"We have no intention of harming Clinton, the (Israeli) president, or the Israeli people. It is for the latter's sake that we raise hundreds of million of dollars annually, and hence we have decided to refrain from participating in the event," a member of the organization stated.
- Clinton lecture to cost JNF, Peres Academic Center $500,000
- Op-ed: No limit to greed
- Op-ed: Acre here, Clinton there
At first, the heads of the JNF conference, which will host some 300 JNF leaders from 40 countries, were enthusiastic about funding the event, thinking their identification with Clinton would bode well for the organization in light of the former president's pro-peace positions.
Half-million dollar smile (Photo: MCT)
However, the tone surrounding the visit soon turned sour when it became public that Clinton would be receiving $500,000 for a 45-minute speech scheduled for June 17 at the Peres Academic College in Rehovot.
The reports broke amid a larger wave of criticism surrounding the high expenses of celebrations honoring the president's entrance into his nonagenarian years.
JNF, which did not fund the event directly, is expected to see its funds returned in the near future.
The fund explained that Clinton's invitation was extended and coordinated by the college in June 2012, and it was the college that finalized and completed the financial details of the visit.
"Let us make it clear that neither JNF nor anyone of its people had any contact with Clinton or his representatives," an official letter regarding the cancellation sent to JNF's board of directors read.
The JNF further stressed that their name became entangled in the funding commotion despite the fact that they were not part of it.
"Since then we have held a number of consultations with the heads of our international branches and our central benefactors. We were informed that there was a decision to back out of the event and hold an alternative one in its stead," the letter said.
As was reported, JNF plans to raise some $100M for projects in the Negev and the Galilee during its conference. The sum will be raised without any assistance from either Peres or Clinton.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop