German author Grass defends anti-Israel poem

BERLIN - Germany’s most famous living writer, the  Nobel literature laureate  Günter Grass, defended the content of his poem attacking the alleged jingoism of the Jewish state, but said in media interviews  that the subjects of his criticism are Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the policies of  Israel's government.
The 84-year-old social democratic activist and former member of the Nazi Waffen SS published a poem on Wednesday entitled “What must be said” on the front page of the left-liberal Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung.  He accused Israel of planning a first nuclear strike against Iran to “extinguish the Iranian people” and noted that Israel is the principal impediment to world peace.
After mounting criticism in the German media, including accusations that he is an “educated anti-Semite,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Friday and a German television station on Thursday that, in retrospect, he should have avoided the word Israel and criticized the policies of the current Israeli government.
According to the interview in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Grass said he criticized “the policies that continue to go against every UN resolution against settlement construction.” He continued: “The man who damages Israel the most at the moment is, in my opinion, Netanyahu — and I should have included that in the poem.” Grass added that Israel’s policies “are creating ever more enemies of Israel, and are ever more increasing the country’s isolation.”
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