Thursday, June 5, 2008

Arun Gandhi: What's in a Name?

Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi has been a lightning rod for controversy lately. He recently resigned as director of the M.K. Gandhi Peace Center, which he founded and of which he was a director. He had used the prestige attached to his family name to lend weight to some highly debatable positions and opinions. He is vocally pro Palestinian, seeking to use his grandfather's tactic of non violence to advance the Palestinian cause. His hope was that a march of refugees seeking to reenter "Palestine" would provoke a violent response from the Israelis. This would in turn create a backlash of sympathy for the "Palestinians" and hamstring the Israelis with a public relations disaster. It should be noted that a violent response is still a part of the tactic of non violence. Gandhian non violence is not truly a repudiation of force. Its success is dependent upon an adversary's willingness to turn to injurious means. A deterrent show of force, it can be argued, is more non violent than creating a violent confrontation with soldiers.
His accusation that Jews invoke the holocaust but do not care about the suffering of others was rightly seen as negative stereotyping . His resignation provoked predictable talk about the power of the "Israeli lobby".
Gandhi's family name has been far more useful to the causes he champions than his intellectual contributions. There have been relatives of historical villains who made positive contributions to society. There have also been those who lived down a bad family reputation.
I heard from my pharmacist back in the 1980's a story that he heard from his mother.
My pharmacist's mother had been shipped to Germany to work as a slave labourer in a German factory. Slave labourers were generally worked as hard as possible. Little was invested in their care or maintenance. When a slave worker was too sick to work, they were killed and quickly replaced. When my pharmacist's mother came down with scarlet fever, she was clearly too sick to work. There was , however a doctor who attended to German citizens for a living. When he found that a Jewish woman was ill, he immediately put her under his care.
"Don't worry", he told her, "I will give you the same care I would give my own mother."
The doctor was true to his word. He procured medicines that were in short supply even for Germans and used them to nurse the Jewish conscript back to health. He continued to look out for her. She lived to marry and have children and grandchildren.
Who was this fine doctor who stepped in to save the live of a someone considered less than human? He was a Slovakian named Tiso. His brother was Monsignor Josef Tiso, the dictator of the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia, who presided over the deportation of Slovakian Jewry. The very name that was eternally disgraced in the annals of world history acquired a measure of honour through the actions of his brother who saved a life with his little noted devotion to human decency.
What is in a name? Whatever you put into it. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

H.Tawa said...

I was unaware of Arun Ghandis mission. Thank you for the informative blog. Your concluding story was inspiring. May we all be inspired to bring the Redemption and resolve the Israeli - Arab conflict once and for all.