Both Gandhis Got it Wrong…

By Gerald A. Honigman

And this doesn’t include the original’s grandson, who also blew it.

Ben Kingsley has apparently joined the ranks of Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Alexander, Michael Moore, Woody Allen, Richard Dreyfus and other Hollywood Middle East "experts" and/or pathetically delusional Jews.

The star of the movie, Gandhi (and a number of others where he played Jews himself), has brought his Arabic-dubbed version about non-violent resistance to occupation to Ramallah as a guest of Palestinian Arab Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. He will also be bringing it elsewhere throughout the region.

As a part of the "Gandhi Project," the organizers claim their message is non-political. And I’m in line to be the next pope.

Arabs who saw the movie (as well as most others according to the polls) believe that terrorism is the best way to end "occupation" and achieve statehood.

Generations of ingrained lessons and deliberately keeping people from the truth have taken their tolls. Add to this an Arab view of political justice which has no room for any but their own, and we get the results we are living with today. That Arabs so indulge is regrettable, yet understandable. That others, such as the supposedly objective voices above, do so is a travesty. They have an obligation to know better and not to prostrate themselves before the Arabs’ currently politically correct figments.

While working for the liberation of India from British imperial occupation, Mohandas Gandhi opposed the partition of the Indian subcontinent into a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan in 1947. He believed that people of all religious faiths should be able to get along in the same nation. He was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist. So much for getting along. Some places it works…some places it’s laughable.

He opposed Zionism–the national liberation movement of the Jews–to the very end; his major statement circulated as an editorial in the Harijan of November 11, 1938. Among other things, while first professing his supposed "sympathies" for perennially persecuted Jews, he next claimed that…

"Palestine of the biblical conception is not a geographical tract."

Actually, he did get that one right. Palestine wasn’t…It represented a vague geographical area according to the ancient Greeks.

The name itself was bestowed on Judaea–the defined land of the Jews–by the emperor, Hadrian, after the Jews’ second major war (133-135 C.E.) for their freedom against the Romans. To squash their hopes once and for all, he renamed the land itself after their historic enemies, the Philistines (Syria Palaestina).

But Israel and Judaea were well-known nations/kingdoms peopled by Hebrews/Jews. As just one of many examples, the Habiru/Apiru–Hebrews–were written about throughout the extensive correspondence of ancient Pharaohs, their vassals, and others as well. And these folks evolved into a separate people with their own unique culture, language, history–and, yes, Mr. Gandhi, religion too. Gandhi saw the religious claims of Jews as their main,
if not only, leg to stand on in this conflict…which he rejected.

But the differences which separated Jews from Arabs were not simply theological. While Gandhi has plenty of company here in his booboo (including academics), this doesn’t excuse it. If you don’t really know, you shouldn’t really say…especially if you see yourself, or are seen, as a major voice for justice and morality in this world.

Gandhi knew about as much about Jews and their history as Jews knew about the various Indian peoples. The difference is that Jews would never have told the latter to remain forever victimized and at the potential receiving end of those with a long history of persecuting them.

While it would be nice if we all just really "got along" and there was no need for nationalism, national borders, and such, the reality is that this belief is too often fiction–and especially when it comes to the millennial Jewish experience…something Gandhi acknowledged himself when admitting "his sympathies."

What else is new? People may grudgingly cry crocodile tears for dead Jews, but have no room for empathy for live ones.

Listen to Gandi again:

However…my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice…why should they (Jews) not, like other peoples…make that country their home where they are born…?

I guess he hadn’t heard of the Dreyfus Affair in "enlightened" France, or had not seen pictures of Jews waving their medals from World War I in front of the Nazis, or had not heard of General Grant’s order of expulsion for the Jews of the South, or of the Damascus Blood Libel in 19th century Arab Syria, etc., etc., and so forth.

Imagine, for one moment, that India–as massive as it is–underwent the experiences that the Jews in their tiny state did in their fight for freedom and independence against Rome, culminating in much of the population massacred and most of the rest forcibly exiled in the great Diaspora.

Next, imagine that in almost everywhere that they eventually landed–the Muslim East as well as the Christian West–they never knew what the morrow would bring…massacres, forced conversions, expulsions, ghettoization (the mellah in the Arab world), demonization, and such culminating in a holocaust which wiped out one third of all Indian people.

Would Jews insist that Indians remain forever at someone else’s mercy and give up on a resurrected national existence simply in order to survive? I think not. Yet that’s what Gandhi expected of Jews. Einstein had a famous disagreement with Gandhi over this. So I’m in good company.

Jews were literally forced into this above position and had earlier tried desperately to be "accepted"…to no avail. And the one-sided, double-standards Kingsley, Gere, & Co. apply towards the Jew of the Nations–Israel–fall into this domain as well.

Is a victim any less a victim because his victimization has been the longest and most enduring?

Should Jews have not wanted something better for their children? Should they have continued to put their trust only in those who declared them to be god-killers, children of the Devil, killers of Prophets, and such with periodic and predictable consequences?

Take a look below at how the ancient historians saw this identity issue. Here’s a few quotes from Vol. II, Book V The Works Of Tacitus, who was writing about the Jews’ first major revolt in 66-73 C.E. for their freedom and independence against the Soviet Union–or British Empire, Mr. Gandhi–of its day, Rome. There were others who wrote about such things as well:

"It inflamed Vespasian’s resentment that the Jews were the only nation who had not yet submitted…Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea… he commanded three legions in Judaea itself… To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria… amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations…

No, Misters Gandi, Rome was not just referring to the Jews’ religious identity here, but to a distinct nation and people. If Indians can have a homeland, and Arabs, then why not Jews? Read those quotes, again, carefully.

