Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán plants an olive tree in the Grove of Nations, together with his wife Anikó.
(photo credit: LEADER PHOTOGRAPHY)
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán arrived at the Grove of Nations after visiting the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. After unveiling a plaque commemorating his visit, Orbán and his entourage, which included top officials in the Hungarian government, were welcomed by KKL-JNF International Cooperation Department Director Karine Bolton-Laor.
“KKL-JNF is an organization that has played a major role in achieving the dream of a Jewish homeland,” Ms. Bolton-Laor said. “Tree planting is a core value in rehabilitating the land – where there are trees, there is life. KKL-JNF is dedicated to providing solutions to the challenges that we face here, including limited water, not much land, and the harsh climate, to mention just a few. We promote the sharing and exchange of the environmental technologies we have developed with countries all over the world for a better tomorrow.”
Atty. Shlomo Deri, KKL-JNF Vice Chairman and Chairman of the KKL-JNF Directorate Committee on Education, greeted the delegation on behalf of KKL-JNF.
“I am proud to welcome the Hungarian Prime Minister,” he said, “along with the delegation of Jewish educators from Hungary that is also present here. Israel recently celebrated its seventieth anniversary, and the many Hungarian Jews who arrived here after the Holocaust made a major contribution to every aspect and facet of building our nation.
“We greatly appreciate the close ties between Israel and Hungary, and hope that this relationship will grow even stronger in the future. KKL-JNF’s director general met with the Hungarian minister of agriculture to discuss ways to further environmental cooperation between our two countries. On behalf of KKL-JNF, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support of Israel, and I am certain that the tree you are planting here today, which is a symbol of the ties between our two countries, will take root and grow majestically and beautifully.”
Dr. Andor Nagy, the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel, recited the Planter’s Prayer in Hungarian, after which the Hungarian delegation, accompanied by the senior KKL-JNF officials, made its way down to the planting area. Together with his wife Anikó, Prime Minister Orbán planted the young olive sapling in the ground and covered its roots with soil.
Right before the planting, the Hungarian Prime Minister said: “I am very grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to join the over one hundred heads of states who have planted trees here at the Grove of Nations. Every political leader must learn from the mistakes of the past. We will never forget Hungary’s failure to defend its Jews, and I pledge zero tolerance for any expressions of anti-Semitism. In Hungary today, synagogues are being restored, Jewish schools are flourishing, and Jewish cemeteries are being preserved.
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“Our two nations have shared values and an overwhelming desire for peace and security. May this tree that I am about to plant be an etz hayim, a tree of life that is a symbol of the new and growing friendship between Israel and Hungary.”
Watch video of the tree planting ceremony with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán