Gandhi resigns after blasting Jews

Grandson of renowned leader had said Jews "overplay" Holocaust and lead a "culture of violence."

arun gandhi arafat 224 (photo credit: AP)
arun gandhi arafat 224
(photo credit: AP)
Arun Gandhi, grandson of the renowned Indian spiritual and political leader Mohandas Gandhi, resigned over the weekend from the peace institute named for his grandfather. The resignation came following criticism of Gandhi's January 7 comments on the Washington Post's Web site, in which he said Jews "overplay" the Holocaust experience and that "Israel and the Jews are the biggest players" in a "culture of violence [that] is eventually going to destroy humanity." "My intention was to generate a healthy discussion on the proliferation of violence," Gandhi said on Friday, a day after the board of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester accepted his resignation. "Instead, unintentionally, my words have resulted in pain, anger, confusion and embarrassment. I deeply regret these consequences." Though he apologized within days of his original blog post, writing on the same Washington Post blog - "On Faith," where he had originally been asked to write about Jewish identity - that he did "not believe and should not have implied that the policies of the Israeli government are reflective of the views of all Jewish people," anger at his words apparently remained. Gandhi's resignation "was appropriate," because his remarks "did not reflect the core values" of either the university or the institute, University of Rochester president Joel Seligman said in a statement. The Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman said it was "shameful that a peace institute would be headed up by a bigot. One would hope that the grandson of such an illustrious human being would be more sensitive to Jewish history." The institute offers courses, workshops and seminars on nonviolence and will "continue its mission" at the university, which provides office space and staff support, said Seligman. The university president added that a forum would be held later in 2008 to allow Gandhi to discuss issues he had raised with Jewish community leaders and other speakers. Gandhi is not new to controversy over Israel. On a 2004 visit to Israel, he called on tens of thousands of Palestinians in Jordan to march across the Jordan River and enter Israel in a nonviolent protest. He also reportedly said at the time that the Palestinians' situation was "10 times worse" than that of blacks under South Africa's apartheid regime.