The SS No­bel win­ner who at­tacked Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

NO­BEL PRIZE-WIN­NING writer Gunter Grass has crit­i­cised Is­rael for “en­dan­ger­ing the al­ready frag­ile world peace”.

Mr Grass, 84, is known for his left­wing po­lit­i­cal views. In a poem pub­lished in the Ger­man news­pa­per Sued­deutsche Zeitung, he expressed con­cern that Is­rael “could wipe out the Ira­nian peo­ple” if it took ac­tion against Tehran’s nu­clear am­bi­tions.

The anti-war writer, who was at the cen­tre of a con­tro­versy in 2006 af­ter it emerged that he had served in the Waf­fen SS dur­ing the Holo­caust, said in the poem that he was “tired of Western hypocrisy”. He said he had re­mained silent on Is­rael for years be­cause of his past.

He also ac­cused Ger­many of be­ing “sup­plier to a crime” fol­low­ing an agree­ment to sell Is­rael a nu­clear-ca­pa­ble Dol­phin-class sub­ma­rine.

“I will be silent no longer,” wrote Mr Grass.

In re­ac­tion, last Sun­day, Is­raeli In­te­rior Min­is­ter Eli Yishai de­clared Mr Grass un­wel­come in Is­rael. Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said: “His dec­la­ra­tions are ig­no­rant and shame­ful and ev­ery hon­est per­son in this world must con­demn them.”

Em­manuel Nahshon, Deputy Chief of Mis­sion at the Is­raeli em­bassy in Ber­lin, also con­demned Mr Grass. “It be­longs to Euro­pean tra­di­tion to ac­cuse the Jews of rit­ual mur­der be­fore the Passover cel­e­bra­tion,” he said. “It used to be Chris­tian chil­dren whose blood [it was al­leged] the Jews used to make matzah; to­day it is the Ira­nian peo­ple that the Jewish state pur­port­edly wants to wipe out.

“We want to live in peace with our neigh­bours in the re­gion. And we are not pre­pared to as­sume the role that Gunter Grass as­signs us in the Ger­man peo­ple’s process of com­ing to terms with its his­tory.”

A spokesman for Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said: “In Ger­many, the free­dom of artis­tic ex­pres­sion ap­plies, as, for­tu­nately, does the free­dom of the gov­ern­ment not to com­ment on ev­ery work of art.”

The Cen­tral Coun­cil of Jews in Ger­many said the poem was an “ag­gres­sive pam­phlet of agitation”, while Mr Grass was ac­cused of be­ing “the pro­to­type of the ed­u­cated an­ti­semite” by Ger­man Jewish com­men­ta­tor Hen­ryk Broder.

“Grass has al­ways had a prob­lem with Jews but he has never ar­tic­u­lated it as clearly as with this ‘poem,’” Mr Broder wrote.


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