On Wednesday, November 16, Mr. Jan Hamáček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, planted a tree at KKL-JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in the Jerusalem mountains, accompanied by a delegation of 35 Czech leaders.
“We are amazed at the environmental impact of what KKL-JNF has accomplished. By planting a tree
, we are acknowledging, understanding and expressing our deep affinity with Israel and the Jewish people.” These were the words of His Excellency Jan Hamáček
- who assumed the office of Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic in 2013 - at a tree planting ceremony at KKL-JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center, which is located near the Kennedy Memorial
in the Jerusalem mountains. Mr. Hamáček is also the deputy chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party.
Mr. Hamáček added that he was extremely touched by the occasion of planting a tree in a KKL-JNF forest
. “Everyone is familiar with KKL-JNF’s mission, and by the same token, everyone knows that regardless of how successful KKL-JNF might be, there will always be more tasks to accomplish. The entire world should applaud the efforts of the Jewish people to transform the desert into a hospitable and blossoming garden."
KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson welcomed the Speaker and the delegation that accompanied him. “We are very honored to welcome you to the KKL-JNF VIP tree planting site. KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar had intended to greet you here personally, but at the last minute, he was called to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. I’m sure that as parliament members, that’s something you can identify with.
“The Czech Republic, which was then part of Czechoslovakia, was one of the first countries to vote in favor of the Jewish state
at the United Nations in 1948. You didn’t only support us in words, you also sold us weapons during our War of Independence, something very few nations were willing to do at the time. And just recently, you stood with us in opposing UNESCO’s absurd decision not to recognize the Jewish and Christian connection to Jerusalem, our capital city. We are honored for you to add yet another tree to the many forests that KKL-JNF planted around Jerusalem, our eternal capital.”
Mr. Michal Pacovsky, President of KKL-JNF Czech Republic, noted that as far back as the 1930s, Czechoslovakian citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, planted Masaryk Forest in the Judean Mountains. “This is the point I would like to make – planting trees is very meaningful. Trees cannot just be purchased, they need to be cared for, and trees will continue growing even when we are already gone. Here in Israel, people very much respect those who do things for our future. I very much appreciate that the Speaker chose to plant a tree here. It may be that one day his descendants will visit Israel and be proud that in this forest, there are trees that were planted by one of their family. This is the investment of the Czech people - it is not only for the future of the land of Israel, but for the welfare of our entire planet.”