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