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March 3, 1939 Gandhi to Jewry – Palestine Belongs to Arabs


By a staff correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor

London, March 3―Mohandas K. Gandhi who, according to Bombay dispatches, today started a hunger strike to induce the native ruler of the State of Rajkot, in the northwest corner of India, to give his people “a voice in the government,” has expressed his views on the Arab-Jew question in Palestine.

At the moment when the London Conference with Arabs and Jews is almost deadlocked over the British proposal for an Arab state, his name in a Church of England newspaper which said: “My sympathies are all with the Jews.”

“I have known them more intimately in South Africa,” he went on. “But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for a national home for the Jews does not make much of an appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after 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 LIVELIHOOD?

Palestine belongs to the Arabs

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. 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.

The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred.

This cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of Jews.

But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. If there 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 province or horizon.”

No alliance with Germany

“But if 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 toward armed dictatorship and all it means?


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 them by Jehovah. It will then be a truly religious resistance offered against the Godless fury of dehumanized man.”

Palestine in the heart

“And now a word to the Jews in Palestine, I have no doubt that they are going about it 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 goodness of the Arabs.

They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart.

I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of nonviolence in resisting what they rightly regard 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.

Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of nonviolence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home, including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service.”

Source: The Jewish National Home in Palestine. Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives Seventy-Eighth Congress Second Session on H. Res. 418 and H Res. 419 Resolutions Relative to the Jewish National Home in Palestine. February 8, 9, 15, and 16, 1944. With Appendix of Documents Relating to the Jewish National Home in Palestine.(p. 292-293)

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