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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘World Zionist Congress’

World Zionist Congress Elections: Time is Running Out

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Have you voted yet in the World Zionist Congress elections? Did you know there is an election happening now, and it ends on April 30?

Okay; step back. What is the World Zionist Congress, why is there an election for it now, and who is running? And then, don’t forget to vote.

WORLD ZIONIST CONGRESS

The WZC was founded by Theodore Herzl in 1897. His idea was to create a legislative body of informed and interested Jewish organizations to make determinations for the Jewish people with the hope of helping to re-establish the Jewish State.

Now that there is, once again, a Jewish State, the WZC meets every five years to discuss and debate issues vital to the Jewish people, such as Jewish identity, security, civil society in Israel, anti-Semitism, and the Jewish State enterprise.

In addition to general policy discussions, the WZC exerts substantial control over significant assets owned by the three major Jewish institutions. It is in this way that parties with a strong voice in the WZC are able to have some control over how the substantial funds of these organizations are spent.

The Jewish National Fund, which controls approximately 13 percent of Israel’s land is one branch over which the WZC has influence.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), which is currently headed by Natan Scharansky, is also under the purview of the WZC. JAFI deals with immigration to Israel and absorption of new olim, and influences education about Zionism.

The third institution over which the WZC has some level of control is the World Zionist Organization. The WZC helps the WZO decide how to allocate funds and assists in the formulation of WZO policies.

PARTIES RUNNING

The WZC has a total of 500 members. The majority – 190 members – comes from Israel. The United States is entitled to 145 WZC members and the remainder of the diaspora is permitted 165 representatives.

There are currently 11 parties running slates for the WZC in the U.S.

Those parties run the spectrum, from those who believe Israel was given by God and every inch of the biblical homeland belongs to the Jewish people, to those who support the immediate creation of a Palestinian State regardless of the harm to the current Jewish State.

It is essential that anyone voting reads the platform and looks at the slate of individuals running for each slate. Some of the party names do not necessarily correspond with the true nature of the parties.

WHO CAN VOTE AND HOW?

In order to vote in the U.S. elections for the WZC, you first have to register. If you are 18 years old, live in the United States and accept what is called the “Jerusalem Program,” chances are you are entitled to vote in the U.S. WZC election, which is run by the American Zionist Movement.

The Jerusalem Program encapsulates the belief that Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, that Zionism led to the (re)establishment of Israel, which is understood to be a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure state and is the expression of the common responsibilities of the Jewish people for its continuity and future. Zionism assumes the centrality of the State of Israel and of Jerusalem, its capital.

According to the Jerusalem Program, Zionism asserts that Israel is rooted in the vision of the prophets, and that it strives for peace and to contribute to the betterment of the world. Zionism seeks to foster Jewish spiritual and cultural values and nourishes mutual Jewish responsibility, where the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation are defended, and where everyone strives to erase all forms of anti-Semitism. “Finally, settling the country is an expression of practical Zionism.”

ZOA: Anti-Zionists Should Not Be Allowed in World Zionist Congress

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

The Zionist Organization of America has filed a formal objection with the World Zionist Organization against a coalition of what ZOA calls anti-Zionist organizations running a slate to have an increased presence in the World Zionist Congress.

ZOA points out that the World Zionist Organization’s Constitution does not permit members to be organizations that discriminate against Jewish and Israeli businesses, or against other Jews. In addition to violating the WZO’s own constitution, boycotts of Jewish or Israeli businesses also violate New York State Human Rights Law.

If that is the case, then the organizations which named their slate “Hatikvah,” Partners for a Progressive Israel, Ameinu, Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror, should be booted.

But there’s a catch, one that the anti-Zionists hope is a permanent life raft. The same organizations ZOA is calling to have tossed from the WZC’s fall 2015 election have all belonged to the WZO for years.

The organizations seeking to join the World Zionist Congress reads like a Who’s Who of the Jewish organizations who love to hate Zionism, and who claim to criticize Israel first, last and only, “out of love” for the Jewish State. Love like that kills.

The groups joining together in a united front include: Partners for a Progressive Israel (formerly MeretzUSA), Ameinu, Habonim Dror North America, and Hashomer Hatzair. The groups share various essentials, according to ZOA, including New York office space, various directors and ideology.

The PPI brazenly supports consumer boycotts against such Israeli companies as Ahava, SodaStream and a list of others.

While Ameinu calls itself an “American Zionist organization” and insists it opposes boycotts of Israeli products, the ZOA points out that Ameinu began a special unit in its organization which lobbies the American and European governments to impose severe financial and travel restrictions on Israel’s Finance Minister and other Israeli leaders.

