Joining my cousins for a bath

Joining my cousins for a bath
happy or sad, at least the bath seems pleasant

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Occasional comments on politics also see: http://www.artscritic.blogspot.com for occasional comments on all the arts, especially in Seattle; http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/ and http://handke-trivia.blogspot.com/ and http://www.handke.scriptmania.com andhttp://www.handke.scriptmania.com/favorite_links_1.html and ten sub sites if you want to be excessively well informed about the Austrian author Peter Handke

Sunday, April 29, 2012

PART A: SYNOPSIS OF THE GRASS POEM CONTROVERSY


For the Günter Grass Poem Controversy

Part I:
The Politics of the Beast
Posted @:
> 
http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/
 

Part II:
The Poetics of the Beast
To be posted @:
http://artscritic.blogspot.com/
by May 15
 
Comments welcome
 
http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mistakes by others that highlight equivalent errors of our own precipitate a moral disappointment that permits us to assume the strict and noble stance of both judge and victim and gives rise to an inner state of moral euphoria. This euphoria distances us swiftly and surely from the process of personal moral perfection and makes of us terrible and merciless and even bloodthirsty judges.
Ivo Andric, Signs by the Wayside
 
 
They all scream “anti-semitism” – after a while you notice, even a dummy like me, that not a one of them addresses the issue that Grass addresses: not a one counters Grass indisputable charge that the Netanjahu government is planning a first strike!
http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/#/Netanyahu/
 
 
 
 
 



On April 3rd, 
 Perhaps two days later than Guenter Grass had intended,
Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, La Repubblica in Italy, and Las Pais in Madrid published a peace poem of sorts by this famous German novelist, playwright, poet and visual artist, and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature,
deservedly so for his early work, warning of an impending war and its conceivable consequences,
and after the world had absorbed, been shocked, outraged, delighted or dumbfounded by
the poem’s audacity,
 the presumptuousness,
 of its 69 or so awkward lines,
the world  
would never be the same:



German Delphin Submarines became   swimming pools for
Jewish, Persian, Palestinian and Arab tots;
  the Persian Gulf, the Red and the Dead Sea were swamped by champagne. Rockets of all kinds turned into crayons, the sky looked as though it had become a plaything of Raoul Dufy’s.
 President Amindebejad of Persia turned into a Persian lamb, sheared himself and wove a teddy
 for Mrs. Netanyahoo.
Bibi started taking estrogen shots and, instead of resembling that infamous German shepherd “Wolfie,” turned into a friendly Hungarian sheep dog that bounced tennis balls off walls. Avigdor Liebermann decided to live up to his last name and had genetic
amelioration to eliminate Cossack rapists and Mongolian raider genes.
Palestinians and Jews all over
decided to adopt a Chinese menu
and intermarry.
Peace reigned.
And President Obama scratched his head and thought to himself,
“Well, at least I’ve got that headache licked. Michelle,
ought to invite Günter for a special White House dinner. I wonder whether he’s ever
enjoyed soul food?”

But before all those fine things transpired the world had one last big hiccup and
during this one month hiccup it was passing strange to notice that a poem – or, an op-ed articulated in lines vestigially poetic,
 but marked by pathos,
 funeral in tone –









Part I:
The Politics of the Beast


Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Why am I silent, silent for too long about
what is plainly evident, about what is drilled
in war games at the end of which we
survivors are, at the very most, footnotes [1]

exercised heads of state, quite a few ministers in Israel and Germany and
at least one prime minister, Netanyahoo of Israel
to say:

"Günter Grass's shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran, a regime that denies the Holocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel, says little about Israel and much about Mr. Grass,

a view he would reiterate quite a few more times and in an interview in Die Welt [instead, say, of ignoring the challenge, nothing as unsettling had happened to Bibi in years].
  
And if you were from the proverbial Mars, you might be wondering what was going on: When last has a poem tossed entire governments into a tizzy, its foreign ministers [the German Westerwelle dissociating his government from the Nobel Prize winner], the Israeli one quickly making Günter Grass, into a persona non grata [3], who had visited Israel a number of times and volunteered to physically support it during the 1967 Six Day War:   governments as tetchy as though the prophet’s beard that had been smeared I would say; insecure, defensive aggressive says Fritz Stern about that government
http://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/debatte-um-israel-gedicht-grass-erntet-lob-vom-iran-und-der-friedensbewegung-1810648.html.
 and Grass, amplifying, said, yes it was specifically the Netanyahoo government he had in mind as being the most immediate danger to world peace.
When last has a poem that bends over backwards to assume guilt that is not its or Günter Grass’s to assume:
“But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country to which I am and will remain attached.
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes for which time and again it must be tasked—
..”
instantly elicited its own prophesied…

“The universal silence around this fact, under which my own silence lay, I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.”

huzza of charges of ‘anti-semitism’ for criticizing a particular government’s well announced and publicized plans and known intentions – indeed nothing new in the poem initially when it mentions the current Israeli government’s intention to eliminate Iran’s ability to be in a position, even if it lacks the intention, to build an atomic bomb: and to do so on its own or, as it would prefer, with U.S. backing. Netanyahu had been in the U.S. just a few weeks before Grass published his poem, had addressed AIPAC
http://www.aipac.org/
had received rousing backing from the U.S. Congress, but President Obama told him to hold off, at least until after the November 2012 election, and whatever outcome of the resumed negotiations, which most likely would place impossibly onerous conditions on Iran, thus triggering the attack. An act of war – there were of course the usual geo-political monsters who claimed that Iran would not retaliate. – Yes, maybe that was it: a foolish old poet had presumed to be a geopolitical monster! He had upset an apple cart!

All kinds of acts were already being committed by both Iran and Israel that would have triggered World War One. Although Iran did not go around assassinating Israeli nuclear scientists, it supported armed groups that supported the cause of the Palestinians. Internecine low-grade warfare prevails.
   The news that Grass’s poem supplied was in these lines:

“But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.”
Grass could not speak more plainly, could he? But it was news that Germany was supplying Israel with those cute Delphin submarines whose tubes were machined so as to be capable of firing nuclear tipped rockets; also, that Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a commitment to Israel to back it no matter what, no matter what government it appears.

The attackers and defenders of the poem during the past month
 – the archive at
http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html contains  hundreds of links to stories and positions taken and quotes from them –
can be divided into two camps:
ONE that parallels the interest of the US Neo-Cons –
they voiced their opinion in the various German publications, Die Welt, Die Zeit, the F.A.Z, in the U.S. at once in The New Republic, The National Interest, Commentary, Huffington and in “heeb” and in the Jerusalem Post; they see the conquest of Iran as one last grasp for the imperial control that eluded them in Iraq and Afghanistan – but as a mosquito called Grass, the spirit of Oskar Mazerat, had managed to bite trough their thick hides. A pest like Grass might actually succeed in waylaying their best-laid plans. God forbid, take him down! Destroy him! –
Grass’s supporters were to be found among pacifists and socialists and Jewish anti-Zionists, in Germany, in the U.S. as well as in Israel. [Although http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html
also has the poem in Spanish and Italian translation and a few links to reactions in those language spheres, I did not find anything materially different from what I did in the three areas that I believe I covered pretty well]
Of course Islamic voices chimed in from all over; mostly supportive but not all; most amusingly from far off Sri Lanka – such events as the Grass brouhaha invariably elicit the sideshow comedies: Grass became a Jew who criticized Israel, Iran was portrayed as pure as the virgin Fatima!
   Most interesting, least predictable, least uniformly iran clad as the Neo-Cons therefore, were voices that did not speak in pre-fabricated language, not  with the unanimity of the Neo-Cons: e.g.

1] Fritz Stern’s Felicitas von Lovenberg interview in the F.A.Z., the German-American Jewish historian at Columbia University;
2] Jakob Augstein, the son of Rudolf whose wonderful Jesus Son of Man I published in this country to the consternation of indigenous Taliban, and who has his own interesting magazine, Der Freitag,

3] the Scots writer Massey who took the trouble to actually take a look at Grass’s “career” as a child soldier, that landed him in the SS for a few months;

4] the so humane novelist Louis Begley who, however much he too despises the Netanyahoo government can’t see past the 17 year old Grass’s SS Runen – I empathize but, nonetheless, find it a failure of the imagination. I must confess to having that lack when it comes to the matter of torture. A significant moment in my life occurred in 1947 when I happened to be reading a broadsheet account of life at Buchenwald and I came on a passage that detailed how one of my grandfathers, whose fourth concentration camp it was, was tortured. Something clicked and I realized I had to get out of the fairy tale murder land, as I then did a few years later. However, it is the manner in which the Neo-Cons, especially Josef Joffe, rub Grass’s nose [“career in the SS”] in his membership that tells you, or at least it tells me, that these men – they are all men – would blithely torture.

5] The German-Jewish writer and poet Esther Dischereit, several of whose essays I have translated, has a nicely differentiated take on the Grass poem, and you can find it on the goalies-anxiety site.

There are others.

The nastiest of this lot by a very logghoreaic shot is your German Neo-Con par excellence Josef Joffe, the most vitriolic, the most over the top, as though he must have been hyper-ventilating when he wrote his piece and then re-wrote it in American for the Wall Street Journal – see anon for my point by point decimation of his piece that proves my occasion for a point by point discussion of the poems tender parts because he tosses every pot and pan.


Grass got into particular trouble for letting his imagination flower a little too apocalyptically by implying that Israel had the intention currently of extinguishing the Iranian people. Plus quam perfect and praesenz seem compounded in thes lines:
Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers an already fragile world peace?
There he shoots ahead of himself into a war situation where recourse is taken to atomic bombs. After all, what Israel/ US is planning and most likely will do is use bunker busting bombs on those sites where work related fissionable materials is performed, and eliminate the Iranian airfields. That is an act of war that will have catastrophic consequences for which the perpetrators will go on trial as little as they did the last several times and Iran will know that it absolutely needs an Atomic bomb to defend itself and it will acquire it or the means to produce it from one of its allies, say China or Pakistan or even India which buys more of its oil than anyone else. If Grass had written a regular op-ed, he would have had to elaborate along those lines. But Grass wrote a poem with a Goetterdaemerung ending and wanted to provoke a discussion, and he sure succeeded.

