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Arun Gandhi is hardly a 'Soldier of Peace '

For the second time in four years, your paper has chosen to flatter Arun Gandhi by assuming that he has followed in the magnificent footsteps of his grandfather Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi (“Soldier of Peace,” Feb. 14).  Yet as others noted in your own paper in 2009, he plainly has not.

In 2008, Arun blamed much of the world’s ills on a single ethnic group.  His statements were widely condemned, and he resigned from the very institute that he founded purportedly to promote interfaith harmony.

In his essay for the Washington Post’s Jan. 7, 2008, On Faith forum, Arun wrote that Israel and “the Jews” are “the biggest players” in a “global culture of violence” that will “eventually destroy all of humanity.”  The Jewish nation, he said, is determined to “live by the bomb” and to “dominate” rather than befriend others. “The Jews,” he added (apparently referring to each and every Jew), “overplay” the Holocaust to a point that “repulses” friends and justifiably angers the entire world. As a result, he assured us, the future of the “Jewish identity .... is bleak.”

Parroting the age-old canard about sinister, all-powerful Jews destroying our world hardly qualifies Arun as fit to carry on his grandfather’s remarkable work or reputation.

Condemnation of Arun’s sentiments was commendably swift. The Washington Post itself apologized to its readers. Dr. Judea Pearl (father of slain Wall St. Journal reporter Daniel Pearl) called Arun’s words “an affront to all decent people.” Far too many people, Dr. Pearl noted, have been killed, abused and dispossessed in the past century by the words of irresponsible leaders and authors “often disguised as scholars or humanitarians, who ... blamed one segment of society for the ills and maladies of the world.” Dr. Pearl called Arun Gandhi “a man unfit to speak about world peace.”

Arun resigned from the University of Rochester’s Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, which Arun himself had founded, after the university’s president denounced Arun for engaging in stereotyping “inappropriate ... to any race, religion or nationality.” Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League found Arun’s later “apology” unavailing.

The main obstacle to Mideast peace is the pervasive culture of anti-Semitism commonplace throughout the Arab world. Instead of challenging it, Arun exemplifies it.

Arun may champion some of his grandfather’s admirable ideals.  But by spreading bigotry where enlightened thinking is sorely needed, Arun is hardly the “Soldier of Peace” (Feb. 14) or the “Champion of Tolerance” (Sept. 2009) that you paper has twice mistakenly lauded.

Ken Kwartler  is a resident of Lake Oswego.




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