U of Rochester Statement on Gandhi Post

Statement by Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. January 11, 2008 I was surprised and deeply disappointed by … Continued

Statement by Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester.

January 11, 2008

I was surprised and deeply disappointed by Arun Gandhi’s recent opinion piece in the Washington Post blog, On Faith. I believe that his subsequent apology inadequately explains his stated views, which seem fundamentally inconsistent with the core values of the University of Rochester.

In particular I vehemently disagree with his singling out of Israel and the Jewish people as to blame for the “Culture of Violence” that he believes is eventually going to destroy humanity. This kind of stereotyping is inconsistent with our core values and would be inappropriate when applied to any race, any religion, any nationality, or either gender.

Among the University of Rochester¹s values are a commitment to promoting diversity and being a welcoming and inclusive community. We respect the religious and cultural heritages of all people, and indeed our Interfaith Chapel is an institutional expression of our commitment to support religious diversity, to encourage free and open dialogue among diverse religions in a civil manner.

We are also committed to the right of every person to address complaints or allegations personally and directly. Arun Gandhi currently is in India. I will discuss this matter with him in person as soon as he returns to Rochester later this month.

Editor’s Note: Arun Gandhi is president and co-founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, now at the University of Rochester in New York.

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  • Joanne

    I find is amazing that Mr. Gandhi has such inadequate and inaccurate historial knowledge/information. ANd if his remarks are not anti-Semitic they certainly come close. I find it fascinating that he should censure the Jews for their historic memory of the Holocause, but ignores the ‘victimization’ and ‘humiliation’ of the Palestinians who have fed at the trough of the USA and Europe – but not their Arab oil rich brethren – for over 60 years. Whose sad ‘plight’ has encouraged the Brits to remove all reference to the Holocaust in their school books becuase it ‘offends’ the Muslims living in the United KingdomMr. Gandhi, who bears an honorable surname, does not live up to his family’s non-violence background. His language is inflammatory, he likens the Jews to “snakes” – from the pagebooks of the Arab world? – and attributes to them all the horrors of the modern world. What about Dafur? Rwanda? Afghanistan? The Taliban? Or are Muslims excused from his inflammatory condemnations.For shame!If he had lanbasted any other minority, he would not have faced just a conversation with the Presidnet of the University = like Don Imus he would be without a job.

  • Anonymous

    TRIVIA: Did you know that , Literally & Figuretivly , that “ZiON” or ‘Zien’ or ‘Zye-in’ or similar eponym varient,s means to acsually ‘Screw something” or via sex someone! And even more interesting, in ARABIC , not lost in translation , and in Hebrew (lots of Arabic therein & thereof, visa vis) via the the word ‘ZiBBY’, means a Mans (sex Part, Circumcised or not) organ! And so,Arabs have Copy Cat the concept “KOSHER” and called it their ‘HALLAL”! So Zibby & Zion is the Same Shiat! And there is nothing Sunni about them either???!And did you know in Arabic the word ‘MANIAC’ or it’s varient , means ‘Homo-Sexual’???! But in Yidish, not Hebrew , is called a ‘Fagallae’! Ya Ya!

  • Michael

    Mr. Gandhi’s comments were hurtful and unnecessary. The very statements he made suggest that in fact he is a rascist and anti-semite. The Holocaust, which took the lives of millions of Jews and nonJews was the worst travesty in the history of humanity. We as a human race can never forget people’s ability to be cruel to others. We must strive for mutual respect. To blame Israel and the Jews for a culture of violence is nonsense. No one culture group is responsible for this. It is an interplay of thousands of years of mistrust of people with different skin color, religion etc. Mistrust that is grounless, painful and unnecessary. It may sound trite, but people need to accept eachother’s differnces and coexist. Mr. Gandhi has gotten so far away fro His grandfathers purpose that maybe it is time for him to remove himself from public life and reflect on his negativism The Gandhi center at the UR should be closed if they cannot promote an environment of tolerance and mutual respect. Thanks

  • Gurdip Sethi

    Mr. Seligman:I appreciate you expressing your disagreement with Mr. Gandhi’s views about the excesses committed by the Israel Government. Also, I am appreciative of your emphasis on the core values being espoused by University of Rochester. One of the core values, I hope, is to encourage diversity of opinions. Mr. Gandhi is a very non violent person who is heading the MK Gandhi Institute for Non Violence and if he holds certain views contrary to your own personal beliefs he should be free to do so. There should be no pressure on him, overt or covert, to change his position to be in line with the views of the Israel Lobby in this country. For heaven sake let there be open discussion and dialog on this issue rather than concerted efforts to squelch any different points of view. Disagreements can be resolved through open and honest dialog and not by pressures and smear campaigns.

