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Günter Grass takes aim at Israel once again

Nobel prize-winning author Günter Grass, who drew fire from Israelis in April over a poem in which he said Israel threatened world peace, has published a new volume of poetry critical of the Jewish state.

In his new volume, entitled "Eintagsfliegen," Grass praises Israeli whistleblower Nordechai Vanunu for divulging nuclear secrets to Britain. Vanunu sold his knowledge of Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona, where he once worked, to a British newspaper in 1986.

Grass refers to Vanunu as a "role model and hero of our time." The poem encourages Israelis to "recognize him as righteous, who remained loyal to his country all those years."

Vanunu served 18 years in an Israeli prison for leaking the information.

Israel neither confirms nor denies whether it has nuclear weapons, but it is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

Sarcastic response

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor responded sarcastically to the latest works, saying that "it is refreshing to note, given Grass's past positions, that there is at least one Israeli who finds grace in his eyes."

Grass angered Israel earlier this year when he published 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." The poem said Israel was a threat to world peace.

Grass won the Nobel in 1999. His reputation suffered in 2006, however, when he admitted to having been a member of the Waffen SS as a teenager toward the end of World War II.

tm/ccp (AFP, dpa)