After all, most of the poem expresses an unexceptional desire for peace:
“And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too may free themselves from silence, challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.
Who can argue with that? Boiler plate pacifism if ever there was such. It just occurs to me that instead of just wanting to be in the limelight one last time, to be noticed, maybe Günter wants to add the luster of the Nobel Peace Prize to his name. Ex-Obergruppenfuehrer wins Nobel Peace Prize! Why not, if Jimmy Carter, the destabilizer of Afghanistan, can win it and if Obama can and turn around and become President of Drone Assassination, Inc. Grass of course turned into an SS officer, on a Huffington blog in the WW Web’s version of One Hundred Years of Solitude; it is a wonder that he did not become a major Nazi monster! Perhaps he has, my Google spider and my tracking its vagaries are bound to have missed quite a few things. To the Zionist gangs in Germany that disrupt Socialist support meetings he has become “a notorious anti-Semite.” How quickly, within a matter of a few weeks, the discussion degenerates, and into fisticuffs!

[B]

So I wonder one again why a wildfire, a daisy chain of denunciation spread in the petri dish of the world wide net which I and fellow Germanist and scholar Scott Abbott have archived in all its manifestations at Scott’s http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html 

The charge of anti-Semitism was first voiced by a certain German publicist, Henryk Broder, once a writer of pornography for a journal of that kind in Hamburg’s notorious  St. Pauli district, in Die Welt, which together with Das Bild, which of course chimed in, as did Fox News, is the chief organ of the Axel Springer Concern, a Murdochian conglomerate that, however, has a fairly decent Feuilliton these days overseen by Peter Handke’s friend, the fine writer Weinzierl.
 Broder had been e-mailed, as he admitted a few weeks after his initial article, a copy of the poem just prior to its publication in Munich   
 http://www.welt.de/debatte/henryk-m-broder/article106160221/Ein-autoritaerer-Knochen-spielt-verfolgte-Unschuld.html 
   Broder’s hysterical take on the poem was quickly picked up by his friend Josef Joffe at Die Zeit and by the FAZ, and reprinted in the Burda publication Focus, Herr Burda’s failed attempt to compete with Augstein’s Der Spiegel. the Allgemeine Zeitung of the Frankenfurt on the river Main, which, on publishing the first of their several attacks on Grass, prior to that fine interview with the Columbia University Professor Fritz Stern, mentioned a half dozen US publications aligned with them in their condemnation, The New Republic, The National Interest, Commentary, something called “heeb”, Bernard Henry Levy in Huffington. Electronically, a daisy chain of that kind creates itself nearly at the speed of light!    

Whereas very little distinguishes Joffe’s attack from Broder’s,  
the F.A.Z.’s own Co-publisher Strittmacher’s attack
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/eine-erlaeuterung-was-grass-uns-sagen-will-11708120.html–
is by far the most brilliant of the lot. He starts off with the tactical concession that the poem, as an op-ed, is unexceptional, as indeed it is. Then he lets us in on the secret that, as we learned already in high school, every poem also contains a secret sub-text – Mr. Strittmatter is innocent of Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation. And then he tells us he will take out his Schraubenzieher, what we call “screw driver,” and extract the subtext for us. After he has his hand full of screws he flings them at Grass as though he had really tried to smuggle a freight train worth’s of anti-Semitism from his unconscious into the pure souls of the modern reformed democratic German. Indeed, Strittmatter created an entirely believable construct – except it is his, he only reveal how his associative network works. But it is a brilliant job and he ought to take himself and it, the vicious circle in which he dwells, to one or other fine shrinks in Frankfurt am Main. [Incidentally, this is not the first time I had noticed as much about Herr Strittmatter, he came to my attention during the controversies attendant Peter Handke’s so very different take on the disintegration of Yugoslavia, which was the first instance where I pursued a story on the web: at that time there was no Google spider, it required a team of a dozen different search engine, a Zwoelfgespann!]
Strittmatter is a brilliant creator of constructs, except that he is mad, for he then condemns his construct, which indeed deserves condemnation, but fails to notice that he condemns himself.  A very pure case of that! Josef Joffe whose piece will serve me as a case of specifics, by compare with Strittmatter, is a Stuemper, an amateur who makes up in hyperventilating over the top viciousness what he lacks in finesse. Essentially he says the same thing as his friend Henryk Broder who got the ball rolling, and Strittmatter and the U.S. Neo-Cons, which is why I  focus in A to Z detail on just one of these pieces. I will cover the rainbow!   Joffe, the editor in jefe of  Die Zeit, is a real sharpie and that rare German an excellent Neo-Con in good standing, friend of Brzezinski, the destabilizer of Afghanistan, co-founder of The National Interest, an enthusiastic backer of the Iraq war, a member of the Hoover Institute, Google his image and you will see the company he keeps, Hennery the K of Wurstburg on the Hudson as I have been calling Kissinger for 30 years, Netanyahoo, etc.etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Joffe
And I close focus on Joffe and his piece also because I happen to have met him and savored his spanieling to the Bushes during a lecture while I was visiting scholar in Germanics at the University of Washington in Seattle which Joffe visited just prior to the 2000 election; and because he is the editor of a weekly that was so much worthier when it was edited by my aunt, Marion Doehnhoff.
   It is just such a Spaniel who will deliver himself of as nasty a piece of work as he did in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages, he must have been hyper-ventilating as he turned into his version of the hip American. But like the other Neo-Con pieces, his piece, too, is devoid of a single quote from the poem. We are in the world of propaganda slaughter pretty much at its lowest denominator, although let us never forget how low the Pogo stick can go, let us not forget “heeb.” [see anon]. Here is the revised version, where the original  72 comments have in the cleaned up version  been  shrunk to 12!.
The original German can be found here
The link to the now eliminated comments;
To my comment I then had the following reply from one Michael Antebi : Michael Antebi's reply: Bless the first strike.Where would the U.S. be if the Israelis didn't destroy the nuclear bomb development of Iraq (which gave Libya second thoughts) and Syria? How many more American boys would have been killed in Iraq? - Madness rules! A reactor is years from a bomb!

