KKL-JNF International Expo Mission to Milan

KKL-JNF International Expo Mission to Milan

A ceremonial opening event in honor of KKL-JNF’s international delegation to Expo Milano took place on September 6th, 2015. Among the guests was the well-known economist Nouriel Roubini, and participants included KKL-JNF officials from both Israel and Italy, the Israeli and Italian ambassadors and a representative of the President of Lombardy. The event included an interim summary of the success of KKL-JNF’s activities at the Israel Pavilion at Expo.

The Expo 2015 exhibition opened in Milan on May 1st and it will continue until October 31st. After four months of successful and intense activity at the KKL-JNF compound in the Israel Pavilion at Expo, an international KKL-JNF delegation arrived for a special visit to the exhibition.

Over one million visitors have so far visited the Israel Pavilion and the KKL-JNF compound at Expo Milano, and some 50,000 people have signed up at the compound for the KKL-JNF raffle which may win them a trip to Israel. Around 30,000 people have signed up to plant a tree in the Expo Forest in Israel and 14,000 have signed up to receive the KKL-JNF newsletter.

The ceremonial opening event of the KKL-JNF international Expo mission included the screening of films showing KKL-JNF’s activities for the benefit of humankind and the environment over the past 114 years, and the organization’s activities at Expo Milano for the past four months.

President of KKL Milan Silvio Tedeschi welcomed the guests attending the event and talked about the activities of KKL-JNF staff at Expo. “Welcome to Milan. Five years ago, when we first heard that the next Expo would be held in Italy, here in Milan, we said that this would be our Expo and that we just had to be there. We approached KKL-JNF leaders in Israel and put the Expo idea before them. And now you can see the result for yourselves – simply outstanding!”

He continued: “The Israel Pavilion at Expo has, among other things, served as a venue for workshops and cooperation between Israelis and Italians. Our activities have received attention in the press and elsewhere, and our presence at Expo has borne fruit economically and in the business world. None of these good things would ever have taken place without the devoted labors of our office staff, KKL-JNF envoy Shariel Gunn and the staff of KKL-JNF Israel,” he emphasized.

He concluded by announcing that the new president of KKL Milan would take up his post at the end of October. “I should like to say that after sixteen years as President of KKL Milan, my term of office is now over. I’m delighted to announce that Sergio Castelbolognesi will be the new president, and I wish him every success. May he continue to bring great joy to KKL-JNF activities.”
President of KKL Italy Rafi Sasson likewise thanked the organization’s teams and staff for their devoted work that had made the KKL-JNF compound at the Israel Pavilion such a success. “My second family – KKL-JNF – is a united family that dwells together and brings together its sons from all over the world,” he said. “I should like to thank the ambassadors of Israel and Italy whose dedication and hard work have brought our two countries significantly closer. I should also like to offer special thanks from the bottom of my heart to our board of directors in Israel. Eli Aflalo, Efi Stenzler and Menachem Leibowitz are sitting here together and are thereby reiterating their commitment to the Expo Project and also their profound commitment to the KKL-JNF family.”

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler thanked the members of the special delegation to Expo, who had came from all over the world, and added: “I hope that in the coming days you will be filled with pride as you visit the Israel Pavilion, which displays the significant achievements that Israel has contributed to the world. According to most reports, the Israel Pavilion is considered one of the five most interesting. I am proud of your support for KKL-JNF, through which you share in all our successes and in all the successes of the State of Israel.”

The World Chairman added that all visitors to the pavilion had expressed astonishment at Israel’s success “and at KKL-JNF’s contribution to everything concerning forests and making the desert bloom. I regard the Expo 2015 Project as a very important event that gives us an opportunity to display the best aspects of the State of Israel,” he said.

In his speech, Stenzler addressed the complex situation prevailing in the world today. “Migrants and hunger. And where we’re concerned, there are those who seek to threaten Israel’s existence. Expo Milano offers a challenge to these dangerous tendencies. The Expo Project in general and the Israel Pavilion in particular portray the battle against world hunger. The Israel Pavilion exhibits not only scientific and technological developments, but also values, culture and a profound historical connection to our country.”

Stenzler concluded his speech by thanking the devoted Italian and Israeli KKL-JNF teams for the hard work and dedication that had rendered the organization’s great success at Expo possible. “And above all, this is the time to thank from the bottom of our hearts all supporters of KKL-JNF throughout the world. Without their unwavering support, nothing would ever happen,” he said.


KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Eli Aflalo said in his speech that Expo “symbolizes KKL-JNF’s great pride in its wealth of ecological experience and in its contribution to finding solutions to global problems relating to food and the environment for the benefit of generations to come.”

