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Gunter Grass Lashes Out Against Israel, Yet Again

Gunter Grass criticized Israel's decision to ban him from entering the country, comparing it to actions taken by communist regimes.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 4/12/2012, 4:48 PM

Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass
Reuters

Gunter Grass has criticized Israel's decision to ban him from entering the country, comparing it to actions taken by the former communist East Germany and Myanmar.

"I have been prohibited entry to a country three times," Gunter wrote, referring to similar cases that occurred  when the ex-German Democratic Republic (GDR) banned his entry and a thwarted 1986 attempt to travel to Myanmar, reported a pre-released copy of Thursday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

In his statement entitled "Then as today- my response to latest decisions," which was published in the same newspaper that debuted his controversial poem, Gunter writes, "In both cases the usual practice in dictatorships was carried out."

Referring to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision banning Grass from entering Israel over his recent poem accusing Israel of being the largest threat to peace in the Middle East, Grass stated, "Now it is the interior minister of a democracy, of the state of Israel, who is punishing me with a refusal of entry and whose grounds for the imposed compulsory measure - according to the tone – recalls the verdict of Minister Mielke."

Grass was referring to Erich Mielke who was head of the Stasi secret police in East Germany, which he also noted, no longer exists.

"But as a nuclear power of unchecked extent, the Israeli government sees itself as high-handed and until now is not open to exhortation," he said.

Grass had prided himself on being the 'moral compass' of the German people, pressing them to deal with the crimes of their past. In 2006, however, he admitted for the first time that he had been a member of Hitler's notorious Waffen SS, a late revelation that undermined his moral standing and trustworthiness.