During his long literary career, Günter Grass has been many things. Author, playwright, sculptor and, unquestionably, Germany's most famous living writer. There is the 1999 Nobel prize and Grass's broader postwar role as the country's moral conscience – albeit a claim badly undermined in 2006 when it emerged that the teenage Grass had served in the Waffen SS. But at the ripe old age of 84, Grass has triggered a furious row with a poem criticising Israel.
Entitled What Must Be Said and published on Wednesday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the lyric warns of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran. It argues that Germany should no longer deliver nuclear submarines to Israel that might carry "all-destroying warheads".
Grass also takes aim at Germany's reluctance to offend Israel – reproaching himself for "my silence" on the subject, and acknowledging that he will inevitably face accusations of antisemitism.
He muses: "Why do I only speak out now/Aged and with my last drop of ink:/Israel's nuclear power is endangering/Our already fragile world peace?" He supplies his own apocalyptic answer: it must be said because "tomorrow might be too late".
他沉思：“为什么现在我只有说出呢/ 老年人，用最后一滴墨水/以色列的核大国岌岌可危/我们已经脆弱的世界的和平？” 他提供了他自己的启示录的答案：一定要说因为“明天可能太迟了”。
Grass also calls for "unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel's nuclear facility and Iran's nuclear facility through an international entity". Ultimately, he suggests, this would help everybody in this "delusional" region, including the Germans – or "us", as he puts it.
Hardly surprising, then, that Grass's controversial late lyric has provoked indignation. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, led the attack on Thursday, asserting: "Günter Grass's shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran ... says little about Israel and much about Mr Grass." Netanyahu described Iran as "a regime that denied theHolocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel". He added: "It is Iran, not Israel, that is a threat to the peace and security of the world."
Netanyahu's attack then became more personal: "For six decades, Mr Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS.
"So for him to cast the one and only Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace and to oppose giving Israel the means to defend itself is perhaps not surprising."
The Israeli embassy in Berlin took the format of Grass's poem and flung it back at him: "What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder." It concluded that Grass's ill-judged broadside sprung from Germany's own guilty conscience – "part of the German people's efforts to come to terms with the past".
German politicians from both left and right have traditionally been supportive of Israel, for obvious historical reasons. Several have criticised Grass, describing his work as "abominable", "irritating" and "over the top". The bestselling Bild, a paper better known for its topless models, complained of "confused poesie". And writing in Die Welt, the Jewish writer Henryk Border dubbed Grass "the prototype of the educated antisemite". He added, for good measure, that Grass was "completely nuts".
All this forced Grass to offer his own pained reply. In an interview with North German Radio, the author complained on Thursday that the tone of the criticism "didn't just concentrate on the contents of the poem" but amounted to a scurrilous campaign to say that his reputation "had been damaged for all time". He added: "The old cliches are used. And to a certain extent they are damaging."
所有这些迫使格拉斯提供了他自己痛苦的回答。在北德国电台的采访中，这位作家在星期二抱怨， 这些批评的语调“不是集中在诗歌的内容上”而是等同于信口谩骂的行为，说他的名誉“长期以来被损害。” 他又说：“这些老旧的陈词滥调都被使用的。他们正损害着一种确定的程度。
Some commentators, however, offered a more convincing critique: that Grass wasn't antisemitic, but simply didn't know what he was talking about. True, the Nobel prizewinner describes Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "bigmouth", or "Maulheld". But otherwise, critics say, he offers a less than convincing analysis of the situation in the Middle East – failing to acknowledge, for example, Iran's regular threats to wipe Israel out. Instead Grass raises the unlikely spectre of Israel "annihilating" the Iranian people – using a German verb, ausl?schen, which comes dangerously close to evoking the Holocaust.
