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Israel: Still not doing Gandhi very well

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Gandhi on the Separation Wall (Photo: AP / Muhammed Muheisen)

Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA) reports:

“An Israeli plan to build a statue for the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi on an East Jerusalem plot is actually a pretext to seize Palestinian land, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) said in a statement Sunday.”

That Israel would erect a statue in honor of the great indigenous nationalist, anti-colonialist, and practitioner of non-violence speaks to either its complete lack of self-awareness and blindness to the appalling irony of its proposal or to its profound sense of humor.  Recall not only what Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense, Major General Amos Gilad, told U.S. officials that “we don’t do Gandhi very well” when discussing peaceful West Bank demonstrations and anti-occupation protests, but also what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi himself had to say in 1938 (in part) about the imposition of Zionist colonization of Palestine:

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 in-human 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.

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.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog,, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

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14 Responses

  1. seafoid
    January 10, 2012, 9:59 am

    Israel’s Gandhi was a fascist'evi
    Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi (help·info) (Hebrew: רחבעם “גנדי” זאבי‎, 20 June 1926 – 17 October 2001) was an Israeli general, politician, and historian who founded the right-wing nationalist Moledet party, mainly advocating population transfer.[1]

    In 2005, he was voted the 7th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.[

  2. FreddyV
    January 10, 2012, 10:07 am

    Amazing to think that was from 3/4 of a century ago. With only a few exceptions it sounds like it could have been written today.

    Even more amazing is that this is still ongoing.

  3. Mikesailor
    January 10, 2012, 10:19 am

    It reminds one of the Museum of Tolerance built upon a Muslim cemetery. If Israelis are that blind, there really is no hope for them. I wonder if they would put a plaque on this statue containing the quotation by Gandhi cited above?

  4. Walid
    January 10, 2012, 11:44 am

    Why would the Zionists erect a statue of the man that rejected them over and over during 20 years? The man was an anti-Zionist, has been dead for 63 years and they are still trying to make a Zionist out of him with a silly statue that has no meaning for them. They never quit. They can put up 100 statues of Ghandi in 100 Israeli towns and they will still lack legitimacy.

    Dr. Ramakrishnan at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, India, wrote:

    “… Gandhi withstood almost all Zionist attempts at extracting a pro-Zionist stance from him. G.H. Jansen wrote about the failure of Zionist lobbying with Gandhi:

    “His opposition [to Zionism] remained consistent over a period of nearly 20 years and remained firm despite skilful and varied applications to him of that combination of pressure and persuasion known as lobbying, of which the Zionists are past masters.”

    Apart from responses to Gandhi’s anti-Zionism from Jewish pacifists such as Buber, Magnes and Greenberg, Jansen points out at least four separate instances of Zionist attempts to get a favourable statement from Gandhi. At first, Hermann Kallenbach, Gandhi’s Jewish friend in South Africa, came to India in 1937 and stayed for weeks with Gandhi trying to convince him of the merits of the Zionist cause. Then, in the 1930s, as requested by Rabbi Stephen Wise, the American pacifist John Haynes Holmes, tried “to obtain from Gandhi a declaration favourable to Zionism”. In March 1946, a British MP from the Labour Party, Sydney Silverman, an advocate of Indian independence in Britain, attempted to change Gandhi’s mind. At the end of their heated conversation, Gandhi stated that “after all our talk, I am unable to revise the opinion I gave you in the beginning.” The fourth Zionist attempt to change Gandhi’s mind was by Louis Fischer, Gandhi’s famous biographer, to whom Gandhi reported to have said that “the Jews have a good case.”

    Later, Gandhi clarified in one of his final pieces on Zionism and the Palestine question on 14 July 1946 that “I did say some such thing in the course of a conversation with Mr. Louis Fischer on the subject.” He added, “I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world.”

    Gandhi went back to his initial position by categorically stating that “But in my opinion, they [the Jews] have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism… Why should they depend on American money or British arms for forcing themselves on an unwelcome land? Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine?”

    There were an influential number of Jews who thought that force, only force, could ensure the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. They adopted terrorism as the method to achieve their national goal. This policy of subjugation of the Palestinians by Zionist terror was totally rejected by Gandhi in no uncertain terms. ”

  5. W.Jones
    January 10, 2012, 2:56 pm

    Wouldn’t it be cool if someplace near the statue displayed Gandhi’s words quoted in this article?

