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BERLIN — German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest Wednesday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace.
The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
“Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Mr. Grass answers that Nazi Germany’s “incomparable” crimes against Jews and his own fear of accusations of anti-Semitism kept him from openly criticizing Israel.
But now, “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could become a “supplier to a crime,” Mr. Grass wrote, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine.
“I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West.”
Israel slammed the poem, which also sparked a fevered debate on German-language news and culture websites.
“What must be said is that it belongs to European tradition to accuse the Jews of ritual murder before the Passover celebration,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli embassy in Berlin, in a statement.
“We want to live in peace with our neighbours in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Gunter Grass assigns us in the German people’s process of coming to terms with its history.”
The Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, accused Mr. Grass of making himself the spokesman “for anti-Semitic Germans sick of the Holocaust and seeking to rid themselves of any responsibility for its aftermath.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle released a statement without mentioning Mr. Grass by name in which he warned against “making light of the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program.”
Mr. Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel The Tin Drum, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS — a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany.
The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism. The website of news weekly Der Spiegel wrote, “Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliche-ed way.”

(by christine karlsson)


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“The Stolen Dreams Act” on the Huffington Postby Rep. Luis Gutierrez*
Word is leaking from the Senate that Republicans, facing stiff and well-deserved opposition from most Hispanic voters, are crafting a bill similar to but not nearly as good as the DREAM Act, a bill to legalize the immigration status of young people who grew up in the United States but are currently undocumented immigrants.
Reports indicate that a proposal backed by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who opposes the DREAM Act, would allow certain young people to eventually earn legal status by attending certain four-year colleges or serving in the U.S. military. The proposal would bar these young people raised in the United States from ever becoming citizens. Similar restrictive or watered down proposals are said to be coming from Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona (both of whom have supported the DREAM Act before now opposing it). Let’s call them collectively the ‘Stolen Dreams’ Act.
This is a very dangerous game these Republican senators are playing with the lives of young people. With zero chance of such a proposal passing the Republican-controlled House, they are hoping to play politics with the immigration issue long enough to soften the Republican Party’s image with Latino and immigrant voters, which, to be blunt, stinks. It is the equivalent of a batter protecting the plate in baseball, sending off foul tips to extend his time at the plate, but without actually swinging or making a serious attempt to get on base.
Please read more.
*Gutiérrez was the first elected official to sponsor a version of the DREAM Act – legislation to allow undocumented youth brought to the United States as minors a pathway to citizenship – in 2001.