Poet Günter Grass has responded to harsh criticism of his recent work that accuses Israel of threatening world peace, saying that although the media has piled up on him, he will not back down from the truth.
In an exclusive interview last night on Germany’s ARD network, the German Nobel laureate Günter Grass talked about the reception of his poem “What Must be Said.”
Published in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Italian daily La Repubblica, the poem is critical of Israeli policies and expresses fear that Israel’s nuclear capacity is a direct threat to the “fragile world peace.”
The winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for literature has become the target of media attacks for his poem, accused of anti-Semitism by several critics.
Grass said in his interview that despite those attacks, he has received numerous emails of support for the views expressed in his poem. He said the media is only reflecting the negative reaction to his poem.
Grass said he is concerned about the widespread refusal to admit the truth.
He denied charges of anti-Semitism, saying that criticism of Israel should not be equated with that term. He added that the worst thing for the people of Israel is a lack of criticism of Israeli policies.
Grass stressed that his poem is concerned with that “silence”, and his aim is to break it.
Grass spoke out against the military threats against Iran, stressing that such threats could draw the whole region into war.
He accepted that the Iranian government is indeed deserving of criticism but stressed that while the media openly and clearly reflects criticism of Iran, similar treatment of Israel is regarded as taboo.
Grass said last night: “The tenor throughout is, ‘Don’t focus at all on the content of the poem’ but rather, conduct a campaign against me and claim that my reputation is now damaged for all time.”