The WSJ versus Günter Grass! Wow! I affix letters (a) trough (z) to indicate what I will comment on:

The Mendacity of Günter Grass

In the Nobel literature laureate's imagination, Israel threatens the globe and cows Germans into shamed silence.


Nobel laureate Günter Grass, 84, is a poster boy of "re-education," America's therapy for post-Hitler Germany. Or he was. In 2006, this chest-thumping anti-Nazi laid bare his long-concealed career [a] in the Waffen-SS, the war-fighting arm of Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel. Had Mr. Grass, who was reportedly hospitalized yesterday for heart problems, sprung the shocker a decade earlier, his 1959 novel "The Tin Drum" would still shine forth as a masterwork, [b] but without the Nobel Prize, which he was awarded in 1999.
Just before Easter this year, Mr. Grass launched a bigger bombshell, a poem titled "What Must Be Said." The explosion continues to reverberate around the country and, indeed, the world. The gist: For too long, the poet had been cowed [c] into silence by a knout he calls the "verdict of anti-Semitism."
But in his dotage,[d] he finally dared speak out against the [e] diktat  because Israel was readying a "first strike" that would "extinguish" Iran [f] and the "fragile world peace." The entire planet would be Israel's victim, [g]and the survivors "at best" mere "footnotes" in the annals of "annihilation." Germany, though, would "share the guilt" because it was arming Israel with nuclear-capable U-Boats.[h]
Thus did the bard go into battle against "hypocrisy" and "lies." Never mind that Iran is routinely threatening Israel with eradication [i], for Israel has the bomb and Iran does not. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is but a "loudmouth," a lamb in wolf's clothing.[j]
Was this anti-Semitism, as Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel's envoy to Germany, intimated? [k] The poem, Mr. Nahshon explained, was in the "European tradition" of sticking the Jews with blood libel just before Passover.[l] Back then, it was matzo made with the "blood of Christian children." Today, the "Iranian people" were "slated for extinction" by Israel.[m]
Mr. Grass hadn't actually penned a free-verse update of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." After the Holocaust, traditional anti-Semitism is out. Jews are no longer fingered as Christ killers, usurers and despoilers of the Aryan race.


Joffe
AFP/Getty Images
German writer and Nobel laureate Günter Grass.
But Mr. Grass's indictment is rife with post-Shoah analogues. [n] Carefully coded, it pins on the Jewish state what used to be applied to Jews throughout the ages.
We are not talking here about criticizing Israeli policy, a legitimate pursuit. This is a perhaps subconscious sequel [o]to the real thing, which has always rested on the four pillars of demonization, conspiracy, omnipotence and obsession. [p] If Jews used to be demonized as endlessly malevolent, Mr. Grass now charges Israel with concocting the greatest possible evil: a nuclear Holocaust to be visited on Iran and the entire world.[q]
So now, Israel is the global conspirator, which raises the fantasy of "World Jewry" to the nth power. The "Elders" plotted merely to rule the world; Israel would annihilate it. Why blame Israel rather than any of the seven official nuclear powers, whose combined punch dwarfs the presumed number of Israeli warheads by a factor of 50 to 200?
This is where obsession comes in: the recurrence of images and ideas that the patient cannot repress. [r] The classic version is about the omnipotence of the Jew—a real-life Satan whose unbounded might explained all evil. The new one is about Israel's cosmic clout. Even as Mr. Grass touts his "attachment" to Israel, recalling the my-best-friends-are-Jewish refrain, he casts the tiny country as an überpower. [s] Apart from threatening the globe, Mr. Grass imagines, Israel enslaves 80 million Germans by wielding the Shoah to gouge U-Boats out of Berlin and to suppress "what must be said."[t]
This is mendacity to the max, for critical coverage of Israel is a staple of the German media;[u]no other country gets more flak. But the falsehood is a necessary part of the indictment. If we could only speak out, insinuates Mr. Grass, we will save the planet by defanging Israel. By eliminating its nukes through a "permanent control" regime, we will bring peace to the "demented" Middle East and "help ourselves" to boot. Compared to Israel, the "Elders" were a bunch of kindergarten kids. [v]
Why the "return of the repressed?" The engine is unbearable guilt feelings, though Germany has evolved into a model democracy since 1945. How to regain moral worth? By projecting culpability onto Israel.[w]
"The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz," runs a mind-curdling quip ascribed to Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychiatrist.[x] You don't need a shrink to deconstruct this defense mechanism. Our grandfathers did it, but the Israelis, who won't let us forget, are just as bad. Three classics are: "They are the new Nazis," "Gaza is like the Warsaw Ghetto" and "We learned our lesson, the Israelis did not." In the morality play fabricated by Mr. Grass, who has his own past to live down, Israel is worse than Hitler.[y]
Thus, the accounts are squared, with a tidy moral surplus left over for Mr. Grass and his new friends on the far left and far right. The good news is that the poem did not play well in the middle. For the past two weeks, the media have weighed in against the bard, saying "what must be said" in a very different way: that he had breached a 70-year old moral consensus, that he had turned the moral universe upside-down by casting Israel as aggressor and Iran as victim.[z]
The bad news oozes out from the underground, in spades. Go to the website of any paper that has run critical pieces on Mr. Grass and read the comments, thousands of them. By a rough count, 90% cheer Mr. Grass. "At last!" is but the mildest applause. The rest is venom poured on the authors: abuse, hatred and, yes, plain old anti-Semitism.
The arsonist has lost the battle above-ground. Yet below, he is the redeemer who has finally struck a blow against those—Israel, Jewry, the political class—who rob Germany of dignity and freedom. Still, the odds are that the breach won't lead to a rout of the stalwarts.
Germany in 2012 is a normal country, a solid liberal democracy. The norm for Europe is for 15%-20% of the population to possess opinions labeled by the pollsters as "latent" anti-Semitism. Germany is not an outlier, but mainstream. Considering the past, that is reassuring.
—Mr. Joffe is editor of Die Zeit in Hamburg, senior fellow of the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and fellow of the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.


