Jerusalem: Israel on Sunday barred German author
Gunter Grass from entering the Jewish state, citing a poem in
which he accuses Israel of plotting Iran's annihilation and
threatening world peace.
"Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Gunter Grass
persona non grata in Israel," a statement from Yishai's office
"Gunter's poem is an attempt to fan the flames of hate
against the state of Israel and the Israeli people," it quoted
Yishai as saying.
In his poem "What must be said," the 84-year-old longtime
leftist activist wrote of his concern that Israel "could wipe
out the Iranian people" with a "first strike" due to the
threat it sees in Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.
"Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the
atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world
peace?" reads the poem, which was published on Wednesday in
the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
The poem sparked outrage in Israel, with officials from
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down criticising Grass.
Netanyahu on Thursday called Grass's poem "shameful."
"If Gunter wants to continue disseminating his distorted
and mendacious works I advise him to do it from Iran where he
will find a supportive audience," Yishai said today.
Iran's deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari yesterday
praised Grass's poem, saying "it warns beautifully."
Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel "The Tin
Drum," sparked outrage in 2006 when he revealed, six decades
after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious
Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the
Middle East, has said it is keeping all options open for
responding to Iran's nuclear programme, which it says is aimed
at securing nuclear weapons, posing an existential threat to
the Jewish state.
Iran has consistently denied that its sensitive nuclear
work is aimed at making weapons.
First Published: Sunday, April 08, 2012, 19:22