Rabbis thank countries that helped with forest fires


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Conservative movement rabbis thanked envoys from countries that helped Israel douse forest fires, including some that now have difficult relations with the Jewish state.

Washington-area rabbis Stuart Weinblatt, who directs Israel policy for the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinical arm of the Conservative movement, and Jack Moline, who directs the group’s public policy, met in recent weeks with envoys from all 16 of the countries that assisted Israel during last December’s devastating fires in the Carmel Forest, as well as with the Palestine Liberation Organization envoy.

The envoys were presented with Jewish National Fund certificates representing trees planted in their nation’s honor.

"The rabbis spoke with the ambassadors about the importance of the relationship of their country and Israel and encouraged continued cooperation and support," a statement from Moline and Weinblatt said. "Each meeting was unique, but all of the diplomats expressed sincere gratitude for the gesture as well as the outpouring of thanks and good will expressed by the Jewish community."

Among the representatives visited by the rabbis, the PLO and Turkey have all but cut off diplomatic dialogue with Israel over recent disputes related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conflict also has affected relations with Egypt, Jordan and Russia.

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