To mark and honour India’s growing diplomatic closeness with Israel, a delegation representing Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, and Canadians for Balfour 100, met August 18th with India’s Consul General, Dinesh Bhatia in his office at the Bloor St. Consulate of India.
It was spearheaded by Goldi Steiner, who with the late Salomon Benzimra, founded the organization Canadians forIsrael’s Legal Rights.
She presented Mr. Bhatia with a framed copy of the Balfour Declaration, often called Israel’s birth certificate, because it led to the creation of the law that deemed Palestine a homeland for the Jewish people, valid in international law to this day. She also gave him a copy of Benzimra’s ground breaking book, The Jewish Peoples Rights to the Land of Israel.
“The goal of the visit was to fill a critical void in our (Israel and India) renewed relationship and to provide your people with the truth about the establishment of modern Israel and her people’s legal and historical rights,” she said.
We were warmly received by the Consul General, who delivered a crash course in Indian history to the group. Irving Weisdorf, founder of The Mozuud Freedom Foundation and co chair with Goldi Steiner of Canadians for Balfour 100, responded with a brief history of modern Israel, focusing on the time span between 1917, the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, the partition of Palestine when Transjordan was created in 1922, which was similar to the partition of India when Pakistan was created. They also talked about the huge transfers of population in both events.
The Consul General was presented with a copy of the booklet –The Mandate for Palestine of 1922, signed by the League of Nations, when the Balfour Declaration became a legal document.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish State. PM Netanyahu called his visit “groundbreaking” and said he “sees history in the making” in their talks. A number of agreements were signed that will benefit both countries in the future.
PM Modi also met with Moshe Holtzberg, now 11 years old. He is the child who survived the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. Modi invited him and his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuels, who rescued him, to visit India.
Consul Bhatia informed the group that although Jews have lived in India for millennia, never were they targeted for anti Semitic hatred.
To mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, a special event will be held in the fall. It is being planned by the Indian and Israeli Consulates in Toronto under the auspices of the Canada India Foundation.
Consul Bhatia was invited to be a guest at the Balfour 100 event – The Impossible Dream — to be held on November 1st, that will celebrate the Centenary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration.
Included in the delegation were Doris Epstein, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, Shirley Anne Haber, Speakers Action Group, Renanah Gemeiner, Canadian Jews and Friends for Yezidis, and Gary Rose, Mozuud. All of them friends and Associates of Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, and Canadians for Balfour 100.
by Doris Strub Epstein