodily harm to our children just because it is a religious ritual that has been practiced for centuries? In addition to the human rights question, this could also add to the friction and issues with the growing Muslim population. This exciting decision might force the courts to define religious freedom in an ever less religious Europe. I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

BILD Zeitung vs. FAZ

This one is aimed at my German readers: The Bild Zeitung has recently spent two days with Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and produced a sickening eulogy. Boy, do they paint a false Bild. Does Bild always produce such crap? How far can they go with the misinterpretation of Axel Springer’s support of Israel?

To get it right, I recommend you read Hans-Christian Rößler’s  Im Fahrstuhl nach oben: Wie die “Bild” Zeitung Sara Netanjahu lobt in the FAZ of 11 June. 

Israel I

Just back from a short visit to Israel. Tel Aviv, a wonderful city to enjoy, has a vibrant cultural life, great beaches, restaurants and bars and is generally fun to be in. However, can one avoid the question whether it is morally right to enjoy life in Tel Aviv whilst at the same time one is responsible for the evils carried out as an occupying power? 

Years ago, during the first days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when it was not at all clear that we would manage to stop the Egyptian and Syrian attack, I was walking along the beach in Tel Aviv and I remember a feeling of envy. I envied the foreign diplomats, whose embassies dot the beach line. They were in the same physical danger as we were but I envied them for the fact that nobody wanted to attack them, nobody wanted to kill them, get rid of them, push them into the sea. It was not their shit. 

I now find myself in a similar position. Could it be that the way to enjoy life in Israel is not to be an Israeli? Foreigners can have the fun without the burden of responsibility.    

Israel II

One group of foreigners is even worse off than the Israelis: These are the thousands of African illegals filling the poorer quarters of Tel Aviv and other cities. In the last days, Israeli politicians have taken to pouring oil into the fires of an ugly hatred of illegals.

Considering our history, and our constant finger pointing at countries that closed their gates to Jews, this is another low point in Netanyahu’s Israel. 

Israel - III

Netanyahu has announced the immediate building of hundreds of new homes in the occupied territories:  “the construction of 10 housing units for each home that was evacuated would enable 1,000 more residents to live in Beit El, and would deter opponents of settlements from petitioning the court.” This was Netanyahu's response to a an Israeli Supreme Court decision that forced him to dismantle five houses that were built on land privately owned by Palestinians.  

Indeed, it quickly became more than 10 houses for each one dismantled. Within a week, the Israeli government has announced the building of 851 houses as a retaliatory measure for having to dismantle five.

The Israeli peace movement Peace Now has successfully appealed to the Supreme Court and the Israeli government is kicking and screaming. Netanyahu wants to deter Israeli citizens from approaching a court of law for justice and found a solution: collective punishment to those who approached the court combined with even more settlements in the occupied territories.

Even if this does not fall into the legal definition of collective punishment, it is just as ugly.  

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sicily I - Mafia

The man leading his daughter to the altar was wearing dark wraparound sunglasses. Was it only my imagination or was he really also wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit? He could, of course, also have been a fat blind man, but when in Sicily...

My next Mafia meet was at the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento. This 5th century BC Greek temple, that was turned into a church in the 6th century AD (and thereby preserved) was taken over by the Sicilian State Police for a ceremony in which certificates of merit were handed out to policemen who have shown special valour.

Policemen singled out for arresting a Mafioso

Sicily II – Living Church

To take his mind off the continuing saga of his scandalous priests and bishops, the Pope should travel to Sicily. He would be mighty pleased. In Sicily, the Church is still getting it right and Mass, even midweek, still fills the churches. Even the young in their 20s and 30s – those you rarely see in church nowadays – attend mass in Sicily. 

Holidays, such as that of Santa Rita are even more festive:  

The church is overflowing; priests are taking confessions wherever you look.

Reporting a full house to the Papa di tutti Papi?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sicily III – Jesus Christ Super Star

I don’t know where Tim Rice got his inspiration for naming his musical Jesus Christ Superstar, but he may well have gotten it after visiting the Basilica of Monreale, near Palermo.

It is a splendid 12th century Norman cathedral with an enormous depiction of Christ that reminded me of the huge propaganda placards of communist dictators. I could not take my eyes of Him. This is propaganda fide at its best. 

Sicily IV – Bread

They make wonderful bread in Sicily – unusual for Italy, where it is rather difficult to get hold of decent bread. Wherever we ate, the bread that was served in restaurants was delicious.

I have yet to find out what the secret is.

Sicily V – Palermo

I did not quite know what my Italian neighbour meant when she warned me, before I left for Sicily, that Palermo was a bit like Cairo. 

Main entrance to Palermo’s opera house, 
Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele
just before the performance begins. 

Street scene in the old city of Palermo

Monday, 28 May 2012

What should Germany's President Say in Israel?

Germany’s newly elected President, Joachim Gauck, is off on a four-day state-visit to Israel today. At a time when German public opinion of Israel is increasingly negative, the purpose of Gauck’s visit is to “demonstrate German solidarity and support for the Jewish State.”