  6. Kathleen
    January 10, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Israel has never ever done Gandhi at all…not at all

  7. DICKERSON3870
    January 10, 2012, 4:54 pm

    RE: “An Israeli plan to build a statue for the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi on an East Jerusalem plot…”

    MY COMMENT: A statute of a gay man in East Jerusalem? Not if the Haredim have any say-so!

    SEE: New biography says Gandhi had Jewish gay lover

    AND: Jerusalem Haredim riot over Gay Pride Parade
    Haredim riot and burn trash cans in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood in protest over the planned Gay Pride Parade.
    LINK –

  8. dimadok
    January 10, 2012, 8:47 pm

    If Jews would have done Gandhi in Germany, no one would be left to tell a story about that. Simple and horrific at the same time.
    Had Jews done Gandhi-Bolshevik revolution would never happened and US couch communists and liberals would never have small talk topics.
    Had Jews done Gandhi-Israel would cease to exists.
    Had Jews done Gandhi-Iron Curtain would still be there.
    Had Jews done Gandhi-there would be no war heroes fighting both in Red Army and Allies, including my grandfather.
    We are stubborn neck people and Gandhi is only another man with his ideas. Meanwhile India is building its navy and army.

    • Chaos4700
      January 10, 2012, 10:52 pm

      So you’re saying the Palestinians need to resist you the same way your ancestors resisted Nazi Germany? Oh look, something I can agree with!

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      January 11, 2012, 8:46 am

      “If Jews would have done Gandhi in Germany, no one would be left to tell a story about that. Simple and horrific at the same time.”

      Not really. The war still would have been won by the Russians on about the same time table. The effect of armed Jewish resistance was negligible to the overarching arc of the war.

      “Had Jews done Gandhi-Bolshevik revolution would never happened and US couch communists and liberals would never have small talk topics.”

      Doubtful. There would have been differences, but there would have almost certainly been a revolution and the Bolsheviks would have likely espoused essentially the same platform.

      “Had Jews done Gandhi-Israel would cease to exists.”

      And if it is followed by a state which respects the human rights of all its inhabitants equally, then so much the better.

      “Had Jews done Gandhi-Iron Curtain would still be there.”

      Nonsense. The Soviet Union fell because it was conceptually unworkable.

      “Had Jews done Gandhi-there would be no war heroes fighting both in Red Army and Allies, including my grandfather.”

      Well that is just a damned lie and a vast insult to millions of men and women in uniform who fought on the Allied side, so say that there would have been no war heroes. MANY non-Jews fighting for the Allies were heroes in that war. (And, the Red Army was the army of one of the states which made up “the Allies” so saying “Red Army and Allies” makes you sound ignorant.)

  9. irena
    January 10, 2012, 8:59 pm

    Hmm, interesting, although I have many problems with Gandhi. If you ask me, erecting his statue could go either way. His time in South Africa he advocated for recruitment of Indians for British troops in the Anglo-Zulu wars. He held racist opinions of the indigenous Africans addressing them as “kaffirs” in many of his own writings.
    Addressing a public meeting in Bombay on Sept. 26 1896 (CW II p. 74), Gandhi said:
    Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.

    In the Government Gazette of Natal for Feb. 28 1905, a Bill was published regulating the use of fire-arms by the natives and Asiatics. Commenting on the Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 25 1905 stated:

    In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?

    The prominent race? So basically, indigenous Africans were inferior to Europeans as well as Indians.

    Here is the budding Mahatma telling the white racists how they can perpetuate their Nazi domination over the vast majority of Africans.

    In fact, I never understood the idea that he wanted to abolish the Hindu caste system, he actually believed in it. He incorporated British as Brahmins, Indian merchants as Sudras and all non-Indian as the Untouchables. He actually told Jews, British and French to submit to Nazi invasion and occupation because the suffering would bring “inner strength” and some other babble.

    “I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions…If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”

    Maybe Israel should read this.

    In a post-war interview in 1946, he offered a view at an even further extreme:
    “Hitler,” Gandhi said, “killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

    Sorry but that is some batshit crazy stuff to support

    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. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy…the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.

    ooook then

    • dimadok
      January 11, 2012, 11:07 am

      Thank you Irena for the sanest comment here.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        January 11, 2012, 11:28 am

        “Thank you Irena for the sanest comment here.”

        Saner than your previous one, at any rate.

  10. Chaos4700
    January 10, 2012, 10:53 pm

    Two words:

    Sepoy Rebellion.

    Also, Gandhi only worked at all because the British were squeamish about committing genocide. Are Israelis squeamish? Demonstrably not.

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