The Center for Political Development Studies [CPDS], a Gaza based organization, held a lecture on Monday, April 16, 2012 on ‘What must be said about the poem that shook Israel’, delivered by Refaat R. Alareer, a lecturer at the English Language Department at IUG, discussed the poem poetically and its implications and consequences.
“In the rigid sense of defining of poetry, this may not be a poem. We can classify it as a text, an article or a complaint as some people have suggested. It does not have the figurative language, the imagery that poetry is characterized by. The most important thing in poetry is metaphor”, said Alareer, surprising some of the audience.
It is necessary to vigorously defend Günter Grass and reject the despicable campaign against him. Grass’s warning of a war against Iran and his statement, “The nuclear power of Israel endangers an already fragile world peace,” is quite correct. It deserves recognition and support.
“Generally, calling it a poem makes it more universal than calling it an article. If you write an idea in a poem, it may make it into the books”, he continued.
“The poem implicitly says that the silence regarding what is happening in Palestine is like the silence occurring during the Holocaust. This is a crazy idea actually! He compared the greatest sin in Germany’s history to attacking Iran. The drove Israel crazy. It is a counter narrative to what Israel tries profess that it is the sole democracy in the Middle East, having the most moral army, fighting the evil of Palestinians and Iranians and the terrorists in the Middle East,” Alareer noted.
“Grass shattered this narrative. He points the finger, accuses Iran, the West, Germany and most importantly Israel. He accuses Israel of being the real threat to peace in the Middle East,” he added.
Many figures in the West were accused of anti-Semitism, the label Israel uses to intimidate any voice attempting to criticize its occupation of Palestine for over six decades now. The 84-year-old German writer has been banned from Israel following the publication of his poem ‘What must be said’ last week in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
“The poet talked about anti-Semitism. He tries to make fun of this idea and concept. Everyone who tries to criticized Israel, including some Israelis, is branded anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. He is calling upon his followers to criticize Israel and not fear being labeled anti-Semitic, to break the silence and hypocrisy they are living in the West”, he argued.
“The who, the why, the when, the where, the what and the climate in which it was written, were crucial to its impact”, he assured.
“Grass broke the taboo of criticizing Israel in Germany. More people are seeing the reality. We no longer have only ordinary people supporting us,” he concluded.
The lecture is the 17th CPDS has held this year, aiming to shed light on political issues related to Palestine worldwide, with the presence of Palestinian and International activists.