I expect that Angela Merkel will have briefed Gauck and given him her view about Netanyahu, who is considered by world politicians to be a liar. I imagine that the German Embassy in Tel Aviv will have similarly painted a bleak picture of the deterioration of Israel into a country run by extremists. If he will meet representatives of German NGOs, they may well tell him of the harsh and hopeless reality of life for Palestinians under Israeli rule.

Gauck’s Israeli hosts, however, will doubtlessly remind him of Germany’s special responsibility to support Israel because of the Holocaust. They will warn about increased anti-Semitism in Europe. Netanyahu will paint Iran as a threat comparable to Hitler and his hosts may also try to engage him in the debate over Günter Grass’ recent “poetical” attack.

Will Gauck be allowed to tell his Israeli hosts what most Germans think of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank? Will he tell the Israeli people that Germany supports Israel’s right to exist but cannot and will not support Israel’s hold on the Occupied territories? Will Gauck tell Israel that unless Israel gets out of these Territories, Europe including Germany, will cease supporting Israel altogether?

He should, but he probably won’t. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Lufthansa Experience

I took a Lufthansa flight from City airport to Frankfurt. It was a morning flight and the flights attendant had just passed through with coffee and breakfast croissants.

The woman in this photo is not the flight attendant, but the young woman who sat in front of me changing the nappy of her child.

“No”, she explained when I asked her to use the nappy changing table in the toilet.  “There is not enough space in the toilet, my boy is too big.” She would not stop and continued to wipe her son’s ass whilst the people around her were having their breakfast.

Perhaps Lufthansa could bar this woman from future flights? Who knows what she will be up to when she flies with her incontinent grandmother? 

Lucian Freud

My friends Ls are in town and as is their habit they berated me for not taking advantage of the rich cultural opportunities on offer in London.

Had I already been to the Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery, they wanted to know. And I am really grateful to the Ls for asking. I had meant to go when the exhibition opened and had totally forgotten about it.

It is a wonderful big exhibition full of Freud’s powerful portraits. Moreover, it is a rare opportunity to see so many Freuds, many of which are in private collections, in one place.

The exhibition is running until 27 May. If you have not yet been – Go. It is worth coming to London just for that. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Putsch in Israel?

A week after Israel’s army’s chief of staff opined that the Iranian leadership was “very rational” and expressed doubt that Iran would continue to develop its nuclear weapon to completion, Netanyahu and Barak, the duo that leads Israel into a collision course with Iran, were given another blow, this time by the former head of shabak, Israel’s internal secret service.

Yuval Diskin, until a year ago, head of the shabak, has just come out with an unusually strong-worded warning. Diskin warned of the risk posed – not by a possible Palestinian terror attack but - by no less than Netanyahu and Barak, the country’s prime minister and minister of defence.

Diskin said: "I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings." According to him, Barak and Netanyahu are misleading the public and unfit to hold power.

He is not alone. Meir Dagan, until a year ago, a feared and well-respected head of Israel’s mossad, is also making his voice heard against an Israeli attack of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Dagan referred to such an attack as “stupid”, explaining that it would be ineffective and that it could lead to an all out war.

These people are evidently worried.  

It is not a putsch, but it is an – in all likelihood - concerted attempt by heads and former heads of the security establishment to prevent Israel’s democratically elected government from carrying out its policy vis-à-vis Iran, by warning the Israeli population and the world about the mental state of Barak and Netanyahu. 

Only in Ireland

For years, Belfast was best known for mutual killing and maiming – Catholics and Protestants, Nationalists and Loyalists killed each other and made everybody’s life hell.

Things have quietened down since the Good Friday Agreement but Northern Ireland evidently wants to continue to be known for disaster. It perhaps misses the reputation it had during the bloody years. The wise men of Northern Ireland have come up with a brilliant idea: They spent 100 million Euros to build a sort of Titanic amusement park and named it The Titanic Experience. We are now being invited to “visit the birthday of the Titanic and experience the story”. 

Who the hell wants to experience the Titanic story? 

Well, evidently some do. Some Irish couples are said to be booking “Titanic themed wedding nights.” Can I suggest prenuptial agreements stipulating who gets the place in the lifeboat? 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Grass II – The Question not Asked

The Dutch coffee shop owner told me that as he has never heard of Gunter it couldn’t be high quality. Whatever the quality, Günter Grass’ anti-Israel stanza has caused much excitement, especially in Germany and in Israel.

Grass may be a fading old writer hankering after publicity. Maybe anti-Semitism has also played a role. Stupidly or maliciously he suggested that in a pre-emptive strike, Israel would annihilate the Iranian population. This is an outrageous accusation. He could have posed a morally tougher question:

The purpose of Israel’s nuclear weapons is for its enemies to believe that under certain circumstances they would be used. If Israel’s existence would be at risk, it would make use of these doomsday weapons.

For that to be an effective deterrent, it must be understood that an attack on Israel could lead to mutual destruction.

I expect that Grass, like many other non-Israelis if asked whether Israel should use its nuclear weapons AFTER it was attacked – would say NO. They would condemn the country that destroyed Israel, they would offer condolences to the bereaved, but they would not accept a counterattack.

Grass’s moral issue should have been the possible use by Israel of U-boats supplied by Germany to accomplish such an eye-for-an-eye.