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0Shimon Peres Presents 2012 Beautiful Isral Award to Jewish National Fund: President thanks KKL-JNF

In a moving ceremony at his residence, Israeli President Shimon Peres presented the 2012 Beautiful Israel Award to the Keren Keyemet L’ Israel or the Jewish National Fund. The award, given out since 1977, goes to those who’ve made significant and unique contributions to the quality of life and the environment in Israel… KKL-JNF more than qualifies…the non-profit which is celebrating its 110 anniversary this year has a long history of buying, developing and beautifying the land of Israel… We met Efi Stenzler - the world chairman of KKL-JNF- at the organization’s historic headquarters in Tel Aviv…today most of the building is a museum that showcases how the land-buying fund helped new immigrants transform much of the arid and uninhabitable terrain of Israel into fertile land that could support thriving communities. This KKL-JNF office also housed Israel’s provisional government under David Ben-Gurion six months before the State was declared…in this very room Ben-Gurion signed Israel’s declaration of Independence… By that time KKL-JNF had already been around more than 45 years…it was established in 1901 at the 5th Zionist Congress in Basel. Viennese Professor Zvi Shapira, with the support of Theodore Herzl, decided to raise money from Jews the world over in order to buy land in Israel from Arabs and others… The tin blue donation box soon became the iconic symbol of KKL-JNF…the collection boxes were put on counters in every corner of the world…they