Italian President Sergio Mattarella Plants a Tree in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
While earthquakes shook Italy once again, causing injury and damage, Italian President Sergio Mattarella sent his nation a message of encouragement as he planted an olive tree in the Jerusalem Forest’s Grove of Nations: “We are planting this tree now, at a time when Italy is stricken with repeated earthquakes and suffering enormous damage. Planting a tree sends a message of peace and tranquility that is intended to reach even those areas that have suffered such devastation,” he said.
Heads of state from all over the world plant trees in the Grove of Nations when they pay a visit to Israel. This woodland symbolizes peace between nations and solidarity with the State of Israel and the Jewish People. The Italian president arrived at the planting site immediately after his visit to the Yad VaShem World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
The president was welcomed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar, who told him, “We greatly appreciate the warm relations between Italy and Israel, between their peoples and their governments, and we shall allow nothing to undermine this relationship.”
In his speech President Mattarella similarly emphasized the close ties between the two states: “The friendship between Italy and Israel is firm and profound,” he declared. “Nothing can cloud it, and it will continue into the future.”
President of KKL Italy Raffaele Sassun, who also took part in the planting ceremony, told those present: “This event is an additional illustration of the excellent relations between Italy and Israel. Olive trees symbolize peace, and I believe that different countries’ shared cooperation on projects initiated by KKL-JNF can bring us closer to peace.”
Raffaele Sassun spoke of UNESCO’s controversial decision of around two weeks ago, which criticized Israel’s activities in Jerusalem while blatantly ignoring the Jewish People’s connection to the holy city. “The fact that the President of Italy has come to Jerusalem and planted a tree here is especially important today,” he said. “I am sure that this symbolic act will remain etched in his memory and his heart. The president’s visit to the Grove of Nations underlines the close partnership between the Jewish and Italian peoples.”
Israel’s Ambassador to Italy Offer Sachs read the Planter’s Prayer in Hebrew, and Italian Ambassador to Israel Francesco Maria Talo recited the same text in Italian.
After the blessings and prayers, it was time for the distinguished guest to roll up his sleeves and get to work. President Mattarella seized a hoe and planted his tree with his own hands. “This site broadcasts a message of justice and peace,” he declared. “Dozens of important people have planted trees together here, and this sends a significant message to the world.”
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