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Poet not welcome in Israel after criticism

April 8, 2012 at 10:26 AM

JERUSALEM, April 8 (UPI) -- Israel's interior minister said Sunday German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass is not welcome in Israel after he criticized the country's nuclear program in a poem.

In the poem published Wednesday in several European newspapers, the 85-year-old writer accused Israel of attempting to destroy Iran, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"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 audience."

The poem, titled "What must be said," drew criticism from Netanyahu as well, Haaretz reported.

"His declarations are ignorant and shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.

Grass said the poem was meant to target the Israeli government, not the country as a whole, Haaretz said.

Grass told the Munich-based newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that Netanyahu is "the man who damages Israel the most."

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