Eighty diplomats, representing countries ranging from Albania to Zambia, took part in a tree-planting event on Wednesday hosted by Keren Kayemet LeYisrael-Jewish National Fund and celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday.
Victoria (Vika) Myrav, head of international government relations for KKL-JNF, said the ceremony, which took place in the Jerusalem Forest near Yad Vashem, in an area that had been ravaged, by fire and later by a snowstorm, was symbolic.
The ambassadors were welcomed by Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Ifat Ovadia-Luski, chairwoman of KKL-JNF.
“We are fortunate to have great relations with a lot of countries,” Myrav shared on Thursday. “Yesterday’s ceremony—we had representatives from 80 governments show up to plant 75 trees, one for each year of the State of Israel, was beautiful and symbolic. KKL-JNF restored the forest and recreation areas with money from generous donations abroad.”
Planting trees, she said, helps to strengthen the bonds between countries and connects foreign diplomats to the land and to the State of Israel.
“We try to share our knowledge in forestry, climate change, fighting desertification and our expertise in reforesting semi-arid areas, Myrav said. “Our experts are here in Israel, but we send delegations abroad and invite delegations like U.N. forums here to learn.”
KKL-JNF will host a ceremony with Kenyan President William Ruto next week. He is to plant an olive tree in the Grove of Nations, an area in the Jerusalem Forest reserved for presidents and prime ministers.
Myrav said that unlike regular folks, who plant trees with KKL-JNF and learn that their tree is part of a large forest, presidents and prime ministers do get a sign identifying their trees. They can come and visit the tree they planted, which is part of the Israeli government outreach.