Jews are not lemmings, Mr. Gandhi
Jews are not lemmings, Mr. Gandhi

They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.”- Mahatma Gandhi, suggesting that mass suicide should have been the preferred Jewish response to the Holocaust, as opposed to fighting back or seeking refuge elsewhere. 

Throughout the West various leftists and pacifists still worship the passive resistance legacy of Gandhi. This worship or virtue-signalling, however, does not impress me, especially because my father was a slave labourer in Auschwitz and his parents and then 8 year old sister were murdered in the gas chambers there. 

We should also examine myths surrounding lemmings jumping off cliffs, as Gandhi seems to infer that is moral, as quoted above.

Non-violence is a fair tactic when dealing with the British or Indian authorities, but we contend that it is a very stupid and immoral practice when dealing with Hitler and the Nazis (and more recently with Islamist supporters of terrorism and oppression of their own people and their neighbours all over the world). 

First let us think about Gandhi’s preference for jumping into the sea when confronted with enemies seeking your death.

Non-violence is a fair tactic when dealing with the British or Indian authorities, but is a very stupid and immoral practice when dealing with Hitler and the Nazis (and more recently with Islamist supporters of terrorism and oppression of their own people and their neighbours all over the world). 
The notion of jumping into the sea reminds us of the supposed conduct of Norwegian lemmings. According to a good Wikipedia article about them, it is accepted that these lemmings do periodically jump off cliffs. However it argues that they have become “the subject of a widely popular misconception that they are driven to commit mass suicide when they migrate by jumping off cliffs. It is not a deliberate mass suicide where the animal voluntarily chooses to die, but rather a result of their migratory behavior. Driven by strong biological urges, some species of lemmings may migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great.

They can swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat. In such cases, many drown if the chosen body of water happens to be an ocean, or is in any case so wide as to exceed their physical capabilities. This, the unexplained fluctuations in the population of Norwegian lemmings, and perhaps a small amount of semantic confusion (suicide not being limited to voluntary deliberation, but also the result of foolishness), helped give rise to the popular stereotype of the suicidal lemmings.”

It may not be intended as mass suicide, but to some people it certainly looks that way.

One reason that the myth of mass lemming suicide is so widely believed, according to is that it provides an irresistible metaphor for human behavior. Someone who blindly follows a crowd—maybe even toward catastrophe—is called a lemming. Over the past century, the myth has been invoked to express modern anxieties about how individuality could be submerged and destroyed by mass phenomena, such as political movements or consumer culture.

But most scientists who have studied the lemmings disagree that their behaviour evidences the intent of mass suicide. Their worst mistake may simply be their belief that because they can swim, it is allright to jump into an ocean when their skills are limited to swimming across small rivers and lakes. Those who jump into the ocean will probably die from exhaustion before they get to dry land again.

Looking back on the Holocaust, Gandhi stated, “Hitler killed five (sic) million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. (my italics) As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.” He also said that had the Jews committed collective suicide, that would have been “heroism.”

He gave similar advice to the British people during the war. After advising the British to lay down their arms and surrender to the Nazis, he advised the British people that if the Nazis “do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”

Gandhi was not only wrong but immoral: The Jews worship life, not death, and the most moral response to Hitler and the Nazis, at least for those who were not infirm, too old, or too young, was to fight back and win. 

The same holds for jihadist Islam.

All sorts of people are confused about that today. Even in Israel where genocidal neighbours like the Palestinian Authority, and Iranian-backed Hamas and Hezbollah promise the end of Israel and embrace, even worship, violence, there is such a longing for peace, that on occasion good people get badly confused. One of the most bizarre statements in Israel came from former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who said in connection with Israel constantly having to fight back against Islamist genocidal neighbours:

“We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends.”

Olmert called the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which has resulted in a terror state ruled by Iranian-backed Hamas as dictators, "a remarkable process ... that will have an enormous impact on everything that will happen thereafter, in the State of Israel and in the Middle East." He emphasizes its unilateral nature: "we don't have to wait anymore, that we really don't need the United States to lead the process in the Middle East, we will lead this process in the Middle East." He then further articulates his theme of leadership:

“We will lead it because it's good for us. And we will lead it because it may do good to the Palestinians. And we believe that if it will be good for us and will be good for the Palestinians, then it will be good. It will bring more security, greater safety, much more prosperity, and a lot of joy for all the people that live in the Middle East. ... Everything depends on the success of this disengagement.

“And we will spare no effort in order to convince them, not by fighting with them, not by killing them, not by reaching out for their leaders, but by sitting with them, and talking with them, and helping them, and cooperating with them, and partnering with them in order to establish a new foundation for economic growth, for cooperation, for the improvement of the quality of life of the Palestinians and the Israelis, so that the Middle East will indeed become what it was destined to be from the outset, a paradise for all the world.”

When you are tired of winning against genocidal maniacs, you are ready to jump off the cliff. Gandhi’s idea for doing so, is no more helpful than to tell the Jews to be lemmings.

