German author condemned for poem critcising Israel
Israel has declared Nobel Prize-winning German author Guenter Grass “persona non grata” over a poem in which the former SS soldier described the Jewish state as a threat to world peace.
Grass, who was conscripted into the SS at the end of the Second World War, would be barred from visiting for his “attempt to inflame hatred against the State of Israel and people of Israel, and thus to advance the idea to which he was publicly affiliated in his past donning of the SS uniform,” interior minister Eli Yishai said yesterday.
In the poem published by a German newspaper last week, Grass, 84, condemned his country’s arms sales to Israel and said the Jewish state must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.
Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons, has threatened to take military action, with or without US support, to halt what it sees as a nuclear threat from Iran.
The poem, titled What Must Be Said, was condemned by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Grass’s words were also denounced by mainstream political parties in Germany, where any strong condemnation of Israel is taboo because of the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust.
The author said in a weekend interview that, in retrospect, he would have phrased his poem differently to “make it clearer that I am primarily talking about the (Netanyahu) government.”
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