Sde Boker (Israel), Jan 26 (PTI) Indian Ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singla on Tuesday inaugurated joint-virtual tours between Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram and Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's home in Negev desert here, on the occasion of India's Republic Day, to highlight the different aspects of the lives of the founding fathers of the two nations.
'The monthly virtual tours, which will commence from February 2021, envisages deepening the understanding of different aspects of the lives of the founding fathers of both nations, including their sources of inspiration, their visions for the future of their peoples and the world, and the symbolism of their lifestyle, such as the choice of dress,' according to a press statement.
Ben-Gurion was an ardent admirer of Gandhi and even had a picture of Bapu in his room.
The Israeli leader's home has remained as it was left when he passed away in 1973. It was opened for the public a year later as per instructions in his will.
'Ben-Gurion had a deep interest in Gandhiji's life and work, as indeed in Indian thought and philosophy. This is evident in the fact that the only picture he kept in his bedroom was a portrait of Gandhiji, as also a large collection of books on India at his home,' Singla said, standing next to Gandhi's portrait in the room.
'It is therefore fitting that Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute and Sabarmati Ashram would now be collaborating on a virtual tour of Sabarmati Ashram for people visiting Ben-Gurion's home at Sde Boker', he added.
The joint virtual tour is the initiative of Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute together with the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust with the assistance of the Embassy of India in Israel.
The abode of the two greats in many ways symbolises their vision for their people and their countries and the joint tours aim at deepening the strong strategic ties between India and Israel, the statement said.
The Government of India has declared Sabarmati Ashram a national monument given its significance in the Indian national movement.
With the Republic Day coinciding with the Jewish festival of Trees, Tu B'Shvat, the Indian envoy also planted a pepper tree overlooking the desert home of David and Paula Ben-Gurion.
The original tree was planted by Ben-Gurion in 1964 but was damaged over time.
Eitan Donyets, Director of the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, Shmuel Adler, Deputy Director of the Institute, Gil Schneider, Director of the Ben-Gurion Desert Home and Esther Suissa, Head of overseas programmes, along with officials from the Indian embassy attended the function.
Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai, Trustee, and Virat Kothari, Head of IT, from the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust in Gujarat also participated in the ceremony virtually.
'Ben-Gurion said that India's recognition of Israel was the most important one after the US and USSR....I always wondered why he would say that because we are separated by thousands of kilometres and are different in so many ways.... After visiting the Sabarmati Ashram I realised why Ben-Gurion, who never met Gandhi in person, would think that way', Donyets said.
Meanwhile, award winning Israeli actor, Tsahi Halevi, of Fauda, Bethlehem and Mossad fame, in a video message wished Indians on the Republic Day.
'Namaste India. I would like to wish my dear Indians across the world a Happy Republic Day. People of Israel share a special bond with India and I am sure it will only grow in the days to come', Halevi said.
'On a personal note, I truly hope to soon fulfill my dream of visiting India, and who knows, may cooperate with film actors in Bollywood. Wishing you all peace and love and hopefully see you soon. Namaste', the actor added.
The Israeli actor is likely to act in a joint Indo-Israel film that was initiated following the signing of an agreement on co-production during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in January 2018.
Netanyahu also attended a gala Bollywood function in Mumbai which attracted several leading figures from the industry, including Amitabh Bachchan. PTI HM IND