Israeli minister declares Gunter Grass ‘persona non grata’ (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By RAPHAEL AHREN 04/08/12)
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German poet Gunter Grass will be barred from entering Israel,
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday, after the Nobel laureate
wrote a controversial poem accusing Israel of threatening world peace.
Yishai said he had declared Grass, 84, a “persona non grata.” The
minister used a law allowing the Interior Ministry to bar entry to
Grass served in the SS at the end of WWII.
“Grass’s poems are attempts to incite hatred towards the state and
the people of Israel, and in doing so, promotes the ideology to which
he gave expression when he wore the SS uniform,” said Yishai in a
statement. “If he wants to carry on dispersing his warped and hateful
works, I propose that he does so in Iran, where they will have a
The furor began last week with the publication of Grass’ poem, which
chastises Israel for “threatening world peace” and seeking
to “annihilate” the Iranian nation. The poem asserts that it is
Israel, and not Iran, that threatens world peace with its nuclear
The poem has elicited emotional responses in Israel and Germany, with
much of the criticism making note of Grass’ SS service.
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, weighed in Sunday. “In
order to get publicity and sell a few books, he is willing to once
again sacrifice the Jews,” Lieberman told reporters.
Germany’s Foreign Minister also spoke out.
“To morally equate Israel and Iran isn’t witty, it’s absurd,” Guido
Westerwelle wrote in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.
“Despite international criticism, Iran is advancing its nuclear
program. There are credible reports that point to a military
dimension. In contradiction to international law, Iran refuses to
cooperate regarding control of its nuclear program. Let it be said to
those who don’t want to recognize that: This is not a playground for
polemics, ideology and prejudices – this is dead serious,” the German
foreign minister wrote.
Whoever marginalizes the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran is
refusing to see reality, he added.
“Nuclear weapons in Iranian hands would be a threat to Israel’s
security. For our responsible German foreign policy this is reason
for special concern, because Germany has a historic responsibility
for the people in Israel,” he wrote.
While participants in traditional Easter processions on German
streets this weekend, known as “peace processions,” expressed support
for Grass, many political and cultural figures have slammed the
author, accusing him of distorting the facts and of anti-Semitic
Germany’s most famous literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranciki, called
the poem “disgusting.”
“Iran wants to exterminate Israel, the President [Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad] announces that again and again, and Gunter Grass writes
the opposite,” Reich-Ranicki, who is Jewish, told the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 04/08/12)
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