President of Costa Rica Plants Tree in The Grove of Nations

On Sunday, 29th November, 2009, His Excellency Dr. Oscar Rafael de Jesus Arias Sanchez, President of Costa Rica, planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations.

January 11, 2010 17:29
3 minute read.


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"The roots and branches of trees span human history. From the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" to the Bo tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment, to the olive tree of the Koran, the tree has been considered sacred. Unfortunately, all too often human beings do not follow ethical teachings and they destroy all that is sacrosanct. They cut down trees and push the environment to the brink of destruction and the brink of war. We do not hear the voice of the poor and the hungry and we close our ears to the voice of the planet itself."

On Sunday, 29th November, 2009, His Excellency Dr. Oscar Rafael de Jesus Arias Sanchez, President of Costa Rica, planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations. President Sanchez was visiting Israel on an especially auspicious date: - 29th November (Kaf-Tet beNovember) is the 62nd anniversary of the United Nations decision on the partition of what was then Palestine. Costa Rica was one of the 33 countries that voted "yes" on behalf of that resolution and has always been considered a friend and staunch supporter of Israel.

President Sanchez, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987 for his tireless efforts on behalf of peace in Central America, spoke of his vision for Israel and the Middle East before planting his olive tree, expressing himself in a manner that recalled the voices of prophets and poets. "We can choose to hear the voice of our planet, to rebuild and to right the wrongs. We can seek peace rather than wait for it. We can tear down walls that divide cultures, religions and families. We can plant a tree, as a symbol of faith in the future of Israel.

"I plant this tree to share the hope of my people in Costa Rica for the Middle East. We will energize its roots, we will dream of its branches, we will dream that the children playing in its shade know harmony and reap peace. It will be a tree of hope. Even during the darkest night, it will remind us that our prayers are not in vain. One day soon these prayers will be realized in Jerusalem. One day soon they will return to us like the dove with the olive branch in her mouth, a sign of new life; a sign that our troubles will end; a sign that our friends are safe. We will know that peace has crowned the trees of Israel with hope. We will know that trees have ushered in a new era for this sacred land."

Hernan Felman, of the KKL-JNF Directorate, welcomed President Sanchez on behalf of KKL-JNF. "Besides the strong bond of friendship between our two nations, President Sanchez shares a common goal with KKL-JNF. After his achievements as a peacemaker in Central America, the President has now dedicated himself to combating global warming and the protection of the environment. KKL-JNF, as one of the first environmental organizations in the world, realizes this vision through its daily work in Israel, the only country in the world with more trees at the end of the 20th century than there were at its beginning."


This December KKL-JNF will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark and will present its work in forestry, water conservation, sustainability, arid land and agricultural R&D, to combat global warming and desertification.

After the President spoke, the Israeli Ambassador to Costa Rica, the Honorable Ehud Eitan, and the Costa Rican Minister of External Relations, Bruno Stagno, read the Planter's Prayer in Hebrew and Spanish, respectively. Annie Zaidenwerg of KKL-JNF's Latin-American Desk, who graciously emceed the brief ceremony, invited the Costa Rican president to plant his tree, after which she presented him with a tree planting certificate, as the Costa Rican Ambassador to Israel, the Honorable Neomi Baruch, looked on. Towards the end of the ceremony, Yitzhak Eldan, Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol, attached the official pin of the Olive Tree Route to President Sanchez's lapel.

KKL-JNF's Grove of the Nations is home to many trees that were planted by heads of state from all over the world. It is an integral part of the "Olive Tree Route" project in Israel, which is part of UNESCO and the Council of Europe's initiative to establish an "Olive Tree Route" around the entire Mediterranean basin.

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