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Jamia Millia, JNU scholars spar over Gandi’s stand on Palestinian resistance

Friday October 20, 2017 11:28 AM, News Network

Mahatma Gandhi

New Delhi:
P.R. Kumaraswamy of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Dr. Zikrur Rahman of Jamia Millia Islamia on Friday sparred over Gandhi's Palestine policy with the latter countering the former's claim that the Mahatma was accommodative of what he called as "violence" of Palestinians against Israel.

As reported by The Hindu, P.R. Kumaraswamy of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in his book Squaring the Circle: Mahatma Gandhi and the Jewish National Home, claimed that some of the Mahatma Gandhi’s writings on Israel were not brought to the public by his secretary Pyarelal, and questioned his limited understanding of Judaism.

“By embracing the Islamic claims during the Khilafat phase, he categorically ruled out non-Islamic control or sovereignty over Palestine,” said Prof. Kumaraswamy, explaining Mahatma Gandhi’s tilt towards the Arab claims over Palestine.

“While urging the Jews to practise active non-violence even against Hitler, he was accommodative of Arab violence in Palestine, thereby raising doubts about his lifelong commitment to ahimsa", he said.

Prof. Kumaraswamy, who teaches a popular course on Israeli foreign affairs at the Centre for West Asian Studies in JNU’s School of International Studies (SIS), also says that the Mahatma’s understanding of Judaism was limited to “ceremonies and rituals” and he had imbibed Islam and Chritianity’s “anti-Jewish prejudices”.

“..In later years, Pyarelal admitted having suppressed some of Gandhi’s thoughts and pronouncements on Israel,” Prof. Kumaraswamy writes in the book.

Prof. Kumaraswamy’s claims have been challenged by Dr. Zikrur Rahman, former diplomat and director of India-Arab Cultural Centre of Jamia Milia Islamia, who said that the claims amount to a narrow understanding of Mahatma’s teachings.

“There is no writing of Mahatma Gandhi supporting violence by any group any where in the world. He famously wrote that Palestine belongs to the Arabs just like England belongs to the English, which can by no stretch of scholarship be interpreted as a support to violent methods by the Palestinians against the Jewish people in Israel,” said Dr. Rahman, who questioned Prof. Kumaraswamy’s provocative conclusion.

“Mahatma Gandhi was equally close to many Jewish figures like Hermann Kallenbach and it is not historically accurate to bring out a mono-dimensional perspective of him on a complex case like Israel-Palestinians dispute,” said Dr. Rahman.

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