Friday, January 11, 2008

Preaching Non-Violence to Jews:

I thought I might avoid having to deal with Arun Gandhi's latest explicitly vile piece in the Washington Post, but I think I have some thoughts to add to what has been said about it, on Solomonia, Engage, Harry's Place, Flesh is Grass, Deborah Lipschatz, among others.

Here is an excerpt from Arun Gandhi's WP op-ed:

The Jewish identity in the future appears bleak. Any nation that remains anchored to the past is unable to move ahead and, especially a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs. In Tel Aviv in 2004 I had the opportunity to speak to some Members of Parliament and Peace activists all of whom argued that the wall and the military build-up was necessary to protect the nation and the people. In other words, I asked, you believe that you can create a snake pit -- with many deadly snakes in it -- and expect to live in the pit secure and alive? What do you mean? they countered. Well, with your superior weapons and armaments and your attitude towards your neighbors would it not be right to say that you are creating a snake pit? How can anyone live peacefully in such an atmosphere? Would it not be better to befriend those who hate you? Can you not reach out and share your technological advancement with your neighbors and build a relationship?

Apparently, in the modern world, so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept. You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Arun Gandhi is using the butt-end of the ad-hominem fallacy to promote an indefensible argument.

The ad-hom is attacking the character or motives of a person who has stated an idea, rather than the idea itself. The most obvious example of this fallacy is when one debater maligns the character of another debater, for example, responding not to what that someone says but to the other's character "We all know he was a liar and a cheat, so why should we believe anything he says?"

Arun is turning this on its head, by using his own name, which echoes the name of his famous saintly grandfather, to gain and build up his credibility. We all know what Gandhi stands for, so you should believe what I'm saying because I carry those Gandhi genes.. or something to this affect.

I've seen the same reaction when Tutu, even Mandela, or Jimmy Carter, pronounced their antisemitic condemnation of Israel and the Jews, for them a seamless identity (which couldn't be further from the truth, but never mind that now). People responded to the accusations against them by trotting out first and foremost that both were Peace Nobelists. As such, they are beatified in a way that automatically excludes the possibility that they might be bigoted in the extreme. Their status as saints inoculated them against any suggestion that their comments were vile and defamatory.

2. The fact remains that Arun speaks meaningless words. He shows no awareness of what his advice might entail, in view of Palestinian recorded behavioural tendencies.

If he suggests that Israelis behave like Indians, he should be at least honest enough to spell out the difference between who Israelis are dealing with and who Indians were dealing with.

Gandhi's non-violence tactics would not have worked against Hitler, but it was successful against the Brits, whose basic principles of decency and fairness he knew would prevent them from lashing out against unarmed people.

"Britain, they say, could have saved the Empire had she remained aloof from the Continent in 1939. Yet the rise of colonial nationalism was a fundamental reality, regardless of events in Europe. War did little more than accelerate the process. Hitler, admittedly, had a method by which Britain could retain her Empire, advising Lord Halifax (below) in 1937 to 'shoot Gandhi and if that does not suffice to reduce them to submission, shoot a dozen leading members of Congress; and if that does not suffice, shoot two hundred and so on until order is established. You will see how quickly they will collapse as soon as you make it clear that you mean business.' That, however, was hardly advice which any British government could accept."

Unfortunately for Arun's rickety and sanctimonious edifice of non-violence advice, Palestinians, and their Arab enablers, do not share the British ethos. They have no qualms about murdering Jewish Israelis. Quite the contrary: they celebrate any death as a great victory, and dream of the day when they can finish Hitler's work. It is all encoded into their foundational charters, their educational system, their media. It has become pretty obvious that Palestinians are incapable of disciplining themselves into not killing Israeli children, into not wanting to annihilate the Jewish people in Israel, into not wanting to destroy Israel.

For Israeli to follow his advice is like Abraham's sacrificing his only son on the altar of some unknowable God. Judaic ethos was born at that moment when Abraham was made to reject human sacrifice as an affirmation of some noble principle. Jews are not obliged to provide consolation for gentiles by proving they are noble and morally superior by committing mass suicide.

The JP: ... Gandhi's words reflect his grandfather's misunderstanding of the Jewish situation, Zuroff said.

"Sometimes people become obsessed with their own agenda to the extent that they think it's the solution to every problem," he said. "Even the great Mohandas Gandhi did not have a monopoly on wisdom, and the best proof of that was his suggestion that Jews engage in passive resistance against the Nazis. It's an absurd response in the face of absolute totalitarianism and a movement like Nazism. It's like saying the Indian army should disband and let the Taliban and al-Qaida and the Pakistanis overrun the country."

Perhaps Arun should take his advice to the Palestinians... And good luck to him with that...


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