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Masaryk and the Holy Land

In the spring of 1927, President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk arrived in the Holy Land to visit the Yishuv - the Jews living in the Land of Israel. It was historically the first visit of the official head of state to the Mandatory Palestine. The exhibition at the Beit Knesset brings photographs from the first visit of the then head of state to the country and other Czech-Israeli stories. The exhibition is organized by the Czech Center in cooperation with Beit Knesset, the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Tel Aviv on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic and the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel.

Although Masaryk declared it to be a private visit, and for security reasons he travelled secretly and under an assumed name, local intelligentsia, politicians, and ordinary people attached great importance to it.

From a symbolic point of view, it was an expression of support and a unique event. It was a journey that historians may have strangely disregarded but one that the people of Israel have never forgotten. For them it was and is "an unforgettable visit".

The enthusiasm of the inhabitants of the times can be seen in the photographs presented here, in many cases ones that have never been published before.

The Masaryk and the Holy Land exhibition presents the unpublished photos and other archival material from the visit of President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk to the Holy Land in 1927 in 15 panels.

At the same time he illuminates his extraordinary relationship to Jewry and his genesis from the years of Masaryk children. The exhibition also touches upon the work of Masaryk's son and later Secretary of State John and recalls the important role he played in relation to the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk founded Czechoslovakia and only a few years later decided to support the emergence of another state. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk has earned considerable merit on the birth of contemporary Israel. His son, Jan continued in his work. After the Second World War, he helped the survivors from concentration camps (over 100,000 people) to move to Palestine through the territory of Czechoslovakia. At that time, many countries did not allow this. In the 1940s, Czechoslovakia supplied weapons to the Jewish state. Their first delivery arrived in Tel Aviv on the eve of Israel's independence war. These were rifles, machine guns, charge and aircraft, which formed the backbone of the armament of the future Israeli army, and allowed to resist the attack of the Arab countries. Without this aid, the state of Israel would probably not have emerged.

The above-standard relations between the two countries cooled after the communist putsch in Czechoslovakia. Despite the expectation, the Jewish state did not become sufficiently leftist. But Israel never forgotten the help from Prague. Up to now, the streets and squares carries the name of Masaryk carries in almost every Israeli city.

Photos from the first visit of the then head of state in the country and other Israeli-Czech stories shows the exhibition in Beit Knesset.



The text of the exhibition: Dr. Robert Řehák (curator), Ing. Jiří Čistecký (panel 11-14)

Photograps: Archives of the TGM Institute, Archives of the Office of the President of the Republic, Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pavlína Šulc, Dr. Robert Rehak, private collections

Exhibition design: Kristián, s.r.o., graphic design: Martin Kocnár, Ing. Jan Pospíšil

Special thanks to: PhDr. Jan Bílek, PhDr. Jakub Doležal, doc. PhDr. Jan Němeček, DrSc., Michal Frankl, PhD., Zita Adamová, Petra Mohylová