JNF Israel won’t pay Bill Clinton’s $500,000 speaking fee

Public outcry leads group to pull out from Peres birthday event; bill to be picked up by friends of the Peres Center

Former US president Bill Clinton (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Former US president Bill Clinton (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli Jewish National Fund will not pay the $500,000 fee for former President Bill Clinton to speak at an event honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres, as planned.

Following a public outcry and media scrutiny, the organization over the weekend said it was pulling out of the June 17 event at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot in honor of Peres’ 90th birthday.

The Israeli JNF, a separately incorporated organization from its U.S. counterpart, had agreed to pick up Clinton’s fee as part of a yearlong cooperation between the center and organization.

Israeli columnists had called for the public to stop donating to JNF and members of the JNF board of directors said they were not aware of the fee.

Invited guests to the event originally were asked to pay more than $800 each to the center’s scholarship program for their participation, but the requirement was waived after it became public.

Clinton, who will be in Israel to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference, will still deliver the speech, with his appearance being paid for by friends of the Peres center.

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