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The Response to Gandhi on the Holocaust

Gandhi’s opinions about the Holocaust and Zionism are well known (see this op-ed from a grandson of his-more of the same), as is the response sent to him by Martin Buber. Mordechai Kaplan happened to be in Jerusalem when the response to Gandhi was written, and Mel Scult, the editor of Kaplan’s diary, posted Kaplan’s entries about the response on H-Judaic.

March 8, 1939
I came a little while ago from the meeting at Magnes’. Buber and Magnes read the statements they have worked out in answer to Gandhi’s recent statement about the Jews in Germany and Palestine. Buber’s statement was worked out very carefully and effectively. Magnes’ on the other hand was very weak and shamefully apologetic. Among those present were Benjamin, Bergman, Sholem, Baer, Koebner, Gutterman, Miss Szold, Schlesinger and quite a few others.

Thursday, March 9, 1939
The session at Magnes’ home last night had a depressing effect on me. In the first place, that a man of Gandhi’s reputation and influence should have permitted himself to advise Jews in their present tragic plight to immolate themselves , this is what his message amount to , and to charge them at the same time with being usurpers in that they try to recover their homeland, without as much as an attempt to hear the Jewish side of the case, helped to weaken my faith in human goodness, the only faith left me these days. It is all too apparent that he allowed himself to be influenced by the politicians in his entourage who are interested – as are the British – in courting Mohammedan good will. Secondly, the allusions to Jewish suffering, past and present, in both Buber’s and Magnes’ statements, and the sad pass to which we have come to that we have to be continually fingering our wounds and exposing our miserable lot to no purpose whatever. The mischief Gandhi’s article set on foot is potent, far reaching and enduring. What chance have any replies to it to make any impression? And finally the self-degradation to which we submit for fear of hurting the feelings of one who so shamefully wrongs us as to condemn us without even giving us a hearing. I was especially disgusted by the tone and contents of Magnes’ letter. It was most unmanfully apologetic and most childishly put together.

2 Responses to “The Response to Gandhi on the Holocaust”

  1. 1

    Frankly the best response to Gahndi, if any response was even necesasry, would have been to inform him we would not be taking morality lectures from a man who sleeps naked with 12 year old girls, thank you very much.

  2. 2
    Joachim Martillo:

    It is somewhat misleading to refer to “The Response to Gandhi on the Holocaust” in 1939. The Wannsee Conference was several years away. At worst German Nazis at that time frame can only be said

    1) to be carrying out the sort of program that Zionists were planning (or had planned) to perpetrate against the native Palestinian population and

    2) to have committed far less heinous crimes than Jews in the Soviet secret police or in Soviet leadership positions.

    It is also worth noting that Arab political leaders both in Syria and also in Egypt had already offered safe haven to Jews as long as Jewish leaders renounced any goal of turning Palestine into a Jewish state.




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