KKL-JNF: Clinton speech to fuel more green activity

After news of former US president's $500,000 price tag for gala speech, organization says his participation will up global initiatives.

June 3, 2013 04:28
2 minute read.
Former US President Bill Clinton.

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 abroad.

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.

“As KKL-JNF 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 statement said.

“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 stressed.

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 dignitaries.

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.

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