某些评论家，可是，提供了一个比较令人信服的评论：格拉斯不是一位反犹太主义者，而且不能单纯地认为他谈论的东西。正确，这位诺被人将赢家把伊朗的领导人默罕默德.艾哈迈迪内贾德描写为一个”大嘴巴“， 或者”大木槌“。可是在其他方面，评判家说，他提供了中东地区不令人信服的情况分析--未能认识到，比如，伊朗的不时地危险清除以色列。代之以格拉斯升起了不可能的以色列消灭伊朗人民的幽灵--使用一个德国动词，ausl? schen, 它危险地正接近唤起大屠杀。
"The poem is more interesting to Grassologists than to stragetic analysts," the Israeli historian Tom Segev, who has met and interviewed Grass, told the Guardian. Segev called the lyric "rather pathetic".
He said it was "idiotic" to describe the writer as an antisemite, but said Grass would be better served expending his last ink on a different creative project. "He's a great writer. He's 84. I hope he uses his last drops to write a good book." He added that the writer appeared to have "some inner psychological need to be accused wrongly", adding: "He's almost wishing people to say he's an antisemite."
The most interesting commentary, arguably, came from the Süddeutsche Zeiting, which published the poem – German title Was gesagt werden muss – in a supplement. Grass had been writing poems since 1955 but his late ones weren't really poems at all, Thomas Steinfeld observed, and instead resembled pleas, complaints, or angry letters to the editor. Of one lugubrious chunk he writes witheringly: "The only lyrical things here are the arbitary line breaks." Undoubtedly, the poem's portentous tone doesn't help the reader; an opinion page piece might have served Grass better.
最有趣的评论，有争议的，来自南德意志报，它发表了这首诗歌--德国题目是Was gesagt werden muss--在一个副刊上 。格拉斯自从1955年以来一直写诗歌可是这最新的一首根本不算诗歌。托马斯.斯戴恩菲尔德观察，代之以相似的请求，抱怨，或者给编辑的愤怒的信件。他摧毁性地写了如丧考妣的大部分：“这唯一的诗歌的性的东西是随意断开耳朵句行。”毫无疑问地，这首诗歌的不吉利的基调不能有助于读者；一些意见页面的片段肯能对格拉斯好点。
Interestingly, Steinfeld suggests that the award of the Nobel prize for literature in 1999 may have contributed to Grass's latest political intervention. The prize transformed Grass from a national figure – "Germany's preceptor" – to an unashamedly global one – "a custodian of world politics". He argues that Grass is the only winner who feels the urge to comment on global affairs. Gabriel García Márquez has not become a literary-political representative of South America, he notes, nor has JM Coetzee become the voice of South Africa, or Derek Walcott that of the Caribbean. Nor has Grass, it might be added, written a poem on Greece, a crisis nearer to Germany's doorstep and wallet.
有趣的是，斯戴恩菲尔德建议1999莫爱美诺贝尔文学奖的获得可以贡献给格拉斯最新的政治干涉。这个奖把格拉斯，一个国家瞩目的人物-“德国的训导师”--变形为一位厚颜无耻的全球第一--“一位世界政治的监管人”。他辩称格拉斯是唯一一位感觉迫切地评论全球事件的赢家。盖布里尔.加西亚.马尔克斯没有变成南美洲 文学政治的代表，他写道，ＪＭ 库切也没有变成南非的声音，或者德拉科．沃考特也没有变成加勒比海的代言人，格拉斯也没有，他或许另外，写一首关于希腊的诗歌，一场迫近德国的门阶和钱包的危机的诗歌。
Grass last attracted this much attention back in 2006, when he revealed in his autobiography, Peeling the Onion, that he had briefly served as a 17-year-old in the Waffen SS at the end of the second world war. The admission in itself wasn't remarkable: many other teenagers of his generation were forced to join the SS as the war entered its chaotic final phase. What irritated was the fact that Grass had taken so long to admit this – an inexplicable delay for someone who blamed others for their Nazi pasts and was seen to personify national atonement and self-criticism.
