Günter Grass

A new poem by Günter Grass, the prominent German author and 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has stirred controversy for its portrayal of Israel as threatening world peace with its plots against Iran.

Published in the magazine Süddeutsche Zeitung, the poem entitled “What must be said” expressed frustration with the “Western hypocrisy" that challenges Iran’s nuclear program when Israel’s own secretive nuclear program has never been officially acknowledged.

Grass writes: “Why do I say only now, aged and with my last drop of ink, that the nuclear power Israel endangers an already fragile world peace? Because that must be said which may already be too late to say tomorrow.”

Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli ambassador to Berlin, condemned Grass’s poem in a statement, saying: “What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder. Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has expressed deep shock over Grass’s poem, describing it as “an aggressive pamphlet of agitation.”

German leftist groups, however, expressed their support for Grass’s effort. Wolfgang Gehrcke, the deputy leader of the German Left party, lauded the poet’s courage for speaking out about the situation when everyone else has remained silent.

A spokesman for Angela MErkel’s govenrment Steffen Seibert tried to stay out of the controversy, saying: “There is artistic freedom in Germany and there thankfully also is the freedom of the government not to have to comment on every artistic production.”

The West is suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program and in addition to widespread sanctions; the U.S. has repeatedly maintained that all options, including a military invasions, are on the table to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has maintained continuously that it has no intention of building nuclear weapons and that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Israel has also made overtures about a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in recent months.