Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass AFP/DPA/File

On Sunday, Nobel prize-winning German author Gunter Grass, 84, took another shot at Israel, saying it was "an unchecked nuclear power" and an "occupying force."

Speaking on the German radio station NDR, the poet – previously  declared persona non grata in the Jewish state – said that "Israel is an unchecked nuclear power":

"Several United Nations resolutions go unheeded. Israel is an occupying force and for years has stolen land, evicted people and viewed them as second-class citizens. There are racist moments in Israel… That saddens me. And that should sadden every friend of Israel, as it saddens many Israelis. And one should be allowed to speak out about it….” he said on the radio.

Grass insisted against being anti-Jewish, saying that holding back from criticism of "Tel Aviv" was "for me a new form of anti-Semitism."

Earlier this year, Grass, 84, angered Israel after publishing a piece entitled "What Must Be Said", in which he expressed his repressed fears that Israel "could wipe out the Iranian people" with a "first strike."

The publication of the poem in a German newspaper set-off a wave of controversy both in Israel and abroad, and he has been barred from visiting Israel. 

Grass achieved worldwide success with his debut novel, "The Tin Drum" in 1959, and has pressed his country for decades to face up its Nazi past. In 2006, he admitted publically he had been a member of Hitler's Waffen SS when he was 17-year-old.