  • Indian

    Wow! Talk about a good for nothing living off his grandpa’s name. By the way, there’s no dysfunction quite like the Gandhi family…Maybe Mr.Gandhi would be better off preaching to the Hindu fanatic politicians who slaughtered 2,000 defenseless muslims in a pogrom worthy of the Nazis in Gujarat.

  • Irsh

    Contrary to what Mr Gandhi says, I am always amazed at how forgiving of the Germans, the Jews seem to be. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does appear intractable but I dont see how the Palestinians and the meddling Arabs and Iranians can be absolved of their role in it. Would merely befriending the Palestinians permanently solve the problem as Mr. Gandhi suggests? I dont think so. At some point in the future, when it becomes more favorable, many Palestinian and Israeli Arabs will also demand that the Jews either convert or allow it (Islam) to dominate Israeli national life. This can be safely predicted based on realities in India, Pakistan, Malaysia etc. Unfortunately, Mr Arun Gandhi is taking a stance that is quite familiar to most Indians. Indeed, it was his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi who wrote to Churchill asking him to give up England and its ‘fair lands’, and all their possessions to Hitler’s advancing forces, in the name of non-violence. It was also Mahatma Gandhi who wanted that the Hindus in India forsake almost everthing and compromise with the muslims for non-violence to be the dominant ideal. The eventual result of such irrationality was that muslim leaders hardened their stances and only demanded more in the form of a separate homeland (Pakistan) whose creation was opposed but could not be prevented even by Gandhi.A fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot therefore be found by following the naive assumptions and inflexible principles that Mr Arun Gandhi (and his grandfather) stand for.

  • Irsh

    As an Indian I would like people to know that many Indians feel betrayed by Gandhi and his grandfather. However, this article of his is no more an expression of anti-semitism than the pro-muslim agenda of his grandfather’s was anti-Hindu. What it does tell us, however, is that the Gandhis stand for and uniformly apply the principle of non-violence no matter what common sense and reason tells them in different contexts. India took their advice and paid for it dearly. Now they would like Israel to do the same.

  • Irsh

    As an Indian I would like people to know that many Indians feel betrayed by Gandhi and his grandfather. However, this article of his is no more an expression of anti-semitism than the pro-muslim agenda of his grandfather’s was anti-Hindu. What it does tell us, however, is that the Gandhis stand for and uniformly apply the principle of non-violence no matter what common sense and reason tells them in different contexts. India took their advice and paid for it dearly. Now they would like Israel to do the same.

  • Irsh

    As an Indian I would like people to know that many Indians feel betrayed by Gandhi and his grandfather. However, this article of his is no more an expression of anti-semitism than the pro-muslim agenda of his grandfather’s was anti-Hindu. What it does tell us, however, is that the Gandhis stand for and uniformly apply the principle of non-violence no matter what common sense and reason tells them in different contexts. India took their advice and paid for it dearly. Now they would like Israel to do the same.

  • rochelle cresov

    Dear Sir: I am a Jew, living as a Jew, growing as a Jewish American. I believe in freedom of speech and opinions. I would like to see Arun Gandhi treated to another trip to Israel to see all that she is in the name of democracy, growth and religious freedom. Somehow Mr. Gandhi missed the whole lesson of his grandfather. To judge an entire people throughout the world with one brush stroke is unconscionable. This man has shamed his family name and should resign officially as soon as he returns to Rochester, New York. Thank you for your attention.Rochelle Cresov

  • jhbyer

    “This kind of stereotyping is inconsistent with our core values and would be inappropriate when applied to any race, any religion, any nationality, or either gender.” Maybe this is meant generally, but my strong reaction relates it to our topic, violence. With all due respect to President Seligman and men everywhere who’ve forsworn violence, to name men as THE violent sex is not to stereotype, but to give women their due respect, too. The social value ascribed to the feminine is inversely proportional to the rate of violence.

  • tony macula

    Arun Gandhi clarified the only objectionable part of his claim that “Israel and Jews” hold on too firmly to their holocaust experience by correcting the implication that the policies of the Israel are reflective of the views of all Jews. I can now agree with his clarified view. It is not anti-Semitic.However, I find University of Rochester President Joel Seligman’s response to Mr. Gandhi’s statement and apology paranoiac. Dr. Seligman was wrong to infer that”Any nation that remains anchored to the past is unable to move ahead and, especially a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs.”

  • Gargi

    The President’s statement is certainly paranoiac. Whatever the core values of the University are, they consist in publishing statements after having conversed with the parties involved. Why on earth would you post this without having spoken to Arun ji first? If you have the Universities’ best interests at heart then you must protect its constituents, hearing them out and learning their position before moving towards their expulsion. Don’t make this about the U of R, your views are yours, and yours alone. If they were anyone else’s you would have asked the students and faculty before publishing this blog.

