Furious Israel Bars Günter Grass for Critical Poem
The Israeli government has responded sharply to the controversial poem "What Must Be Said" by Nobel Prize-winning German author Günter Grass, declaring him a "persona non grata" on Sunday and thereby barring him from entering the country.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said in a statement that Grass, a former Waffen SS soldier who described the Jewish state as a threat to world peace in a poem published last week, could no longer visit Israel because of his "attempt to inflame hatred against the State of Israel and people of Israel, and thus to advance the idea to which he was publicly affiliated in his past donning of the SS uniform."...Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Grass' poem was the expression of the "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"
...Michael Wolffsohn, a German historian born in Israel, defended Israel's decision. "I welcome the decision by the government of Israel which I have in the past criticized on many issues. This isn't about the interior or prime minister, but about fundamentals. An ex-SS man isn't a moral authority, especially regarding the descendants of the victims..."...Prominent Literary Critic Slams 'Disgusting Poem'
Fellow authors have denounced Grass' poem. Prominent German literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a Holocaust survivor, described it as "a disgusting poem," that was worthless in political and literary terms. "Iran wants to wipe out Israel, the president keeps on announcing that, and Günter Grass is versifying the opposite.."
Wolf Biermann, a songwriter and former East German dissident, defended Grass "in the name of free speech," but described his poem as a "literary mortal sin." Biermann wrote in Welt am Sonntag newspaper: "When artists no longer have original ideas, some like Grass attempt to artificially break taboos."
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has been the only member of the German government to comment so far. He wrote in Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "Putting Israel and Iran on the same moral level is not ingenious but absurd."...