No Apology, by Gandhi - From Harijan

(February 18, 1939)


I have two letters from Jewish friends protesting against a remark of mine in a dialogue reported in Harijan over the Jewish question. Here is one of the letters:

“My attention has been called to a paragraph in Harijan of December 24th, 1938, in which you are reported to have said that ‘The Jews called down upon the Germans the curses of mankind, and they wanted America and England to fight Germany on their behalf.’ I can hardly doubt that you have been misreported, for there is nothing that could possibly justify such a statement. But as the paragraph much distressed me, I should be glad to receive from you a word of reassurance.”

I am sorry to say that I cannot give the reassurance required. For I did make the remark put into my mouth by Shri Pyarelal. Hardly a paper comes to me from the West which does not describe the agony of the Jews who demand retribution by the democratic Powers for German atrocities. Nor do I see anything wrong in the attitude. The Jews are not angels. My point was they were not non-violent in the sense meant by me. Their non-violence had and has no love in it. It is passive. They do not resist because they know that they cannot resist with any degree of success. In their place, unless there were active non-violence in me, I should certainly call down upon my persecutors the curses of Heaven. It is not contended by my correspondents that the German Jews do not want the big Powers like England, America and France to prevent the atrocities, if need be, even by war against Germany. I happen to have a Jewish friend living with me. He has an intellectual belief in non-violence. But he says he cannot pray for Hitler. He is so full of anger over the German atrocities that he cannot speak of them with restraint. I do not quarrel with him over his anger. He wants to be non-violent, but the sufferings of fellow Jews are too much for him to bear. What is true of him is true of thousands of Jews who have no thought even of “loving the enemy”. With them as with millions “revenge is sweet, to forgive is divine.”

Segaon, February 5, 1939


Source: GandhiServe Foundation - Mahatma Gandhi Research and Media Service (reprinted with permission)