  • Conrad Nadell

    Arun Gandhi has shown a suprising lack of history and a deep grained anti-Semitism that is inappropriate for the head of a non-violent institution. Gandhi states the Jews and Israel place too much emphasis on the holocaust. When at least one nation threatens to wipe Israel off the map and too few nations protest, it is clear the world has not yet learned from the holocaust.A claim that Israel is the formentor of violence and armed conflict can only come from someone ignorant of its history of having to defend themselves from the armies of all its neighbors. Gandhi wants Israel to forgive and forget while living amongst people who continue to incite hatred and teach lies about the Jews and Israel.Those accusations can only come from someone who is ignorant or afflicted by blind prejudice.

  • Conrad Nadell

    Arun Gandhi has shown a suprising lack of history and a deep grained anti-Semitism that is inappropriate for the head of a non-violent institution. Gandhi states the Jews and Israel place too much emphasis on the holocaust. When at least one nation threatens to wipe Israel off the map and too few nations protest, it is clear the world has not yet learned from the holocaust.A claim that Israel is the formentor of violence and armed conflict can only come from someone ignorant of its history of having to defend themselves from the armies of all its neighbors. Gandhi wants Israel to forgive and forget while living amongst people who continue to incite hatred and teach lies about the Jews and Israel.Those accusations can only come from someone who is ignorant or afflicted by blind prejudice.

  • Conrad Nadell

    Arun Gandhi has shown a suprising lack of history and a deep grained anti-Semitism that is inappropriate for the head of a non-violent institution. Gandhi states the Jews and Israel place too much emphasis on the holocaust. When at least one nation threatens to wipe Israel off the map and too few nations protest, it is clear the world has not yet learned from the holocaust.A claim that Israel is the formentor of violence and armed conflict can only come from someone ignorant of its history of having to defend themselves from the armies of all its neighbors. Gandhi wants Israel to forgive and forget while living amongst people who continue to incite hatred and teach lies about the Jews and Israel.Those accusations can only come from someone who is ignorant or afflicted by blind prejudice.

  • UR Student

    What is “free and open dialogue?” Is this not an attempt at expressing an opinion (whether very poorly and strangely worded or not)? Is dialogue only free and open if all opinions are the same? Disagreement needn’t be eliminated to stop violence; ignorance is more detrimental.

  • TRAPPED IN GAZA

    60 women were shot at the Egyptian border attempting to escape the desparate situation created in the Gaza Strip by Israeli refusal to allow food, medicine, fuel to get through.

  • sp

    As a naturalized Hindu American, I do not agree with Mr. Arun Gandhi’s views on Israel or the jews- I think it is necessary for them to maintain some might in an area where they are surrounded by people who know no reason, humanity or compassion. Take any place in the world where islam rules, and you will see that more often than not, it is in conflict, either with its neighbors, or with other religions, or within itself (sunnis vs shias, muslim men vs muslim women, etc.).Having said that, I am finding the tone and tenor of the above statement from the President of Univ of Rochester lacking in grace or civilty that one expects from such an authority figure. He has made this statement as any other affected jewish person (and he has every right to do so, but he should make it very clear that he is expressing his personal opinion and not as a President of UR), instead of as the President of this universtity. When a President starts using words like “vehemently disagree”, then it is clear that any subordinate of this person will be given the full punishment. He has already made up his mind. And from what I hear, Mr. Gandhi has resigned from his post at the MK Gandhi institute. This, in the US, IMO, is clear case of misuse of one’s power and clout.

  • gudedperplexity

    Thank you, Mr. Seligman, for raising your voice against a bigoted diatribe coming from the pen of someone supposedly advocating peace and understanding. The issue, of course, is not Gandhi’s views about Israel, but rather his disturbing and misguided generalizations combined with his sad lack of appreciation of history.

  • Sam Amer

    If Mr. Gandhi wrote that Israel and the Jews were the shining examples of peaceful coexistence and love, nothing of this furor would have happened. Perhaps that is what he should have done to avoid this onslaught by this powerful minority and keep his job. But, of course, that would be completely wrong! If he said the same about estonia, nobody would have noticed. To live in peace, and keep what you have, in the United States you must be blind to the disgraceful actions of Israel and the Jews or they will destroy you.

  • davemakkar

    PLEASE SUPPORT FREEDOM OF FREE SPEECH RIGHTSDuring the inhuman British colonization there were approximately 25 major famines struck India between 1876-1943; spread through states such as Tamil Nadu in South, Bihar in north and Bengal in the east. Altogether between 30-40 million Indians were the victims of famines in the latter half of the 19th century under the atrocious & barbaric British Rule.

