Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gandhiji ... Irrelevant Today ...?

The Jewish Question

Before WW2, news filtered to Gandhiji about Hitler's persecution of the Jews - from Anglo Saxon sources. Gandhiji had put the British colonialists on the defensive - and the British colonialists tried always to show themselves as betters compared to Hitler's Germany, the French or the Dutch colonialists.

Gandhiji's advice was simple "... a war against Germany ... would be completely justified ... But I do not believe in any war ... pros and cons of ... war is ... outside my ... province ... If I were a Jew ... born in Germany ... I would claim Germany as my home ... as the tallest ... German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment ... I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my Gandhiji With His Grandsonexample. If ... Jews ... cannot be worse off than now ... no ... sympathy ... in the world outside Germany can (help)... even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany ... the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews ..." (ellipsis and bold italics mine).

Jewish Frontier, a New York magazine, riddled Gandhi’s proposal in March, 1939, and sent him a copy. He quoted at length from the attack. “I did not entertain the hope… that the Jews would be at once converted to my view,” Gandhi replied. “I should have been satisfied if even one Jew had been fully convinced and converted… It is highly probable that, as the [Jewish Frontier] writer says, ‘A Jewish Gandhi in Germany, should one arise, could function for about five minutes and would be promptly taken to the guillotine.’ (from The Life Of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer)

Louis Fischer further adds Gandhiji's reply was "… The method of violence gives no greater guarantee than that of non-violence…”

Louis Fischer mentioned the subject to Gandhi in 1946 when Hitler was dead. “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.”

Gandhiji gave similar advice to the Palestinians. Both, the Jews and Palestinians ignored his advice. The rest is history. More than 10 million Jews and Palestinians killed till date - and the killing continues.

100% Success

For all those who claim that Gandhiji's success was unique should look at history again.

Martin Luther King followed Gandhiji's ideology - and the Negroes have made more progress in the last 30 years than in the previous 300 years. Nelson Mandela's success is too recent and well known for me to repeat. But his neighbour Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkome did notGandhiji At A Public Meeting follow Gandhiji - and Zimbabwe's state of affairs is well known. Lech Walesa's success in Poland is there for all to see.

For all those who claim that Gandhiji's methods required benign despots are mistaken.

The blood spilled by the British Colonialists in Kenya, Malysia, Rhodesia, South Africa is unparalleled. The 200 years of American history of legal, institutionalised white bigotry is unprecedented in scope and magnitude. The White Apartheid regime was no less brutal than Hitler. The Communists brooked no dissent and the totalitarian hold on power was defeated by a Union leader.

Lage Raho Munnabhai

Attenborough's 'Gandhi's' (made with Indian Govt.s financial help) commercial success proved the international appeal and power. Gandhiji's relevance to the modern world was well interpreted in the movie Lage Raho Munnabhai. It's commercial success further bolsters Gandhiji's enduring message.

Much like Gandhiji said, ahimsa and satyagraha require strength. Few have the strength.

No comments: