50 Anniversary Celebration of the Eamon De Valera Forest .
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Irish and Israeli representatives celebrate the 50th anniversary of the planting of the Eamon De Valera Forest, which was planted in the Lower Galilee in 1966 by the Dublin Jewish Community in honor of Irish President Eamon de Valera. The ceremony was held under the joint auspices of KKL-JNF and the Israel-Ireland Friendship League at the KKL-JNF nursery and visitors' center at the Golani Junction.
The event was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at the nearby KKL-JNF Nursery and Visitor Center at the Golani Junction
, and was held under the joint auspices of KKL-JNF, and the Israel–Ireland Friendship League. A young Israeli bagpiper called Kfir, who was wearing a kilt, supplied the background ambience.
Irish President Eamon de Valera was a long time politician and Head of State who always showed respect to the Jewish population of Ireland and protected them. In 1966, the Eamon de Valera Forest was planted by the Dublin Jewish community in honor of de Valera, who was president at that time.
Amongst the guests were Irish Ambassador to Israel Allison Kelly, former Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Zvi Gabbay, and KKL-JNF Board of Directors
member Carol Golding. Some dozen Irish soldiers who are part of the UN peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights and their commander Lt. Col. Mary Carroll were also present. The honored guests were warmly welcomed by KKL-JNF Director of Tourism
Elisha Mizrahi and Head of KKL-JNF's UK Desk Orna Toeg.
Israel-Ireland Friendship League President Malcolm Gafson read aloud a message from Zeev Boker, the Israeli Ambassador in Ireland:
“Over the past 50 years, the De Valera Forest has grown and developed as a symbol of the deep rooted friendship between the peoples of Ireland and Israel, and will undoubtedly continue to thrive long after we have all passed on.”
Gafson also read out a letter written by de Valera in 1965 when he was President of Ireland, giving his consent to have a forest planted in his name.
“I am deeply grateful to the Jewish community for this honor that they are conferring upon me, and to the authorities in Israel for giving the necessary permission. Please thank the members of your community here and also the government of Israel and particularly Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who showed me such kindness when I visited Israel some 16 years ago in 1951”.
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