"The Jewish People have succeeded in surviving for thousands of years because they clung to their faith while constantly struggling for survival under difficult conditions. In doing so, they contributed to the welfare of all humanity. For this reason this occasion of planting trees under the auspices of KKL-JNF in the mountains of Jerusalem has special significance for me and for all the members of the delegation." These remarks were made by Senior Colonel Huang Xueping, Head of new affair bureau of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, during a brief and moving planting ceremony in the VIP's Grove at Yad Kennedy.
The distinguished Chinese delegation, headed by the spokesman of the Chinese Government Ministry of Defense that included the Chinese military attaché in Israel, arrived in Israel for a five-day visit. They were hosted by the IDF spokesman, Brigadier-General Avi Benayahu. In his greetings Brig. General Benayahu thanked KKL-JNF for the special treatment given to the guest military delegation. "I wish to thank you for the special gesture given to the Chinese people who have stood alongside the Jewish people in times of difficulty in the past. I am certain that planting trees in the mountains of Jerusalem is a symbol of the deep respect that we feel for our guests." Benayahu described the special significance and the symbolism of planting trees in the Land of Israel as a sign of re-establishing the ties between a people and their land. He described the most important aspects of KKL-JNF actions, particularly its creative methods of wisely and efficiently using the small amount of water that is available in this part of the world.
Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF master of ceremonies, opened the ceremony and spoke briefly about the planting project that KKL-JNF has been conducting for 110 years in which more than 240 million trees have been planted throughout the country. Michelson mentioned the great importance accorded to the act of planting in Jewish tradition. "Even if the Messiah comes while you are planting, you must first finish planting and then go to greet the Messiah."
"It is a significant event for us to plant trees here in the mountains
of Jerusalem," said the Chinese military spokesman in his response to
the greetings. "From what was said here I have learned the important
role that KKL-JNF plays in Israel as an organization for protecting the
environment and how much the organization works to provide quality of
life for its citizens. We would like to express our admiration for
this. Man's fate is also connected with that of trees in Chinese
tradition, but is expressed somewhat differently. You can grow a tree
in ten years, but it takes 100 years to create a person. Trees, like
people, can survive in difficult conditions if they are given the
proper attention and care. I wish for the Jewish people to be like
these trees – to take root and flourish."
At the end of the ceremony the two military spokesmen planted the first
tree together, and each of the members of the delegation planted a
tree. Senior Colonel Huang Xueping presented a symbolic gift to Andy
Michelson, representative of KKL-JNF – a decorated plate with a red
background that symbolizes the Chinese blessing for prosperity.
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