9 Apr 2012

Israel bans German writer over poem

2:09 pm on 9 April 2012

Israel has banned Germany's most famous living writer, Gunter Grass, from entering the country, because of a poem he wrote describing Israel as a threat to world peace.

The Israeli interior minister, Eli Yishai, is accusing the writer of trying to fan the flames of hatred against Israel and its people.

In the poem, Grass accuses Israel of plotting to annihilate Iran. He condemned German arms sales to Israel, and said the Jewish state must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.

The poem has already been condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The BBC reports that Grass's most recent work has also been widely criticised in Germany, which is extremely sensitive about attacks on Israeli policy because of its role in the Holocaust.

The author told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that, in retrospect, he should have phrased his poem differently to make it clearer that he was primarily talking about the Netanyahu government.

"I have often supported Israel, I have often been in the country and want the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbours," he said.