(photo credit: Courtesy)
His Excellency Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, planted a tree at the KKL-JNF Jerusalem Forest Grove of the Nations. Dr. Gusenbauer was greeted by KKL-JNF's Yana Marcus, who thanked him for participating in the 'plant a tree' tradition for visiting heads of state.
Avraham Duvdevani, KKL-JNF Co-Chairman, welcomed the Chancellor on behalf of KKL-JNF: "As everyone knows, Israel is considered a holy land by the world's three major religions. By planting a tree here, you join a steadily growing list of world leaders who have planted trees in Jerusalem as a means of expressing their hope for a better world, a world in which there is a sense of unity among nations, a world committed to working towards less pollution so we may continue to live and to thrive in it. We also look forward to future relations between Israel and Austria, and I would already like to invite you to return to Jerusalem in the future to see how your tree has grown."
Dr. Gusenbauer thanked KKL-JNF for the opportunity to take a short break from all his meetings here and to plant a tree: "It is an honor for me to join my colleagues who have planted trees here before me. May this tree grow as the understanding and cooperation between our two countries develops. And thank you for the idea - I think it is a wonderful idea to come back to Israel and see how my tree is doing!"
Dr. Gusenbauer recited the Planter's Prayer in his native tongue and was happy to discover that he would be planting an olive tree, remarking that he really likes olives. After the tree was planted, Mr. Duvdevani presented Dr. Gusenbauer with the certificate of a tree planted in the Jerusalem Forest Grove of the Nations.
Light refreshments were served after the brief but moving ceremony. Dr. Gusenbauer mentioned that in fact, this was not his first visit to Israel. "I first came here over twenty years as a young Socialist on an invitation from Israel's Labor Youth. This is actually my sixth time here - besides visits due to my official functions, I have also come as a tourist, since I find your country to be an extremely interesting place to explore."