For some, this detail means that Grass forfeited the right to comment on the Jewish state. Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wisenthal Centre, described him as "totally compromised" and added: "The tin drum he is banging is not the one of moral conscience but of deep-seated prejudice against the Jewish people." This is one view.因为这些，这些详细情况意味着格拉斯丧失了对犹太国家的评论的权力。. Ephraim Zuroff,纳粹猎杀西蒙．维森萨中心的主任，把他描述为“彻底底妥协” 加之：“他正梆梆敲的锡鼓不是道德意识的之一而是根深蒂固的歧视犹太人民。”这是一种观点。
In fact Grass's critical opinions on Israel have surfaced before. In an interview with Spiegel Online in 2001, he described the "appropriation" of Palestinian territory by Israeli settlers as a "criminal activity", adding: "That not only needs to be stopped – it also needs to be reversed."
It is certainly true that Germany's relationship with Israel is a problematic one, with the Holocaust taught in schools and the issue of historical guilt never far beneath the surface.
According to Constanze Stelzenmuller, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, it is hardly surprising that Germany has a moral obligation to the state of Israel, given the country's past. "The German government has been very clear about this," she said. Berlin has already supplied it with three Dolphin submarines, with two more being built, and a sixth in the pipeline.
But, Stelzenmuller says, Berlin has not been inhibited from criticising Israel, especially on the issue of Israeli settlements, last mentioned by Germany's defence minister two weeks ago. Of Grass, she said: "There's always been an anti-Zionist tendency in the European left, including in the German left. It isn't pretty. Many modern thinkers on the centre-left deplore this."
Amid the criticism, a few voices came forward to defend Grass – the author, after all, of The Tin Drum, the great German novel of the second world war and the rise of Nazism. "It's got to be possible to speak openly without being denounced as an enemy of Israel," said Klaus Staeck, the president of the Berlin academy of art. He called the "reflexive condemnation" of Grass as an antisemite inappropriate, and insisted that Grass was merely expressing his concern about developments in the Middle East. "A lot of people share this worry," Staeck added.
Predictably, Iran warmly welcomed Grass's poem. Press TV, Iran's state-owned English-language satellite channel, hailed it as a literary sensation. "Never before in Germany's postwar history has a prominent intellectual attacked Israel in such a courageous way," it said. "Metaphorically speaking, the poet has launched a deadly lyrical strike against Israel."
The Press TV report also observed: "Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and it has never allowed inspections of its nuclear facilities nor has it joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity."
What Must Be Said by Günter Grass 必须说什么
But why have I kept silent till now? 可是为什么直到现在我保持沉默？
Because I thought my own origins,因为我想到了自己的出身
Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,被不能去除的污点玷污
meant I could not expect Israel, a land 意味着我不指望以色列，一片
to which I am, and always will be, attached, 我的土地，总是要，附丽的
to accept this open declaration of the truth.接受公开真相的宣言
Why only now, grown old, 为什么只说现在，变老了
and with what ink remains, do I say: 墨水留存，我说过吗
Israel's atomic power endangers 以色列的核武器
an already fragile world peace?已经威胁着脆弱的世界的和平？
Because what must be said 因为必须说点什么
may be too late tomorrow; 或许明天太晚了
and because – burdened enough as Germans –因为－－德国背负的够多啦
we may be providing material for a crime 我们必须为犯罪提供物质保障
that is foreseeable, so that our complicity 那是可预见的，所以我们的共犯
wil not be expunged by any将不会
of the usual excuses.被任何普通的借口删掉
And granted: I've broken my silence想当然地：我打破了我的沉默
because I'm sick of the West's hypocrisy;因为我讨厌西方的虚伪
and I hope too that many may be freed我也希望许多人或许
from their silence, may demand 清除他们的沉默，可能需要
that those responsible for the open danger we face renounce the use of force,哪些我们面对的公开的危险负责放弃使用武力
may insist that the governments of坚持以色列政府和伊朗政府
both Iran and Israel allow an international authority允许国家权威自由，公开地
free and open inspection of 核查双方
the nuclear potential and capability of both.潜在的核能力