“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph”- Haile Selassie
“Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden” - Bishop Desmond Tutu
These two cautionary admonitions capture the thrust of Guenter Grass' electrifying poem, “What Must Be Said,” that has brought an avalanche of invective – some scurrilous, some vituperative, some even personal vilification – against the man who warns the people of the world as well as the Jewish people of the dangers inherent in the actions of the Zionist controlled government of the State of Israel. Such condemnations avoid direct rebuttal of Grass' pointed cries of despair as he contemplates continued indifference to the slow yet calculated genocide that exists in Israel 's occupation of Palestine reverting instead to derogatory innuendo, ignorance of conditions prevalent in the occupied territories, ignorance of those determined to destroy Israel , and personal guilt as a German. There is no reflection on the worst sin human kind can inflict on their fellow human beings, the silence of indifference to the plight of the Palestinians or to the potential danger facing the people of the mid-east should Israel preemptively strike Iran .
The title of his poem, “What Must Be Said,” echoes the prophets of old, cries of those weeping in the wilderness to heed the obvious, to hear the hypocrisy that masks the reality of a nation that cries for peace as it stealthily steals more land, that demands dismantling of Iran's nuclear plants as it declares its right to Demona and untold weapons of mass destruction, that denounces with all brazen duplicity, indeed silences those who criticize the state of Israel while they are free to attack them as anti-Semitic.
“Why silence so long,” Grass asks of himself and answers, as must we all, that we are “slaves to an oppressive lie,” what cannot be said without condemnation because Israel has the “right” to demand and defend what it will. Is it wrong to criticize the obvious? Is it wrong to bare truth when silence once before begot a holocaust? Is it wrong for the German people to mark what they have learned through decades of reflection and reparation and not reveal what they have lived and learned? Is it wrong to speak when devastation threatens, when arrogance buries truth, when the weak have no voice, when the unknown consequence of brutal, raw, preemptive poweris imminent?
I would have Guenter Grass speak for me, my children and grandchildren, and all others who could suffer yet another World War, by noting the obvious that has been silenced so long: More