By Arjan El Fassed (Media Monitors, 11 April 2001)


To: Thomas L. Friedman
From: Mohatma Ghandi

Dear Thomas,

I have spent some 20 years in South Africa. It was at Pietermaritzburg
station, where I was ejected from a first class train compartment, that I
became alerted to the plight of Indians in Natal. Just like the
Palestinians, I have experienced treatment I have always been appalled at
the widespread denial of political rights and civil freedoms.

Nelson Mandela once said that I became an integral part of South African
history because it is in South Africa that I demonstrated my firmness in
pursuit of justice and developed Satyagraha or nonviolent resistance, as a
philosophy and a method of struggle.

Thomas, already in 1942 I said this, and today I'm saying this to you: "It
is open to a war resister to judge between the combatants and wish success
to the one who has justice on his side. By so judging he is more likely to
bring peace between the two than by remaining a mere spectator." If you
would have taken this advice from me, you probably wouldn't be so much
supporting Israel's version of history.

Thomas, it is not my intention to accuse of bad faith the millions of
honest people who have believed in these deceitful myths propagated by all
the media. The sole purpose of this is to provide you with elements that
will enable you to judge the bloody misdeeds engendered by a Zionist
mythology. At the end of 1948, Palestine was faced with a land grotesquely
transformed from the prewar period: hundreds of thousands of displaced
persons and refugees; landscapes razed; and more than three-quarters of the
531 depopulated Palestinian towns and villages were completely destroyed.

Truth is that Palestinians are still homeless and dispossessed, Israel has
occupied their lands, destroyed their villages, military occupied and
brutally administered the West Bank and Gaza and has never acknowledged
what it has done, much less compensated them for it. Under the current
administration, more Palestinians are killed, more land has been
expropriated, more homes are being demolished, and more human rights are
being violated. So the depredations continue apace, even as a risible
charade called the peace process has crawled along, most of the time going
backwards for Palestinians.

Thomas, one thing I cannot abide is lying. I know a lie when I see one. For
me, means and ends are practically identical. People cannot attain right
ends by way of falsehoods. Already in 1938 I said: "Palestine belongs to
the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France
to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs.
What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code
of conduct."

I'm disgusted by your columns, they are filled with lies, meanness,
slander, dogmatism, hypocrisy, hatred and arrogance. "Speak the truth,"
Buddha said, "and let a man overcome anger by love; let him overcome the
liar by truth."

Thomas, the pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one's opponent.
Truth never damages a cause that is just. It passes my comprehension how
human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in
depriving other human beings of that precious right.

Thomas, when I despair, I remember that all through history the way of
truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and
for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of
it, always.

* the author is a Dutch-Palestinian political scientist and human rights