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April 29, 1983 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-04-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

10 Friday, April 29, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

.
h
I
eunsIssues Had Impact on Ind in s Gandhi •

By JOSEPH SARGON

(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)

(Editor's note: Joseph
I. Sargon, born in Bom-
bay, India, was managing
editor of the Jewish

K SMART
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Tribune. He also repre-
sented the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency in India
and the World Jewish
Congress. He now resides
in Brookline, Mass.)
The movie "Gandhi,"
which recently won the
Academy Award as the best
film of 1982, brings back
personal memories and
places into dramatic focus
the life story of India's great

spiritual and political
leader, Mahatma (Great
Soul) Gandhi, whom I had
the opportunity to meet and
interview when I lived in
India.
The "Jewish Tribune,"
the organ of Indian Jewry,
edited by my brothers and
myself for a number of
years, carried first-hand re-
ports and statements on
Gandhi's views pertaining
to the Jews, including the

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then "Palestine Question"
and Hitler's ruthless drive
against the Jews which
caused grave concern and to
which at times he made
reference through the
medium of correspondence
and in his well-known pub-
lication "Harijan."
Some of these events,
which may not be famil-
iar, are recalled because
they tend to give an in-
sight into Gandhi's atti-
tude towards the Jews,
about which so little has
been written.
Gandhi, who embraced
poverty, not only changed
the history of India but also
initiated a new kind of revo-
lutionary movement which
made a tremendous impact
on the minds of millions and
succeeded in its aim of driv-
ing the British out of India
and the establishment of an
independent India.
Gandhi could not have
succeeded in all that he
achieved but for a "weapon"
peculiarly his own which he
called "Satyagraha." Trans-
lated it means "Soul Force."
He explained Satyagraha is
the vindication of truth, not
on the infliction of suffering
on one's opponent but on
one's self. The opponent
must be "weaned from error
by patience and sympathy."
This was unprecedented
philosophy, unique in its
conception and successful in
its aim of wrestling from
Great Britain the indepen-
dence of India after 200
years of authoritative rule
by "passive resistance and
non-cooperation."
I recall the events that
marked the drive to attain
India's. independence, saw
the brutality perpetrated
against defenseless people,
was in the midst of riots that
raged at that time, and wit-
nessed the incredible man-
ner in which the powerful
machinery of the mighty
British administration —
"on whose empire the sun
never set" — completely
paralyzed by non-violent
means by a man whom
Winston Churchill de-
scribed as "a seditious
fakir" (religious mendic-
ant). I recall seeing Gandhi
striding half-naked up the
steps of the Viceroy's palace
to negotiate with the repre-
sentative of the King Em-
peror. He "twisted the tail of
the British lion" by passive
resistance, civil disobedi-
ence and non-cooperation.

Very little has been is the fact that there was a
written or said _about special constituency for
Gandhi in his relation to Jews in the Cochin Legisla-
the Jews among whom he ture where Jewish tax-
had many friends and for payers elected their own
whom he professed con- candidates. In particular,
cern and understanding. the Jews of Malabar, from
He considered himself a the Fifth to Fifteenth Cen-
good friend of the Jews tury, enjoyed the benefits of
and at times he was ap- a virtually independent
proached by them for ad- principality ruled over by a
vice and guidance con- member of their own race.
cerning their problems.
During Hitler's persecu-
As a matter of fact, one of tion, more than 600 German
his physicians was an Jews were given asylum in
eminent Jew and one of India. They found employ-
the books he took with ment as technicians in the
him the many times he textile mills and oil indus-
was in prison, was "A try. Among the refugees
Book of Jewish there were many doctors.
Thoughts" by the late True to the spirit of Indian
Chief Rabbi Dr. J. H. hospitality, at a meeting of
Hertz. Incidentally, in the medical and dental pro-
Gandhi's victorious fessions after a lengthy dis-
struggle for Indian rights cussion, it was resolved "to
in South Africa, one of his extend to the duly qualified
many Jewish friends was doctors heartfelt sympathy
Herman Kallenbach who in their misfortune as a re-
was "second in charge of sult of political persecution"
the Satyagraha move- and an opportunity to prac-
ment."
tice in the country. It was
When prohibition was pointed out that this was in
first introduced in Bombay the traditional hospitality
in 1939, the question arose of India which went back
regarding wine to be used many centuries when a
for Kiddush by Jews: The haven of refuge was af-
Jewish community, always forded to the victims of per-
well-treated, raised the secution.
issue and pointed out that
In the Indian National
important religious and Congress politicians took
sacred requireinents were interest in the events in
served in the use of wine. Palestine. Moslem organ-
Gandhi did not wish to izations occasionally
interfere with Jewish reli- passed resolutions of
gious susceptibilities so he sympathy for the Arabs
got into touch with Jewish there. And as every
friends in South Africa and "good Indian" com-
asked for an authoritative pletely hated England
opinion from the then and her imperialism,
Chief Rabbi in South Af- they, therefore, were
rica, the late Dr. J. L. obliged to side- with the
Landau. The Chief Rabbi Arabs. Gandhi and even
sent his report and Gandhi Pandit Jawaharlal
expressed his satisfaction.
Nehru, were no excep-
The Jews in India then tion.
numbered no more than
The disorders in Pales-
30,000 in a vast population tine were widely reported in
of nearly 400 million. For the Indian press and
over many centuries Jews Zionism and the Balfour
were always well-treated, Declaration were blamed
enjoyed religious freedom, for the trouble in the coun-
and did not suffer anti- try by the Moslems. Al-
Semitism in any form or though engrossed in the
manner. They occupied internal policy of India
many important offices and and the fight he led for her
made an invaluable contri- independence, the "Pales-
bution, out of all proportion tine Question" and Hitler's
to their numbers, to the wel- persecution of the Jews re-
fare and progress of India. ceived Gandhi's special at-
Records shows that they tention and were frequently
came to India after the de- referred to by him in his
struction of the Second well-known journal "Hari-
Temple. Of special interest ] n.

Windsor Bar-Han Unit Meets

`Gandhi'
Printed
in Paperback

Grove Press has just
released a paperback
version of "Gandhi —
The Screenplay" by
John Briley. The book
includes a brief
foreword by Sir Richard
Attenborough, director
of the Academy
Award-winning movie.
It also includes eight
pages of black-and-
white photographs
from the film.

Celebrating the membership increase in the
Windsor Friends of Bar-Ilan, are, standing from left:
Max Levine; Jacob Rosenthal, chairman; Rabbi Ira
Grussgott; Paul Zlotoff, guest speaker; Rabbi Samuel
Stollman; David Glanz and Sam Cohen; and seated,
from left: Harry Sigal, Fred Radnoti, Charles Zalev,
Morris Tabachnick and Abraham Kaufman.

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