Much ado has been made about Arun Gandhi’s remarks regarding Israel and the Jews. Jacob Nacheman, for instance, writes that he was shocked and disappointed by Gandhi’s comments and contrasted them with the record of his much-lauded grandfather.

I can only assume that Mr. Nacheman and the majority of the Rochester community has not been paying attention. Arun Gandhi’s comments fit quite well with his grandfather’s bizarre views of the Jewish people. The “Mahatma” was an inveterate opponent of permitting Jews to emigrate from Germany, even as the Holocaust loomed inevitably on the horizon:

“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.”

Gandhi goes on, “And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy […] 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.”

Gandhi’s biographer Louis Fischer noted after the war that Gandhi appeared more horrified by Jewish resistance to Nazi oppression than by the atrocities committed by the Nazis themselves. The elder Gandhi told Fischer that rather than resist, “the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs? It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany?”. Gandhi lamented at length the failure of the Jewish people to commit collective suicide.

Arun Gandhi’s contempt for the Jewish people did not appear out of nowhere. It was studiously learned at his grandfather’s knee.

-Brian GottesmanClass of 2000



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