Wednesday, January 09, 2008

(Arun) Gandhi and the Jews

Apparently Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, doesn't understand Jews and the Jewish situation in the contemporary world any more than his grandfather did. Although in the case of Arun Gandhi, he's added a fair dose of anti-semitism. This is my fisking of Gandhi, in an "On Faith" posting on the Washington Post website - Jewish identity in the past.
Jewish identity in the past has been locked into the holocaust experience -- a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed. It is a very good example of a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends.
Unfortunately, it's a German burden that they placed upon the Jews - it's hard to get away from the murder of six million of your people. I don't believe in shaping Jewish identity around the Holocaust, because it means centering one's identity on death - but there's no way to avoid considering it in thinking about the modern Jewish experience. Here, he seems to be blaming the victim for focusing too much on what the victim has suffered. I'm sorry if that makes people uncomfortable who claim to be "friends" of Jews, but that's too bad for him.
The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful.
This is a misconception that I often find among my students - the idea that the Holocaust was the result of the pathologies of Adolf Hitler, as if one man could kill so many millions of people without help from others! It shows a profound ignorance of the historical causation of the Holocaust and how it actually occurred.
But, it seems to me the Jews today not only want the Germans to feel guilty but the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews. The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on the regret turns into anger.
Why should Jews forgive those who murdered their relatives and ancestors? That doesn't mean holding the post-war generation of Germans guilty of the sins of their parents and grandparents. One of the striking things about modern Germany is the degree to which the country has taken responsibility for the deeds of the Nazi regime and has attempted to make amends. The Israeli government is certainly cognizant of this, as are Jews who have come into contact with new generations of Germans.

Again, Gandhi here seems to be blaming the victim for the anger that "the world" feels because Jews have refused to forgive Germans. I don't think at all that contemporary anti-semitism is due to anger at Jews for refusing to forgive Germans - I think he should be looking instead at the survival of right-wing tendencies in many western nations, and the growth of Nazi-style anti-semitism in the Muslim world in the wake of the creation of the state of Israel. And I say Nazi-style because the Nazis are the source of this anti-semitism. Traditional Muslim anti-Jewish feeling has nothing to do (and has none of the deadly quality) of the anti-semitic ideas that have swept through the Muslim world.
The Jewish identity in the future appears bleak. Any nation that remains anchored to the past is unable to move ahead and, especially a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs. In Tel Aviv in 2004 I had the opportunity to speak to some Members of Parliament and Peace activists all of whom argued that the wall and the military build-up was necessary to protect the nation and the people. In other words, I asked, you believe that you can create a snake pit -- with many deadly snakes in it -- and expect to live in the pit secure and alive? What do you mean? they countered. Well, with your superior weapons and armaments and your attitude towards your neighbors would it not be right to say that you are creating a snake pit? How can anyone live peacefully in such an atmosphere? Would it not be better to befriend those who hate you? Can you not reach out and share your technological advancement with your neighbors and build a relationship?
Well, Gandhi is an heir to his grandfather's concepts of peace and nonviolent struggle, so it's not a surprise that he would be arguing against an Israeli military build-up. I agree that Israel should be trying much more to get along with its neighbors - opening up negotiations with the Syrians, for example, and engaging in honest negotation with the Palestinians that includes the willingness to dismantle most of the settlements in the West Bank - but that doesn't mean the Israeli government should refrain from military measures to protect its population as well.
Apparently, in the modern world, so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept. You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (and Israel and the Jews are the prime instigators) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.
This is the really anti-semitic part of his essay - the idea that "Israel and the Jews" are the prime instigators of the "culture of violence" in the world. Keeping close to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, how about the gunmen of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the Al-Aksa Brigades who have blown up Israeli civilians - are they not contributors to the "culture of violence"? Or moving to South Asia - how about those in India and Pakistan who developed nuclear weapons for their countries, and the governments that have paid for those weapons and threaten each other with them? I can give many other examples, as I am sure anyone else is to - his obsession with "the Jews" is truly bizarre, and it is this obsession that has turned this struggler for nonviolence into an anti-semite.


  1. Look ppl first of all. Take this in perspective.

    1) for all the people who call him an anti-semite.. think what ur saying.

    India is the biggest ally Israel has outside of the United States in the Eastern World.

    Israel's biggest arms market is India.

    the only thing standing between turkey and pakistan is one billion indians.

    the highest and most visited tourist destination of young Israeli nationals today is not Europe or the states, it is INDIA.

    ISRAEL-INDIA are natural allies due to the nature of judaism and hinduism.

    the israeli govt is taking its citizens for a ride.

    its ridiculous that the young israleis who serve their mandatory army term, have to go all the way to northern indian to cool of and enjoy.

    they cant do it in their own country and are not rich enough to go to the west.,

    INDIA has always loved judaism and jewish people.

    IT is the only place in the world for the last 2500 years continously been a place of refuge of JEWS. AND NEVER HAVE THEY BEEN DISCRIMINATED

    even today.. the desecendants of the lost tribe of israel..

    LIVES IN INDIA as indians.

    indians love jews.

    to criticize a man.. like arun gandhi.. for being anti-semtic is outrageous.

    every indian growing up..loves israel then some israelis themselves.



  2. I'm not talking about "the Indians" when I criticize Arun Gandhi - I'm talking about one man and an essay he wrote. Cool it. I don't judge India on the basis of one man. I agree with you - I know that India has been a very good place for Jews to live. But that doesn't mean that all Indians (or for that matter all Jews) always say wise and intelligent things.

  3. ok.

    i think the arab and muslim world needs to wake up to this undeniable fact.

    you cannot divide israel and india through these divisionary tactics.

    900 million young indians are pro Israel.

    that is more than all muslim countries population put together.

    get with times.

    israel is here to stay.


  4. indian dude why do you worry

    let the jews and arabs kill them selves..

    more resrources for the u and china.

    give it ten more years.. whole middle east will be deserat..


  5. Oy - please, your comments should address the blog post, not whether India or China are better (or whether the Jews and Arabs are going to kill each other).

  6. That comment shows how humanity are valued in China. India and Israel values humanity more than anything else, maybe that is why India and Israel have always been the spot when it comes to medicinal science.