Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Ghandi and the Occupation of palestine|
|10/07/00 at 21:40:14|
Incidentally i think it's only fair for me to point out that ghandi was a wife-beater
The Jews in Palestine 1938(1)
By: MAHATMA K. GANDHI (2)
Several letters have been received by me
asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the
persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture
to offer my views on this very difficult question.
My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them
intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through
these friends I came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been
the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by
Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious
sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman
treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the
more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.
But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of
justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to
me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the
Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other
peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where
they earn their livelihood?
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that
England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman
to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be
justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that
of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud
Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their
The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of
the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in
precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French (3). If the
Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to
leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a
double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home
affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.
But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no
parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to
have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For, he is propounding a new
religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any
inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The
crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole
race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the
name of and for humanity, a war against Germany to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe
in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is, therefore,
outside my horizon or province.
But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such
a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely
there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a
nation which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one which is the
declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and
all it means?
Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence
can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading
as humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it
looks in its nakedness.
Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution?
Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless,
neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living
God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal
than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though as a matter
of fact, in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond
description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He
rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew
and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany
as my home even as the tallest gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot
me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to
discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow
Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end
the rest were bound to follow my example....
... And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no
doubt that they are going about in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical
conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must
look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter
it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with
the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the
goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God
rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart. They can offer Satyagraha (4)
in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead
Sea without raising a little finger against them. They will find the world
opinion in their favour in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of
ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the
British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a
people who have done no wrong to them.
I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had
chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an
unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted
canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in
the face of overwhelming odds.
Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their
title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on
earth. Every country is their home including Palestine not by aggression but by
loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a
record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world's literature, art, music,
drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse
to be treat as the outcast of the West, to be despised or patronized. He c
command the attention and respect of the world by being m~' the chosen creation
of God, instead of being man who is f sinking to the brute and forsaken by God.
They can add to the many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.
(1) From M.K. Gandhi, My Non-Violence, comp.
anded. by Sailesh Kumar Bandopadhaya (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House,
1960), pp.70-72 and 73-74. Copyright ©~ The Navajivan Trust, 1960. Reprinted by
permission of the Navajivan Trust.
The Indian leader and statesman (1869-1948).
Cf. Weizmann’s statement in Paris (1919), pp. 109-191.
(4) Lit. "insistence on truth": the Ghandian method of achieving
reform by means of tolerance and goodwill coupled with firmness in one's cause
expressed through non-violent passive resistance and non-cooperation.
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