Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin visits the World Centre

The Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, visited the Baha’i World Centre briefly on 13 June to view models of the Terraces Project underway on Mount Carmel (see also p. 72). He was escorted during his visit by project manager and architect Fariborz Sahba and the Deputy Secretary General of the Baha’i International Community, Albert Lincoln.
We the Baha’is of Jewish background are of the opinion that the Universal House of Justice has lost a great opportunity by not discussing regarding teaching activities with our former Prime Minister, Mr. Yitzhak Rabin. The interest with which our former Prime Minister is looking at the Model of the Arc project clearly indicates his interest towards the Baha’i project. Blind are the eyes which cannot see the love of Mr. Yitzhak Rabin towards our project. It looks like; he wants to say this is our own project.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Board of Deputies of British Jews condemns treatment of Iran’s Baha’i leaders

Baha’is in the UK were pleased to learn that the Board of Deputies of British Jews has issued a statement condemning the imprisonment of Iran’s seven Baha’i leaders:

The seven Iranian Bahá’í leaders sentenced to 20 year prison terms are yet further victims of the Iranian regime’s flagrant disregard towards its human rights obligations under international law. From arrest to sentencing, it seems clear that the authorities concerned did not even follow domestic due process.

The leaders have been convicted on charges ranging from insulting religious sanctity in Iran to espionage for Israel, allegations for which no evidence has ever been produced in open court, and which they flatly deny. The conduct of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Judiciary has been highly dubious, and suggests that the trial was seen as a formality with little relevance to a predetermined verdict.

The Board of Deputies is appalled at the manner in which these leaders have been treated. For two years they were imprisoned without trial. It appears that, during this time, six of the seven were held for 105 days solitary confinement and another for 175 days.

The Board of Deputies is deeply concerned by the ongoing repression of minorities in Iran. The President of the Board, Vivian Wineman, said, “In the 1980s, scores of Iranian Bahá’í leaders were summarily rounded up and executed. I pray that we are not on the verge of a repeat of such atrocities.”
“We are most grateful to our Jewish friends and colleagues for their ongoing support,” the UK Baha’i community’s Secretary of External Affairs, Dr Kishan Manocha, said. “Freedom of religion is one of the most precious of human rights and it is important for faith communities to stand together in defending this right.”
Reports from Iran indicate that Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm were each sentenced to 20 years in prison on 8 August on a number of groundless charges.

The seven were charged with, among other things, espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic, the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants.

Their crime, though, is nothing more than being members of the Baha’i Faith, a religion which has been the focus of a systematic, government-sponsored persecution in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
In fact “We the Bahais of Jews background will be much more grateful to our Jewish friends and colleagues If they help us in starting Baha’i Teaching activities in the State of Israel. “Freedom of religion is one of the most precious of human rights and it is important for faith communities to stand together in defending this right.”

We hope our voices will be heard by the authorities in the Government and at the same time Universal House of Justice will also implement different teaching projects for our Jewish brethen in Israel.
Above Picture : Shirin Tahzib & Kishan Manocha, NSA of Baha'is of UK in the Holy Land

Friday, July 23, 2010

His Excellency, Chaim Herzog visits the Baha'i World Centre (21 October 1984)

At 9:40 a.m. the President was formally received in Bahji, at the Collins Gate, by the nine members of the Universal House of Justice and escorted to the Mansion where Baha'u'llah spent His final years. There the President was greeted by the Hand of the Cause of God 'Ali-Akbar Furutan who conducted him to the room of Baha'u'llah and showed originals of some of Baha'u'llah's Tablets. Leaving the Mansion, the President paid his respects at the Sacred Tomb.

Proceeding to Haifa by official motorcade, the party alighted at the Mount Carmel gardens and visited the Shrine of the Bab. This was followed by a visit to the Seat of the Universal House of Justice which concluded with a formal luncheon in the banquet hall, in the President's honour. The visit of the first Head of State to call on the House of Justice in its permanent Seat was the occasion for the inaugural use of the splendid dining room, readied for the occasion by the dedicated efforts of dozens of skilled and devoted Baha'is serving at the World Centre.

