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Owaisi defends oath row with Gandhi reference. Throwback to what he said on Palestine | India News

NEW DELHI: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday sparked row with his pro-Palestine chant during oath as Lok Sabha MP. As he expressed solidarity with the conflict-affected Palestine, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders strongly protested the slogan which eventually led the chair to strike it from the record.
Later the Hyderabad MP defended his remarks outside Parliament asserting he had not violated any provision of the Constitution.“Other members are also saying different things … I said ‘Jai Bheem, Jai Telangana, Jai Palestine’. How is it wrong? Tell me the provision of the Constitution?”
And then he referred to Mahatma Gandhi in order to defend his chant. “You should also listen to what others said. I said what I had to. Read what Mahatma Gandhi had said about Palestine.”

Now India, in its official stance, has never taken any side in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict and has pushed for a two-state solution. In February, when asked about the same, V Muraleedharan, the then minister of state in the external affairs ministry in a written reply to Lok Sabha had said: “India’s policy towards Palestine has been long standing and consistent. We have supported a negotiated two State solution, towards establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine within secure and recognised borders, living side by side in peace with Israel.”
Amid the recent Israel-Hamas conflict in the region since October 7, 2023, the Modi government has also reiterated this stance at several forums such as the UN, G20 and the BRICS.
As the controversy erupted over his slogan, Owaisi asked people to read what Mahatma Gandhi wrote.

What Mahatma Gandhi said on Palestine conflict

In 1938, Mahatma Gandhi offered his perspective on the plight of the Jewish community in Germany. He advised the Jews “to choose the way of non-violence to vindicate their position on earth.” Gandhi lso drew a comparison to the Indian satyagraha movement in South Africa, where Indians had engaged in peaceful protests without support from other countries.
He pointed out that the Jews in Germany were in a more advantageous situation, as they had garnered international support and attention for their cause. Gandhi believed that the Jewish community could effectively advocate for their rights and challenge their persecution through non-violent means, given the global recognition of their struggle.
Despite his deep sympathy for the Jews, he did not mince words, arguing that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French” and that it is wrong and inhuman to “impose the Jews” on the Arabs. Gandhi’s article was published in Harijan, a weekly magazine, in November 1938, almost 10 years before the Israel-Palestine conflict would start destablising West Asia.
The Times of India carried a piece titled, “Mr Gandhi on the Jewish problem” in its issue dated November 28, 1939. Edited excerpts: On the Palestine issue Touching upon the Palestine issue, Gandhi wrote that his sympathy for the Jews “does not blind him to the requirements of justice”. “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. It is wrong to enter Palestine under the shadow of the British gun.”


“There are hundreds of ways,” he said, “of reasoning with the Arabs, if they [the Jews] will only discard the help of the British bayonet.
“Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question,” he wrote.
“My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.”
A message to the Jews: “What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral 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,” Gandhi asserted.
“The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the National Home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews,” he wrote.
“And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their National Home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart … ” Gandhi said.

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