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January 18, 2008

Gandhi’s grandson resigns after accusing Jews of ‘culture of violence’

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/gandhis_grandson_resigns_after_accusing_jews_of_culture_of_violence/

In a recent commentary for the blog On Faith, Arun Gandhi, a grandson of the great pacifist, accused Jews of using the Holocaust to promote of “culture of violence”:

“The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful. 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,” Gandhi wrote. “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. The Jewish identity in the future appears bleak.”

Outcry regarding Gandhi’s comment led to his resignation yesterday from the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester and an apology from the On Faith editors. I’ve got a short story up about it, with lots of links, at JewishJournal.com. The protest wasn’t led, but was certainly helped, by Judea Pearl.

Pearl, an op-ed columnist for The Jewish Journal whose son was killed by Islamic extremists at least in part because he was Jewish, directed his protest to Donald Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co., the text of which is reprinted on the blog.

“In his final moments,” Pearl wrote, “Danny told his captors on camera: ‘My father is Jewish, My mother is Jewish, I am Jewish,’ and, as President Bush said in the White House last month: ‘These words have become a source of inspiration to Americans of all faiths.’

“My son Daniel died mighty proud of his Jewish identity. He, like the millions of decent and peace-seeking Israelis, and Americans who proudly carry on their Jewish heritage, did not see his identity as ‘dependent on violence’ as the title of Gandhi’s article implies.

“Mr. Graham, the article your editors have allowed to be posted is a painful insult to everything Daniel stood for, to everything America stands for, and to every decent person inspired by Daniel’s words.

“Too many people were killed, abused or dispossessed in the past century by words of irresponsible authors, often disguised as scholars or humanitarians, who pointed fingers at, and blamed one segment of society for the ills and maladies in the world.

“Arun Gandhi did just that.”

Sometimes, I think statements get blown out of proportion as being anti-Semitic. There was a great case of that in Thousand Oaks last summer. But it seemed to me from reading Gandhi’s three-paragraph commentary, and his subsequent “apology,” that he holds deeply negative views about Jews and Israel.

I’m from the school of thought that says criticism is OK. Even if it’s not entirely constructive. But broad-brushing an entire people with stereotypes, that’s not so useful.

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