Photo Credit:
Nobel laureates who demonized Israel: German novelist Günter Grass (left), a former member of the Nazi SS and Portuguese novelist José Saramago (right), who made a distorted, demonizing comparison between Hitler and Israel.

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

What is the only country about which can be said that its very existence is disputed? Clue: Not Zimbabwe, not Tuvalu, not even overrun Tibet. Which country’s boundaries, bought with blood in wars initiated by others, are challenged by all nations, who now seem determined to destroy it through boycotts, unjust defamation and purported “laws” that are applied to no other nation?


Which country fully respects the rights of women and every kind of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, notwithstanding that it is condemned at the United Nations for being “the worst violator of women’s rights” — worse than Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan?

Which country provides its own enemy with water, electricity, food and medical treatment? Its military, to avoid enemy civilian casualties, warns its enemy to evacuate buildings before attacking them, and — instead of simply carpet bombing the enemy as all other nations do, including most democracies — sends its own soldiers possibly to die in ground operations?

The country is Israel — the only country that even famous writers, intellectuals and Nobel laureates target, demonize and criminalize.

There was a time when Nobel laureates for Literature, such as the German Heinrich Böll, the French Jean-Paul Sartre and the Italian Eugenio Montale, rushed to denounce injustice. Earlier, in the name of best Europe’s values — justice, freedom and solidarity — they condemned the threats to the State of Israel’s existence.

But today, these novelists hold a deep, uninformed, irrational hatred towards the same place. Instead of backing the only country that gives full rights to all its citizens, they are instrumental in attacking not only Israel but the Jewish people. In Germany, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is the new best-seller. In Europe today, you can even find a great number of books that wipe Israel off the map. And a provincial council near Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, banned Israeli books from local libraries.

In the chorus of those who speak from journals, poems and novels, there have been a few noble exceptions. The Albanian writer Ismail Kadaré, a Muslim candidate positioned every year to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, turned down a request to boycott the tiny Jewish State. Israel, he says, faces “the threat of disappearance,” and he compared Israel to Albania under Nazi occupation. Also the author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, refused to add her name to the list of Israel’s boycotters.

Their brave, solitary gestures highlight the sluggish, uninquiring conformity of the “intelligentsia’s” campaign to pile unmerited calumnies on Israel.

Worse, supposed “intellectuals” often spout raw anti-Semitism while giving a pass to the truly barbarous people among us. If the Nobel Committee had any decency, it would revoke the prizes it awarded for “Peace” to such “humanitarians” as Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat. It is painful to watch the Nobel Committee make a fool of itself year after year, and it is painful to watch these so-called intellectuals be so unaware and filled with prejudice against the people who least deserve it.

An Italian writer, Dario Fo, a laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, just gave an interview to the newspaper, La Repubblica. Fo, talking about the Jewish patriarch, Moses, said: “Moses was killing women and children because they worshiped idols.” Mr. Fo went on blaming “the Jews’ brutality against those who follow other religions, as it happens today.” Excuse me? Is it the Jews who are burning people alive, drowning them in cages, slitting throats or crucifying anyone for following a different religion?

Mr. Fo’s comparison is as wrong as it is ghastly. It is not the Jews who suicide-bomb Palestinian buses, cafes, wedding halls and discotheques. It is not the Jews who now try to mow down Palestinians with cars or stab them in the street. It is the reverse — and has been for years.

The daily newspaper La Stampa charged Dario Fo with “recycling anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Fo is not new at this. In the 1970s, in one of his theatrical operas, “Resistance: Italian and Palestinian people speak,” the future Nobel Prize laureate compared Nazism to Zionism and the Palestinian fedayeen terrorists to the anti-Fascist partisans.

A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Fo also said that,

“the great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty — so what is 20,000 dead in New York? Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation.”

Who gave this famous writer the right to defame, earlier, not only Israel’s name but also 9/11’s victims?

Another Nobel prize-winning novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as the Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Eggers, are among a group of international novelists who will contribute to a book of essays next year about “50 years of Israeli occupation” that will be published by Harper Collins, one of the publishers that wiped Israel off the map.

The book is part of an initiative by Breaking the Silence, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which makes sweeping charges against the Israeli army “based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay ‘testimonies.'” while refusing to disclose the names of the Israeli soldiers who “testified.” Worse, it is being funded specifically “to incriminate the IDF” (Israel Defense Forces) and, was explicitly directed by European charities to prove that Israel acted improperly. In an article entitled, “Europe to Breaking the Silence: Bring Us As Many Incriminating Testimonies As Possible,” the watchdog group NGO Monitor disclosed that:

Contrary to BtS’ claim that “the contents and opinions in this booklet do not express the position of the funders,” NGO Monitor research reveals that a number of funders made their grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.” This contradicts BtS’ declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations.

