Haaretz: Interior Minister declares Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel

Haaretz 08.04.12 By Ophir Bar-Zohar and Barak Ravid

Yishai condemns the German Nobel laureate for his controversial poem,published last week; Lieberman warns against how ‘small seeds of anti-Semitic hate can turn into a large fire that harms all of humanity.’ 

Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Sunday that German Nobel laureate
Gunter Grass is a persona non grata in Israel, after Grass published a poem
last week which was highly critical of Israel and its policies.

Yishai harshly condemned Grass’ poem, and said that he is declared a
persona non grata in Israel for wearing SS uniform in the past.

“Grass’ poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate toward the State of
Israel and the Israeli people, and to advance the ideas of which he was a
public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS,” Yishai
said. “If Gunter wants to continue publicizing his distorted and false
works, I suggest he do it in Iran, where he will find a supportive

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued a harsh condemnation of
Grass’ poem on Sunday, during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario

Lieberman said that Grass’ poem is the expression of “egoism of so-called
Western intellectuals, who are willing to sacrifice the Jewish people on
the altar of crazy anti-Semites for a second time, just to sell a few more
books or gain recognition.”

Lieberman called on European leaders to condemn statements that could
possibly influence public opinion toward anti-Semitism. “We have witnessed
in the past how small seeds of anti-Semitic hate can turn into a large fire
that harms all of humanity,” said Lieberman.

In his poem, which was published in several European newspapers last week,
the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not
Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. Grass’ poem calls for Germany to
cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike
on Iran.

Grass’ poem entitled “What must be said” drew strong criticism from Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well. “His declarations are ignorant and
shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them,”
Netanyahu said.

In an interview published in Germany on Saturday, Grass claimed that his
poem was meant to target the current Israeli government, not the country as
a whole. “It’s that which I criticize, a policy that keeps building
settlements despite a UN resolution,” said Grass.


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