'Things have changed'

By SAM SER
December 2, 2005 12:38
2 minute read.

Were you prepared for KKL's decision to sever ties with JNF-UK? "When they started this advertising campaign in the UK to say they had broken up with us, we were shocked. I mean, we knew - we had heard rumors. Leket was going around telling people that they were going to open an office, that he was going to do this and he was going to do that. But we had no idea... it completely threw us, I have to say." How much of this fight is personal? "It's definitely Yehiel Leket against me. He has made it very personal, very hurtful. I have not made it personal at all. I have always said that it's a disagreement between two organizations... I never made it personal, but he has - for me, and my colleagues and my friends and my family - very, very hurtful." Is he out to get you? "Yes." Yet during the near split in 1999, Leket supported you. "That's right." And now...? "He obviously feels I've let him down." Do you think that Leket and KKL want you to resign? "I don't know what they want. I hope we can have mediation. This is not good for anybody." If Leket were to resign, would the problem be solved? "Probably... but he could solve it if he wanted to; he'd just have to accept that things have changed." How have things changed? "In the old days, we were the clients and KKL carried out our work. KKL offered the projects, JNF looked at it and sent the money, KKL did the project and put the plaque up, and everyone was happy. When things changed, they considered us to be their branch office. We are not a branch office. We are a British charity." Aren't JNF and KKL interchangeable in donors' minds? "If you took a survey of our donors in the UK to ask whether they've heard of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - we actually did this - you would find that none have, or hardly any have. At least not the younger generation. I don't think they know about it." Is that because you have changed your logo to remove mention of KKL? "Maybe." Do you want to repair your relationship with KKL? "Absolutely. We've never said that we would stop supporting them - maybe not exclusively, because we do send money to other places." Why do you support so many other charities? "I'm not going to turn away a donor who comes to me and says, 'Gail, I want to give money for horse riding for the disabled.' What, I'm not going to accept it?" Are donors asking to support non-KKL projects, or are you encouraging them to do so? "I think it's a mixture. People don't want to plant trees anymore, they want to do other stuff... But there's no reason why [KKL] can't get as much money from us as they did in the past." Even though your donors want to support so many other things? "Well, we're raising a lot of money now."


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