With regard to KKL-JNF’s partners worldwide, Aflalo added, “Your contribution – first and foremost, the contribution made by members of KKL-JNF throughout the world in the past, present and future – is the foundation that strengthens KKL-JNF and a major source of strength for the entire people of Israel.”

Aflalo emphasized KKL-JNF’s contribution to the development of Israel from a wasteland to a flourishing state, with each generation committing itself to bearing the standard of national development. “One sign of how far we have come is the important fact of our participation in the Expo Project. Also, we have to bear in mind that the challenges of which Expo speaks – environment, food and water – are the very issues addressed expertly and in depth by KKL-JNF. No issues are of greater importance than these, as they will have a significant impact on the generations to come.”

Aflalo concluded his speech with reflections on the famous Blue Box: “Thanks to the little Blue Box with which it all began – the little box that my mother, when I was a child, used to bring out every Sunday and drop a coin in it for the sake of Eretz HaKodesh (the Holy Land). Thanks to the Blue Box and the coins we all dropped in it, thanks to cooperation, persistence and the belief that what we were doing was right, the State of Israel, our beloved country, has changed since the day it was founded and has a very different aspect today.”

The theme of the Israel Pavilion at Expo is “The Fields of Tomorrow,” and the theme of the KKL-JNF compound within the pavilion is “Creating a Better Future Together.”

Among the honored guests at the opening event for the special delegation was the renowned economist Professor Nouriel Roubini, who remarked in his speech that Israel’s participation in Expo Milano addresses a major issue. “This is a large, impressive and relevant pavilion. There is a direct connection between the theme of the Expo exhibition and the economy, and that’s not all. The connection is related to the advent of sustainability. The main task is to prevent poverty in countries throughout the world.”

The Israeli and Italian ambassadors welcomed the participants and stressed the important cooperation with KKL-JNF in the Israel Pavilion, which was highly successful.

Israeli Ambassador to Italy Naor Gilon told those present: “It’s a great honor to be here this evening. The relationship between Israel and Italy is a warm and special one. President Rivlin left today, and Prime Minister Netanyahu was here just a few days ago. These two events are evidence of the special connection between the two countries today. Expo cooperation with KKL-JNF has been excellent. There is no doubt that without KKL-JNF the Israel Pavilion would not be in the position it is now. I should like to thank you for this significant cooperation. The Italians, too, deserve our congratulations. Italy has succeeded in getting a magnificent project off the ground. Despite all the cynics, this is an excellent Expo!”

Italian Ambassador to Israel Francesco Talo said: “Allow me to talk for a moment about the importance attached by Professor Roubini to cooperation between people and countries,” and went on to describe the cooperation between himself and KKL-JNF over the years. “I have to tell you that today our countries work wonderfully together, at Expo too. It’s so good to see the pavilions that have been set up side by side, with the Israeli one next to the Italian. For me this is a sign of great success. When we’re together, Israel is not a country of seven million people – when we’re together we’re an engine that drives the rest of the world. If we have to face important challenges like migration, it’s important for us to be partners.”

President of the Lombardy region Roberto Maroni had been expected to participate in the ceremonial opening event in honor of the KKL-JNF delegation to Expo, but was unable to attend because of a family occasion. He was represented by Ms Claudia Tardi, who conveyed his good wishes to the participants.

“There is great friendship here, and Israel is greatly admired because of its ability to renew itself,” she said. “It is very important to continue to initiate and invest in new technologies. President Maroni visited Israel last March and he has asked me to tell you how excited he was by his visit. He came back full of excitement after taking part in an interesting delegation that gave him the chance to see what I had seen several months earlier at a meeting organized by KKL-JNF here in Milan. Thanks to KKL-JNF I saw the beauty of Israel and learned a great deal about the country from a film.”

She added: “The president has seen Israel’s technologies for himself and has had the privilege of seeing with his own eyes how your nation has managed to transform a desolate wilderness into a flourishing country with many hopes for the future. This is also the case with the delightful vertical field in the Israel Pavilion at Expo, which will remain with us and change its colors with the changing seasons. This generous gift of yours likewise symbolizes the very summit of technological achievement.”

Ms. Tardi concluded by saying that after she had visited the Israel Pavilion three times and found a long line of people waiting on each occasion, she is sure that the delegation will find its visit there very interesting. “I can definitely say that this is one of the few pavilions that explicitly demonstrates the real theme of Expo 2015. This is a theme that will not be forgotten in the years to come or by the generations that follow us.”