Among those attending the historic event, in addition to the members of the Universal House of Justice and their wives, were the Hand of the Cause 'Ali-Akbar Furutan and the Mayor of Haifa, His Worship Arye Gurel, and Mrs. Gurel. An album of colour photographs of the major Baha'i Holy Places in Israel was presented to President Herzog by Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam (Hushmand Fathi-A'zam), on behalf of the Universal House of Justice. The President responded with expressions of sympathy for the suffering Baha'is of Iran and pride in the Baha'i community and its world-famed Holy Places.

The beauty of the Baha'i Holy Places, the splendour of the Faith's administrative centre, and the warmth of the welcome extended were the subjects of enthusiastic comment on the part of the President, his aide-de-camp and the Mayor of Haifa. (From Baha'i World)

It is indeed a great gesture on the part of President of Israel to visit our World Centre and have consultation with the world centre and then his expressions of sympathy for the suffering Baha'is of Iran and pride in the Baha'i community and its world-famed Holy Places.

But the question that remains unanswered is, Why we (the Baha'is) are not allowed to propagate in Israel !!!!

(Above Picture : His Excellency Chaim Herzog, President of the State of Israel, paid an official visit to the Baha'i World Centre on 21 October 1984 at the invitation of the Universal House of Justice.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Conversion of Iranian Jews to Baha’i Faith

It is really astonishing that in most of the countries the first conversion to the Baha’i Faith was from Jews community. Whether it is Hungry, Sweden or US. In Iran too where the Baha’is are being persecuted on charges of carrying out espionage activities for the state of Israel the early converts were Jews.

Shortly after the emergence of the Baha’i Faith, the Iranian Jewish community, along with Iranian Zoroastrians, underwent widespread conversions.

1. The Jewish conversion movement began in Hamadan around 1877, and by 1884, according to the historian of Persian Jewry Habib Levy, involved some one hundred and fifty of the eight-hundred Jewish households there (Levy, Tarikh-i-Yahud-i-Iran 657).

2. From Hamadan, the Bahá'í Faith spread to the Jewish communities of other Iranian cities, including Kashan (where half of the Baha’i community was of Jewish origin), Tehran, Isfahan, Bukhara, and Gulpaygan (where seventy-five percent of the Jewish community was said to have converted) (Curzon, Persia 500).

3. According to the Baha’i historian Hasan Balyuzi, Táhirih was instrumental in converting a number of Jews to the Babí Faith in Hamadan (Balyuzi, The Báb 165).

These conversions do not appear to have had any connection with later Baha’i conversions. It should be noted however, that of all the Babí leaders, Táhirih was the most outspoken in departing from Islamic norms.

The Jewish acceptance movement began in Hamadan around 1877, and by 1884, some one hundred and fifty of the eight hundred Jewish households converted to Baha’i Faith. From there, the Faith spread to the Jewish communities of other Iranian cities.

From 1950s up to the Iranian Revolution, many Jews converted to the Baha’i Faith for various reasons. Quite often the entire Jewish family use to get converted to the Baha’i Faith. Jews, Zoroastrians, and Christians could not get involved in politics except to represent their faith in the Parliament; but Baha’is did not have this restriction as long as they did not advertise their faith. This was one of the reasons why so many Jews and Zoroastrians converted to Baha’i. For example, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Iran, Mr. Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was from a Baha’i family.

During the revolution, most of the Baha’is with birth certificates stating their Jewish Faith, left Iran for Israel and got their Israeli citizenship.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Evidence of the official recognition of the Baha’i Faith as an independent world religion by the Jewish authorities has been witnessed by exemption of Baha’i properties from all taxation, both State and local. This exemption is especially noteworthy in a growing new State, struggling to maintain and further its own development. The exemption includes the properties of the Shrines of Baha'u'llah and of the Bab, the International Archives (at present in two separate locations), the two Mansions of Baha'u'llah (Bahji and Mazra'ih), the House in 'Akka where Baha'u'llah lived when He revealed the Aqdas and the House


