Friday, March 14, 2008

The Not So Mahatma Gandhi

First off, let me say that I am a fan of Mahatma Gandhi (Mahatma is a title meaning Great Soul). My favorite movie next to “The Day The Earth Stood Still” is “Gandhi.” I have a huge portrait of the Mahatma in my office. I have many of his books on my shelves, and intend to read them. I believe that he was one of the spiritual geniuses of our time. And I believe he just never understood us Jews.

His letter to German Jews urging them to practice Satyagraha against the Nazis falls a bit flat. But it is nothing compared to the outrageous statement made by his grandson, Arun Gandhi, former president of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

Mr. Gandhi posted an opinion on the Washington Post blog, On Faith, saying that Jews were “locked into the Holocaust experience,” and Jews and Israel are the “biggest players” in the “Culture of Violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity.”

Is he right? Yes and no. Yes, the Holocaust shapes the psyche of the modern Jew and does provide too many Jews with a pseudo-moral high ground from which to exploit others even as they claim to be exploited by them. And yes, there is a Culture of Violence that threatens to destroy humanity. But, no, Jews and Israel are not the biggest players, not by a long shot.

How about the United States in Iraq, China in Tibet, Russia in Chechnya, and the horrors of Darfur? All of these dwarf the violence done by Israel. I am not saying Israel and those Jews that support the culture of violence in Israel and elsewhere are innocent. They are not. But they are bit players compared to these others.

Is Arun Gandhi an anti-Semite? No. He is just a leftist, and leftists find everyone’s violence excusable except that of the Jews. For some reason Jews just loom on the leftist horizon in ways no other people does. This may be because so many leftists are Jews who feel so uncomfortable with Israel and Israeli military might that they have to exaggerate it in order to condemn it and thereby cleanse their souls from the taint of being associated with it.

For thousands of years Jews were the canary in the mine of human civilization. We were the victim par excellence, and we got used to that. We liked it. It made us feel innocent and morally superior. And then Israel turned that on its head. Suddenly we had guns and we were aiming them, and worse shooting them, at people with less power than us. Some people, Jews and Gentiles, cannot forgive Jews for abandoning their victim status. They hate us for no longer accepting being hated. They want us dead because we are no longer willing to lie down and die.

I wish Arun Gandhi could have freed himself of his Jewish blind spot. I wish he could have helped the Palestinians resist Israeli occupation the way his grandfather resisted British occupation. I wish we Jews could have engaged him in dialogue and helped him see us as human beings rather than symbols of oppression. I also wish somebody would pay me for writing this blog. I need to get over wishing for things.

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