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Lost letter on Zionism from Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Founding Father of the Chinese Republic surfaces

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2021-02-14
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2021.2.11 Lost letter on Zionism from ‘Father of the Chinese Nation’ surfaces An original signed letter in which Dr. Sun Yat-sen expresses his strong support for Zionism has recently surfaced at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem and is now online for the first time. In the letter, the pre-Communist era leader venerated until today as the father of the Chinese nation calls Zionism "one of the greatest movements of the present time," continuing that, "All lovers of Democracy cannot help but support whole-heartedly and welcome with enthusiasm the movement to restore your wonderful and historic nation…" The message, dated April 24, 1920, was sent to N.E.B. Ezra, founder of the Shanghai Zionist Association. "Dear Mr. Ezra: I have read you [sic] letter and the copy of “Israel’s Messenger” with much interest, and wish to assure you of my sympathy for this movement – which is one of the greatest movements of the present time. All lovers of Democracy cannot help but support whole-heartedly and welcome with enthusiasm the movement to restore your wonderful and historic nation, which has contributed so much to the civilization of the world and which rightfully deserve [sic] an honorable place in the family of nations. I am, Yours very truly, [Sun Yat-sen] " Dr. Sun Yat-sen served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China, established in 1912 following the fall of the last imperial dynasty, prior to the Chinese Civil War and Communist Revolution. While his support of Zionism is well-documented and the letter's text was previously known, the original signed copy has only now been rediscovered, over a century after it was written. The letter recently surfaced as part of a major National Library of Israel initiative, supported by the Leir Foundation, to review and describe millions of items in its archival collections, including personal papers, photographs, and documents from many of the 20th century’s most prominent figures. The initiative is part of the Library’s current renewal, which includes next year's opening of a new campus adjacent to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem. Born in Lahore (modern-day Pakistan), the letter's recipient, N.E.B. Ezra, was a Jewish scholar, writer, publisher and activist who lived most of his life in Shanghai. In addition to founding the Shanghai Zionist Association, he edited its mouthpiece, Israel’s Messenger, for decades. According to Prof. Gao Bei, an expert on Shanghai's 20th century Jewish community, “It is very exciting that this original letter from Sun Yat-sen to N.E.B. Ezra has been unearthed. It is one of the seminal documents that illuminates the Chinese Nationalist government’s early support for the Zionist cause.” Dr. Sun Yat-sen and other members of the Chinese leadership had warm relations with local and international Jewish communities and figures, many of them cultivated during years of exile prior to the ultimate fall of the Qing dynasty. Their support of the Zionist movement stemmed from both ideological and practical considerations. In November 1917, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs A. J Arthur Balfour wrote to the leader of the British Jewish community Rothschild to support the return of the Jews to the Palestinian land under the British mandate. This private letter later became the legal basis for the Jew's return and occupation of Palestine, it was the "Balfour Declaration". Of course, the other legal basis is the Bible, because it says the God gave the land of Canaan to his chosen people Israelis. This is the reason why Israeli representatives at the United Nations assembly refute Arab countries’ accusations of Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The Bible is The land contract of the Jews, stated by Danny Danon, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. It can be said that Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's letter was the first among the leaders of the world at that time to make such remarks and give blessings to Jewish people and nation. At that time, the mainstream of Western country is Christianity which was generally anti-Semitism, and Jews did not have the huge political and economic influence in the world. At best, it is just a small race struggling to survive, and even most of the time, it is a small race that is at the mercy of others, and this shows the precious sympathy and support of Sun Yat-sen and Chinese political elites to the Jews. At the end of the 19th century, the Tsar Russian Empire launched a crazy massacre of it's 5.5 million Jews in its territory (the Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881, and the Tsarist government blamed it on the Jews, and the successor Alexander III launched a comprehensive genocide of the Jews). The three mass killings of Jews in 1881, 1892 and 1903 terrified the Jews in Tsarist Russia and fled on a large scale. As a result, a large number of Jewish refugees fled from Russia in China. After the Russian Communist October Revolution in 1917, the nobles, officers, and tens of thousands of Russian Jews from the former Tsarist Empire and Orthodox Christians fled eastward to escape from the Red Army, and finally moved from Siberia to Harbin in northeastern China. Harbin has become second home for many Israeli Jews today. The grandfather and parents of Israel’s 12th Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are among those people . Nearly 15,000 Jews from various countries poured into Shanghai in the late 1930s. At that time, the President of the Legislative Yuan Sun Ke(Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's son) planned to relocate 10,000 Jews to Yunnan Province to reduce the pressure on Shanghai’s residential shortage and said this is hi’s father, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's last wish. In addition, the government of the Republic of China(now in Taiwan) also has a plan to host Jews on Hainan Island. However, due to the full outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan and the rapid fall of Shanghai and coastal areas, these plans did not come true. On November 29, 1947, the delegation of the Republic of China abstained from voting in the United Nations partition plan for Palestine and did not support either party. Israel officially joined the United Nations as a member state on May 11, 1949, and the delegation of the Republic of China voted in favor.

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