Alemanno: "Rome does not forget Jerusalem"
Ecology and Environment unite the Italian Political Scene
Condensed from a press release of KKL Italy
"KKL Italy is a protagonist in the future of the Middle East," said the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, on his return from a remembrance visit to Auschwitz. "Rome does not forget Israel and Rome's relationship with Jerusalem has recently solidified. I have seen the current situation in Israel with my own eyes and the work of KKL-JNF from the desert to the towns such as Sderot. Israel is today's leader in the challenge against fundamentalism and international terror and we stand by the Jewish State in the world struggle for civilization."
Indeed, the extraordinary projects nurtured by Italy's generosity find supporters across the political, economic and social spectrum, as became evident by the 400 representatives and guests at the opening Gala dinner for The Halutziyot "The Roots of the Future" Project of KKL-JNF Italy that was held in the Caracalla Aranciera del Semenzaio, Rome.
The contributions of KKL-JNF to preventing desertification and to the new technologies for a compatible and sustainable ecosystem were described by Raffaele Sassun, President of KKL Italy, to an audience of political, cultural and theatre personalities and supporters of the historical organization. The event was emceed by Etty Hillesum and by actress Pamela Villoresi, who introduced speakers with quotes from literary texts. The guest of honor was Shaul Mofaz, Israel's Minister of Defense, with Gideon Meir, the Israeli Ambassador to Italy. "I feel so at home here," exclaimed the Israeli politician, before a backdrop of scenery in nature in daylight. The magic voice of singer Maya Buskila a fairly new talent on the Israeli scene, provided a musical interlude between speakers.
Riccardo Pacifici, President of the Rome Jewish community, reminded the participants about Israeli soldiers, particularly Gilad Shalit, an honorary citizen of Rome. Avi Dickstein, KKL-JNF Director of Resources & Development, in describing the development of the water reservoir infrastructure in Israel - through efforts of the Italian leadership - announced the construction of eight new reservoirs.
The recently elected PDL party deputy Piero Fassino focused on the Israeli-Palestinian question, and the responsibility of the international community in the quest for peace. Maurizio Gasparri, Chairman of the PDL party in the Senate, recalled the enthusiasm of the community and the promise of the government and Italian parliament to promote peace in Israel, sentiments shared by Fabrizio Cicchitto Chairman of the PDL party in the Chamber.
Amongst the honored guests were Magdi Allam UDC Euro-Deputy, Marco Scurria, PDL Euro-Deputy, Mordechai Lewy Israeli ambassador to the Holy See; Potito Salatto PDL Euro-Deputy; David La Cecilia, UCEI President; Renzo Gattegna, actor; Arnoldo FoÃ with wife Anna and daughter Orsetta; the historian Piero Melograni with Paola Severini; and Lazio President Claudio Lotito.
The purpose of the Gala dinner under the patronage of the Israeli Embassy in Italy was to promote environmental sustainability and activities that guarantee clean water, land and air for all population groups in Israel and surroundings. Many speakers recalled the recent pictures of Pope Benedict XVI at the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres, planting an olive tree or at the Nazareth amphitheater where the Pontiff celebrated Mass before thousands of believers.
Environmental matters and safeguarding the ecosystem are amongst the "hot" subjects of this international political period that entail the commitment of entrepreneurs, multinationals and professional associations to assign profits to "Green" projects. It is KKL-JNF, however, that has initiated the symbolism of the tree in the tradition and has planted over 260 million trees. As the father of modern environmentalism in Israel, it has worked for 108 years for an ecosystem in the Land with the highest spiritual significance in the world, the cradle of the monotheistic religions. Israel is an extraordinary example of the industrious merging with the traditional, innovation in agriculture, infrastructures and water reservoirs throughout the country to guarantee survival for the population - even in the desert. The desert itself represents the latest challenge. "The State must go to the South," Ben-Gurion had stated - and the Negev desert is the new frontier, a wealth to be exploited.
"Thanks to the Halutziyot project, the desert area bordering on Gaza and Egypt, the most arid and barren area of the Negev, we have shown that the desert can change" - noted Raffaele Sassun. "Today they are growing potatoes for exports to Russia, carrots with very little water; there are areas of green surrounded by very fine yellow sand but the process has commenced and when you hear the voices and feel the enthusiasm of the families rushing to live in Halutziyot you know that things will never be the same again."
In a few years there will be dozens of Halutziyot throughout the Negev. Schools, roads and towns will spring up with full greenery, in close contact with and with the full respect of Nature. Deserts have always fascinated and intrigued all nations and our people in particular have a long history with the desert.
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