Selasa, 03 April 2012

Jews in Palestine, 1938 - by Mahatma Gandhi

Jews in Palestine, 1938 - by Mahatma Gandhi
Obviously, I have a high opinion of Judaism and a
low opinion of Islam. I see Islam as having raped
and pillaged the world during the past 1400
years, such that some of what they now possess
is the result of theft on the part of their
ancestors. Of course, the same charges could be
leveled against the early American colonists
robbing the native American Indians.
This article by Gandhi does not lend support to
my personal views. But I greatly admire Gandhi,
so in the interest of fairness as well as historical
importance, I must share what Gandhi wrote,
rather than suppress it.
We must always try to place truth, fairness,
honesty and freedom of speech above our
personal prejudices and preferences.
By Mahatma Gandhi
(Mohandas Kirmachand Gandhi)
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 theJews 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 national home.
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. 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
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
... And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I
have no doubt that they are going about it 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
The same God rules the Arab heart who rules
the Jewish heart... 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
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 treated
as the outcast of the West, to be despised or
patronized. He can command the attention and
respect of the world by being the chosen
creation of God, instead of sinking to the brute
who is forsaken by God. They can add to their
many contributions the surpassing contribution
of non-violent action.
Harijan, 26-11-1938.
[excerpted from M.K. Gandhi, My Non-Violence.
Edited by Sailesh Kumar Bandopadhaya
(Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1960)

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