Photo Credit:
Theodor Herzl, father of the First Zionist Congress

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.

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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.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com