Guatemala Honored at the KKL-JNF Latin America Leadership Conference

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 3:15 PM

An honorary dinner saluting Guatemala took place on November 29 at the KKL-JNF Latin America Leadership Conference, the day that Guatemala expressed its support for the establishment of a Jewish State at the UN, back in 1947.

This past week, as the nations of the world voted for Palestine in the UN General Assembly, Guatemala remained committed to Israel and rejected the Palestinian's Statehood bid. Guatemala is standing with Israel now as it stood with Israel 65 years ago, when it supported the establishment of a Jewish State in the then British Mandate for Palestine.

Golden Book certificates awarded to Guatemalan dignitaries. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Last week, in La Antigua, Guatemala, the KKL-JNF Latin America Leadership Conference took place. At the conference, an honorary dinner saluting Guatemala took place on the 29th of November, marking the day on which Guatemala expressed its support for the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel at the UN, back in 1947.

Guatemala recieved a special KKL-JNF distinction at the dinner, which included an inscription in the KKL-JNF Golden Book, and 18 trees planted in its honor, representing the country's vote in favor of Israel at the UN.

The dinner was attended by 300 participants, including KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF Global directory treasurer Hernán Feldman, Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division Avi Dickstein, KKL-JNF Director for Latin America Desk, Arie Edelheit, and Jewish community leaders from across Latin America.

Awarding certificates to ambassadors. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The ceremony was also attended by Guatemala´s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Marta Roxana, as well as other Guatemalan dignitaries.

The ambassadors from Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, United States, Peru, Panama, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Russia, Sweden, Uruguay and the European Union also participated in the dinner, as well as the consuls from Bolivia, Denmark, Slovakia, Island, Colombia, Paraguay and the Czech Republic.

The guest of honor was Dalia Rabin, former Deputy and Vice Minister of Defense, and Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin´s daughter, who said: “I am here to thank Guatemala´s people, who supported the UN vote for State of Israel´s creation. This is a night of appreciation to those who stood by us and made possible the creation of the Jewish State”.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler expressed his appreciation in a letter to the President of Guatemala, Otto Fernando Pérez Molina: "As the chairman of the greenest Zionist organization in the world, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you and the Government of Guatemala for supporting Israel over the years, and the solidarity and warm friendship that is expressed nowadays as it was 64 years ago, and your decision to stand with Israel and reject the Palestinian bid to become an observer state in the UN."

Dinner participants. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives

Mr. Stenzler added that he appreciates the friendship and that he looks forward to the relationship continuing to prosper. "On this occasion, I invite you and government officials in Guatemala to visit Israel and tour the projects we set up for the welfare of the residents, and to establish professional contacts that will help improve the quality of life and the environment in both countries."

The most emotive highlight of the night was the projection of the 1947 UN vote, where the audience relived the moment when the Israel State was created.

KKL- JNF Guatemala´s president, Susan Michaeli, said: “In 1947, 65 years ago, in the UN, the Jewish State was created thanks to 33 nations."

During the ceremony, Guatemala´s foreign minister, Harold Caballeros, was also present, and he outlined the friendship between Israel and Guatemala. He also said that “the relationship is at an ideal point”.

KKL-JNF honorees at the conference. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Israel´s ambassador in Guatemala, Eliahu Lopez, said: “The Jewish unity is famous all over the world and is our strength. I think we will have the support of all communities and people that stood by us in 1947 to go on, in light of Iranian terrorism and Hamas threats”.

At the dinner, Guatemala´s former president Juan José Arevalo, Carlos García Bauer and Guatemala´s ambassador in the UN, Jorge García Granados, were honored. Their grandchildren were also present.

The conference was a unique opportunity for KKL-JNF offices from all over Latin America to get together and discuss the important issues pertaining to ecology and Zionism in Israel and Latin America. A formal farewell was held for outgoing KKL-JNF cheif emissary to Latin America Michael Adari, who is now serving as KKL-JNF emissary in Spain.