On September 25, five American religious organizations plan to host a Ramadan dinner for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the United States. These include the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quakers, the World Council of Churches, and Religions for Peace. How is it that these Christian “peace” organizations are willing to break bread with a declared warmonger and Holocaust denier? An answer lies in the troubling history of these organizations – a history that includes a shameful alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II.
The pacifist-Nazi axis dates to the 1930s. None other than the worldwide spokesman for non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, wrote letters to Adolph Hitler that were deferential in their tone and abhorrent in their implications. A 1939 letter was apologetically described by Gandhi as a “mere impertinence” and included the following signoff: “I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you. I remain, Your sincere friend, Sd. M. MK Gandhi.”
In a letter dated December 24, 1940, Gandhi assured Hitler that he had no doubt of “your bravery or devotion to your fatherland.” Zionist appeals for Gandhi to support a national home for the Jewish people, meanwhile, fell on deaf ears, as he insisted that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs.” Not only did Gandhi reject the cause of a Jewish state but he effectively echoed Nazi propaganda, as with his warning that “this cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.”
Even more supportive of Hitler were the Mennonites. In a letter dated September 10, 1933, the Conference of East and West Prussian Mennonites from the German city-state of Danzig wrote to the Fuhrer to express its “deep gratitude for the powerful revival that God has given our nation through your energy” and wished Hitler a “joyful cooperation in the up building of our Fatherland through the power of the Gospel.” If its enthusiasm for hosting Ahmadinejad is any guide, the Mennonite Church has learned little from this dark chapter in its past. On the contrary, the church’s alliance with the Iranian leader is an extension of its hard-line anti-Israel politics, which find expression in its funding of books advocating the so-called “right-of-return” for Palestinian Arabs – a policy that, if implemented, would mean the destruction of Israel.
One finds a similar antagonism for the Jewish State in the activism of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the “peace” arm of the Quakers. As an example of what it calls “Quaker values in action,” the AFSC includes its campaigns to “challenge” American support for Israel. A supporter of the PLO, the AFSC not only backs radical anti-Israel groups like Zochrot but opposes Israel’s attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism. That the Quakers are now willing to sit down to dinner with the man who has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the global map should not be entirely surprising.
By any reasonable standard, self-styled peace activists might be expected to condemn leaders who support terrorism and who unashamedly seek the destruction of other nations. But just as advocates of non-violence found a way to accommodate the genocidal designs of Adolph Hitler, so they have been willing to make peace with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And just as Gandhi never expressed remorse for his “dear friend” letters to Hitler, its unlikely that these supposed believers in non-violence will break a dinner date with his Iranian heir.