Bill Clinton 311.
(photo credit: Eduardo Munoz / Reuters)
Facing outrage over a decision to pay former US president Bill Clinton $500,000
to speak at a gala later this month, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National
Fund (KKL-JNF) leaders argued that Clinton’s participation will enable the
organization to increase its volume of green activities both in Israel and
Clinton is scheduled to deliver a 45-minute talk about
sustainability issues at a June 17 gala held at the Peres Academic Center in
Rehovot in the presence of President Shimon Peres.
When the news of his
$500,000 price tag – and an original $800 ticket cost for the event – leaked
this weekend, the two organizations came under fire.
In response to a
query from The Jerusalem Post
to KKL-JNF about the gala, members of the
international steering committee of KKL-JNF’s World Leadership Conference of
Presidents voiced their support for the event.
This year’s WLC, which
takes place biannually, will occur on June 14 through 20 and includes the June
17 gala as part of its activities.
“We members of the committee, the
organizer of the World Leadership Conference of Presidents of KKL-JNF from 40
countries around the world, have decided to join in an event organized by the
Peres Academic Center,” a statement from the group said. “The Peres Academic
Center in Rehovot invited Former US president Bill Clinton, came to financial
terms with him, and paid him, a long time before the representatives of the WLC
of Presidents of KKL-JNF were part of it.”
The $500,000 will be
contributed to the William J. Clinton Foundation, which finances global
initiatives on public health, climate change, economic equality, childhood
obesity and other environmental and health concerns.
contributors we have decided to take part in this event, seeing this as a unique
opportunity to increase fund-raising towards the land and people of Israel,
while recognizing the KKLJNF’s ‘green’ activities around the world,” the group
“We would like to emphasize that our participation at the
event is fully financed by our own funds and we intend to raise $100 million for
projects in the State of Israel.”
The fund-raising will take place
throughout the course of the week-long WLC, the committee members
Representatives of the Peres Academic Center meanwhile
responded that Clinton will be a guest of honor at this special tribute evening,
which will include many government officials, public figures and
Contrary to previous reports, the gala evening will not
include fund-raising, and participants in the event – many of who are friends
and supporters of the academic center – will not need to pay for their entrance,
a statement from the center said.
“The Peres Academic Center in Rehovot
announced that due to the high demand for attendance all places have been
booked, and we thank everyone who was interested in joining and regret that
additional places cannot be confirmed,” the statement added.