(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
"The friendship between the Czech Republic and Israel is not just a relationship between governments, but also a connection between people," said Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Nečas at a tree planting ceremony at KKL-JNF's Forest Grove of Nations site in Jerusalem, where he planted an olive tree. "I am deeply honored to be planting a tree in Jerusalem," he added, "especially after having visited the Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum. I have come to Israel accompanied by a large delegation, including our Minister of Defense, ministry representatives, military personnel and businesspeople. One of the purposes of our visit is to create personal ties between people in both of our countries working in similar fields. Experiences such as these help us grow closer."
Mr. Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol, welcomed PM Nečas on behalf of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors: "It is a special honor for us to invite visiting heads of state to plant trees in Jerusalem, an act of great historical value. The tree you plant is a living remembrance of your visit to Israel. In 1948, Czechoslovakia was one of the first countries to vote in favor of recognizing the state of Israel, and our two countries enjoy a special relationship until today. KKL-JNF is a green organization that has cared for Israel's environment for 110 years, and we welcome cooperation with the Czech Republic in environmental issues, including afforestation, water projects and other related fields."
Ms. Yana Marcus of KKL-JNF's European Desk also addressed the visiting dignitaries. "Without the vision of people such as those who founded KKL-JNF, David Ben Gurion would not have been able to announce the establishment of the state of Israel," she said "KKL-JNF feels very connected to the Czech Republic. In the Yatir forest in the Negev, the largest planted forest in Israel, there is a forest grove in honor of Thomas Garrick Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. This forest grove is supported by friends of KKL-JNF in the Czech Republic, and I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to them." Ms. Marcus noted that Prime Minister Nečas's tree was the third tree to be planted by a Czech head of state in the Grove of Nations. T
rees have previously been planted by former Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, and Mr. Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic.
Before the Prime Minister planted his olive tree, the Planter's Prayer was read in Czech by Zosa Vyoralova, director of the KKL-JNF office in Prague. After the tree was planted, Mr. Michelson presented Prime Minister a certificate attesting to his having planted a tree in the Jerusalem Forest Grove of the Nations. Light refreshments were served after the brief but moving ceremony.
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