Zionist Polls Open: Who's Running, How to Vote

Alert readers may have read my column from last week, explaining what the World Zionist Congress is about, how the American delegation is elected and why anyone should care enough to vote.

Well, the online polls are now open. To register and vote, you need to pay $10 (via credit card) and affirm that you are Jewish (no details as to how that’s defined), live in the United States, will be 18 by next June 30 and agree to a rather bland statement of principles known as the Jerusalem Program of 1968, the text of which appears on the form. For your convenience I’ve copied it below, after the jump.

Click here to register and vote.

You’ll find a list of the 11 parties running slates of candidates. Each party name is accompanied by a link to its platform and another link to its candidate slate, listed in order. Whatever percentage of the total vote a party gets, that’s the percentage of the 145-member American delegation it can fill.

You’ll note that while most of the parties make it pretty plain who they are, if not in their name then at least once you click on the platform, several have names and platforms that sound like each other and give no clue as to who or what you’re voting for. Here, then, is a quick guide for the perplexed voter:

Zionist Spring: a coalition of centrist and slightly right-of-center organizations known for avoiding taking stands on controversial issues, including the Young Judaea youth movement as well as the Baltimore Zionist District, which split off in 1994 from the Zionist Organization of America. As the platform notes, they’re affiliated internationally with the World Confederation of United Zionists (not to be confused with the World Union of Confederated Zionists). (OK, I made up that last part.)

Mercaz USA, the Zionist Arm of the Conservative Movement: as in Conservative Judaism, not conservative politics.

Alliance for a New Zionist Vision: Once you get past the nondescript name and pareve platform, this group of mostly 20-something activists turns out to be an affiliate of Lavi Olami, which in turn is an international offshoot of the militant, messianist wing of the settler movement represented in the Knesset by Tekuma, the right flank of Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party. Here are a few links to their website, Facebook page and one of their main component groups, the Kumah organization of far-right Israeli radio talk-jock Yishai Fleisher.

American Forum for Israel: a Russian-immigrant organization identified with Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party.

World Sephardic Zionist Organization – Ohavei Zion: identified with Shas, the Israeli Sephardic Haredi-Orthodox party.

ARZA, Representing Reform Judaism: stands for Association of Reform Zionists of America. Works to advance the status of Reform Judaism in Israel, moderately liberal on other issues.

Herut North America – The Jabotinsky Movement: founded in 1999 by pro-Israel young adults opposed to territorial compromise and Palestinian statehood. Claims to carry on the legacy of the late Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose arch-nationalist, Greater Land of Israel-oriented Zionist Revisionist/Herut movement was the forerunner of today’s Likud. Also, the only list to feature a rabbi named Roosevelt Solomon, which seems to be a tale in itself (more on that soon).

Hatikvah – The Progressive Zionist Voice: an alliance of the Ameinu Labor Zionist organization and its Habonim youth movement, Partners for Progressive Israel (formerly Meretz USA) and its Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, together with J Street, the New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now, Open Hillel and the Jewish Labor Committee.

Green Israel: Aytzim/Green Zionist Alliance/Jewcology: the name pretty much says it all.

Religious Zionists: Vote Torah for the Soul of Israel: affiliated with the mainstream wing of Orthodox Zionism, today represented in Israel by Jewish Home-Bayit Yehudi. Incorporates American Modern Orthodox organizations including Rabbinical Council of America, B’nei Akiva youth movement, Orthodox Union. If nothing else, you can trust their kashrut.

Zionist Organization of America/ZOA: Defend Jews and Israel Rights: led by the indefatigable Mort Klein, this slate allies ZOA with a spectrum of hawkish American pro-Israel organizations including JCC Watch, Americans for a Safe Israel, Stand With Us and others. Your chance to say ‘thank you’ to the organization’s major backer, Sheldon Adelson.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.


J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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