Yet another objection ZOA raises to the HaTikvah slate is what ZOA describes as close involvement between PPI, Ameinu and the J Street organization. J Street has long hosted and supported many of the leading Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel groups and individuals. Despite claims of not being BDS advocates, their history and associations make clear the opposite is true.

The ZOA wants both the American Zionist Movement and the World Zionist Organization to expel PPI and Ameinu from membership, and to prevent HaTikvah from running for the World Zionist Congress. ZOA is currently a member of the AZM and the WZC, and so believes it has standing to bring this claim.

Should ZOA fail in its bid to bar the ani-Zionist slate from running, ZOA wants, at a minimum, for that group of organizations to be prevented from using the name HaTikvah. The basis for that move is that such a name, which of course evokes the Israeli national anthem, is confusing and will mislead uninformed voters who think the slate actually stands for what the words to the Israeli anthem mean, the essence of which is for Jews to be able to live freely in their ancient land.

As pointed out in ZOA’s  formal complaint filed first with the American Zionist Movement, and then with the Central Election Board, Ameinu’s  longtime director Leonard Fein called the words of the anthem HaTikvah “an insult” in a 2000 speech.

Judge Abraham Gafni of the American Zionist Movement rejected ZOA’s complaint. Gafni said that PPI, Ameinu and the HaTikvah slate were all entitled to participate in the 2015 World Zionist Congress election because they ran before and won at least one seat in the 2006 and 2010 World Zionist Congress elections.

The ZOA, however, said that fact should be irrelevant for several reasons. First of all, the BDS movement had barely gotten off the ground in 2010, and certainly in 2006. Furthermore, Ameinu’s new council seeking severe sanctions on Israeli leaders only began very recently.

Anti-Orthodox Bias At The World Zionist Congress?

Friday, December 21st, 2001

Last week in these pages, we noted the significance of the upcoming World Zionist Congress elections. As we said, the Congress determines the policies and budgetary allocations of the Jewish Agency in Israel which is the central agency administering the distribution of the bulk of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the UJA-Federation system worldwide. However, the erosion of Orthodox representation in the Congress over the years has resulted in a substantial diminution of support for Orthodox institutions and a definite non-Orthodox tilt in positions on issues that are fundamental to the character of the Jewish people.

It came to our attention that the World Zionist Congress placed election-related advertisements in several Anglo-Jewish newspapers, none with anywhere as large an Orthodox readership as The Jewish Press. When we inquired as to why the Orthodox were not deemed a suitable target community, we were told that, although The Jewish Press was not included in the initial ad run, an ad would, indeed, subsequently be placed in The Jewish Press. However, we were then told that the advertising program was over and that an ad would not be commissioned. We were told that if The Jewish Press felt so strongly about Orthodox participation in the election, it should run an ad at its own expense, a remark attributed to Ms. Karen Rubenstein, the Congress' Executive Director.

Startled, we had a member of our editorial staff call Ms. Rubenstein to verify what we were told. Our reporter asked whether she had said that we should run the ad gratis if we felt so strongly about Orthodox participation in the voting. She said, “I wouldn't want to be quoted to that effect.”

But did she make the comment, our reporter asked? It was “taken out of context,” was the reply.

Ms. Rubenstein went on to say that no new ads would be placed because they do not have a budget for more ads. When asked why The Jewish Press wasn't considered in the initial advertising budget, Ms. Rubenstein responded, “I'm not getting into a conversation with you about it. This is not a story and I'm not commenting on it as a story.”

Well, we disagree. It is a story and a very important one. A level playing field for all potential voters is certainly something that should be of prime concern to the folks at the World Zionist Congress.

In any event, as our readers will note, we are including as an insert, at our own expense, an official ballot for the election.

We hope that our readers will be spurred by this sad episode to vote in this all-important election, even if they did not intend to do so before.

Critical World Zionist Congress Elections

Friday, December 14th, 2001

The June 2002 election for the 34th World Zionist Congress looms as one of the more important items on Orthodoxy's communal agenda. The World Zionist Congress determines the policies and budgetary allocations of the Jewish Agency in Israel, the central agency which administers the bulk of the funds raised by the UJA-federation system worldwide. This affects allocations to educational and social institutions in Israel, the United States and around the world, as well as the religious and social orientation of Jewish Agency social service programs. In recent years, there has been an erosion of Orthodox representation in the Congress in favor of Reform and Conservative with a consequent increase in support for non-Orthodox institutions and programs and a sea change in philosophy on issues that are fundamental to the Torah character of the Jewish state.

In the coming weeks, we will share with our readers information about the voter registration process and the Orthodox slates. Remember, the registration deadline is December 14, 2001!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/critical-world-zionist-congress-elections/2001/12/14/

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