Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday it was no surprise that German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass, who for decades had hidden his membership of the Nazi Waffen SS, had described Israel as a threat to world peace.
Netanyahu said :It is Iran, not Israel, which presents a threat to the world's peace and security. It is Iran, not Israel which threatens the destruction of other states.
"It is Iran, not Israel, which supports the massacre carried out by the Syrian regime on its citizens", Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of "What must be said." "What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder," the statements reads. "Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate. What also must be said is that Israel is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted. That was true on the day of its founding and it remains true today. We want to live in peace with our neighbors in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Günter Grass is trying to assign to us as part of the German people's efforts to come to terms with the past."
The Central Council of Jews in Germany has called the poem an "aggressive pamphlet of agitation .
In a controversial poem titled "What Must Be Said" published by Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other European dailies on Wednesday, Guenter Grass criticized Israel and said it must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.
Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, has said it is keeping all options open for responding to Iran's nuclear programme, which it says is aimed at securing nuclear weapons, posing an existential threat to the Jewish state.
"I will be silent no longer, because I am weary of the West's hypocrisy,” Grass added.
Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and it has never allowed inspections of its nuclear facilities nor has it joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity.