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December 26, 1986 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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t p r.

13loomrield Electronic)

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Friday, December 26, 1986 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

EZEKIEL LEIKIN

Special to The Jewish News

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31st Zionist Congress
Should Define Zionism

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S

ince the creation of Is-
rael, Zionist Congres-
ses have been invari-
ably held in Jerusalem, indis-
putably the most logical site
for a World Zionist conclave.
Nevertheless, Israel's
politically-charged milieu
inhibited the Congress from
tackling crucial issues affect-
ing Jewish life in the Diaspora,
as its deliberations have been
increasingly Israel-centered
and dominated by Israel's
political constellation.
It has been argued — with
considerable justification —
that the congress has become a
watered-down replica of the
Knesset and that its dis-
cussions reflected the partisan
rhetoric and stridency of Is-
rael's body politic. This ought
to change, if the congress is to
regain its reputation as the
representative assembly of the
Jewish people.
The weakness of the Con-
gress structure is — partly at
least — attributable to the fact
that the Israeli delegates,
comprising 38 percent of the
total, are not elected, but
designated by their respective
parties in accordance with
their voting-strength in the
Knesset. Hence, the Israeli
delegates' overriding concern
has been to secure their "fair
share" of the World Zionist
Organization's budgetark pie
and the "right number" of
high-level departmental
portfolios. To achieve this, they
rely on their Diaspora coun-
terparts to give them enough
votes to prevail in crucial deci-
sions.
Some Congress-linked pro-
' motional literature refers to
the elections as "a referendum
on Israel's future," or an action
"that may determine the de-
stiny of Israel." Promotional
publicity is, of course, the art of
exaggeration. Yet Congress
decisions, especially those set-
ting priorities for WZO's prac-
tical projects in Israel proper,
are highly important in com-
plementing the programs pur-
sued by the Government of Is-
rael. Equally significant will
be the thrust and scope of the
cultural, educational and
youth programs to be charted
by the congress. These pro-
grams span continents, and in
a number of countries repre-
sent prime sources of Hebrew
education and curricular guid-
ance.
Stripped of extraneous is-
sues of structure and methods
of operation, the elementary
question relevant to these dis-
cussions is "What is a Zionist?"
Jerrold Hoffberger, chairman
of the board of governors of the
Jewish Agency, complained
that it was unfair to categorize
him and his colleagues as

Ezekiel Leikin is executive vice
president of the Metropolitan
Detroit District, Zionist
Organization of America.

Theodor Herzl:
convened first Zionist Congress

"non-Zionists." His argument
is worth pondering.
A Zionist is, first and
foremost, a member of a Zionist
organization affiliated with
the American Zionist Federa-
tion, and ipso facto, with the
WZO. Beyond that, anyone
supporting Israel in one way or
another and endorsing the
Jerusalem Program of the
world Zionist movement, may
consider himself a Zionist.
It has been claimed that
these unaffiliated Zionists
have been more supportive of
the Jewish State than the affil-
iated Zionists. This may or
may not be so. Nevertheless,
there is still a little matter of
ideology. An editorial in Israel
Horizons, the organ of Ameri-
cans for Progressive Israel,
stated that "while the leader-

A Zionist is, first
and foremost, a
member of a
Zionist
organization.

ship of the non-Zionist world
were calling themselves the
'new Zionists', the rank and file
community leadership, the
lower-level leaders of the UJA
and the Jewish Federations
and welfare funds movement
clearly were not supporting the
Jerusalem Program, were not
becoming 'new Zionists' and
were developing a different,
overtly non-Zionist agenda for
themselves, and the larger
Jewish community."
In the summer of 1985, the
Zionist Actions Committee
(World Zionist Council), helc
in Jerusalem, adopted a reso.
lution, calling upon the non
Zionist members of the Jewisl
Agency and the welfare funds
lay leadership to join a Zionist
organization of their choice. Ti
date, there has been no discer
nible stampede on the part o
the non-Zionists or "nev
Zionists" to join the "oh
Zionists".
Prof. N. Rotenstreich, a lead
ing Israeli academic, pointe
out that "support for Israel –
political, economic — impor

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