On April 26, 1954, the extent of these growing cordial relations between the State of Israel and the International Center of the Faith was evidenced when His Excellency the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Izhak Ben-Zvi, and Mrs. Ben-Zvi, officially visited the Shrine of the Bab and of 'Abdu'l-Baha on Mt. Carmel, and called upon the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, in response to an invitation tendered earlier by the Guardian. This was the first time in Baha’i history that the Head of a sovereign independent State had officially visited the Shrine and called on the Head of the Baha’i World Faith. The Secretary-General of the International Baha’i Council describes this event, as follows:

On that historic day the President and the Secretary-General of the International Baha’i Council were received by the President of the State of Israel and Mrs. Ben-Zvi in their suite at the Megiddo Hotel in Haifa at nine in the morning. After visiting a few minutes, the party left by auto for the home of Shoghi Effendi.

The Guardian and Ruhiyyih Khanum warmly received the President and Mrs. Ben-Zvi, surrounding them with gracious hospitality. During the friendly and informal discussion which followed, Shoghi Effendi outlined the aims and purposes of the Faith, the love and friendliness of the Baha’is for Israel, and their hope and prayer for the success of the State. The President recalled a visit with 'Abdu'l-Baha some years ago in Bahji, when he and Mrs. Ben-Zvi were making a tour of the country. Persian tea and sweets were served. A beautiful hand-wrought silver-bound volume with colored views of the Baha’i Holy Places in Israel, both at Bahji and on Mt. Carmel, was presented to the President as a memento of the occasion.

The party then left for the gardens and Shrines. The Guardian took his honored guests through the gardens fragrant with the perfume of roses, lilies and the many flowers in bloom, showing them the view over Haifa with 'Akka in the distance to the north. Then he escorted them to the Holy Shrines.

The President and Mrs. Ben-Zvi were greatly impressed with the atmosphere of the sacred precincts, commented at length on the glory of the Shrine of the Bab and the gardens, which they recognized as the most beautiful in Israel.

On leaving, the President expressed his appreciation of the hospitality shown by the Guardian and of the work which the Baha’is are doing in Israel. He extended his best wishes for the success of the Baha’i community, not only in Israel, but throughout the world.

"The preliminary steps leading to this historic visit may be of interest. In January the President, Vice-President and Secretary-General of the International Baha’i Council asked permission to call on the President of the State of Israel to greet him officially. The latter received them on February first. It was during that visit that the President expressed the wish to visit His Eminence, the Guardian of the Faith and the Shrine and gardens on Mt. Carmel. Subsequently, the Guardian extended a cordial invitation to the President, which was accepted for April 26."


The Guardian has frequently referred, in his messages to the National Assemblies, to the cordial relations existing between the State of Israel and the International Center of the Faith. He has expressed his deep appreciation of the assistance given by the Prime Minister, Mr. Ben-Gurion, and the Ministries of the Government in various ways. Some of these have already been alluded to, in connection with the construction of the Shrine of the Bab and the designation of historical sites of the Faith as Baha’i Holy Places.

Of vital importance has been the increasing evidence of greater and deeper understanding of what the Baha’i Faith is and what it stands for. Contacts by members of the International Baha’i Council with the departments of the Government, both State and local, and with many Cabinet officials, have done much to help in establishing and maintaining these cordial relations.

A reception given by the International Council at the Mansion of Baha'u'llah at Bahji was one of the first steps taken to establish friendly understanding. It was attended by Government officials, Consuls, representatives from the Ministry of Religions in Jerusalem and by many friends and acquaintances. Greetings have been extended to the Baha’is, in turn, by means of Israeli radio broadcasts on special Baha’i Feast Days, such as Naw-Ruz and Ridvan. Baha’i books have been placed in the library of the Ministry of Religions and presented to the Minister himself, who is a profound student of religions, at his request.

The importance of the fact that the International Center of the Baha’i World Faith is in Israel is being more and more realized by authorities of both the State Government and the cities of Haifa and 'Akka. Many Cabinet officials have visited the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, the Shrine of the Bab, the Mansion of Bahji, and the Baha’i Gardens in 'Akka and on Mt. Carmel.

