Elections of a Different Type
ISRAEL TV CHANNEL 2
NEWSCAST ON INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
(broadcast on 2 May 1998, 8:00 P.M. News)
News Announcer: Elections of a different type: followers of the
Baha'i Faith from the whole world elect a new religious leadership in a
colorful ceremony in Haifa.
Jerusalem may be the Holy City to the three large religions, but the
Baha'is prefer to sanctify Haifa, of all places. Precisely because of
this, the leadership of the Baha'is is elected, unlikely as it may seem,
in Israel's northern capital. This week, 1500 believers from 161
countries got together to decide. Ya'ir Kachel presents a rare product
on the closed world of the Baha'is.
Narrator (Ya ir Kachel): Although it looks like a meeting of the
United Nations in New York, this happens once every five years in
Israel, of all places. Six million believers of the Baha'i Faith in the
world send their representatives from nearly every country in the world.
Each one comes, in his own national dress, to the Holy City of Haifa to
elect the world leadership of the Baha'i Faith for the next five
Albert Lincoln (Secretary-General of the Baha'i World Faith):
It's a democratic process. It's an indirect election system. There are
no candidates in the Baha'i system, no electioneering, no candidates, no
Narrator: How then do the Baha'is elect the leadership?
Albert Lincoln: The electors themselves are elected one year
before. They have a whole year to prepare and to be informed about the
activities of the Baha'is around the world and to think of names.
Narrator: The Baha'is have no priests, no high clergy and no
succession in positions by inheritance from one generation to the next.
All the Baha'is, from the senior leadership to the last of the
believers, have an equal status.
Dorothy Nelson (a Baha'i, one of the representatives of the U.S.
community): This event for me is the highlight of my life. Here is
where my family is. Whether it is from Togo, Swaziland, Greenland,
Iceland, we come together as a family, believing in common
Narrator: And, although Nelson is a judge in the High Court of
Appeals in the U.S.A., sitting side by side with members of primitive
tribes from remote islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the equality is not
absolute. The nine members of the Baha'i's Supreme House of Justice who
will be elected here and who will sit in this palatial chamber,
carefully protected and concealed from all eyes, in the administrative
building on the Carmel, those nine can only be men, in no case women.
Dorothy Nelson: This is the one mystery of the Baha'i Faith, but
it says in our writings that it will become clear in the fullness of
time. Women hold very high positions in the Baha'i Faith.
Narrator: The Baha'i Faith is comparatively new, about one
hundred years old. Mongolia, for example, it reached only about nine
years ago. Therefore, the elected ones there can also be young people of
25 years of age.
Uransaikhan Baatar (Baha'i community representative from
Mongolia): It's not very unusual for my country because the majority
of the population is young people. In Mongolia, especially in the Baha'i
community, we have a lot of young people.
Narrator: Among the mixture of races, colours and languages that
have assembled in the International Congress Center in Haifa, there are
also representatives of communities from countries that do not have
diplomatic relations with Israel, among them Arab countries or countries
of partially Islamic nature. In some of them, and especially in Iran -
whose representatives did not come - the Baha'is are persecuted by the
Paul Lupai (Baha'i community representative from Papua New Guinea):
Coming here for me, is hope. In the international convention, I see
hope for mankind.
Narrator: But the youngest religion in the world attracts more
and more believers every month, and stands for values of beauty and
esthetics as a basis for exaltation of the spirit and the soul. This
religion fulfills itself in the burial shrines and the magnificient
administrative buildings built in Haifa by contributions of the
In the year 2000, the Baha'is plan to open to the general public the
nineteen hanging gardens that rise from the bottom of the Carmel to its
top. These gardens were designed as fine workmanship and have cost about
250 million dollars.
The year 2000 will be a year of festivities for the Baha'is, and in the
future they are planning to build a great temple on the Carmel in the
hope of fulfilling their prophets' vision that from here will go forth
redemption for the whole world.
News Announcer: From Haifa, of all places ...
©Copyright 1998, ISRAEL TV CHANNEL 2