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Gunter Grass hails Israeli nuclear whistleblower in new poem

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 30, 2012 16:22 EDT
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Gunter Grass via AFP
 
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Nobel prize-winning German author Gunter Grass, declared persona non-grata by Israel over a poem saying it threatened world peace, has published another work critical of the Jewish state.

In one of a collection of 87 new pieces, Grass hails whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, who served 18 years in jail for leaking Israeli nuclear secrets to a British newspaper, in a poem entitled “A Hero in Our Time”.

He describes former nuclear technician Vanunu as a “hero” and a “role model”, according to extracts published by the German news agency DPA.

Earlier this year, Grass, 84, angered Israel after publishing a piece entitled “What Must Be Said”, in which he voiced fears that a nuclear-armed Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike.”

Israel has since barred him from visiting the country.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, with between 100 and 300 warheads, but it has a policy of neither confirming nor denying it has an atomic arsenal.

The Jewish state has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance of its Dimona plant in the Negev desert in the south.

Vanunu served 18 years behind bars for disclosing the inner workings of Dimona to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper in 1986.
He was released in 2004 but banned from travel or contact with foreigners without prior permission. He has since been sanctioned more than 20 times for breaking the rules.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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