An avenue of trees named after former President of KKL France the late Albert Czarnobroda was planted at Mashabim Air Force Base in the Negev. The ceremony was attended by 110 Friends of KKL France, who are currently participating in the traditional Walk-for-Water in the Judean desert.
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The planting was the first stage of the 19th Walk for Water, which is being held this year in the Judean Desert and southern Dead Sea region. This remarkable event, whose slogan is “with Bible in hand,” emphasizes the connection between land and nation. The Mashabim-Tlalim project was conceived when a KKL France “Israel Today and Tomorrow” delegation came to visit the country.
“At a time when the world has been stricken by terrorism, your arrival in Israel is the appropriate Zionist response,” Brigadier-General Tzvika Haimovitch, Commander of the IDF’s Air Defense Division, told the visitors. “This base, which educates young people to love and defend their country, is an extension and continuation of the work done by Albert Czarnobroda.”
The planting ceremony was attended by a number of Albert Czarnobroda’s relatives, including his grandson Jeremie Herscovic, who spoke of his grandfather’s great love for the State of Israel. “The Jewish People had no choice, and in order to survive we had to rediscover our homeland,” he said. “Israel is what enables us to hold our heads high. My grandfather admired the state’s ability to build itself up, progress and defend itself, and that is why these avenues are such an appropriate memorial to him. Soldiers at the base will walk here among the trees and learn about his legacy.”
Dr. Robert Zbili, President of KKL France, eulogized the organization’s former president, whom he described as a man with a profound sense of mission and a shining example of Zionist sentiments and love for Israel. “We are not here in Israel because of our strength, but because of the strength of our right,” emphasized Dr. Zbili.
Addressing the members of the French delegation directly, KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Dr. Uzi Landau declared: “Your arrival here for the Walk for Water is an example of the spirit of the Jewish People. With one hand we defend the Zionist enterprise, and with the other we build the whole time. The Jewish People faces numerous challenges, but we have withstood them in the past, and we shall do so in the future, too.”
The proceedings were conducted by KKL-JNF emissary in France Pino Edri, who spoke of the strong bonds between KKL France and the Israel Defense Forces. “We have come here in order to express out loud our support for the IDF,” he said.
The avenues of trees are not the only project underway at the base with the support of Friends of KKL France: an Air Defense Division heritage and memorial center that includes a large amphitheater is also currently under construction.
The Mashabim base is home to the Israeli Air Force’s Air Defense School. Colonel Rami Barel,commander of the base, explained that this is where young men and women are trained in combat. “We are determined to defend Israel’s skies against all those who threaten us,” he said. “Our partnership with KKL France renders the base more powerful and provides a lever for the development of the Negev.”
After the speeches were over the delegation members set out to plant trees in Albert Avenue. Later they toured the base and listened to a description of the missiles used by the Air Force in defense of the homeland. They also visited a flight simulator and watched soldiers shooting on the firing range.
And, of course, it was impossible to conclude the visit to the base without a visit to the mess hall, where the guests from France enjoyed lunch with the soldiers: not exactly gourmet fare, but a memorable experience all the same. Two French-speaking women soldiers, Nitzan and Lorraine, told the visitors about their military service. “There’s a real sense of satisfaction when you do a job that means something,” they said, and their listeners responded with heartfelt applause.
The delegation members, who had come to the base directly from the airport after landing in Israel, retired for a good night’s rest in preparation for the wonderful sights and fascinating experiences that await them in the coming days: Nahal Peres, Ein Gedi, Nahal David, Masada, Nahal Dragot, the Qumran caves and a tour of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to conclude the week.
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