German author Grass says Israel endangers world peace (REUTERS) By Gareth Jones BERLIN, GERMANY 04/04/12 8:36am EDT)
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(Reuters) - Nobel Prize-winning German writer Guenter Grass has
attacked Israel as a threat to world peace and said it must not be
allowed to launch military strikes against Iran, in a poem that one
German newspaper branded "anti-Semitic".
Grass, 84, a seasoned campaigner for left-wing causes and a critic of
Western military interventions such as Iraq, also condemned German
arms sales to Israel in his poem "What must be said", published in
several newspapers on Wednesday.
His words were criticized in Germany, where any strong condemnation
of Israel is taboo because of the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust. Grass´s
own moral authority has never fully recovered from his 2006 admission
that he once served in Hitler´s Waffen SS.
"Why do I say only now ... that the nuclear power Israel endangers an
already fragile world peace? Because that must be said which may
already be too late to say tomorrow," Grass wrote in the poem,
published in German in Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"Also because we - as Germans burdened enough - may become a
subcontractor to a crime that is foreseeable," he wrote, adding that
Germany´s Nazi past and the Holocaust were no excuse for remaining
silent now about Israel´s nuclear capability.
"I will not remain silent because I am weary of the West´s
hypocrisy," wrote Grass, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in
1999 for novels such as "The Tin Drum" chronicling the horrors of
20th century German history.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East´s only nuclear
weapons, which it neither confirms nor denies. These could be carried
by Dolphin submarines it has bought from Germany.
The Jewish state has threatened to take military action, with or
without U.S. support, to halt what it sees as a nuclear threat from
Iran. Tehran says it is developing nuclear technology for purely
Germany said recently it would sell Israel a sixth Dolphin submarine
and shoulder part of the cost, although it also cautioned its ally
that any military escalation with Iran could bring incalculable risks.
The poem, also published in the New York Times and in Italy´s La
Repubblica, called for an international ´agency´ to take permanent
control of both Israel´s nuclear weapons and Iran´s atomic plant.
The Welt newspaper called Grass "the eternal anti-Semite" in a front
page article commenting on the poem, which was widely circulated in
advance of its publication.
"Grass is the prototype of the educated anti-Semite who means well
with the Jews. He is hounded by guilt and feelings of shame and at
the same time is driven by the wish to weigh up history," the
newspaper wrote on Wednesday.
Grass is for many the voice of a German generation that came of age
during Adolf Hitler´s war and bore the burden of their parents´ guilt.
But Grass, who for decades urged Germans come to terms with their
Nazi past, lost much of his moral authority after his belated
admission in 2006 that he had once served in Hitler´s Waffen SS.
One of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany, the SS was
first an elite force of volunteers that played a key role in the
Holocaust, operating the death camps in which millions died. But by
the war´s end, most were drafted and many under 18.
Grass said he was called up to join the SS as a teenager and insisted
that he never fired a shot. But some critics inside and outside
Germany said this explanation had come too late.
Grass made the confession shortly before publishing his
autobiography "Peeling Onions" which details his war service.
(Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Writing by Gareth Jones;
Editing by Andrew Heavens) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 04/04/12)
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