Relationship with the State of Israel
September 1, 2012 1 Comment
The State of Israel has invariably accorded a high status to the international institutions of the Faith, and “this process of recognition” has constituted “an historic landmark in the evolution of the World Centre…” One of the .first responsibilities of the International Council was to foster this relationship. “Contacts are maintained with Departments of Government as well as the City Authorities in Haifa, ‘Akka, and many Cabinet officials.” (Report of International Council, May 2, 1955.)
The official visit of the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Izhak Ben Zvi, and Mrs. Ben Zvi, to the Guardian in April, 1954 led to a most cordial relationship between them, and Shoghi Effendi later called upon the President and Mrs. Ben Zvi in Jerusalem. On December 6, 1955 the Mayor of Haifa, Aba Khoushy, visited the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, and was received by Mrs. Amelia Collins, Vice-President of the International Baha’i Council and Mr. Horace Holley, Secretary of the American National Spiritual Assembly.
The establishment of a Baha’i Department under the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the official acceptance of Baha’i marriage and the excusing of Baha’i children from school attendance on Baha’i Holy Days, the exemption of Baha’i properties from taxation and customs duties are all evidences of the official recognition accorded by the State of Israel to the World Centre of the Baha’i Faith. The passing of the Guardian gave indubitable proof of the stature which the Cause of Baha’u’llah had attained in Israel. “A great wave of sincere, shocked and deep-felt sympathy poured out to the Baha’i Com¬munity from the officials of the State of Israel and its peoples,” wrote the Hands in Haifa in their Convention message, 1958; “from the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet members down to the simplest citizens, tributes and condolences poured in; at every point the Government of this State has responded..
Shortly after the body of the nine Hands in the Holy Land began to function under the provisions of the above resolution, action was taken by the entire body of the Hands to designate Abu’l-Qasim Faizi as a Hand residing in the Holy Land to replace Dr. Adelbert Miihlschlegel, as it was not possible for Dr. Muhlschlegel to serve in the Holy Land.
The membership of this body of nine Hands included the four Hands appointed by Shoghi Effendi to serve in the Holy Land, that is, Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mason Remey, Amelia Collins and Leroy Ioas, all members of the International Baha’i Council, and five other Hands from both East and West, each widely experienced in the teaching and administration of the Faith in their respective continents. Mr. Balyuzi was the Chairman of the National Assembly of the Baha’is of the British Isles, Mr. Faizi had served in the same capacity on the Regional Assembly of the Arabian Peninsula, and Mr. Haney was the Chairman of the National Assembly of the United States. Mr. Furutan had been the Secretary of the National Assembly of Iran for many years, and Mr. Khazeh had served as a member of that body.
In. other documents the Hands of the Cause set forth the basic principles governing the relationship between the body of the Hands and the nine Hands residing in the Holy Land — who for legal purposes were designated as Custodians of the Faith — and delineated the functions to be discharged by their co-workers in the Holy Land. The most important of the decisions re¬corded in these documents are summarized below:
1. The functions of the body of the nine Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land were denned to include the following tasks: To correspond with the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha’i world on matters relating to the prosecution of the Guardian’s Ten Year Plan; to assist the National Assemblies in the solution of administrative problems; to act for the protection of the Faith whenever its teachings, institutions or properties were assailed by enemies from within the Baha’i community or outside its ranks; to administer all the properties, assets and accounts belonging to the Baha’i world community (other than those belonging to the various National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, or to l&cal Baha’i bodies); to maintain correspondence with the Hands stationed in the several con¬tinents on all matters related to their task of propagating the Faith and defending it from attacks, and in this way co¬ordinating and encouraging the efforts of the Continental Hands. In addition to these functions, the authority to expel from the Faith violators of the Covenant was vested in the body of nine Hands, acting on reports and recommendations submitted by the Hands of the respective continents. It was also specified that in all dealings with the Israel Government and any local authorities in Israel, the Custodians should act through the International Baha’i Council.
2. It was decided that the entire body of the Hands of the Cause would meet periodically in the Holy Land, and that the body of the Hands would have full authority to change the membership of the Hands in the Holy Land, and to make any alterations in the functions and powers of the Custodians as the Hands might decide.
