Günter Grass’s Giant Gaffe
The Economist on Günter Grass’s anti-Israel poem:
Mr Grass’s work is neither good poetry nor effective political pamphleteering. Mr [Marcel] Reich-Ranicki says he is not even sure whether a text without rhyme and rhythm can be considered a poem.
Yet the response from Israeli politicians looks overdone. Salman Rushdie called the travel ban ‘infantile pique’. Avi Primor, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, called the ban exaggerated and populist, and suggested that Mr Yishai knew nothing about Germany.
Still, the episode will further dent Mr Grass’s once-strong image as Germany’s moral conscience in facing up to the Holocaust. Ever since the 1959 publication of “The Tin Drum”, a novel that covers the rise of Nazism, Mr Grass has prodded Germans to come to terms with their dark past.
But in 2006 he confessed that in 1944, at the age of 17, he had belonged to the Waffen SS. His revelation triggered accusations of hypocrisy from many Germans.