By Doris Strub Epstein
To mark and honour India’s growing diplomatic closeness with Israel, a delegation 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 for Israel’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 a 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 groundbreaking 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.
They were warmly received by the Consul, who delivered a crash course in Indian history to the group. Irving Weisdorf, founder of Mozuud Human Rights 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 and presented Mr. Bhatia with a copy of the booklet -the Mandate for Palestine of l922, 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. For PM Netanyahu his visit a milestone. He 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.
Jews in India are identified by their geographical location and time of arrival in India. There are three categories; The Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadi Jews. The first Jews arrived around 50 CE after the first temple was destroyed.
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 Israel Consulates in Toronto under the auspices of the Canada India Foundation.
Consul Bhatia was invited to be a guest at the Balfour 100 gala in November, that will celebrate the centennial of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration.
Also 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.