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Pre-Communist era leader called Zionism "…one of the greatest movements of the present time."

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Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of China before the communist revolution

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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.

The message, dated April 24, 1920, was sent to N.E.B. Ezra, founder of the Shanghai Zionist Association.

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.

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…”

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 their publication, Israel’s Messenger, for decades.

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.

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.”

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NLI archivist Rachel Misrati explained that while N.E.B. Ezra passed away in 1936, “the fact the letter arrived in 1938 at latest indicates that – like many Zionist figures of the period – Ezra himself may have bequeathed it to the Library, or perhaps someone came across it after his death and sent it to us after determining that the National Library was its rightful home.”

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. Founded in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) serves as the dynamic institution of national memory of the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. 

While continuing to serve as Israel’s pre-eminent research library, NLI has recently embarked on the renewal project to open access to its treasures and encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with them in new and meaningful ways. This is taking place through a range of innovative educational, cultural, and digital initiatives, as well as through a new landmark complex designed by Herzog and de Meuron. The new home of the NLI, currently under construction adjacent to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem, is on schedule to open its doors in 2022.

For more information and to view the scanned letter and other downloadable images, click here.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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