Issues

Is it honour or affront?

ShamsurRab Khan

The illegal state of Israel has managed to top the list of dishonest countries with a seemingly miraculous deed recently. On 4 January, 2016, newspapers reported that Israel had unveiled a roundabout in Kriya Gat, a small town in southern Israel with a concentration of Indian Jews, to honour Mahatma Gandhi, called the Father of Nation by Indians and recognised as the apostle of peace and non-violence around the world.

Honouring of Indian leaders and icons by Israel is not without precedent though. A street in Tel Aviv is named after Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. However, choosing Gandhiji to honour this time required some real insincerity on the part of Israelis. It’s mainly because Gandhiji was unequivocally opposed to the creation of Israel on Palestinian land. Let’s go back to recount Gandhiji’s views regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict.

In an article titled “The Jews”, published in Harijan on November 26, 1938, Gandhiji wrote:

“But my sympathy [for Jews] doesn’t blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews doesn’t make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to 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?”

Gandhiji further wrote:

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It’s wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What’s 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.”

Does this leave even a grain of doubt about the repugnance of Gandhiji to the idea of creating Israel in Palestine?!

In order to acquaint ourselves with this trick, let’s read some statements made on the occasion.

Ariram Dahari, mayor of Kriya Gat said:

“It [roundabout ] is a symbol of the warm friendship enjoyed between the people of India and Israel” (The Hindu, Jan 4, 2016).

Are you kidding, Mr. Ariram? If a handful of opportunists are warming up to you, it doesn’t mean “the people of India” feel likewise. A majority of Indians still share Gandhiji’s view that the creation of Israel is a crime against humanity. Merely naming a roundabout after Gandhiji cannot mitigate the crime.

Ariram further said: “ It’s a proud moment for us to be honouring a leader whose message remains relevant till today.”

Mr. Ariram, if you really mean what you say, practise non-violence, stop feasting on the blood of innocent Palestinians and return with  bag and baggage to where you came from! Gandhiji’s relevant message is abundantly clear about you!

On the same occasion, Dayana Nagaonkar, a local resident said:

“It’s a happy day for all of us because the mahatma has arrived at our home.”

How foolish of you, Mr. Dayana! You think the mahatma will arrive at your home that has been built illegally and immorally by displacing rightful occupants of the home? You think the mahatma is also like you whose words don’t match their deeds? Had you really cared about the mahatma, you wouldn’t have left your legal home in India and lived in an illegal blood-drenched home in Palestine.

Mr. Jaideep Sarkar, India’s ambassador to Israel added to the drama. He called it a “memorable day”. He went on to draw a parallel between Gandhiji and David Ben Gurion, and said that he was surprised to see Gandhiji’s photo as the only one hanging on the wall of David Ben Gurion’s hut. Oh my God! Gandhiji’s photo in David Ben Gurion’s hut? A cannibal seeking inspiration from the photo of the apostle of non-violence! What does this prove? Nobody should be surprised if somebody comes later and declares that Gandhiji had inspired the creation of Israel by displacing and mass-murdering Palestinians. Nothing is unexpected from cheap and shameless people.

Mr. Sarkar further said: “Mahatma Gandhi has a special place in the hearts of Indians but it’s a matter of great pride and honour to see him being honoured this way here.”

What Mr. Sarkar calls an honour for Gandhiji is, in fact, utter dishonour to his personality, ideas, ideals and values he lived and fought for throughout his life. Unfortunately, the democratically elected government of India is also complicit in this crime much against the wishes of its people. We can only pray that sense prevails on our government and it reclaims the legacy of our founding fathers.

The writer is a student of the University of Mumbai. He may be contacted at shamsurrab@gmail.com 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2016 on page no. 2

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