The Premier of the German State of Brandenburg inaugurates the Brandenburg Forest

"There is nothing more calming and peaceful than planting a tree"

people 224-88 (photo credit:)
people 224-88
(photo credit: )
The Premier of the German State of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, is a European politician of a different kind: he's the type who does not stand on ceremony, but strikes up a spontaneous conversation with the children of the Lehavim school choir, squats down next to KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Avraham Duvdevani to have his photo taken with the anemones flowering in the German States Forest, and radiates friendship and warmth towards his fellow men, the environment, the State of Israel, and, above all, the Federal State of Brandenburg. It was a particularly hot day in the Negev when the modest entourage assembled for the unveiling of the plaque in honor of the State of Brandenburg, which occupied the last column at the main recognition site at the German States Forest. Standing together with the German Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Harald Kindermann, the President of KKL-JNF in Berlin, Sarah Singer, and the head of Lehavim Regional Council, Eli Levi, Premier Platzeck related how the affair of the Brandenburg Forest had progressed speedily over the course of a year that had begun with his being approached by Ms. Singer. "She hinted that there was still an unoccupied column at the German States Forest site. From there things moved very fast, and I have to say, it's been great fun. For us this is another small building block on the road to peace, because there is nothing more calming and peaceful than planting a tree. For myself, I have a special affection for everything green, because I was Brandenburg's minister of environment for eight years. I regard today's symbolic ceremony as part of an effort to provide a bit more hope. I grew up in East Germany and lived there for 35 years, right at the foot of the wall that you couldn't cross to the west without being shot. At the time it looked as if things would stay like that for ever, but eventually the wall crumbled away. People didn't want to live with that unnatural state of affairs, and so even the strongest armies could do nothing, and the wall came down. It's hard to imagine what might happen in this area if everyone - Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians and Jordanians - were to unite and take action together." Sarah Singer, clearly delighted at having achieved her wish to see the completion of the circle of all the German states involved in the woodland that forms part of Lahav Forest, spoke of the words of thanks she had heard from a German woman who wanted to express her gratitude for taking part in the activities of KKL-JNF Germany. "This woman was motivated by her feelings for Israel, by her faith in Israel and by her desire to help to build it. I pray that these trees will flourish as a symbol of coexistence, democracy and peace, and defy those who still look back to the past." German Ambassador to Israel Harald Kindermann spoke of the historic decision to construct a different political reality in Germany after the Second World War: "We wanted to build sluice gates, and these sluice gates are the federal states, each of which has its own government. We want to prevent another totalitarian flood from inundating the entire country, and the federal states give their citizens a sense of local identity, in addition to their identification with the Federal Republic of Germany as a whole. They are all Germans, but the residents of Brandenburg are Brandenburgers first and foremost. This means that the local people are responsible for life in their own region, as well as for what happens in Germany as a whole. This is the case with relations with Israel, too. We can't leave these relations solely in the hands of the federal government, and I am proud that Premier Platzeck has come to Israel for a second visit and is in the process of establishing close relations with it in all fields." KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Avraham Duvdevani was still profoundly under the impression of the special concert held at Potsdam Palace in mid-February at the initiation of KKL-JNF, to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. "Above all I remember your speech, Prime Minister, a speech of such warmth and love for the State of Israel and KKL-JNF. Today we welcome you here with the singing of children and the music of nature with the backdrop of the trees that the Holy One Blessed be He, has surrounded us, with the help of the constant contributions that we receive from Germany." In his speech of welcome head of Lehavim Regional Council Eli Levi stressed the attempts the council was making to bring young Israelis and Germans together, and added, "The German States Forest site lies about halfway between Hebron and Gaza, and we all believe that the day is not far off when it will serve as a meeting place and point of contact for the local youth, and for leaders from Israel, Hebron and Gaza." Because of the fallow year, the Brandenburg premier could not plant a tree in the German States Forest. Instead he was presented with a bottle of fine wine from Yatir Winery, whose vineyards flourish in nearby Yatir Forest, the largest area of woodland KKL-JNF has developed in Israel. For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail ahuvab@kkl.org.il Sponsored content