Six Cedars Planted in Memory of Six Italian Soldiers Killed

By KKL
March 17, 2010 12:02

Michael Levi, owner of the NILIT Company in Migdal Haemek, suggested the idea to Italy’s ambassador to Israel and also to KKL-JNF, in order to explore possibilities for a memorial.

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kkl. (photo credit: kkl)

Six Cedars Planted in Memory of
Six Italian Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

On September 17, 2009, six Italian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber exploded near their vehicle.  In the world at large, this news item entered the endless annals of distant wars and their casualties.  In Israel, however, it evoked additional feelings, familiar due to the cruel Israeli reality: “The news awakened a desire in me to express identification with the victims, with their families and with the Italian people, especially because of the similar circumstances in which soldiers and also civilians have been killed in Israel over a long period of time.”  So did Italy’s Honorary Consul in Nazareth, Michael Levi, explain his decision to commemorate the six Italian fallen soldiers far from their homeland, in the land of Israel.

Michael Levi, owner of the NILIT Company in Migdal Haemek, suggested the idea to Italy’s ambassador to Israel and also to KKL-JNF, in order to explore possibilities for a memorial.  As soon as Italian accord was given, KKL-JNF located an appropriate site on the crest of Precipice Mountain, on the outskirts of Nazareth, where Pope Benedictus XVI had led the mass attended by multitudes during his historical visit in Israel about a year ago.

This was the beginning of the planting site adjacent to the pine grove on Precipice Mountain, from which Jesus the Nazarene, according to Christian tradition, performed the incredible feat of jumping to Mount Tabor, which is visible from the other side of the Jezreel Valley.  Several days ago, a small party convened on the mountain to plant six two-year-old saplings of Atlantic Cedar, as an initial commemoration of the six Italian soldiers.  Etti Lankri of KKL-JNF's European Desk was moved about the initiative:  “There is great symbolism in this commemoration project for all that pertains to fundamental values shared by the two nations, such as social justice and honoring freedom fighters wherever they may be. These trees symbolize the close ties between Italy and Israel.”

Col. Nunzio Tarantelli, Italian military attaché in Israel, was given the honor of planting the first tree in the presence of Honorary Consul Michael Levi.  “I would like to thank Mr. Levi for the special honor accorded to the fallen soldiers and to all of Italy, for proposing to commemorate the six fallen soldiers.  Indeed, we are all united by the same fundamental values, and this deed will undoubtedly contribute towards strengthening that bond.  We will inform the fallen soldier’s families in Italy of this project to commemorate their sons, and they will undoubtedly receive the news with deep appreciation, on a personal level as well as because they are Catholics who have great regard for the holy land and the roots of Christianity.”

Expanding the memorial site is being considered as the annual memorial day of the six Italian soldiers is approaching, for which Friends of KKL-JNF in Italy, on the one hand, and the Defense Ministry of Italy, on the other, would like to combine resources that would allow for the possibility of bringing representatives of the families to Nazareth for a special ceremony.  “As far as I know, this is the only place in the world, outside of Italy, where names of Italians have been commemorated, Italians who fell in the war on world terror, so it is no wonder I was so moved when I was informed about Consul Levi’s project,” concluded Col. Tarantelli.

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