  • davemakkar

    SUPPORT FREEDOM OF FREE SPEECH RIGHTS & MAHATAMA’S GRANDSON ARUN GANDHI SHOULD HAVE NEVER RESIGNEDDuring the inhuman British colonization there were approximately 25 major famines struck India between 1876-1943; spread through states such as Tamil Nadu in South, Bihar in north and Bengal in the east. Altogether between 30-40 million Indians were the victims of famines in the latter half of the 19th century under the atrocious & barbaric British Rule.In the famine of 1876-1879 alone more than 20 million Indians died in India . Again in the famine of 1896-1902 more than 10 million died of starvation. All due to the indifferent attitude to the fate of starving Indians and incompetence as well as refusal of British Rulers to help the starving humans. British Ruler’s inhuman attitude towards human life became more visible in the 1943 Bengal Famine in which more than 4 million Bengali Indians died. Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister at that time. The famine occurred under his own watch and his involvement, knowledge in the human disaster & sufferings remains a mystery till to-date. In a response to an urgent request by the Secretary of State for India , Leo Amery and Wavell to release food stocks for India , Winston Churchill responded with a telegram to Wavell asking, if food was so scarce, “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”During the famine Churchill was more concerned with the civilians of Greece ; who were also suffering from a famine compared with the Bengali Indians. In the end Churchill did ask for US assistance, writing to Roosevelt that he was “no longer justified in not asking for aid” but his response was negative. It was very unfortunate on the part of Democrat President Roosevelt to show least concern for the lives of Bengali Indians against the very principle of American philosophy, “Liberty & Justice to all.”In 1945 the official British Famine Inquiry Commission deliberately suppressed the Bengal Famine of 1943 death toll at about 1.5 million Indians. Years later in 1974, W R Aykroyd who was a member of the British Inquiry Commission and was primarily responsible for this under estimation, conceded that the figures were an underestimate. W R Akroyd gave a very silly explanation, “I now think it (the death toll) was an under-estimate, especially in that it took little account of roadside deaths”. Where as fact of the matter is close to 4 million Bengali Indians died in the 1943 Famine. It is an irony no Indian especially the Bengalis have ever talked about for 4 million Bengali victims including new born children who were starved to death in 1943 Bengal famine under inhuman, atrocious and cruel British Rule. No Indian has ever talked about 30-40 million Indians who died in different famines during 1876-1943 under the British Rule. Where as every where Organized Jewish Leadership wants the whole world to talk 24/7 and feel guilty about the holocaust in which 5 million (an inflated figure) Jews were killed by Hitler rather than their illegal colonization of Palestine Land. This Leadership does not wish to address failed socio, economics & political policies of Israel and illegal colonization of Palestine Land with 3.5 million Arab Muslim Slaves for the last 40 years. Jewish’s Leadership around the world is an exclusive Organized Club with hardly any feelings for their own community. The proof is 34% Israeli children live in poverty and 20% of its population live below poverty line. The accumulated wealth of 500 richest people is around $65 billion in contrast to Israel ’s GDP of $130 Billion and National Budget of $65 Billion. It is an economically, socially and politically failed state who can not solve its socio-economic, political problems including its Land dispute with Palestine since 1967. This Land Israel has colonized for last 40 years; 3.5 million Arab Muslims lives there with no voting Rights. Still Jews around the world call Israel a Democracy!This Organized Leadership is besides promoting a Culture of Moral & Ethical Corruption every where in the world is governing Israel with guns & bombs to glorify their illegal confiscation of Palestine Land . To hide all of this they want the entire world to live in the past that Jews were massacred by Hitler so they deserve every one’s sympathy. They want the whole world to feel guilty the words spoken by Arun is no exaggeration. Indians around the world & Indian Government should be ashamed of them selves for not standing up with Arun who has been forced out of M K Institute for Non- violence by the Jewish Leadership for making this honest comment. This institute was founded in America 17 years ago by Arun Gandhi to spread the ideals of Father of the Indian nation; Mahatama Gandhi who happens to be his grandfather. It is gross injustice and assault on Free Speech Rights.Can the preachers of Liberty, Justice and Peace to all; pay attention to the injustice to Arun Gandhi & assault on Free Speech.Dave Makkar

  • H. Talib

    I don’t think what Mr. Ghandi has stated deserves an apology from a president of a University so famous as Rochester. Academic environment has a responsibility to provide for the freedom of opinion and stand by it. It is unbelievable that the President of Rochester stands defenseless and evasive and apologetic only because one of its scholars has a different opinion from the Herd. The President should have said: ‘..although I do not condone the views of the author I have no moral standing to harrassing him..’ This kind of statement should be read before a congregation in a synagogue not a Universiy. This act of apology for freedom of opinion and expression is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century.

  • callie

    Thank you so much for standing up to hate and bigotry and for what the University stands for.Its a shame the publishers of this blog didn’t have the courage to place someone who accuses Jews of being the biggest players in the culture of violence on notice that it is not acceptable.Had he printed this about Islam or African Americans or any other group he would have been out.The editors read this post and didn’t even find it offensive! That says alot.I am a student at the U of R and we all really very proud of our President for taking a stand againt Hate.