Saturday, 16 February 2008

Gaza Concentration Camp and 'Great Soul'

I awoke today extremely angry to hear of the deaths, of eight more prisoners of Gaza Concentration Camp, this now brings to 150, the number of prisoners murdered by Israel, in the last 3 months. My anger, later turned to sadness, that not one, of the main international News Channels, neither the BBC or CNN, had six hours later, still not reported these murders, what if it were eight israelis ? How cheap has human life become, in our fascist age ?. I turned again to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi for sanity and to relieve the pain of such barbarity.

After innumerable such protests, and the moral and financial drain of the second world war, it became clear that Britain's occupation of India was no longer tenable. Despite the arrests and abuse - he spent a total of seven years in prison - Gandhi bore no malice towards his oppressors. In London he participated in negotiations to determine his country's fate arguing desperately against proposals for partition along religious lines even to the extent of offering to the Muslim leader Jinnah the opportunity to lead a united country. But Jinnah was obdurate and the partition of Ireland twenty four years before appeared to offer the British authorities a precedent for a two nation solution on religious lines.

When India was finally granted independence in 1947 no one foresaw the appalling violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi was horrified and spent the last months of his life trying to bring peace between the two sides. At the age of 78 he undertook a fast that brought him to the brink of death. However it achieved what no other political or military interventions could - an end to the bloodshed.

Before he died, Gandhi was awarded the title of 'Mahatma' meaning 'Great Soul' by the people of India. He was honoured as the father of the nation and he inspired millions to join him in a life governed by purity, non-violence and truth. Unfortunately his views were not shared by all. Twelve days after breaking his fast he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who opposed his programme of tolerance for all creeds and religion.
Tributes from around the world flooded India after his death in recognition of the great contribution to peace brought by Gandhi's patience, courage and love. Perhaps one of the most appropriate for remembering this great soul is the tribute from Albert Einstein; "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood." It is however certain that these generations to come will have lessons to learn from the extraordinary life of Mohandas Gandhi

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any code of conduct. The Mandates have no sanction but that of the last War. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarranted encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds."


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