web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



‘We Have A Covenant With The Jewish People’: An Interview with Jewish National Fund CEO Russell Robinson

Russell Robinson

Russell Robinson

The magical number for urban development is between 30,000-50,000. With that, you’re able to have the community stand on its own and develop itself. People in Yerucham don’t deserve to be poor just because they don’t have a population.

The JNF has also been involved in trying to solve Israel’s constant water problems, correct?

Yes, we have added about 12 percent water availability to Israel. We’ve built 240 reservoirs and developed technology to use recycled and brackish water, making Israel a country that recycles almost 80 percent of its water. Spain, which recycles the most after Israel, recycles less than 20 percent. Almost 50 percent of the farming in Israel today is done without fresh water. So water is a very important component of what we do.

Why is the JNF doing all of this? Shouldn’t the Israeli government be in charge of such matters?

You can say the same thing about The Salvation Army or a soup kitchen. The fact is that philanthropy is able to make things happen because it can take risks that a government can’t.

In recent years, there’s been talk of privatizing some of Israel’s publicly-owned land, which amounts to over 90 percent of the country. Is the JNF considering privatizing some of the 13 percent it owns?

No, we have a covenant with the Jewish people who bought land in 1901, 1905, 1910, etc. They did it based upon hopes and dreams. We have a covenant that our land is to be held in perpetuity for the Jewish people everywhere.

In the past decade, the JNF has faced criticism for its policy of only leasing land to Jews. How do you address this criticism?

I have an organization called the Jewish National Fund. If I had an organization called the Catholic Church, it would be different. I think the Catholic Church should be giving services for people who are Catholic.

So I have no problem. If people want to say, “Does the Jewish National Fund help the Jewish people?” the answer is yes, and I’m proud of it.

Can you talk a bit about your background? Is it true that you’re a sixth-generation American?

Yes, my family was one of the first Jewish settlers in Virginia. They came in the late 1700s, and after all these generations I’m still a proud Zionist Jew.

Robinson, at first blush, sounds like a non-Jewish name.

It’s a French derivative. They came from Alsace Lorraine and it’s a derivative of Robinsohn. If you go to the cemetery in Petersburg, VA, our section of the cemetery is the Robinsohn section.

Does the JNF still sell blue tzedakah boxes?

Yes, we send out about 100,000 blue boxes a year. If people go on JNF.org they can order one. It’s one of the great icons of the Jewish world.

Imagine, this was before faxes and e-mails. It was about somebody from the Jewish National Fund asking people to take money off of their plate and put it into a blue box. Somebody would collect it and we would buy land. Now that is what I call the real vision and dreams of the Jewish people. Not to be cynical but to be so unbelievably visionary. And that’s why we’re in the land of Israel today.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “‘We Have A Covenant With The Jewish People’: An Interview with Jewish National Fund CEO Russell Robinson”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Anti-Semitic Briitsh MP George Galloway poses with a lump on his head after being assaulted.
British Man Beats Up Anti-Semite George ‘Hitler’ Galloway
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Ben Cohen

If you remember, in 2006, a Jewish kid in Paris, Ilan Halimi, was abducted, beaten, and held hostage for three weeks… These are the kinds of people attending these Gaza solidarity rallies.

Rabbi Berel Wein

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

Formerly an attorney at the prestigious law firm Proskauer Rose for 40 years – six of those years as its chairman – Fagin holds degrees from both Columbia and Harvard Universities. He retired in 2013 to devote more time to the Jewish community.

The message is that Zionism, which used to be great, is today very institutionalized and [consists of a] bunch of people who are just squabbling over titles and budgets.

For Steinsaltz, the Rebbe was no less than “the greatest man I have ever met,” as he writes in the preface to his book.

If a child is seldom required to yield his desires and needs to those of others, surely doing so as an adult will not come naturally to him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/we-have-a-covenant-with-the-jewish-people-an-interview-with-jewish-national-fund-ceo-russell-robinson/2012/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: