The World Zionist Congress, on Tuesday, voted online to embrace the resolutions of its April 19-21, 2023 “extraordinary” session on the eve of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, condemning Israel’s elected right-wing government. These individuals, most of whom don’t live in Israel, don’t pay taxes in Israel, don’t serve in Israel’s army, and don’t vote in Israel, declared that they don’t support key policies of the Netanyahu government.
So, these people, whose parliaments appoint the judges of their supreme courts, approved a resolution calling on the Israeli government “to reach consensus agreements that will bolster the democratic nature of the State of Israel and the checks and balances in the structure of government, while providing protection for human rights, minorities, and women.”
Why? When the US Democrats control the Senate, they appoint Democratic judges, and when the Republicans are in charge, they appoint Republicans. Why won’t the nice Jews from America go to Washington DC to protest this apparent inequity? It would make sense to do it there because the US Supreme Court impacts their lives. But what right of standing do these people have in Israel? Anyway, this resolution was passed with 368 yeas and 262 nays.
The WZC also voted in favor of a resolution urging the same government whose taxes they don’t pay and for which they don’t have the right to vote, not to revoke Israel’s recognition of Conservative and Reform conversions, which are recognized for Israeli citizenship by the Interior Ministry according to the Law of Return.
Some coalition parties want to change this clause, seeing as Conservative and Reform conversions threaten to flood Israel with immigrants whose connection to the Jewish people is suspect. It’s probably not going to happen, not because the WZC said so, but because Prime Minister Netanyahu is reluctant to make waves when he doesn’t absolutely have to.
Delegate Lea Muhlstein, who officiates at the Ark Synagogue in London and is the international chairwoman of ARZENU, the political representation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionist communities, announced victoriously: “World Jewry has spoken loudly and clearly: we will not allow right-wing groups to take away our right to tell the Israeli government that we believe in Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with an independent judiciary capable of defending the rights of all. This is not a position held only by a minority on the left but represents the consensus of world Jewry.”
Oh, you can tell the Israeli government whatever you wish. You just don’t have a say.
The votes on those anti-government resolutions were done online, and counted Tuesday night, at the same time Israel’s robust, if occasionally wobbly, 64-member coalition passed a two-year budget, accompanied by an arrangements law that determines where every shekel goes. The WZC condemnations and calls and warnings had zero impact, because the WZC is, you know, meaningless as of 1948.
WZC delegates call their organization the “parliament of the Jewish people.” In many Israeli cities, small groups of pensioners who gather in coffee shops or parks and debate the day’s events are also called “parliament.” I suspect their impact on the government is far bigger.