While on an official visit to Israel this month the President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanić, planted a tree in Jerusalem’s Grove of Nations as a symbol of his optimism for peace and as gesture of hope.
Israel’s Ambassador to Bosnia Boaz Rudkin, Director of the Balkan Department Dan Oryan and Director of the Official Guests’ Department Galit Cohen attended the ceremony. Among the Bosnian delegation were Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak and Bosnian Ambassador to Israel Jelena Rajaković.
“The message delivered here by all these olive trees, which symbolize peace and new life – especially in this part of the world – is a vitally important one,” Ivanic said. “After discussing the situation here with the Israeli president, I most certainly feel a sense of optimism.”
Ivanic was among many heads of state who have visited the Grove of Nations to plant trees in gestures of peace and partnership with Israel.
“Planting an olive tree in Jerusalem is a symbolic act which creates a deep-rooted bond between visiting statesmen and the State of Israel,” one of the founders of the Grove, Israel’s former Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Yitzhak Eldan, once said. “A joint concern for nature and the environment forms a basis for partnership between countries.”
Situated in the Jerusalem forest, the Grove was founded in 2005 as part of a UNESCO/Council of Europe initiative called the Olive Tree Route. The initiative aims for olive trees to be planted across the Mediterranean basin as a symbol of the desire for peaceful coexistence. The Grove is maintained in Israel by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).
During his speech at the ceremony on March 13, KKL-JNF’s Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson explained that since its founding in 1901 the organization has overseen the planting of more than 240 million trees in the land of Israel.
Tree planting is tremendously important in Israel as it represents the coming back to life and blooming of the land which had remained desolate until the Jewish people began to return to it in earnest at the end of the 19th Century.
In a Maoz Israel video published in Kehila News, Messianic leader Ron Cantor explains: “With the Jews largely exiled from Israel the land deteriorated. Just two decades before the Jews began to return en masse, Mark Twain described the land as a country ‘whose soil is rich enough but is given over solely to weeds, a silent mournful expanse.’”
Therefore, Cantor says, “When the pioneers returned to the Israel, they planted lots of trees.”
Speaking of the number of trees planted by KKL-JNF, Michelson said: “If we do the arithmetic, this works out at approximately 17,000 trees every week.”
Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD,
because he cometh to judge the earth.
1 Chronicles 16:33