(Bahai World, Volume 13 Page 346)
Following the historic Proclamation of November 25th, 1957, the Hands in the Holy Land shared with the various National Assemblies copies of the documents relating to the establishment of the nine Hands residing in the Holy Land who were to act as Custodians of the Faith until the es¬tablishment of the Universal House of Justice. After reviewing these documents, all the National and Regional Assemblies of the Baha’i world officially recognized the nine Hands in the Holy Land and pledged their full support and allegiance.
The authority in these various documents enabled the Hands in the Holy Land to take prompt steps to safeguard the properties of the Faith, particularly the extensive and valuable international endowments at the World Center, the value of which was estimated by Shoghi Effendi in his last message at over five-and-a-half million dollars. Recognition of the authority of the Custodians by the officials concerned to administer the bank accounts held in the name of the Guardian, comprising the international reserve funds of the Cause, was a great victory.
It was these far-reaching decisions and actions which made it possible to continue the co-ordination and direction from the Holy Land — the world spiritual and administrative center of the Cause — of the international activities of the Faith, and for the vital tasks of the Guardian’s Ten Year Plan to be prosecuted vigorously by a unified Baha’i world community.
It thus became evident that the Guardian had, during the thirty-six years of his ministry, reared a world community with an ad¬ministrative structure and institutions which enabled it to withstand the shock of his passing and to bring his World Crusade to a victorious and triumphant conclusion in Ridvan, 1963, making possible at that time the establishment of the Universal House of Justice.
Israel Postal Authority issued A stamp featuring the Seat of the Universal House of Justice
A stamp featuring the Seat of the Universal House of Justice was issued by the Philatelic Service of the Israel Postal Authority on 16 February as part of an ongoing series of stamps in honor of the religions represented in the Holy Land. The design for the stamp was cho¬sen in a national contest.
A Baha’i stamp and accompanying first day cover were issued by the Israel Postal Authority as part of a series of stamps in honor of the religions represented in the Holy Land.
In April 1985, the House of Justice created an international agency to coordinate relations with the media and other information sources, the Office of Public Informa¬tion, with its headquarters in HaifaNew York. and a branch office in
(Bahai World 1992-1993)
The establishment of the first academic Chair for Baha’i Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel
The establishment of the first academic Chair for Baha’i Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem—with the mission of promoting understanding of this new Faith and studying its history, its teachings, and its role in the modern world—represents a significant step in the institutionalized study of the Baha’i Faith.
In the words of Professor Menachem Magidor, president of the Hebrew University, the establishment of the Chair signifies “interfaith, intercultural, and interethnic discourse between people of different convictions and different beliefs.” And as he remarked at the dedication of the Chair, “While we are definitely a Jewish university, we should be an intellectual bridge between Jewish culture and other religions.”
Following the event at the Hebrew University, a second event commemorating the foundation of the Chair was held on 25 June 1999 at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa. This gathering focused on the evolution of Baha’i scholarship and the unique nature of the relationship between the Hebrew University and the World Centre, particularly the Centre for the Study of the Texts. The cooperation between these two institutions will allow the university access to historical documents crucial to the development of Baha’i studies.
Albert Lincoln once again spoke on behalf of the Baha’i Community and during his speech read the text of a letter from former president of Israel Itzhak Navon to the President of the Hebrew University, congratulating him on the formation of the Chair. Mr. Lincoln also elucidated the commitment of the Baha’i World Centre to working with the university in pursuit of its scholarly goals.
A large delegation from the Hebrew University attended, including the president, vice-president, and rector of the university. It marked the first time that the university senate had ever convened outside Jerusalem.
Menachem Ben-Sasson, the university’s rector, spoke about the longstanding relationship between the Baha’i Faith and the Hebrew University, which dates back to the founding of the school in April 1925, when Shoghi Effendi wrote in a cable, “.. .BAHA’IS HOPE AND PRAY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THIS SEAT OF LEARNING MAY CONTRIBUTE TO THE REVIVAL OF A LAND OF HALLOWED MEMORIES FOR US ALL AND FOR WHICH ABDU’L-BAHA CHERISHED THE HIGHEST HOPES.”
(Bahai World Volume 1999-2000, Page 377)