JNF to Inaugurate Bicentennial Park Near Jerusalem, July 4

A 1000-acre “American Bicentennial Park” will be inaugurated at ground-breaking ceremonies in the Jerusalem hills on July 4, the 200th anniversary of American independence. The project, undertaken by the Jewish National Fund to be a “living testament to the esteem in which Israel holds the United States.” was conceived by JNF leaders in the U.S. It will be up to them to raise the $6 million needed to complete it.

Bulldozers have already cleared a patch of land in the center of the park area where the ceremony will be held. It will be highlighted by the planting of the first three trees–one by President Ephraim Katzir, one by a special emissary of President Ford and another by a youngster to be selected from the nearby village of Nes Harim. Col. Yosef Getreuer, head of the JNF’s North American Desk, said that “The park will be able to absorb up to 100,000 hikers and picnickers at one time” and “will be a major national recreational facility.” He said the pace at which the park progresses will depend on the flow of funds.

NEW ROAD TO OLD SETTLEMENTS

Getreuer said the park would “have ideological content,” The U.S. revolutionary and pioneer spirit will be represented by log cabins, picket fences and other accoutrements of America’s pioneer era. Famous quotations from leaders of the American revolution will be chiseled into rocks. The similarities between America’s and Israel’s origins will be represented by typical Israeli structures, such as the tower-and-stockade that characterized the early pioneer settlements in this country. Biblical verses and quotations from Israel’s founders.

The JNF has begun preliminary work on a highway that will wind through the park area. The road will not only serve visitors but will provide a much-needed artery of communications for five relatively isolated settlements in the region–Nes Harim, Mevo Betar. Bar Glora, Mata and Mahasiya. All were established in the early years of Statehood and are populated by immigrants from North Africa and Iraq. Many of the villagers, see the park as a spur to their own limited economic base. They are making plans for restaurants, snack bars and motels.

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