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German Nobel Winner Herta Müller: Günter Grass 'Has No Moral Credibility'

Günter Grass has been criticized by many inside and outside Germany for his recent criticism of Israel. Now Herta Müller, a fellow German winner of the Nobel prize for literature, used the release of her new book in Brazil to slam Grass's moral s

Herta Müller in 2009 in Frankfurt (Don'tWorrry)
Herta Müller in 2009 in Frankfurt (Don'tWorrry)


Günter Grass and Herta Müller have a lot in common. Not only do the two German writers share the same profession, they've also both won Nobel Prizes. But that doesn't mean they have to agree on everything.

When it comes to the Israel-Iran standoff, for example, Grass has it dead wrong, Müller explained in a recent interview with Folha de S. Paulo. Grass, 84, made headlines early last month with a controversial poem in which he accuses Israel of plotting to destroy Iran. According to Müller, her literary compatriot has it all backwards.

"Günter Grass distorts reality. Iran is threatening Israel with annihilation, not the other way around," said the Romanian-born novelist. "In my opinion, he lost his moral credibility long ago, because over the course of decades he hid his affiliation with the Nazi SS."

Torture, persecution, fear and betrayal are key elements in the life and work of Müller. Winner of a Noble Prize in 2009, she returns to issues related to her past in Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle, which has recently been published in Brazil. The book is a compendium of essays, lectures, and articles written by the author.

During the interview, Müller also criticized China for condemning activists such as Noble winner Liu Xiaobo to prison. Their actions, she explained, are reminiscent of dictatorial governments in the last century. Müller is concerned too with how politics have evolved in new democracies, including in her birth country, Romania.

"Old regime employees are still in power in the new order. They are business men and politicians and, instead of repression, now corruption is ruling," she said.

Müller blames such conditions on a willful ignorance of the past. "Unlike what happens in Germany, in Romania nobody wants to read old archives, to know who cheated or spied. This led to a new start, with politicians free of charges."

Read more from Folha de S.Paolo in Portuguese

Photo – Dontworry

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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