Israeli writers call on int´l literary community to rebuke Gunter Grass (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Maya Sela 04/10/12)
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The Hebrew Writers Association in Israel on Monday denounced a
controversial poem by Nobel Literature laureate Guenter Grass in
which he criticizes Israel for threatening to attack Iran. The
writers association said it would ask International PEN, a worldwide
body of writers, to "publicly distance itself from Grass´ remarks and
to come out against all expressions of delegitimization against
Israel and the Jewish people."
"Even before the traces of the swastika on his clothes were gone,
Grass joined the crusade against the State of Israel," the Hebrew
Writers Association said in a public statement on Monday, referring
to Grass´ days as a member of the Hitler youth and Nazi SS. "Grass
should clean his clothes and his past, express remorse for the days
when he served in the Nazi Death Army, because his terrible statement
cast a dark shadow over all of his writings."
The chairman of the association, Herzl Hakak, called on Israeli and
international writers to denounce Grass and said the Nobel Prize
committee should also weigh in on the issue. Hakak emphasized that
the Nobel does not give its recipients immunity and called on Grass
to issue an apology.
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.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Eli Yishai is coming under fire from
German politicians for his announcement Sunday that Grass would be
considered a persona non grata in Israel. A minister in Chancellor
Angela Merkel´s German government has reportedly denounced the
Israeli visa ban on Grass as "exaggerated."
"I cannot imagine that Mr. Grass has any interest in showing up in
Israel after the explicit criticism he has faced in Germany," German
Health Minister Daniel Bahr reportedly said in an interview slated to
appear on 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, a junior partner in Merkel´s cabinet. Die Welt issued a
summary to other media in advance of publication.
Attacking Grass, Bahr said he was "sad to see that someone who has
experienced all the controversies of post-war Germany remains marked
by so much prejudice and stubbornness." However, he called the visa
ban an "utterly exaggerated" response," Die Welt said.
Renate Kuenast, co-leader of the opposition Green Party in Germany´s
parliament, rebuked Grass for his refusal to recognize that Israel
was threatened by Iran, but she also criticized Yishai´s move to
declare him a persona non grata.
"It means everyone will end up discussing the ban instead of Grass´
views," she told DPA.
Grass has been furiously attacked in Germany over the poem. Early
Saturday, someone daubed graffiti on a sculpture in the city of
Goettingen 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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