Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gandhi's Jewish Problem

Obama Loves Gandhi: Another Mendacious Delusion

Taking a break from nursing, I spent a little while reading through Martin Peretz's blog about Obama in India and the passionate comments from his stable of very knowledgeable readers. Our President, ever-ready to invoke the names of great historical figures in order to inflate his own standing, naturally called on Gandhi, whom it turns out isn't on every Indian's top ten list. Since I'm in a lousy mood, very impatient with Obama these days and always happy to deflate the unexamined reputations of great men, herewith is what George Orwell had to say about Gandhi's Final Solution to the Jewish Problem:

In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: "What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?" I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the "you're another" type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer's Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi's view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which "would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence." After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.

And this is Martin Buber's open letter questioning Gandhi on his assertion that the Jews should not build a state in Palestine because, "Palestine belongs to the Arabs.":

What do you mean by saying a land belongs to a population? Evidently you do not intend only to describe a state of affairs by your formula, but to declare a certain right. You obviously mean to say that a people, being settled on the land, has so absolute a claim to that land that whoever settles on it without the permission of this people has committed a robbery. But by what means did the Arabs attain the right of ownership in Palestine? Surely by conquest, and in fact a conquest with intent to settle. You therefore admit that as a result their settlement gives them exclusive right of possession; whereas the subsequent conquests of the Mamelukes and the Turks, which were conquests with a view to domination, not to settlement, do not constitute such a right in your opinion, but leave the earlier conquerors in rightful ownership. Thus settlement by conquest justifies for you, a right of ownership of Palestine; whereas a settlement such as the Jewish — the methods of which, it is true, though not always doing full justice to Arab ways of life, were even in the most objectionable cases far removed from those of conquest — does not justify in your opinion any participation in this right of possession. These are the consequences which result from your axiomatic statement that a land belongs to its population. In an epoch when nations are migrating you would first support the right of ownership of the nation that is threatened with dispossession or extermination; but were this once achieved, you would be compelled, not at once, but after a suitable number of generations had elapsed, to admit that the land "belongs" to the usurper. . . 

1 comment:

  1. And if this logic is continued, the Jews are now the rightful owners of "Palestine" according to Gandhi.


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