a)      “SS Career” – which term for the three months on the part of a 17 year old Grass Herr Joffe does not appear to mention ironically. The Massie link
tells you a lot of what that was like at the time. But let me add a few notes to what Massie writes. The SS at that time was hard up for bodies, it was no longer the favored option, it needed to recruit, to draft, and if you said not the same thing would happen to you as to the 7th day Adventist whom Grass describes. The SS was putting up divisions manned by Ukrainians, who also had very little choice over the matter. However, Grass one must assume was exposed to anti-Semitic propaganda since, born in 1928, he was certainly exposed to it, and had a fervent Nazi for a father, and volunteered for the armed forces, or was it the Navy at age 15. His father, according to a recent book that treats of how three successful German writers dealt with their soldiering past, took him to Gdinia.
http://www.tlz.de/web/zgt/kultur/detail/-/specific/Jahns-ueber-die-Literaten-Strittmatter-Loest-Grass-und-die-SS-1493086676
Nachdem der 1999 mit dem Nobelpreis geehrte Autor der "Blechtrommel" mit 78 Jahren die Courage gefunden hatte, jenes pikante Detail aus seiner Jugend öffentlich zu machen, fügte Michael Jürgs in die Neuauflage seiner Grass-Biografie den Satz ein: "Günter Grass bekannte, seine Nuss knackend, sich als Siebzehnjähriger freiwillig zur Waffen-SS gemeldet zu haben", gegen den Grass gerichtlich mit einer Unterlassungsklage vorging. Die Einberufung zur Waffen-SS sei ohne sein aktives Zutun erfolgt, behauptet Grass und beruft sich auf von ihm "klar erinnerte Fakten". Jahns hat auch in diesem Falle nachgeforscht und glaubt, die "Erinnerung" des Autors, der sich 1943 als Kriegsfreiwilliger nicht in seinem Wehrmachts-Stadtkreis Danzig meldete, sondern mit dem Vater, einem überzeugten NSDAP-Mitglied, ins 17 Kilometer entfernte Gotenhafenfuhr, widerlegen zu können. Gotenhafen (heute Gdynia) sei, behauptet Jahns, damals Anlaufstelle für SS-Freiwillige gewesen…."An Adolf Hitlers 56. Geburtstag, am 20. April 1945, findet sich (...) der siebzehnjährige SS-Richtschütze Günter Grass mitten in der Niederlausitz, der Heimat Strittmatters, wieder. Er steht mit einem Kochgeschirr in der Hand am Rand der Straße nach Spremberg und löffelt Erbsen. Als eine Granate einschlägt, wird er verletzt." Ans Desertieren habe auch Grass nicht gedacht, schreibt Jahns. Dessen "Lebensversicherung" sei ein Marschbefehl gewesen, den er sich erkämpfte, "denn der führt ihn in die Lazarettstadt Marienbad, die er mit letzter Willenskraft und viel Glück erreicht. So kommt er nicht in russische, sondern in amerikanische Gefangenschaft. Seine SS-Uniform hat er längst gewechselt."
First of all, Grass is ethnically a Kashubian, a very minority Slavic tribe in former East Prussia. If anyone had actually read THE TIN DRUM he would know [1] that in that region all the Slavs had German names and all the Kowalskis were German, and that with respect to Nationalism this lent a special twist and  that Grass was possibly pro-Jewish in the loving way he describes the Jewish toy salesman / store owner in Dansk.

Grass was obviously embarrassed by his membership and so did not mention it to a larger public until 2007 in his memoir PEELNG THiE ONION. Now everyone rubs his nose in it. How cheap and nasty can you get! These dreadful people like Josef Joffe who could be a right-hand man to a Goebbels have nothing better to do to.