Sadly, the message Ben Kingsley’s movie brings to the Arabs about non-violent resistance to occupation only feeds into their pipedreams.

At the same time the Indian subcontinent was undergoing partition in 1947 into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan ( Bangladesh would be created later as well), Arabs were rejecting a similar partition which would have given them roughly one half of the 20% of "Palestine" left after Arab nationalism was already awarded the lion’s share–some 80%–of the total 1920 original territory when those same British Gandhi had problems with chopped off all the land east of the Jordan River in 1922 and gave it to their Arab allies. Thus the modern state of Jordan was born. And thus the blatant lie that the Jews got all of "Palestine."

The facts about the negotiations at Camp David and Taba in 2000 are also well known and have been repeated ad nauseam. Yet, we are forced to recount such things over and over again, hoping that ignorance is the only reason that they’re not considered by otherwise supposedly intelligent people.

Did Kingsley ask the Arabs, for example, who commented about his movie, how they can claim Israel has not sought a fair compromise with them over the "occupied" territories given all the above? Now, Ben is no dummy–but I wouldn’t bet against me on this.

As with their previous rejectionism and belief that theirs’ was the only justice, Arabs rejected offers in 2000 which would have given them some 97% of the disputed–not occupied–territories as well. So much for the Arab claim that terrorism was the only way to get results. The problem is that when Arabs speak of occupied territories they really mean all of Israel, as a quick glimpse at websites for both the good cop–Abbas’ boys–and the bad cop–the Hamas-type folks–shows.

Jews had historical ties and owned property in those lands as well…until their massacres by Arabs in the early 20th century. Also keep in mind that most so-called "native Palestinians" arrived recently from elsewhere in the region as recorded by the League of Nations’ Permanent Mandates Commission and other sources. UNRWA, set up to deal exclusively with Arab refugees, had to virtually redefine the very word refugee to deal with this issue.

Towards the end of the movie, there’s a telling scene. Numerous people are seen walking in opposite directions, depicting the population exchange involving tens of millions going on after the Indian subcontinent’s partition. The same thing happened after the Arabs’ attack on a reborn Israel in 1948. For every Arab refugee created as a result of this, there was a Jewish refugee fleeing Arab/Muslim lands–where they were commonly known as kilab yahud…Jew dogs. Unlike Arabs, however, the Jews didn’t have some two dozen other states (most conquered from non-Arab peoples) to choose from.

The message for the two Gandhis, Michael Moores, Woody Allens, Richard Geres and other like thinkers –is that Israel, the sole, miniscule state of the Jewish people, should not be expected to forsake minimal measures to give it some remote semblance of secure borders–not a 1949 artificially-imposed, 9-mile wide armistice line existence–so that Arabs may get all that they want in their 22nd state and second, not first, one in "Palestine."

Where’s the Hollywood Middle East expert who will tell the Arabs any of this?

Or perhaps demand another Muslim state on Gandhi’s Indian subcontinent? Not that I agree with this, but there are Indians making the same arguments today that Gandhi made earlier in terms of Israel and Zionism. And there are, after all, about 150 million Muslims in India…not to mention the dispute over Kashmir. If Indians, the Gandhis, and others believe that this is what justice demands regarding the Arabs in the disputed territories in the Arab-Israeli conflict, then why not closer to home? Or for thirty million truly stateless Kurds? When are these experts going to visit the Sudan to demand that the Blacks of the south gain independence from the Arabs up north who have killed, maimed, enslaved, and turned them into refugees by the millions?

While one billion Indians really don’t have an existential threat regarding any of this, a relative handful of Jews, surrounded by 300 million Arabs (and many other hostile Muslims as well) and whose state consists of less than one quarter of one percent of the region’s territory, do.

Does any thinking human being really believe that the Arabs’ issue with the Jews is simply about "territory?" Look at a map of the Middle East and North Africa–or better yet, of the world. I dare you.

It’s never been how big Israel is that was the issue–but that Israel, in fact, is. Unfortunately, the great Gandhi, himself, agreed.

By bringing his film to the Arabs, regardless of his own claims to the contrary, Tinseltown’s Gandhi feeds into the same rejectionism that his predecessor did.

Perhaps he believes that his previous portrayal of victimized Jews on the big screen renders him immune to such charges. And the same could be said for his JCC (no, not Jewish Community Center…Jew Coward Colleagues) in Hollywood and elsewhere who remain mum while Michael Moore and crew unfairly vilify Israel. This is not legitimate criticism of a nation’s policies that’s at issue here. The policies are not the issue…Israel itself is.

The reality is that this all makes my earlier point: sympathy for dead Jews is fine…but empathy for live ones is pushing it. Hence all the movies about the Holocaust. But has anyone noticed any Israeli Independence Day celebrations by the Hollywood mishpacha lately? How dare Israel demand something beyond its U.N.armistice-line imposed, 9-mile wide, rump state status! Those Zionist extremists, ya know…and the Hollywood michpacha runs with their collective tail between their legs while other nations–including our own–conquer, acquire, and manipulate lands thousands of miles away from home in the name of their own national security. Where’s Spielberg on all of this? Again, he’s another one great on films about dead Jews…Don’t these folks get the big lesson here?

Regarding the Arabs, whose predicament much of the world is obsessed with, their own alleged victimization is mostly due to their own refusal to grant any and all others in the region even a tiny fraction of the rights they so forcefully demand for themselves. Had they done so, their "plight" would have been resolved decades ago.

When Gere, Kingsley, Dreyfus, Moore, Redgrave, or whoever display what it takes to explain to the Arabs that justice is a two-sided street and that compromise involves concrete movement by both parties in the Arab-Israeli conflict, then they’ll have a right to lecture Israel and others about such matters. Until then, they need to stick to films…and not about the Middle East.