US Senator Orrin G. Hatch Plants a Tree in Israel.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The US senator Orrin G. Hatch and his entourage were welcomed by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, who gave them an overview of the history of KKL-JNF. “The Jewish National Fund, as it was called, was established in 1901 to purchase land in the biblical ‘Land of Israel’. In 1948 when we declared independence, much of that land became the State of Israel. Today KKL-JNF is a very, very active body. We were one of the world's first environmental organizations. KKL-JNF has planted over 240 million trees since 1901, which averages at about 17,000 trees per week, and the effort continues. We are also involved in water management and research, because one of this country's greatest problems is lack of water. And today, high on our agenda is to deliver environmental education to the young generations.
In response Senator Hatch exclaimed, “We need your organization in Utah. Utah is dry like Israel. And like Israel, we also have a great salt lake with a Jordan River that feeds it. I am thrilled to be here. I support the wonderful people of Israel who suffered for centuries. This morning at the Holocaust memorial ceremony I was pleased to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, the former Prisoner of Zion, for whom I worked so hard to get out of the Golah”. The word Golah is the Hebrew word for the Exile. “Thank you for allowing us to plant a tree in this forest, because our planting of this tree makes us part of Israel. God bless Israel, and God bless America.”
Orrin G. Hatch is a senior Republican senator from Utah. He is also president pro tem of the United States Senate, making him the third highest ranking official in the United States following the Vice President. He served in many positions during his long political career, including serving on the Board of Directors of the United States Holocaust Museum.
Co-Chairman of The National Museum of American History, Phillip M. Darivoff, who was part of the visiting delegation, said, “Planting a tree on this solemn day is an affirmation of life, and an affirmation of the enduring friendship between our two great countries. Those of us involved in Israel efforts in the US know that Israel would have a hard time moving forward without the support of the USA. And those of us who love America know that it would not be America without its relationship with Israel and the foundations and values it received from the Jewish people.”
National Security Advisor to Senator Hatch, Doug Dynes, recited the Planter’s Prayer.
He revealed that that the tree planting ceremony was very important for the senator. “The senator doesn’t travel much anymore, but the place he most wanted to go back to was Israel.”
The Israel representative of the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Educational Foundation, Becky Strapp, who was instrumental in arranging the visit said, “Before embarking on the trip, Senator Hatch insisted on planting a tree in Israel, on Holocaust Memorial Day”.
The visiting entourage then walked up the hill to the Kennedy Memorial where Andy Michelson explained that the memorial structure symbolizes a tree that has been cut down. “This site is an important part of the Israeli school curriculum, for it is here that the children learn about democracy and about Israel’s great ally, the United States of America”.
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