[News] THE JEWS IN PALESTINE 1938 By Mahatma Gandhi

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Tue Jun 8 08:49:23 EDT 2004



THE JEWS IN PALESTINE 1938
By Mahatma Gandhi
Published in the Harijan
26-11-1938.

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 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 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 colorable 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 
nakedness. 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 example....  ...

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 heart. 
The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart... They will 
find the world opinion in their favor 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 odds.

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.

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