Monday, January 21, 2008

Gandhi Grandson Quits Institute After Offensive Post on WAPO Blog

The Silence of the Washington Post

The January 22 headline from the Calcutta newspaper, The Telegraph:
Jews fell Bapu grandson
- Arun forced to quit US institute over online views

Washington, Jan. 21: America’s omnipotent Jewish community has forced Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, to resign from the institute he founded in the US 17 years ago to spread the message of the Father of the Nation.
On January 7, Arun Gandhi, fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, published a piece entitled "Jewish Identity Can't Depend on Violence" on the Washington Post blog, On Faith.

From On Faith:

Jewish Identity Can't Depend on Violence
Jewish identity in the past has been locked into the holocaust experience -- a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed. It is a very good example of a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends. 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. 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. 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.
An uproar ensued with more than 400 comments, many complaints that Gandhi's piece was anti-semitic, others wrote in Gandhi's support.
MR. S:
After reading some of the commentary in here supporting Mr. Gandhi's ignorant and reprehensible statements, it becomes easier to understand how the German people allowed themselves to lulled by Hitler and become participants in mass murder.

Bigotry, even when written by someone credentialed by riding the coattails of his esteemed grandfather, is still nothing more than bigotry. Correcting the rest of his erroneous statement, a fatuous concoction of misstatements designed to justify his bias, is a waste of time.

The Washington Post should be embarrassed to condone and perpetuate such blatant bias

It's like the 1930's all over again. Only this time around the excuse is called Palestine.
By January 18, Gandhi had tenured his resignation as president of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, an institute he founded 17 years ago. The blog's editors' Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn issued an apology:
Gandhi Post Regrettable
As “On Faith” readers know, a post by Arun Gandhi on January 7 has produced an enormous response from readers who found Gandhi’s initial remarks anti-Semitic and his subsequent apology insufficient. When we undertook this project over a year ago, we wrote that our goal was to shed light on a subject—religion—that too often generates heat. The Gandhi post failed to comply with that mission, and we can only ask our readers to extend “On Faith” a measure of forbearance and tolerance as the site endeavors to conduct a civil and illuminating conversation. We regret the initial posting, and we apologize for the episode.

Source - On Faith
None of the above story has been reported by the Washington Post. The following could be found in the India newspaper, The Telegraph, which is where we first read this story.

The Telegraph:
“The Board of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence has received Mr Arun Gandhi’s offer of resignation as president of our organisation,” the institute said in a statement released through the University of Rochester in New York state, where it is housed since June last year.

“We are scheduling a board meeting with him upon his return from India (this) week,” the statement added.
Gandhi issued an apology on the blog which further inflamed readers:

On Faith:

My Apology for My Poorly Worded Post

I am writing to correct some regrettable mis-impressions I have given in my comments on my blog this week. While I stand behind my criticisms of the use of violence by recent Israeli governments -- and I have criticized the governments of the U.S., India and China in much the same way -- I want to correct statements that I made with insufficient care, and that have inflicted unnecessary hurt and caused anger.

I do not believe and should not have implied that the policies of the Israeli government are reflective of the views of all Jewish people. Indeed, many are as concerned as I am by the use of violence for state purposes, by Israel and many other governments.

I do believe that when a people hold on to historic grievances too firmly it can lead to bitterness and the loss of support from those who would be friends. But as I have noted in previous writings, the suffering of the Jewish people, particularly in the Holocaust, was historic in its
proportions. While we must strive for a future of peace that rejects violence, it is also important not to forget the past, lest we fail to learn from it. Having learned from it, we can then find the path to peace and rejection of violence through forgiveness.
Aside from the India paper, The Telegraph, the Jewish Journal wrote about the furor over Gandhi's remarks, how Judea Pearl, father of the murdered journalist, Daniel Pearl, expressed his dismay to the Chairman of the Washington Post, Donald Graham.
"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. Source - The Jewish Journal
The Telegraph writes that India is unlikely to say or do anything in defense of Arun:
New Delhi cannot afford to even tangentially annoy the American Jewish community because successive Indian governments have relied on this community for at least 15 years to bring Indo-US relations to its present health. The nuclear deal between India and the US would not have got to its present phase of implementation without the active involvement of the American Jewish community in its favour. Source - The Telegraph
Joel Seligman, President of the University of Rochester of which the Institute of Non-Violence is associated with, issued a statement that Gandhi's apology was "inadequate" and "inconsistent with the core values of the University of Rochester."

The Telegraph pointed out that Gandhi is a regular participant in a forum called “Renaissance Weekend” in which ex-President Bill Clinton and other Rhode Scholars are members.

The Jewish Journal wrote that Pearl wanted an apology from the Washington Post, that readers of the paper might otherwise come away with an impression, " that it was stylish to make anti-Jewish remarks and anti-coexistence remarks."

Other than the apology issued by Gandhi on the Wapo blog and the subsequent apology by the blog's editors, the Washington Post has remained silent.

We wondered, what reasons would the venerable Washington Post have to remain silent, to not report this story? Because, after all, it is a story, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, resigning from an "institute of non-violence" for what he wrote on a Washington Post blog based on religion.

Image - Arun Ghandi

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