(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The opening evening event of the KKL JNF World Marketing Conference 2012 took place at Mitzpe Ramon. Mr. Frank Wilson, National President of KKL JNF Canada, who chaired the event, said to the audience: “We are all touring Israel with the aim of finding out how we can be involved and effect change…let us all work together to make a real difference.”
Wilson spoke after the opening workshop of the World Marketing Conference, which had taken place earlier and was facilitated by two renowned professionals, marketing consultants Mr. Gil Peretz and Dr. Sydney Engelberg. The workshop was chaired by Mr. Ulf Haxen, National President, KKL-JNF Denmark, who said, “It is a wonderful privilege to be here. We hope to learn a lot at this conference in order to improve our work, get inspired and become better acquainted with the challenges Israel is facing. Among other things, we will be dealing with the topic of young leadership, a difficult and important task we must address.”
At the conclusion of the workshop, the participants split up into groups and began planning a marketing campaign for selected projects using the tools they had gained from the two expert marketing consultants.
At the opening gala reception, the Hon. Flora Shoshan, Mayor of Mitzpe Ramon, said that the conference once again proves the special connection KKL JNF has to the Negev. “Mitzpe Ramon has an important place on the map of world tourism. We are coping with the challenges we face, and a large part of the help we get is from KKL JNF. A high quality community is developing here with wonderful people, young pioneers who believe in this town and see it as a place for actualizing their dreams. We are proud of what we have achieved, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
KKL JNF World Chairman Mr. Efi Stenzler welcomed the representatives and said, “We all identify with our common goal, and this is what creates such great enthusiasm. KKL JNF was the main means of ensuring that we would have a Jewish state in the land of Israel.” Stenzler stressed that KKL JNF places the Negev at the top of its priority list. “The gap between central Israel and the Negev creates an illogical situation. We have undertaken the development of this region not only for the inhabitants of southern Israel. It is a most urgent challenge on a national level, because without the Negev there can be no Israel.”
The evening was concluded by keynote speaker H. E. Gideon Meir, Director General for Public Diplomacy, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and former Israel Ambassador to Italy. He said that he remembers the Blue Box from the time he was a child, when they collected pennies for the land of Israel. “The struggle for awareness is one of the most important that Israel is conducting,” he said, “and it is vital for the security of the State of Israel.” He said he does not like the word hasbara, because it has apologetic connotations. “Israel has nothing to apologize for,” he said to a great round of applause. “The State of Israel,” concluded Meir, “is the insurance policy of all the Jews in the world, and as such, it is a joint venture of Israelis and world Jewry.”