Germany official: Israelís reaction to Grass´ criticism ´exaggerated´ (HAīARETZ NEWS) By DPA 04/10/12)
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A minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel´s German government has
described as "exaggerated" an Israeli visa ban on Nobel Literature
laureate Gunter Grass, a report said Monday.
"I cannot imagine that Mr. Grass has any interest in showing up in
Israel after the explicit criticism he has faced in Germany," said
Daniel Bahr, the health minister, in an interview to appear Tuesday
in the daily Die Welt.
The minister, who also criticized Grass, was apparently not speaking
for the government. He is a senior member of the Free Democratic
Party (FDP), a junior partner in Merkel´s cabinet. Die Welt issued a
summary to other media in advance of publication.
Grass is persona non grata in Israel, Interior Minister Eli Yishai
announced Sunday after Grass criticized the country in a poem.
Attacking Grass, Bahr said it was "sad to see that someone who has
experienced all the controversies of post-war Germany remains marked
by so much prejudice and stubbornness." But he called the visa ban
an "utterly exaggerated" response, Die Welt said.
Grass´ poem, "What must be said," claimed Israel was preparing a
first strike to "wipe out the Iranian people" as it attempts to
derail Iran´s nuclear weapons program. The novelist, 84, is widely
regarded as Germany´s greatest living writer.
Renate Kunast, co-leader of the opposition Green Party in parliament,
criticized Grass for his refusal to recognize that Israel was
threatened by Iran, but she also deplored Yishai´s move.
"It means everyone will end up discussing the ban instead of Grass´s
views," she told DPA.
Israel is deeply concerned about Tehran´s nuclear program, coupled
with repeated vows by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian
leaders to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
Speculation has been growing in recent months that Israel intends to
launch a military strike at Iran´s nuclear facilities, to end, or at
least retard significantly, Iran´s drive toward atomic weapons.
Grass has been furiously attacked in Germany over the poem. Early
Saturday, someone daubed graffiti on a sculpture in the city of
Gottingen commemorating free speech which Grass commissioned and
donated. The red paint called on him to "shut your mouth." (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/10/12)
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