I myself am about 8 years younger than Grass and if the shot-up battalion that was suddenly encamped around our pond for a last stand to defend Bremen in late Aril 1945 had given me and my cousin Ditloff guns to go into the maquis overlooking a sunken chausee where the first Americans were patrolling in jeeps and personell carries I am sure we would have been willing cub werewolves. At age 6 when my parents called at Christmas from Istambul [1942 or 43] I had proudly sung, to their horror as the later told me, the anthem of the German Navy “We lay off-shore from Madagscar and had the plague on board”, I was making awkward drawing of bombers dropping shit – sausages. The war and its propaganda seeped into you – newspapers, radio. I saw a single propaganda film, of a German tank entering a huge barn and the barn collapsing in its wake. However, I was fortunate, my parents had been in the resistance to Hitler as of the mid-30s, quite a few close relatives had meanwhile been killed by Hitler for their activities, my grandfather as at the head of the hit-list during the “Night of the Long Knives” and if I had been old enough to be clued in as to what was going on behind the propaganda front I suspect it would have taken less time than the three months -  May through August 1945 to be thoroughly disabused of all kinds of nationalism, for the rest of my life. There is no better cure for that bug than having your parents miraculously survive their respective Gestapo imprisonment! My quarrel with Grass with respect to his brief SS membership goes to his speaking up against Kohl and Reagan visiting Bitburg cemetery because 44 SS men are interred there as well: Grass might so easily have been one of them too, no? At that point I wonder a little about our moralist on his soap box – for it is my feeling that there is nothing as foolish, or just as foolish, as to persecute idiot boys for their being indoctrinated, usually by their father. And: BURY THE DEAD, and let them indeed rest in peace – which means that we do not want to be bothered by recollections of how foolish they were.

You are gullible. How gullible a population is was demonstrated most recently during the run-up to the Irak war.  How gullible it is is being demonstrated by the propaganda being disseminated about the danger that Iran poses – which is where old and new Grass comes in and the same Neo-Cons who brought you the Iraq fiasco. A new villain is needed to be vilified. How dangerous is Iran? In the very immediate not at all. But the  more pressure that is put on it, the more so it will become. If you follow this link
to the German translation of Ahmadinejad’s notorious address to an Iranian congress you will see the case that he makes out against Israel. Iran regards it as a beachhead of imperialism, a matter it is difficult to quarrel with if you look back at how Iran has suffered  its consequences… in the most immediate past … not just the three hundred year time span in which  A. is thinking: the deposing of Mossadegh, the installation of the Shah, U.S. support for Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran. That speech  does not contain a denial of the holocaust, but his denials of it clearly are meant to deprive Israel of that justification for its existence.  

b)    How nice of Herr Joffe, as compared to “heeb” to have the grace not to dump on THE TIN DRUM – however, did he read it closely enough to note Grass so loving portray of the Jewish toy dealer as to perhaps introduce a bit of doubt about his charge of anti-Semitism, or is he himself such a loyal Neo-Con servant that all such considerations go out of the way of propaganda?

c)    d) e) “cowed” “dotage” “diktat” – Herr Joffe is a heavy handed satirist, isn’t he now. Grass felt restrained, I take him at his word here; he does not strike me as senile although “last ink” (letzte Tinte) indicates that he knows he will not have the 2nd life-time that he deserves and has earned with  his books; we are not living in the world of the “diktat” – although we might as a Zeit employee of  Herr Joffe. Spaniels in charge are normally the nastiest lot!

d)    e) f) g) h) i) “extinguish” “victims” “nuclear capable U-Boats” – I elaborated above   ] on how it might come to an extinction of the Iranian people, and not that far- fetched a fantasy it is if a war is started; Grass nowhere says that they will be exclusively the victims of Israel, implicit in this is the U.S. and German backing of Israel.  But certainly there is a bitter irony to the fact that the beachhead Israel, the U.S. three billion dollar a year aircraft carrier feels so threatened that it may launch a pre-emptive attack with such eventual consequences. The “nuclear capable” U-Boat are equipped with rocket pipes machined to be able to deliver Israeli nuclear rockets – if that is the case, someone is sure thinking ahead, Herr Joffe, and if the aging diver into sunken mine sweepers Guenter Grass with his friends in the Marine can find out, you sure are well positioned to ascertain the truth or falsehood of Grass’s proposition!

j) “loudmouth” k) “anti-Semitic” (l) Passover (m)

Much has been made of Grass calling Aminejabad a “Loudmouth”, instead of calling him worse things. Well, I would agree that A. is a loudmouth, especially to his own people, he appears to be a populist demagogue. However A. does not have the last word in Iran. Although the short-time threat from Iran would seem negligible, if we look at these statements, even though they do not call for the annihilation of Israel, it is regarded as an Imperialist beachhead, which indisputably it has been since the Truman Doctrine also applied to it in 1948. The threat that Iran poses, one or the other statement by A. is used to fan the paranoia that Netanjahu and the Neo-Cons use to fan the flames for a pre-emptive attack. Wars are frequently started more for internal political reaons. Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Admits Ahmadinejad Never said Israel Should Be 'Wiped Off the Face of the Map.
(1)

In other words. Netanyahoo is a Yahoo of a liar, a demagogue hectoring the world into war. But Netanyahoo is not that oddball hollering fire at a street corner in Iceland, he has backers, the US Neo-Cons, the Amerika ueber Alles crowd and its camp followers. Indeed, the situation is dire. Guenter Grass has a point, that is why the attack on him is so fierce and the red herring “anti-Semitism” is used to get off topic.
They all scream “anti-semitism” – after a while you notice, even a dummy like me, that not a one of them addresses the issue that Grass addresses: not a one counters Grass charge that the Netanjahu government is planning a first strike!
WHY WHY WHY  WILL NO ONE FACE THAT EXCEPT, SAY, JAKOB AUGSTEIN???

