Minister of Science, Culture and Sport Ghaleb Mejadle,
Minister for Environmental Protection, Mr. Gideon Ezra,
Director General of the National Parks Authority, Mr. Eli Amiti,
Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office,
Directors General of Government Ministries who are here with us today,
Chairman of Keren Kayemeth L’Israel, Mr. Efi Stenzler,
The Honorable Mr. Yitzhak Rish – I am very excited to see you (73 years ago, this man ran here on the hills, shortly before we came here),
My friend and adviser, Samir Wahabe
Distinguished Guests, Students of the ORT Hashomron School who are here – my neighbors from Binyamina, Zichron and Givat Ada,
I am pleased to be here today at the Mishmar HaCarmel Ranch. This ranch, currently operated by the National Parks Authority, is an exciting expression of Zionist action which began, as in many other cases, with small groups of dreamers, of fighters – and Yitzhak Rish is still here to tell us their stories as if they took place only a few days ago, even though seventy-odd years have passed. One cannot help but wonder at this story. I am certain that Yitzhak will not be upset with me if I say that this story is not unique. It moves us; it excites our imagination; but it is the story of the settlement of the new Land of Israel at the beginning of the 20th century, in which there were such groups of dreamers and fighters who settled the land – against all odds and out of a profound feeling of commitment, of love and of love of nature. I will reveal something to you, since there are students here from the ORT Hashomron School. In 1939, 200 meters from where your school is located, my parents, along with a large group of their friends – four years after Yitzhak Rish’s group founded Mishmar HaCarmel – established an “overnight settlement” called Tel Tzur, which in turn became Moshav Nahalat Jabotinsky, which is part of Binyamina. There are many other such groups of people spread across the Galilee and in other areas of the country, and we are all proud of the legacy that they left us, and sometimes even miss the spirit which motivated them and gave them the courage and the strength to do what they did.
The love for the trails of this land created an extremely Israeli culture of going out into nature, or family picnics and of events among the trees, on the hills, near the boulders or on the seashore.
One of the more unique expressions of this lifestyle culture is the nature holidays and Tu B’Shvat is not the only one. We are a nation which calls to our residents – from birth through retirement age – and encourages them to go out into nature, to plant trees and enjoy their blossoming. Our souls are intertwined with the earth of this land, with the cyclamens and the trees, with the waves and the dunes. Its vistas succeed in uniting parents and children, young people and old, religious and secular. I am certain that we all have experiences from our annual school trips and family outings, during which we learned to recognize the ravines and cave openings and boulders and trails of the Carmel Mountains, the Galilee mountains, the deserts of the Negev and every corner of this land.