Published on : 04/14/2015
By : Arista Asmawati
Chinas new ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin paid a visit to the Israel-China Friendship Forest in the Negev in celebration of the Chinese New Year, which ushered in the Year of the Sheep.
In the course of their visit the ambassadorial delegation had the opportunity to observe two KKL-JNF Negev projects at first hand: Beersheba River Park and the Abraham’s Well Visitors’ Center.
“Our two nations share a friendship that dates back over many years,” said the Chinese ambassador. “Relationships between people form the basis for relationships between states. We’ve gathered here in the Israel-China Friendship Forest in order to care for the woodland, which symbolizes the strong links between our two nations.”
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler told those assembled that, apart from a message of friendship, this grove in Lahav Forest on the fringes of the desert also communicates an important ecological message. “We’ve learned how to plant trees in arid areas by combining techniques used by the desert dwellers of old with modern equipment,” he said. “These methods developed by KKL-JNF foresters can be adapted by many other countries throughout the world and used in the battle against desertification and global warming.”
The visit took place on April 1st, shortly after the celebration of the Chinese New Year. As China is now in the Year of the Sheep, the sheep grazing peacefully in the woodland as the ceremony took place provided a highly appropriate backdrop to the proceedings. After raising their heads briefly as if to inquire what all the fuss was about, however, the animals soon returned to their central preoccupation and continued to crop the grass. The owner of the flock, Khalil Mileh of Rahat, even invited one of the sheep to be photographed together with the ambassador and Efi Stenzler.
The Chinese guests showed great interest in Israel’s observance of the current sabbatical (shmita) year.
Ambassador Yongxin remarked that China has a similar tradition of allowing the land to rest. “There is a great deal of similarity between our two nations,” he said. “We both respect tradition, family values and the riches of an ancient culture.”
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