 The poem is not anti-semitic -  nor is Grass, Israel’s previous German ambassador testifies to that that and so does Fritz Stern who saw a great deal of Grass through the 70 and 80s and so do a lot of other people who have worked with Grass or have known for a few dogs ages.Grass bends over backward to get past that obvious hurdle. 
The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked


Why those diversions from Grass's truth that Israel/ the US has been planning, and nearly already did execute a pre-emptive strike on Iran? For this undertaking they have the backing of the Neo-Cons, of AIPAC, it is indeed a dangerous situation, and there is no telling how that war would spread. Whether Grass or whoever is anti-semitic or was a Nazi as a kid, is entirely irrelevant, if the Neo-Cons could not level those charges they would find other diversions, it is also entirely irrelevant whether Netanyahoo or Avigdor Liebermann are Jewish. First of all, they are both demagogues and are both gangsters, goons. After a 25 year by and large secular Jewish life in New York city they don’t remind me of any Jews I met but for the one who was known as Frank Costello’s best Jewish friend and whose acquaintance I made during a most interesting editing job. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Costello
Netanyahoo/ Liebermann instrumentalize the Holocaust and use it as blackmail. The US beachhead could be manned by Hittites or Scythians for all the Pentagon cares, just as long as they are OUR Hittites, our Scythians!

"European tradition" of sticking the Jews with blood libel just before Passover.[l] Back then, it was matzo made with the "blood of Christian children." Today, the "Iranian people" were "slated for extinction" by Israel. .

This of course is utter nonsense, it is an example of what I meant by entirely over the top Joffee. I doubt Easter was on Grass’s mind – rather Netanyahoo’s recent visit to Washington and his address to AIPAC.

n)o)p)q)r) Carefully coded, it pins on the Jewish state what used to be applied to Jews throughout the ages.
We are not talking here about criticizing Israeli policy, a legitimate pursuit. This is a perhaps subconscious sequel [o]to the real thing, which has always rested on the four pillars of demonization, conspiracy. [p] If Jews used to be demonized as endlessly malevolent, Mr. Grass now charges Israel with concocting the greatest possible evil: a nuclear Holocaust to be visited on Iran and the entire world.[q]… This is where obsession comes in: the recurrence of images and ideas that the patient cannot repress. [r]
Joffe, as Strittmatter and Reich-Ranicki (also in the FAZ) before him, and like Broder, then take to speculation and interpretation and suppositions, and subject Grass to their own willful fantasies. Surprisingly, Joffe knows very little about the unconscious roots of anti-Semitism – circumcision as a threat of castration, as a narcissistic wound, envy - as do Strittmatter or Broder, no matter that they speculate about what’s going on in Grass’s unconscious, or what returns in and out of it.  

s)  Even as Mr. Grass touts his "attachment" to Israel, recalling the my-best-friends-are-Jewish refrain, he casts the tiny country as an überpower. [s]
Israel as Uncle Sam’s beachhead, which President Obama recently promised, “always had our back”, is anything but a tiny tail wagging the dog – let us never forget that the tail connects to the spine, which according to the same president “constitutes the steel of our military.”


t)  Apart from threatening the globe, Mr. Grass imagines, Israel enslaves 80 million Germans by wielding the Shoah to gouge U-Boats out of Berlin and to suppress "what must be said."[t] This is ludicrous since Grass imagines nothing of the kind. More suppositions of the imaginative Herr Joffe’s part! Who here is mad or prematurely senile? And like Strittmatter, Joffe then subjects Grass to his own  imaginings; “This is mendacity to the max, for critical coverage of Israel is a staple of the German media;[u]
u) Well no, it is not by any means. If it were staple of German coverage of Israel Herr Joffe and kin and kind would not be in such a tizzy! The left tends to upraid Israel rather one-sidedly for its treatment of the Palestinians, with complete justification: but fails to assess the monstrosities some Palestinian factions and some of their backers perpetrate.  

