Günter Grass' op-ed 'poem' was lame on many levels, but in Salon, a couple of investigative journalists praise Grass for focusing attention on a pretty stunning fact:
Germany had already given Israel two Dolphin-class submarines, and subsidized one-third of the $540 million cost of another. The Germans are planning to similarly subsidize the sale of the latest submarine.
Before the Grass poem, I'd be willing to bet that very few ordinary Germans were aware that their government was simply giving away billions of dollars in military technology to Israel. Take it away, Wikipedia:
Israel has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It is a developed country, an OECD member, and its economy, based on the nominal gross domestic product, was the 41st-largest in the world in 2010. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East.
Its GDP per capita is around 26th in the entire world, and it already receives $3 billion in yearly aid from the U.S (pdf). So why can't it simply pay for the military hardware it wants to buy? All Eastern European countries are much poorer than Israel, yet when they want German military hardware, they have to pay for it.
Historical issues aside, surely Germany has better uses for €1.5 billion in taxpayer money than giving away free military presents to a country that can easily pay for them itself. How many schools could that money have built in Botswana?