German Nobel Prize winning author Gunter Grass has criticised Israeli policy in a new poem titled A Hero In Our Time
. The hero of Grass’ poem is none other than whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu who was responsible for leaking Israeli nuclear secrets to a British newspaper in 1986.
Grass refers to Vanunu as a ‘role model’ and a ‘paragon’, writing that only ‘heroes such as that are needed in the world, which utters words of peace while planning destruction.’ The poem describes Vanunu’s 18-year imprisonment, most of which was spent in solitary confinement, and compares Vanunu to the Biblical Joseph.
This is the second time this year that Grass has found himself in hot water and accused of anti-Semitism. Earlier this year, the 84-year-old author published a piece titled What Must Be Said
, where he raised fears that Israel could wipe out Iran with its nuclear weapons. The publication of this poem led Israel to declare Grass a ‘persona non grata’ and banned him from visiting the country.
Mainstream German political parties have also criticised Grass for his writings. Following the publication of What Must Be Said
, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke out about the poem.
‘His declarations are ignorant and shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them,’ Netanyahu told Haaretz
at the time.
Grass is most famous for his 1959 novel The Tin Drum
, whose film adaptation won the 1979 Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Although he denies being anti-Semitic, he admitted to joining Hitler’s Waffen SS at the end of World War II in a 2006 interview.
The controversial poem A Hero In Our Time
will be featured in a new book of Grass’ poems titled Eintagsfliegen
, soon to be released in Germany.