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.
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.
sympathy docs 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
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.
course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born
and bred. The born in France arc 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn; Jehovah of the Jews is
a God more personal and 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. 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 which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the
world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to
declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner
strength. 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. It is a joyful sleep to
be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long
hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the
Czechs to follow my prescription. And they have in the Indian Satyagraha
campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely
the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a
religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white Christians were the
chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A
fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no
equality between the whites and coloured races including Asiatics. There too the
Indians were consigned to ghettos described as locations. The other disabilities
were almost of the same type as those of the Jews in Germany. The Indians, a
mere handful, resorted to Satyagraha without any backing from the world outside
or the Indian Government. Indeed the British officials tried to dissuade the
Satyagrahis from their contemplated step. World opinion and the Indian
Government came to their aid after eight years of fighting. And that too was by
way of diplomatic pressure, not of a threat of war.
Jews of Germany can offer Satyagraha under infinitely better auspices than the
Indians of South Africa. The Jews are a compact, homogeneous community in
Germany. They are far more gifted than the Indians of South Africa. And they
have organized world opinion behind them. I am convinced that, if someone with
courage and vision can arise among them to lead them in nonviolent action, the
winter of their despair can in the twinkling of an eye be turned into the
summer of hope. And what has today become a degrading man-hunt can be turned
into a calm and determined stand offered by unarmed men and women possessing
the strength of suffering given to them by Jehovah. It will be then a truly
religious resistance offered against the godless fury of dehumanized man. The
German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German gentiles in the sense
that they will have converted the latter to an appreciation of human dignity.
They will have rendered service to fellow-Germans and proved their title to be
the real Germans as against those who are today dragging, however unknowingly,
the German name into the mire.
And now a
word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about 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 can offer Satyagraha in front of the Arabs and
offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little
finger against them. They will find the world opinion in their favour 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
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.
Jews who claim to be the chosen race proves 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 outcaste of the West,
to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the
world by being man, the chosen creation of God, instead of being man who is fast
sinking to the brute and forsaken by God. They can add to their many
contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.