The Tin Drum is the most serious and scorching German novel to cover the rise of Nazism and the war. This is why Grass won the Nobel prize.
Israel’s ban on Grass was issued by interior minister Eli Yishai and backed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on his website. Lieberman has successfully lobbied to build a road to connect his settlement to Jerusalem, now popularly known as the Lieberman highway – a road, incidentally, which cuts off Bethlehem from every other Palestinian city in the West Bank. Lieberman may have been piqued because Grass also chose to criticise the Occupation in his poem.
Of course, the Israeli response is flat-out wrong. It’s bullying censorship. No doubt it will rescind the ban, especially as the Grass affair blew up in the same week that a group of British actors, directors and dramatists wrote a letter the Guardian asking the Globe theatre to rethink an invitation to the Israeli theatre company Habima.