Saturday, July 4, 2015

75 years ago: The Mahatma offers his advice to the United Kingdom on peace

On July 2, 1940, Indian independence activist Mohandas Gandhi appealed to all Britons to cease hostilities with Germany and settle their differences using non-violent methods. Apparently the "Great Soul" hadn't been paying attention in September 1938 when the British government, represented by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, had used non-violent negotiation to achieve "peace for our time" with German Fuehrer Adolf Hitler at the summit in Munich. Less than a year later, that peace was shattered when Mr. Hitler sent his forces into Poland.

By July 1940 the humiliated Mr. Chamberlain had been replaced as British Prime Minister by Winston Churchill, who had a low opinion of both Mr. Hitler and Mr. Gandhi. Eight days after the Mahatma offered his unsolicited advice to the United Kingdom, German planes began a systematic assault on ports in southern England and on British shipping in the English Channel. The bombing campaign inensified through the end of July and after, producing what became known as the Battle of Britain. Fortunately, Mr. Churchill ignored Mr. Gandhi's idiotic and suicidal advice, and instead used Royal Air Force planes to resist the German attacks. On August 20, Mr. Churchill told the House of Commons, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

When Mr. Hitler began increasing the persecution of Jews, the Mahatma advised Jews to use non-violent methods in dealing with the situation--and we know how well that turned out. The main lesson that Jews learned from the Holocaust is that when someone is threatening to destroy the Jews, it's prudent to take the threat seriously.

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