Pilar Rahola kkl.
(photo credit: )
Pilar Rahola is a name well-known to Spanish speakers worldwide. A former member of the Spanish parliament and former Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, she has published many books in Spanish and Catalan. She is at the forefront of the fight for human rights and animal rights, and is one of the most important commentators in the Spanish-speaking world on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although she defines herself as a loyal member of the European left, she has written hundreds of articles condemning Islamic terrorism in no uncertain terms, and exposing the anti-Semitic sub-text of the anti-Israel discourse so popular in Europe today. On Friday, June 26, she addressed a crowd of 1,300 at Tel Aviv University, where she was awarded a special prize by the president of the university.
Although she has visited Israel many times in the past, this was the first time she was accompanied by her parents, and also the first time she had the opportunity to get to know KKL-JNF firsthand. In honor of the occasion, Pilar and her parents were invited to plant trees at the Kennedy Memorial VIP Tree Planting Center, which is located in the Judean Mountains, just outside of Jerusalem. Pilar was greeted by Mr. Mordechai Dayan, former KKL-JNF Co-Chairman and a member of the KKL-JNF Directorate, who noted that she was one of the best-known Spanish journalists in the world today. The ceremony was graciously facilitated by Ms. Annie Zaidenwerg of KKL-JNF's Latin American Desk and organized by KKL-JNF's Director of Protocol & VIP Ceremonies Andy Michelson.
Speaking on behalf of KKL-JNF at the ceremony, Mordechai Dayan briefly reviewed KKL-JNF history and listed a number of KKL-JNF goals: "Our real enemy in Israel is not our neighbors, but the danger of desertification. To help make Israel greener, we have planted about 240,000,000 trees since the beginning of the twentieth century. We, who live here, can defend ourselves and make our country beautiful, but we also need people like Pilar who are not afraid to speak the truth about our region, regardless of the opinions that are considered politically correct by much of the world media. We are honored and proud that you have chosen to plant a tree at this magnificent site."
Mr. Dayan presented Pilar with an honorary certificate from KKL-JNF, while Ms. Zaidenwerg gave her a copy of a book on KKL-JNF history in Spanish. After reading the prayer recited when planting a tree in Israel, Pilar planted an olive tree, and her parents planted two terebinths. "I'm really excited to be planting an olive tree in Israel," she told us. "At my home in Cadaques, Catalonia, we have many olive trees in our garden and we actually produce our own olive oil.
"I love trees, and I was recently told that people in Spain will be planting a forest grove with 10,000 trees in Israel in my name. Although I'm not sure I deserve such an honor, I am very, very moved, and I guess the tree I planted today is the first of the 10,000. For me, trees and forests are about life, the future and culture. On the trip to the hotel from the airport, my mother said that her first impression of Israel was how green the country is. For some reason, she had expected it to be yellow. Now that I know about KKL-JNF, I was able to tell her, 'It's thanks to KKL-JNF, mother.' I believe in Israel and in the future of the Jewish people. One of the messages I would like to convey to people worldwide is that trees are much stronger than bombs."
Ms. Judith Strasser of KKL-JNF's European Desk assured Pilar that preparations for planting the new forest grove were proceeding as planned. "Let me take this opportunity," Judith said, "to invite you back to Israel and KKL-JNF for the dedication ceremony of your forest grove in the very near future. Lehitra'ot!"