KKL Italy and Corriere della Sera Host EXPO 2015 Event

KKL Italy and Corriere della Sera Host EXPO 2015 Event

On June 16, 2015, the prominent Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and KKL-JNF hosted an event related to the UN World Day to Combat Desertification in conjunction with Expo 2015.

"Water and honey out of stones" is exactly what KKL-JNF does, according to Professor Pietro Laureano, who spoke at the Handful of Sand event marking the United Nations World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification, which is observed globally on June 17. Approximately 230 people filled the Corriere della Sera auditorium for the event, which was produced by KKL Italy in cooperation with the Corriere della Sera group, which owns Italy's major newspaper. The event featured a scientific lecture by Professor Laureano; a dramatic recital by the actress Pamela Villoresi and the artist Paolo D' Altan, who drew pictures as Pamela spoke; a film on KKL-JNF activities in general and its efforts to combat desertification specifically; a discussion with KKL-JNF Director of International Cooperation and Conferences Karine Bolton; and a performance by the Contributo dei ragazzi del laboratorio children's choir. This was the largest event to date produced by KKL Italy.

The evening was opened by Silvio Tedeschi, president of KKL Milan, who introduced the new KKL Italy Honorary Committee, which includes some of the most influential people in Italy, among them Professor Piergaetano Marchetti, President of Fondazione Corriere della Sera; Andree Ruth Shammah, Director of Teatro Franco Parenti; Professor Luca Bernardo, head of the children's department at the FBF Hospital in Milan; Fiorenzo Galli, Director of the Museum of Science, and others.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, the keynote speaker, said that the people of Israel have a deep connection with the desert. "The bible tells us that the children of Israel wandered for forty years in the Sinai Desert. It was only after that our culture was consolidated in the desert that we were granted the privilege of settling our country. Sixty percent of the land of Israel is wilderness, and we often relate to the desert with ambivalence. On the one hand, the desert is perceived as an alien and hostile region, lacking in water and the possibility of life. On the other hand, the desert is a place where a person can escape to and find peace of mind.

"I have no doubt that the attitude to the desert as expressed in our ancient sources impacts KKL-JNF's work today. As Israel's largest green organization, we are investing great resources in the Negev. We initiate special campaigns for the protection of the environment, invest in research and build water reservoirs for agricultural development. Our achievements are quite remarkable, and you can learn about them at EXPO Milano. Our intention is to create the ecological infrastructure and the environmental conditions to absorb a hundred thousand residents in the Negev. By doing so, we will realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah: "…for water will flow in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The dry soil will become a pool, the thirsty ground springs of water (Isaiah 35: 6-7)."

Professor Pietro Laureano spoke about how man manages in the desert. "People have to live in harmony with nature, and we can take advantage of ancient agricultural methods to do so even in modern times," he said.

KKL-JNF Director of International Cooperation and Conferences Karine Bolton described KKL-JNF's work with countries that face similar environmental challenges to those Israel faces. "KKL-JNF has become a laboratory for finding solutions to many different sorts of challenges. As a non-governmental organization, we can create ties with countries that don't have diplomatic relations with Israel. We organize professional seminars with the Palestinian Authority, and I have no doubt that such encounters help pave the way to peace. KKL-JNF is considered a world expert on combating desertification, and we are committed to sharing our knowledge and expertise with other countries in order to make the world a better place for everyone," she concluded.

VIPs attending the event included Milo Hasbani, President of the Milan Jewish Community; Ruggero Gabbia, representative of the city council at EXPO 2015; and Roberto Jarach, Vice President of the Center for Holocaust Remembrance in Milan.