When you persist in seeing terrorists, who target your civilians, as “friends”, you are like Gandhi who in several letters called Hitler his “friend”. And if in 2019 you tell the Israelis to keep giving the hostile Palestinians, Hamas and Hezbollah, more land and more money, than you are counselling Israelis to jump off cliffs.

Mass suicide has never been the Jewish way, despite the story of Masada that Jews who had retreated to the desert fortress near the Dead Sea committed mass suicide rather than be taken alive by the Romans.

Every schoolchild in Israel and most Jewish students in the Diaspora are taught the story of how Jewish heroes revolted against the pagan Romans, holed up in the desert fortress of Masada – and opted for mass suicide, killing themselves and their families, over certain capture and torture by Emperor Vespasian's forces. Only two women and five children were supposed to have survived, by hiding.

However, despite the general acceptance of this account among Israelis and most Jews world-wide as fact, scholars do not all agree. I am not a scholar of archeology, but it is interesting to be aware of contrary opinions.

For example, Hebrew University Professor Nachman Ben-Yehuuda says: “Among the items that Yadin found at Masada were scrolls, pottery, clothes, including a sandal, weapons that include arrow heads of indeterminate origin and slingshot stones, and Jewish coins that date up to the year of the siege, proving human occupation at the time. However, what these items do not prove, is what happened at Masada in 73 C.E."

Masada, the place and the story, has became a symbol of courage for a people determined to be free in their own country, whether or not the last stand and subsequent suicide are fact or myth. One could say that the Jews committed suicide in desperation, believing that all hope was lost, all faith was gone, the Jewish star had been totally eclipsed and that the Jewish people would fade from history. 

The fact that this lack of faith was wrong as shown by the subsequent return to the land and rebirth of the nation-state of the Jewish people, may mean that the people of Masada were wrong for committing suicide rather than trust that their people had a bright future.

Judaism does not subscribe to the idea that one should “turn the other cheek” when attacked. Judaism does not agree with Gandhi. In fact, one important rule taught by the Talmud is ha-ba le-horgekha, hashkem le-horgo – if someone comes planning to kill you, you should hurry to kill him first.

On August 24th, 2019, Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes in Syria to thwart a planned attack on Israel by Iran-backed fighters using armed drones.

The Israeli military said its strike targeted operatives from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force as well as Shiite militias who had been planning on sending “kamikaze” attack drones into Israel armed with explosives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Israeli strike a “major operational effort.”

“Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces are operating in every arena against Iranian aggressiveness,” he said in a statement.

If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first,” he added, referencing the Talmudic passage justifying pre-emptive action. “I have directed that our forces be prepared for any scenario.”

Judaism by theology and by history rejects Ghandi-like pacifism and acceptance of suicide. However, some Jews in the diasapora become so attracted to assimilation with their fellow intellectuals in the variety of countries in the West where we live, that they accept leftist and pacifist positions.

If mass suicide and Gandhian acquiescence are wrong, and what is right is the direction to rise up and kill the genocidal enemies before they can kill you, then perhaps no Jew should stay in France or Sweden - and soon, possibly the USA -  today where it can be alleged that they are participating in their own suicide.

Demography is clear.   With the lower than replacement birth rates in the west (most European countries are between 1.2 and 1.7 children per couple), Muslim immigration with family sizes of 6+, tell us very clearly what the future will bring.   Canada is down to about 1.6 and we have a Prime Minister who welcomes Muslims without any understanding of Islamism and its extreme danger.  We have Jewish organizations rarely understanding that they are preaching tolerance (as per my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed) of their future killers, and hence opting for suicide whether they understand that or not. 

We Jews need to restore some sense of pride and justice, rather than acting as lemmings, whether it is our intent to die, or as the biologists now say of the lemmings, just a mistaken intent to jump into river which turns out to be an ocean.

“Never Again” must mean something. Never Again should Jews participate in our own suicide whether because we choose to be what we see with the lemmings, or because we don't plan to prevent what we see with the lemmings.

It matters not, as in the case of the lemmings whether we really intend to take actions that cause our death; negligent assumption of risk is bad enough.

American Jews who are prepared to follow the new look Democratic Party (with Omar on the congressional Foreign Affairs Committee) must understand that they are in danger of becoming lemmings. They think that the politics of the leftist-Islamist alliance is a river that they can swim across – but they shall wake up too late that they are in the middle of a large ocean and shall drown. They have, sadly, already experienced wake-up calls, most recently in Jersey City and Monsey.

We reject mass suicide. We reject Gandhi and we do not accept the suicide at Masada when there is the possibility of fighting back.  We worship Life not Death.

And to those Jews who believe that tolerance of our enemies and moral relativism are their guides and who still think Gandhi was right, and think that America and Israel are as evil as Iran and the Palestinian Authority, perhaps you are the real lemmings leading your children off cliffs into the abyss.

Howard Rotberg is a Canadian author and founding publisher of Mantua Books ( His books include The Second Catastrophe: A Novel About a Book and its Author; Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed; and The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it. He has written for Frontpage Magazine, Canada Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Jewish Voice of New York, New English Review and others.