MERCAZ-GZA Partnership Provide Strong Environmental Voice on KKL Board (Summer eLetter 2007)

The environment has found a strong voice at the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael (KKL-JNF Israel), through the MERCAZ-Green Zionist Alliance partnership at last year's 35th World Zionist Congress.

Working together, MERCAZ and the GZA, passed a series of broad reaching environmental resolutions directing policy at the KKL and World Zionist Organization (WZO), and appointed three leading Israeli environmentalists to fill key leadership roles on the KKL board.

Dr. Alon Tal, recipient of the 2006 Charles Bronfman Prize and co-founder of numerous Israeli environmental organizations including the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, now serves as Co-Chairperson of the KKL Land Development Committee. This committee, which is in charge of an annual budget of 380 million shekels, oversees such programs as forestry activities, river restoration, reservoir projects and development activities.

Dr. Eilon Schwartz, Executive Director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership, will rotate into the position of Chairperson of the Education Committee in a year and a half. In this capacity he will be able to redefine KKL's educational program and influence programming at 24-affiliated JNF offices around the world.

Orr Karassin, a leading environmental attorney and a doctoral candidate at Bar Ilan University, will serve as Chairperson of the Sustainable Development Subcommittee, to review the policies and practices of the KKL.

In addition to these three positions, the Green Zionist Alliance and MERCAZ passed a series of environmental resolutions directing policy for KKL and other Zionist organizations.

The first resolution will make Sustainable Development a stronger objective of JNF/KKL projects and direct millions of shekels to environmental restoration and education projects.

The second resolution will lead to the creation of environmental impact statements for World Zionist Organization (WZO) and KKL projects. The third resolution requires the use of recycled paper in all World Zionist Organization offices. This latter decision should lead to the production of office-recycled paper in Israel for the first time in Israel's history.

"Putting sustainable environment on the map of the KKL, in terms of policies and leadership positions, is a remarkable achievement, and thanks should go to the thousands of people who voted for the Green Zionist Alliance or MERCAZ USA in last year's World Zionist Congress elections" said Rabbi Michael Cohen, GZA Co-Founder. "We now look to furthering our partnership with MERCAZ on educational programs here in the United States."

For more information about the Green Zionist Alliance, contact Noam Dolgin, Chairperson, Green Zionist Alliance (917) 434-7859,,


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