106) The following three letters are contributions from 'Press' readers in response to letters from Erin Eldridge, a devoted Zionist apologist and regular contributor to the Press' letter pages, who so it appears enjoys a certain preference by the editors. She invariably gets the last word and her rants are allowed to remain unchallenged.
(additions in Italics are made by "Contraviews')
The "Gunther Grass" controversy.
"Erin Eldridge (28/4) sees too much in Gunther Grass's juvenile past. The future (Pope) Benedict XVI, same age, was drafted into the Hitler Youth in 1941 at 14, and he was welcomed in Israel, the former was banned. What do you know at 14, in 1941 when adults followed Hitler blindly ? She misses one 'moral equivalence' between Iran and Israel. Both countries are under suspicion (!) of developing or having developed nuclear weapons in secret, against the International Atomic Energy's rulings. "This tiny nation surrounded by those who want to destroy it" as she calls it, dislodged hundreds of thousands of previous inhabitants at the point of a gun. These victims call this sad event The Nakba (The Catastrophe), which this 'tiny nation' does not allow to commemorate anymore. It also invaded more than it ever was invaded, increased its territory by illegal means, ruffled feathers all around. It also benefits from the strongest lobby in Washington, that is AIPEC, getting support of the. so far, most powerful nation on the planet. I know of better ways to make friends with neighbours!"
(Letter not published)
"I fail to see how Erin Eldridge (April 7) can find Martin Griffith' defence of Grasss' advocacy of peaceful solution to Israel and Iran's nuclear stand off (April 13) "ignorant and reprehensible". What I personally find reprehensible is blind support for any violent action Israel wishes to take. Israel has a much murkier past it wants to remain hidden than that of Grass: past Prime Ministers such as Begin and Shamir were willing participants in terrorists atrocities in their youth as leaders of Jewish terrorists groups, much more morally reprehensible than any activities Grass was caught up in by circumstances as a seventeen year old conscript during World War Two. Most Israelis Prime Ministers have been former members of terrorists/guerrilla groups responsible for the death of Arab civilians, British personnel and even a UN mediator in the struggle for their Jewish state, or former military leaders such as Sharon who have also been responsible for large-scale slaughter of Arab civilians."
(Letter rejected by the Press)
I share Erin Eldridge's abhorrence of the Nazi and SS in particular (April 28) as someone whose family suffered under German occupation in World War Two, and indeed whose uncle was hunted by the SS. Gunther Grass' SS Pantzer division even saw action in my father's country, the Netherlands, shortly before Grass joined it. So, far from me to offer any support for the Nazi projector anyone involved in it, including its attempt to annihilate the Jews. However there are some important factual inaccuracies in her (Erin Eldridge's) account: Grass never joined the Nazi Party or the Hitler Youth. He was drafted in to the "Lufwaffenhelfer" (anti-aircraft units composed of school children). Other famous and lauded individuals who served in these units include the current Pope, philosopher Jurgen Habermas and many prominent post-war democratic German politicians including Chanseler Helmut Kohl. These units were under the command of the airforce and received ideological supervision from the Hitler Youth, as did most German children. Grass was then conscripted into the RAD (Reich Labour Service) doing labouring work for the military. Towards the end of the war he was drafted into the 10th SS Pantzer Division and saw service only in Germany for a total of two month before he was wounded and captured by the Americans (who decided he had not been involved in war crimes) Neither were his family hard-core Nazis-one of Grass' uncles was executed by the Nazi regime.
The Historian Tom Segev said on this issue recently:" it's not factually correct to brand Grass an anti-Semitic or Nazi to try and undermine his arguments even if you disagree with them. Grass himself has noted he has only previously been banned from entering East Germany and Burma of all the countries he has criticized before, which places the current right-wing Israeli government in somewhat unwelcome company".
Letter not published by The Press