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Gandhi grandson resigns from peace center after furor erupts over comments criticizing Jews
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    ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A relative of Mahatma Gandhi has resigned from a peace institute after drawing condemnation for comments he made in an online forum that Israel and Jews ‘‘are the biggest players’’ in a global culture of violence.
    Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of the revered pacifist, said Friday the board of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence based at the University of Rochester had accepted his offer a day earlier to step down as president.
    Gandhi co-founded the institute with his wife, Sunanda, at Christian Brothers University in Memphis in 1991 and relocated it to the University of Rochester campus in June, a few months after her death.
    Gandhi was on a panel of scholars, writers and clergy who discuss a new topic weekly on the Washington Post’s ‘‘On Faith’’ page and his comments, posted Jan. 7, drew a torrent of criticism, much of it unfavorable.
    He wrote that Jewish identity ‘‘has been locked into the holocaust experience — a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed. It is a very good example of (how) a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends.
    ‘‘The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful. ... The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on, the regret turns into anger.’’
    Describing Israel as ‘‘a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs,’’ Gandhi asked whether it would ‘‘not be better to befriend those who hate you?’’
    ‘‘Apparently, in the modern world so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept,’’ he wrote. ‘‘You don’t befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.’’
    Gandhi later apologized ‘‘for my poorly worded post,’’ saying he shouldn’t have implied that Israeli government policies reflected the views of all Jewish people.
    ‘‘I do believe that when a people hold on to historic grievances too firmly it can lead to bitterness and the loss of support from those who would be friends,’’ he wrote in a follow-up.
    While emphasizing that Jewish suffering, particularly in the Holocaust, ‘‘was historic in its proportions’’ and that ‘‘it is also important not to forget the past, lest we fail to learn from it,’’ he stood by his criticism of ‘‘the use of violence by recent Israeli governments.’’
    ‘‘I have criticized the governments of the U.S., India and China in much the same way,’’ he said, adding that ‘‘I want to correct statements that I made with insufficient care, and that have inflicted unnecessary hurt and caused anger.’’
    The school declined immediate comment on the controversy, saying the institute’s board ‘‘is separate from the university.’’ Its president, Joel Seligman, said earlier this month that he was ‘‘surprised and deeply disappointed’’ by Gandhi’s comments.
    The institute offers courses, workshops and seminars on nonviolence. Its research library contains multiple photographs, audio and videotapes, and 100 volumes of writings by his grandfather, who led India to independence in 1947 and was assassinated by a Hindu hard-liner in January 1948.

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