See Baha’i World Volume XII (1950-1954) Page : 46

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


[Ref: Baha’i World Volume XII (1950-1954) page: 42]

One of the most astounding and miraculous developments at the World Center of the Faith has been the acquisition and embellishment of the land surrounding the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji, on the plain outside of 'Akka. After two-year-long negotiations the Guardian announced on November 12, 1952, that a contract had been signed whereby about one hundred sixty thousand square meters of land (forty acres) in the immediate area of the Shrine were to be transferred by the Israeli Government to Baha'i ownership. Thus the Guardian was able to begin carrying out his longing to beautify the entire surroundings of the Tomb of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.

This property, equal in extent almost to "the entire Baha'i international endowments purchased in the course of sixty years in the vicinity of the Bab's Sepulcher," had come into the hands of the Israeli Government because of the precipitate flight of the former Arab owners. The Government of Israel was willing to arrange for its exchange for property which was located in a strategic area, owned by Baha'is who offered to donate their property for the purpose of the exchange. The dramatic event was heightened by the fact that the property in the Bahji area now being acquired by the Baha'is had formerly been owned by Arab supporters of old Covenant-breakers and descendents of the notorious enemy of 'Abdu'l-Baha who had placed his residence at the disposal of the Turkish Committee of Investigation sent to interrogate 'Abdu'l-Baha just prior to overthrow of the Caliphate in 1908. The area donated for exchange, on the other hand, was property belonging to the grandchildren of Mirza Muhammad-Quli, Baha'u'llah's faithful half-brother and companion in exile.

The Guardian's cable announced that the contract was signed on the one hundred thirty-fifth anniversary of the birth of Baha'u'llah. Transfer of the Bahji property was arranged by the Development Authority of Israel to be registered under the name of the Israel Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States of America.

The International Council wrote: "The magnitude of this historic event is difficult to understand at this time."

Immediately the Guardian began laying out gardens to beautify the area around the Sepulcher of Baha'u'llah, "the Qiblih of the Baha'i world." Laid out in the form of a semi-circle around the Shrine, with a radius.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baha'i community mourns passing of former leader

Fri., November 06, 2009

By Cnaan Liphshiz

Leaders of Israel's Baha'i community will next week commemorate the recent passing of Murray Smith, former Deputy Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community.

Smith, a New Zealander who served in Israel from 1994 to 2007, died last month of cancer at the age of 67 in New Zealand. A former Labor member of parliament in his native land, Smith was a well-known and well-liked figure at diplomatic receptions and events in Israel.

The commemoration gathering will take place Thursday at the Baha'i Garden in Haifa - one of the most important holy sites for followers of the Baha'i faith. Smith's family will attend a commemoration service in New Zealand, which will be held on the same day.

"The main thing about Murray was his human warmth," said Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community, who worked with Smith throughout Smith's service here.

According to Lincoln, that trait, coupled with Smith's experience in politics, afforded him a "very good grasp" of the Israeli parliamentary system, which Smith described as being very similar to the one in New Zealand.

"I will miss seeing his friendly face," said Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, chief of protocol at the Foreign Ministry. "In his pleasant way, he aptly represented the principles of the Baha'i community and its international aspects, which we value very much. I was very saddened to hear about his passing at a relatively young age."

Smith served as an MP for three years until 1975. In 1989 he converted to the Baha'i faith, moving to Israel in 1994 with his wife, Miette Smith, who took up the Baha'i faith some years before he did and volunteered at the Baha'i center in Haifa as a librarian.

Believers of the Baha'i Faith refrain from alcoholic drinks, drugs, gambling, theft, violence, adultery and defamation. The Baha'i, for whom Haifa is a major holy site, are forbidden to participate in partisan activities and consider themselves to be apolitical. "From my experience I have learned that the party political system will not solve the problems of humanity", Smith said in an interview in 2007.

During the Second Lebanon War, Murray announced the Baha'i Garden will remain lit at night beyond the normal hours, as a way of "lifting the morale of the people of Haifa."

Murray Smith is survived by his wife, Miette Smith, and five children.

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