Inaugurating the Phillip Misßfelder Grove in the German States Forest.
(photo credit: DENNIS ZINN/KKL-JNF)
A large delegation of young politicians from Germany arrived at the German States Forest in the Negev on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, to take part in the inauguration of a grove of trees in memory of late German politician and friend of Israel, Philipp Misßfelder.
Leading the delegation were two Bundestag members, Paul Ziemiak and Mark Hauptmann, and the participants were all members of the Junge Union Deutschlands (JU), translated as the Young Union of Germany. Many of them had visited the site in 2016, one year after Philipp Misßfelder passed away when the grove planting project was launched.Philipp Misßfelder was a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and served as the foreign policy spokesperson for the CDU and Christian Social Union parties in the Bundestag. Earlier in his career, he served as chairman of the JU for over 12 years until he became a member of parliament. He was considered Berlin’s most passionate political advocate for Israel and the Jewish citizens of Germany. He died in 2015 at the age of 35 due to a pulmonary embolism.
Judith Perl-Strasser of KKL-JNF’s European Department opened the proceedings by welcoming the guests and providing an overview of KKL-JNF and the history of the forest.
“The German States Forest is part of Lahav Forest
, which is located in the Negev near the city of Beersheva. KKL‑JNF started planting this forest in 1952 and today it covers an area of more than 30,000 dunams (approx. 7,400 acres). The forest provides a lush contrast to its barren dry surroundings. It has become a center of activity for residents of the area and many other visitors, with the Joe Alon Center for Regional Studies, underground tunnels, desert wildflowers, active recreation areas, archeological ruins with remains from Jewish and Christian villages, and bicycle paths.”
Also on site to meet the group was Elisha Mizrahi of KKL-JNF’s Department of Protocol and VIP Ceremonies. Mizrahi said that he was certain that Phillip was watching the ceremony from ‘up there’ and smiling.
“This event symbolizes precisely what he was advocating, and that is an ever tighter bond between our two countries. I am a forester by profession and I know that planting trees is a happy event in every respect. This is a most wonderful memorial for Phillip and all that he stood for.”