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Israelis can be angry with Gunter Grass, but they must listen to him

•, By Gideon Levy
 The harsh, and in some parts infuriating, poem by Gunter Grass of course immediately sparked a wave of vilifications against it and mainly against its author. Grass indeed went a few steps too far (and too mendaciously ) - Israel will not destroy the Iranian people - and for that he will be punished, in his own country and in Israel. But in precisely the same way the poem's nine stanzas lost a sense of proportion in terms of their judgment of Israel, so too the angry responses to it suffer from exaggeration. Tom Segev wrote in Haaretz: "Unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently confided in him, his opinion is vacuous." ("More pathetic than anti-Semitic," April 5 ). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned Grass' Nazi past, and Israeli embassies in Germany went so far as to state, ridiculously, that the poem signified "anti-Semitism in the best European tradition of blood libels before Passover."

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