Are these “prestigious” writers aware of the organization’s predetermined bias which is going to fund their new book?

There is also, of course, the problem of double standards and hypocrisy. These writers did not decide to put their pen at the service of the Syria’s civil war victims or the Christians and Yazidi who are suffering a genocide in Iraq. No, these writers targeted Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and its supposed “occupation” — which they fail to disclose was backed by the Palestinians themselves in the Oslo II Accord of 1995, Chapter 3, Article XVII Jurisdiction [1], which in fact turned the Palestinian people into the most protected Arab population in the entire Middle East. Go to Ramallah and Jenin and you will see the difference between how they live compared to the people living in Aleppo, Sana’a and Mosul.

The most prolific novelists in the Israel-Bashing Industry are, sadly, the British. “Sadly,” especially as Iran has within the last month raised the bounty offered on the head of a British citizen, Salman Rushdie, by another $600,000, in addition to the $3 million issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. That brings the incentive for murdering a novelist to roughly $4 million. About that, the British government has been shamefully silent. The only condemnation so far seems to have come from the Iranian journalist, Amir Taheri, the British journalist, Douglas Murray and from PEN.

Another “intellectual,” John Berger, a Booker Prize winner, called for artists to decline being published by Israeli publishers and to undertake a boycott of the Jewish State. Harold Pinter, the late Nobel Laureate playwright, has gone so far as to declare Israel “the central factor in world unrest,” presumably forgetting about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Sudan. Showing how thin is the line separating criticism and anti-Semitism, Tom Paulin, poet, essayist and academic at Oxford, said Jewish “settlers” in Israel “should be shot dead.” A Scottish National Poet, Liz Lochhead, also joined a group calling for the boycott of Israel.

Dozens of the world’s literary stars, including Nobel laureates in literature such as J. M. Coetzee, Herta Mueller, Orhan Pamuk and the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney, added their names to a petition against Israel’s “occupation’s giant, cruel hand.” What is notable is that every single time, these most illustrious writers “forget” to say why Israel built those fences, checkpoints and roadblocks in the first place.

Donald Trump wants to build a wall with Mexico, the Arab sheikhdoms are closing the border with Oman, Spain built fences to keep out Moroccans, India is walling off Bangladesh, South and North Korea share a fortified border, Cyprus is divided by walls and Belfast is a fenced city of barriers.

But only Israel’s fence — built for defensive, humanitarian reasons, merely not to get blown up — is condemned by the International Court of Justice and receives round-the-clock coverage on CNN and front page stories in the New York Times. Why? Because the security barrier that saves lives was perverted by unjust people into an unjust barrier, with no mention of what happened to Israelis before that fence was put up. To paraphrase attorney Alan Dershowitz: If you made a fair and objective list of all the countries in the world that comply with human rights, from best to worst, Israel would have to be near the top, among the best.

One of the most chilling accusations against Israel has come from a northern European writer, Jostein Gaarder, an ostensible humanitarian, whose book, “Sophie’s World,” was translated into 53 languages, and with 26 million copies sold. Penning an article in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Gaarder wrote:

“If the entire Israeli nation should fall … and part of the population must flee to another Diaspora, then we say: may their surroundings stay calm and show them mercy. Shoot not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them! They are vulnerable now — like snails without shells! … Give the Israeli refugees shelter; give them milk and honey!”

Gaarder envisages the expulsion of the entire Jewish people from their land, and again dependent on European charity — in recent years not exactly a commodity in great supply.

Israel has been humiliated also by a German writer and Nobel Prize for Literature, Günter Grass, who published a poem in several European newspapers, in which he treated Israel as the purveyor of all ills and the instigator of every type of disorder. According to Mr. Grass, it is Israel that threatens Iran with a nuclear genocide, not the reverse.

This sanctimony should not have come from that writer: Grass, in fact, served in Nazi Germany’s armed SS force and defined East Germany’s Communism “a comfortable dictatorship.”

After a visit in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital, Ramallah, during the Second Intifada, after there were about 1,500 Jewish dead from terrorism, another winner of Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, stated that the Israeli blockade of Ramallah was “in the spirit of Auschwitz” and “this place is being turned into a concentration camp.” A year later, Saramago commented that the Jewish people no longer deserve “the sympathy for the suffering they went through during the Holocaust.”



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