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Calls mount to denounce Grass

April 10, 2012 at 8:07 AM

JERUSALEM, April 10 (UPI) -- The Hebrew Writers Association called on writers to denounce Gunter Grass a day after Israel's Interior Ministry declared him persona non grata.

Grass touched off a firestorm with his poem, "What Must Be Said," published by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung last week. In it, the Nobel Prize laureate asks: "Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: The atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace." The poem also said Israel was preparing to wage a military strike against Iran "to wipe out the Iranian people."

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai released a statement announcing the decision to bar Grass from entering Israel and said the poem is an attempt "to fan the flames of hate against the state of Israel and the Israeli people."

The move was seen as a symbolic response to the poem. Grass had not asked to enter Israel.

German Health Minister Daniel Bahr called the response exaggerated, the paper said.

A statement released by the writers association Monday said even before "the traces of the swastika on his clothes were gone, Grass joined the crusade against the state of Israel," Haaretz said Tuesday. The statement referred to the period Grass was a member of the Hitler youth and the Nazi SS.

The writers association said it would ask PEN International, an international writers body, to "publicly distance itself from Grass' remarks," Haaretz said.

Association Chairman Herzl Hakak said the Nobel Peace Prize committee should consider denouncing Grass, Haaretz said.

Last week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Grass's poem "shameful," the newspaper said.

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