CFI Parliamentary Chairman Plants a Tree in Israel and Visits Gaza Border.
Under the drizzle of an auspicious rain, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles, Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) Parliamentary Chairman and British Member of Parliament, planted a young carob tree at KKL-JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center, which is located near the Kennedy Memorial in the Jerusalem Mountains.
“I am genuinely emotionally pleased to have this gift…This is a symbolic commitment to the people here, and a commitment to this place which will be here for years to come,” said Pickles, who said that he first came to Israel in 1980 and “fell in love” with the country. “It is good to put down roots in this bastion of democracy where people speak their minds. It is one of the few places in the world where people speak their minds about politics and institutions and people have to earn their respect.”
Pickles said that by visiting the country many times with his colleague Lord Stuart Polak, CBE, the Honorary President of CFI, he was able to see many aspects of Israel that he would not have otherwise seen.
“Part of the pleasure is bringing together two countries which have so much in common,” Pickles said.
A commemorative plaque of the planting was placed in the Lord Sacks Forest in nearby Aminadav.
“This has been a spiritual experience and a great honor. Now I have something connected to me in this country, especially around Jerusalem,” said Pickles.
Although in this weather there was no need for the watering can left by the side of the sapling by KKL-JNF workers, the jocular Pickles insisted on using it to hand-water his sapling as he was protected against the rain by an umbrella
The 17-person strong delegation was greeted by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson and JNF UK Israel Representative Yonatan Galon, and was accompanied by Orna Toeg, head of the KKL-JNF's British and South African Desk in Israel.
“In Judaism the concept of planting a tree is very important,” said Michelson, noting that since its founding in 1901 KKL-JNF has planted 240 million trees – the equivalent of about 17,000 trees every week.
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