Last night, following the conclusion of Shabbat in Israel, a media firestorm began on Facebook over a report that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) had paid former U.S. president Clinton a $500,000 honorarium (paid to the Clinton Foundation, not to Clinton personally) to speak at an upcoming dinner celebrating the 90th birthday of Israel’s president, Shimon Peres. While all the various articles in the Israeli media referred to JNF as the donor, it was somewhat unclear if the money came from JFN-USA or JNF-Israel.
We now know the $500,000 fee was covered by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-Israel).
This from JNF-USA:
It has come to our attention that payment to the foundation of President Bill Clinton was made for his participation in the upcoming Presidents Conference and 90th birthday party of President Shimon Peres by the Peres Peace Center. Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-Israel) was one of the major supporters as he is also scheduled to speak at their (KKL-JNF Israel) international conference where more than 600 people will attend a gala dinner with President Clinton and President Peres. While it is customary to pay a speaker’s honorarium, travel expenses, and dinner venue cost, Jewish National Fund of America donated dollars were not utilized for this. Participants from over 40 countries are paying their own way to enjoy this celebration. We wish President Peres a happy birthday and a celebration on the level he deserves.
And what does JNF-Israel’s board chair Efi Stenzler have to say?
I have no idea how much the talk costs – I didn’t ask. Why should I ask? After all, a regal dinner is still just a dinner.