You’ve got less than a week left to vote for World Zionist Congress. We invited the parties to make their best pitch.
The Forward invited the 15 parties contending for the World Zionist Congress elections, which end March 11, to write an article about why readers should support them. Nine responded by our deadline (we’ll happily publish the others; contact kunz[email protected]). The parties are presented in alphabetical order.
The American delegates to the Congress help allocate nearly $5 billion to Jewish organizations and programs in Israel and around the world. Read more about the election process here.
Below is an op-ed provided by the American Zionist Movement on why these elections matter.
The connection between Israel and the Jewish people worldwide has deep roots. Yet concern is growing of a widening gap between the Jewish state and Jews living in other countries, particularly the United States. At a time when deepening antisemitism and anti-Zionism threaten Jews throughout the world, it is more vital than ever that we forge and maintain strong bonds.
Many across the Jewish community have proposed solutions to strengthen and solidify the ties between Israel and the Diaspora, but there is one incredibly powerful tool that has been around for more than 120 years and has a renewed significance in our time.
That is the World Zionist Congress, the international “parliament of the Jewish people.” As the only elected body representing world Jewry, the WZC has the power to unite the Jewish people and deepen their connection to Israel.
Founded over a century ago by the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, the World Zionist Congress was created to allow Jews of all backgrounds and affiliations to make their voice heard in how the vision of a Jewish state could be realized.
In the US, the American Zionist Movement facilitates the election every five years of American delegates to the WZC. For many years, the election received little attention from those outside of those affiliated with Zionist organizations and movements. But with just a few days left to vote, the number of ballots cast has exceeded the votes in the prior two elections, held in 2006 and 2015.
While many may think the Zionist Congress has become an anachronism, the opposite is true. When the Congress meets in Jerusalem this October, hundreds of elected delegates from the US, Israel and around the world will make major decisions about the key policies and funding priorities of important national institutions of Israel, such as the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Jewish Agency for Israel, with a combined annual budget of $1 billion.
The Congress also determines who serves as the leaders, board members and key executives of these highly influential international organizations.
The 1,800 candidates competing for the 152 seats that will represent the US at the Congress reflect the diversity of the American Jewish community: there are a record 15 slates for voters to choose from, representing a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of candidates who ran in 2015. These slates have platform statements that reflect the wide breadth of Zionist views in the United States.
The American candidates are also more diverse than ever, with 733 female candidates, an increase of over 64% from 2015 and making up 42% of the total number of candidates. They are also younger than ever, with a third aged 35 or younger.
All of this means that Jews living outside Israel have a practical way to strengthen the connection between the Diaspora and Israel at a time when that bond remains more critical than ever. Voting in the 38th World Zionist Congress election is building on this paramount bond.
Herbert Block, executive director AZM