v).By eliminating its nukes through a "permanent control" regime, we will bring peace to the "demented" Middle East and "help ourselves" to boot. Compared to Israel, the "Elders" were a bunch of kindergarten kids. [v]
More phantasmagoria from Mr. Joffe!
w)x)y) z)
How to regain moral worth? By projecting culpability onto Israel.[w]
"The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz," runs a mind-curdling quip ascribed to Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychiatrist.[x] You don't need a shrink to deconstruct this defense mechanism. Our grandfathers did it, but the Israelis, who won't let us forget, are just as bad. Three classics are: "They are the new Nazis," "Gaza is like the Warsaw Ghetto" and "We learned our lesson, the Israelis did not." In the morality play fabricated by Mr. Grass, who has his own past to live down, Israel is worse than Hitler.[y]
y) Of course this morality play is concocted not by Günter Grass but by Josef Joffe who as a Polish  Jew who grew up in Germany can allow himself the luxury of these nasty jokes, which have just enough truth to them to be quite unfunnee. But perhaps this is a good time for me to introduce my two encounters with the SS.
   The first occurred in 1944 in the form of the teacher at the Schoenebeck Volksschule. Either for fundamental obstreperousness or ambidexterousness, I made the standard Hitler salute that started off  the day in school with the wrong, with the raised left hand. This earned me a big smack to the head, and what a fortunate SS man it was that this seven year old did not have a side arms. This man stayed in his job after the capitulation and a year or so later when my mother, who had just survived Gestapo prison and barely averted execution, was dating an American officer, who would become my stepfather, this made for nasty comments from the unreformed SS teacher.
   The other time occurred just after the Six Day War in 1967. I was in Munich, doing research at the Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte on a book about a member of the conspiracy against Hitler. There was a meeting of the NPD, the neo-Nazi party, at one of the big beer halls, and I decided not to miss this once in a life-time opportunity. The huge cellar hall filled to about a third awaited the star of the evening, a former SS general. I had seated myself close enough to the front but also at some immediate remove from the old warriors. When the star of the evening finally showed up he was greeted with loud applause and delivered himself of a congratulation of the victorious Moshe Dayan: “Great  work, and look who you learned it from!” And the way the audience grunted its satisfaction in response showed me that there I was in the very heart of pigsty of sadism.
“Thus, the accounts are squared, with a tidy moral surplus left over for Mr. Grass and his new friends on the far left and far right. The good news is that the poem did not play well in the middle. For the past two weeks, the media have weighed in against the bard, saying "what must be said" in a very different way: that he had breached a 70-year old moral consensus, that he had turned the moral universe upside-down by casting Israel as aggressor and Iran as victim.[z]
z) Part B will teach Mr. Joffe that he needs to get out of his Neo-Con echo-chamber to hear the voices supporting Grass. Actually, best as I can tell, Grass received no support from the right wing, at least none that showed up on the web; and meanwhile Zionist gangs are breaking up Socialist support meetings!
“The bad news oozes out from the underground, in spades. Go to the website of any paper that has run critical pieces on Mr. Grass and read the comments, thousands of them. By a rough count, 90% cheer Mr. Grass. "At last!" is but the mildest applause. The rest is venom poured on the authors: abuse, hatred and, yes, plain old anti-Semitism.
Since I have kept such close track not only of the numerous pieces about the Grass poem I can assure Herr Joffe that the comments run appr. 50 con 50 pro Grass, except of course in Neo-Con sites such as the WSJ which in its final version eliminates all critical commentary of his piece. Ditto for many German sites, such as that of Die Welt, or Focus: critical comments are excised before they even show up.
Go get a life, fella!
Having commented on Broder, Strittmatter, and Joffe, the latter both in Germany and in the USA, let me stay on this side of the Atlantic and start my round-up at the pit of the abattoir, for I hope, I can only assume, that the FAZ must not have taken too close a look at this blog, they were so eager to find instant transatlantic support, for who needs “anti-semitism” when we have Fabrian Wolff’s “heeb”
“For some reason, people still care about what Günter Grass, German author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has to say about things. He wrote some novels more than fifty years ago that he somehow was able to convince people were good, even if they were just overwrought and overhyped piles of nothingness. Germany thinks of Grass as its own Philip Roth, even if he is in reality just a second-rate copy of Thomas Mann, with cookie-cutter grotesqueness instead of stiff philistine blathering.
Even worse are his late poems, which are basically all about how awesome it is that he can still get it up and bonk. (In contrast to Roth, who seems to be denied that grace.) “We licked ourselves like animals and then talked about Beethoven” surely must be one of the most disgusting things ever written about sex, in itself not a disgusting endeavour. http://heebmagazine.com/the-poetry-of-gunter-grass/35078

We are in the world of the lumpen the sickliest of lumpen, worse than any old pigsty.  And, by way of the gamut of Neo-Con sites that took to the Grass poem like jackals to a cadaver, I will work my way up to the many other critical voices, the many significant supportive ones, to the few gemlike observations, the hilarious absurdities  - as in the 100 YEAR OF SOLITUDE ON THE WEB - the few sparks of understanding and edification that this kind of controversy spawns.


First there is Professor Herf in the New Republic
http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/102417/grass-poem-anti-semitic-gunter 
whose only links are to negative takes and who – of course – does not quote from the poem, a twerp of a scholar at the University of Maryland with the unfortunate looks of a gnarled turnip – there also are ugly turnips that can look beautiful ugly, Herf is not one of those.
 Thence we are at the NATIONAL INTEREST
with Mr. Heilbrunn, not a complete slouch at other times, but so inflamed by GG that he characterizes the poems as being hot-headed, which it so obviously  is not with all its crablike considerations. Heilbrun’s as obvious a case of projection of one’s own state of mind onto that of a carefully if awkwardly put poem as can be; its very awkwardness speaks of its authentic, even slow-witted way.
“Da hat der Günter sich aber einen abgebrochen.” 
Then we have Mr. Tobin at Commentary

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/04/05/gunter-grass-iran-and-anti-semitism/
  who says the same damn thing. Right, look at these guys, if only they were member of a group of chorus girls, all you needed do was tape their mouths before you bedded them. Bernard Henry Levy came on board via Die Welt
and via Huffington
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/gunter-grass-israel-poem_b_1417160.html as did Alan Dershovitz.
If you are interested in how the controversy played out in Israel and numerous blogs, go to >http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html contains daily updated links the 100 + different positive and negative positions taken on the Grass anti-war poem controversy.
==========================
 
 
NOTES
 
Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.
4

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.
Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren - wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?
Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt "Antisemitismus" ist geläufig.
Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
24
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.
35

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
46
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir - als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.
63



Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,

mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser

vom Wahn okkupierten Region

dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben

und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.
 
 
Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.
It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.
But why do I forbid myself
to name that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a usable nuclear capability has grown
beyond all control, because
no scrutiny is allowed.
The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.
But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country
to which I am and will remain attached.
Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses.
And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too
may free themselves from silence,
challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.
Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness

—and finally, to ourselves as well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/05/gunter-grass-israel-poem-iran


 
 
http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html contains daily updated links the 100 + different positive and negative positions taken on the Grass anti-war poem controversy    poem.
http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name
 
MICHAEL ROLOFF
 
Also posted @: http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/
 
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