Last updated on September 27, 2019
A brief handwritten letter from Mahatma Gandhi 80-years-ago about precisely the same afternoon that the World War II broke out, needing that the”affected (Jewish) people” an”age of peace”, was unveiled for the very first time from the National Library of Israel.
Gandhi wrote that the letter to Head of the Bombay Zionist Association (BZA) An E Shohet, that had been hoping to enlist assistance of Indian leaders in favor of the motion to establish a national home for the Jewish men and women.
“The timing of this greeting reflects the degree to which Nazi persecution of Jews has been of concern to international citizenry at the moment. In hindsight, besides, it introduces a terrifying portent of the horrors to come,” stated Zach Rothbart, in charge of communications in the National Library of Israel (NLI).
Gandhi’s greetings came to light as part of a significant initiative established by the NLI, together with assistance from the Leir Foundation, to examine and explain countless things in its groups, such as personal papers, documents, and photographs from lots of the 20th century’s most notable cultural figures.
The correspondence, for the very first time, was published online by the NLI.
“Dear Shohet, You’ve got my good wishes for your new calendar year. How I want the new year might signify an age of peace for the affected people.
Shohet has been an Indian Jew in the Baghdadi community in Bombay.
A firm believer in the Zionist cause, the Indian-Jewish community pioneer saw the motion as the sole method to unite the diverse Jewish inhabitants of Bombay, which comprised the long-established wealthy Baghdadi Jewish community, the Bene Israel Indian Jewish community, and the regional European Jewish neighborhood.
Perturbed from Gandhi’s perceived enthusiasm on the issue of persecution of the German Jewry and the Indian National Congress’ impartial attitude on the topic, Shohet was chasing Indian chief to win him over on his side.
Gandhi, who regularly came under criticism because of his hesitation to announce his perspectives on the Arab-Jewish query in Palestine along with the persecution of German Jews, in an article’The Jews’ printed on November 26, 1938, from the Harijan’ paper indicated”satyagraha” or non-violent immunity as his answer to both the issues.
He implied that the Jews in Mandatory Palestine should”provide satyagraha before the Arabs and provide themselves to be taken or thrown in the Dead Sea without lifting a little finger,” Rothbart quoted him as saying at a media release.
Seeing German Jewry, he implored resisting Nazism entirely through non-confrontational means, ” the release stated.
However, I don’t think in any war…,” Gandhi is quoted as stating.
The post from the Harijan was thwarted by leading intellectuals of the time involving Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, who watched Gandhi’s statements as unfavorable to Zionism rather than satisfactory vis-a-vis the position of the German Jewry.
Shohet in his answer to this Harijan article in The Jewish Advocate’ pointed out there was one basic difference between the Jews in Europe and the Harijans in India, the former had no dwelling.
Also, he contended that Jews had practiced non-violence for 2 millennia, and their persecution persisted.
The Jewish community in India can be thought to have been bothered by the mindset of the Indian National Congress leaders.
Shohet is thought to have achieved to Hermann Kallenbach, a rich Jewish Zionist architect and carpenter who Gandhi known as his”soulmate”.
Kallenbach had financed the institution of Tolstoy Farm, the Southern African model for its Gandhian ashram, in which he and Gandhi dwelt collectively sharing a kitchen and endless discussions about the appropriate route and significance of existence.
“Your portrait (the only one) stands to the mantelpiece in my area… even when I wished to dismiss you out of my ideas, I couldn’t take action,” Gandhi once wrote to Kallenbach according to the book.
In March 1939, Kallenbach ordered Shohet to interview Gandhi, which he did over the course of four times in Gandhi’s ashram at Wardha.
As per a letter Shohet composed to Eliahu Epstein (who afterward became called Eliahu Elath and served as Israel’s first Ambassador to the United States), the”interview was discouraging because although Gandhi into a certain extent known that the idealism of the Jews’ want to come back to Palestine, he saw the Palestine question by the Muslim point of view”.
Kallenbach and Shohet never persuaded Gandhi to become an energetic protector of European Jewry nor a Zionist, and he remained steadfast in his view that non-violence and passivity could fix all issues.