Most Germans agree with Günter Grass, according to online survey

Only 15% outright reject his controversial Iran poem, which accuses Israel of threatening world peace

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Günter Grass (photo credit: AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
Günter Grass (photo credit: AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

More than half of the respondents to an online survey of a respected German newspaper agreed with Günter Grass’s views on Israel.

When asked to weigh in on the Nobel laureate’s “theses about Israel,” 57 percent indicated they found them to be “correct.” Nearly 30% said they were “debatable.” Only 4% of the 21,773 voters found the poet’s views on Israel to be “anti-Semitic.” Also, four percent said Grass’s views were “dangerous,” while 7% said they were “lunatic.”

The survey was posted earlier this month on the website of the German edition of the Financial Times.

Earlier this month, Grass — who had served in the Waffen-SS toward the end of World War II — published a controversial poem in which he bashed Israel for endangering world peace by threatening to annihilate the Iranian people. His poem immediately drew harsh condemnations from German and Israeli politicians and pundits. The Israeli Interior Ministry decided to ban Grass from entering Israel, a move that was widely criticized as exaggerated.

Grass’s poem — entitled “Was gesagt werden muss,” or What needs to be said — sparked a heated debate among Israeli and German intellectuals as to what it said about anti-Semitism in Germany and the Germans’ attitudes about the Holocaust. Some argued Grass expressed thoughts many of his compatriots share but don’t dare to admit in public because of the country’s past. Others considered the affair an isolated incident, caused by a senile old man who always had a problematic relationship to Jews because he was ashamed of his own Nazi past.

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