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Gunter Grass: Provocative New Verses On Israel, Masturbation, Pope



The new book of poems, Eintagsfliegen (Ephemera), by German Nobel prize winner Günter Grass, 84, is already causing controversy.

Reviewers who received advance copies describe "touching texts about aging and death," and call the collection "a declaration of love to Germany." But the poem called A Hero In Our Time is bound to cause a new round of trouble for the laureate, with the poem described by one critic as "awkward for Israel" in its celebration of convicted spy Mordechai Vanunu. Grass calls the Israeli nuclear technician and peace activist, who served 18 years for revealing atomic secrets to the British press, a "hero and model" and calls for the "divulgence of military secrets" worldwide.

Earlier this year, Grass’s poem What Must Be Saidcaused a furor by portraying Israel as a danger to world peace, describing a “first strike” against Iran by a nuclear-armed Israel as one that could “wipe out the Iranian people.”

His former ties to the Nazi Waffen SS coupled with some of his writings has made Grass persona non grata in Israel.

Following the latest writing, Herzl Chakak of the Hebrew Writers Association in Israel said that Grass is pursuing "an obsessive campaign to shame Israel," reports
Frankfurter Rundschau.

The new collection of 87 poems is being released in time for Grass’s 85th birthday on October 16.

But this time, Israel is not the only one that could take offense to Grass’s writings. The writer also has a go at the Catholic Church that no longer condemns masturbation as a severe sin: "Even our Pope can now do without shame what he has done from early on: We see him smiling, liberated, freed from sin…"

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Israel's Choice Right Now: Halt "Collective Punishment" Or Lose U.S. Support

As fighting has resumed and intensified in the southern area of the Palestinian territory, more and more criticism builds from around the world. How much longer can Israel fight this war for if it loses the support of even its most steadfast allies?

Photograph of Palestinians carry an injured man following the Israeli bombing on Khan Yunis. They are surrounded by people and photographers.

December 1, 2023, Khan Yunis, Gaza: Palestinians carry an injured man following the Israeli bombing on Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza

Saher Alghorra/ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Can Israel wage its war in Gaza without caring about the opinion of its allies?

Since fighting resumed in the Palestinian territory on Friday, serious disagreements have emerged with the United States and, to a lesser extent, with France. It is the disagreements with the U.S. that carry significant consequences: Washington plays a vital role in this conflict by supplying weapons and deploying a considerable military apparatus to deter the regional expansion of the confrontation.

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This weekend, both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris expressed serious reservations about how Israel is conducting its operations. The issue at hand is the massive aerial strikes on densely populated areas, resulting in a considerable number of civilian casualties.

These criticisms came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel last week on the eve of the resumption of hostilities, urging Benjamin Netanyahu to change to a strategy that better protects civilians. Israel chose not to heed this advice, resulting in the current diplomatic tensions.

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