Israeli ban on Gunter Grass ´infantile,´ says Salman Rushdie (ISRAEL HAYOM) Israel Hayom Staff 04/10/12)
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Author of "The Satanic Verses," who was the subject of an Iranian
fatwa, says it´s okay to be disgusted with Grass´ poem calling
Israel "threat to world peace," but banning him is wrong •
Dershowitz: Yishai´s ban "foolish and self-defeating."
Following the publication of Nobel laureate Gunter Grass´s poem "What
must be said," Israeli politicians and Jewish leaders lashed out at
the German author for saying that Israeli warnings about striking
Iran threaten "the already fragile world peace." Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu called the poem "shameful," while Interior
Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday said Grass would be considered a
persona non grata in Israel.
By Tuesday, however, a backlash to such reactions appeared to emerge,
with Grass´s poem (published last week in German newspaper
Süddeutsche Zeitung) and his freedom of speech being defended not
only by German ministers and the German public, but also by the likes
of author Salman Rushdie and staunch Israel supporter Professor Alan
German Health Minister Daniel Bahr chimed in on the debate over
Grass´s poem, calling Israel´s decision to ban him from entering the
country "completely exaggerated," in an interview with daily Die
Welt´s Tuesday edition.
"I can hardly imagine that Mr. Grass has any interest in showing up
in Israel," said Bahr, a member of the FDP liberal party. However,
Bahr also criticized Grass for not being open to others´ opinions.
Author Salman Rushdie, himself the subject of literary controversy in
1989 when Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling
for his death, also joined the fray about the reactions to Grass´s
Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who was accused of insulting
Islam’s founder in his novel “The Satanic Verses,” posted several
comments on his Twitter feed about the Grass affair and Israel´s
"OK to dislike, even be disgusted by #GünterGrass poem, but to ban
him is infantile pique," Rushdie wrote. "The answer to words must
always be other words."
Rushdie also referred to Grass´s Nobel-winning novel "The Tin Drum"
and other works of his, saying, "Let´s not forget that #GünterGrass
is the author of the greatest literary responses to Nazism, The Tin
Drum, Cat and Mouse, Dog Years."
His final tweet, as of press time, was "Nobody can seriously believe
#GunterGrass is anti-Semitic. The issue today is a bad poem and
Israel´s bad response to it."
Alan Deshowitz, one of Israel´s greatest supporters and defenders in
the international community, published a piece on the Grass
controversy on the Huffington Post on Monday, calling Yishai´s
decision to bar Grass from entering the Jewish state "both foolish
Dershowitz called Grass´s poem "absurdly ignorant and perversely
bigoted" but said he should be welcomed in Israel "and shown the real
facts on the ground: that Israel is a tiny country doing its best to
defend itself against existential threats posed by Iran´s
determination to develop nuclear weapons and by the increasing
radical Islamization of Israel´s neighborhood."
Grass "should be made to feel shame for misusing his literary talents
in the interests of bigotry and falsehood," wrote Dershowitz.
He went on to say that Grass´s ideas should be discussed and debated,
but that "Israel need not fear poets or polemicists. It should
certainly not use its security apparatus, which includes control over
its borders, to exclude has-been octogenarian writers with whom it
Dershowitz accused Yishai of weakening Israel´s "otherwise strong
case for excluding individuals who pose genuine threats to the
physical security of Israeli citizens. Border controls should be
reserved for real security threats."
Meanwhile, Grass was also defended by peace activists in Germany
Monday, who voiced support for the author.
"It is unacceptable," Willi van Ooyen, a spokesman for a group that
organizes traditional peace marches held each year on Easter weekend
in Germany since 1960, told French news agency AFP of Israel´s ban.
"Threats and preparations for war poison the political climate," said
Ooyen, echoing Grass´s concerns that Israel might launch a strike
against Iran´s nuclear facilities to stop a suspected weapons program.
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