India and Palestine
M. K. Gandhi, the father of the Indian Nation, staunchly believed that the Jewish claiming a homeland in Palestinian lands was unjust and immoral.
India established diplomatic ties with 'Israel' 45 years after independence. M. K. Gandhi, the father of the Indian Nation, staunchly believed that the Jewish claiming a homeland in Palestinian lands was unjust and immoral. Writing in his periodical 'Harijan' published on 26th November 1938, Gandhi wrote 'My sympathies are with the Jews, some of whom have been my dear friends since my days in South Africa. I am aware of the age old persecution of the Jews. The Jews are the Untouchables of Christianity and Christianity has treated them as inhumanly as the Untouchables have been treated in Hinduism. Religion has been made a tool to justify the persecution of Jews in Germany. But my sympathy for the Jews cannot blind me to the requirement of justice. The call for a 'National Home' for Jews does not make much appeal to me. Palestine 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. The Palestine of the Biblical concept is not a Geographical tract, it is in their hearts. If the Jews must look to 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 bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.
Gandhi called the Jewish people as citizens of the world, he said, 'and they must be treated as such. A Jew born in France is French and a Jew born in Germany is rightfully a German.'
In another article also published in 'Harijan' on 21st July 1946, he wrote, 'I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world. 'Ghetto', is as far as I am aware, the name given to Jewish locations in many parts of Europe. But for their heartless prosecution, probably no question of return to Palestine would ever have arisen. The world should have been their home, if only for their distinguished contribution to it. But in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism.
'Their citizenship of the world should have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that the Jews have been singled out owning to a flawed reading of the New Testament, for the prejudice against the Jews.'
This was the basis on which Independent India stood firmly with the Arabs and Palestinians for so long. It was only when there was an ideological shift and political power shift in India that India 'normalised' ‘Israel’ and drifted away from the Arabs. The rising Islamophobia in India has also contributed handsomely. For long, India had very strong bonds of friendship with the Arab world, the 'Non-Aligned Movement' was founded by the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and standing shoulder to shoulder, supported by Nasser of Egypt and Tito of Yugoslavia. The Non-Aligned Nations stood firmly for justice for Palestinians. India, very early, recognized the PLO as the voice of the Palestinian people and Yasser Arafat as a dear honoured friend.
Recently, when 'New' India discarded the ideals of Gandhi and the values on which it was founded as a Republic, it drifted away from its traditional foreign policy and pandered to ‘Israel’ and the Western world for the sake of its public interest. But even today, what Gandhi had written about Palestine and the injustice against Palestinian people, turned prophetic and the situation in Palestine becomes more and more malignant as the ‘state of Israel’ unleashes more brutal oppression and terrorism.
What is most tragic in the circumstances is the eagerness amongst many Arab states to 'Normalise' ties with the ‘state of Israel’, this is the real betrayal of the Palestinian cause. I conclude with a quote of Gandhi, on the eve of breaking the British imposed Salt Tax, in 1930, he said, “I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might.” Today Palestine cries out for the sympathy and solidarity of humanity.