Jerusalem (Apr. 5)
The High Commissioner, General Sir Arthur Wauchope, closed this year’s planting season in Palestine by planting a tree to-day in the Balfour Forest, covering the Nazareth Hills, practically completing the Forest, planned by the Jewish National Fund to contain 300,000 pine trees, and to serve as a permanent memorial in Palestine to the author of the Balfour Declaration.
The High Commissioner planted this tree near the first tree planted in 1928 by field Marshal-Lord Plumer, the then High Commissioner, when the Balfour Forest was inaugurated.
Mr. M. M. Ussischkin, the head of the Jewish National Fund, and Dr. Selig Brodetsky and Mr. Emanuel Neuman, members of the Jewish Agency Executive, as well as several high Government officials were present at the planting ceremony.
The planting of the Balfour Forest in Palestine was intended as a tribute from Anglo-Jewry to the author of the Balfour Declaration. A dinner was held in July 1928 at the Guildhall, at which an appeal for Â£75,000 for the purpose was launched, and Â£15,590 towards this amount was raised at the dinner itself. The late Mr. #ernhardBaron gave Â£5,000, sufficient for 15,000 pines, and the late Lord Melchett gave Â£1,000.
Lord Balfour was unwell at the time and could not attend, but he sent a message to the dinner, in which he said: “I am profoundly touched by the action of the Anglo-Jewish Community in bringing into existence a living and enduring symbol of their participation in the regeneration and development of Palestine. I like to think of the Balfour Forest not merely as evidence of goodwill to myself personally, but as a token of the loyal co-operation between Anglo-Jewry and the British people in the fulfilment of a great enterprise.
Mr. Lloyd George sent a message congratulating Anglo-Jewry on “this nobly-conceived tribute to the statesman who, as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Government of which I was head, promulgated on behalf of the British Government the Declaration which has enabled such remarkable results to be achieved by the Jews in the upbuilding of the country”.
Sir Herbert Samuel the first High Commissioner for Palestine wrote that it was “an admirable proposal to commemorate Lord Balfour’s great services to Palestine by the planting of a forest”. “his statesmanship”, Sir Herbert said, “has made possible the planting of a people. A forest is a good symbol.
The late Lord Melchett, who had been in Palestine when Lord Plumer inaugurated the Balfour Forest, and planted the second tree at the side of that planted by Lord Plumer, said that as one of those privileged to plant the first trees in the Balfour Forest, he could tell them that where there were once malarial swamps there now stood smiling homesteads. The Balfour Forest, he declared, was of vital importance, for when complete it would reclothe the barren hills overlooking Nazareth and recreate the fertility of the land lost by centuries of neglect.
Lord Reading, who was also one of the speakers at the dinner, said that the trees of the Balfour Forest would be a permanent memorial of their gratitude to Lord Balfour, to the British Government and to the British people.
When Lord Reading was in Palestine last December, he visited the Balfour Forest, and planted a tree there beside those which had been planted in 1928 by Lord Plumer and the late Lord Melchett.