A great poem it is not. Nor is it a brilliant political analysis. But the brief lines that GŁnter Grass has published under the title "What Must Be Said" will one day be seen as some of his most influential words. They mark a rupture. It is this one sentence that we will not be able to ignore in the future: "The nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile."
It is a sentence that has triggered an outcry. Because it is true. Because it is a German, an author, a Nobel laureate who said it. Because it is GŁnter Grass who said it. And therein lies the breach. And, for that, one should thank Grass. He has taken it upon himself to utter this sentence for all of us. A much-delayed dialogue has begun.
It is a discussion about Israel and whether Israel is preparing a war against Iran, a country whose leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel, referring to it as a "cancer" that must be "wiped off the map." Israel, a country that has been surrounded by enemies for decades, many of whom believe that Israel has no right to exist -- even independent of its policies.
It is a war that could plunge the entire world into the abyss. When a German speaks about such things, Germany must be part of the discussion -- and Germany's historical responsibility.