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February 04, 1994 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-04

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It's cold outside,
but hot stuff is
happening here.

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Hadassah Will Break
From World Zionists

New York (JTA) —
Hadassah is set to make its
getaway from the political
arena of the World Zionist
The women's organization
seeks to retain a seat at the
Zionist table without conti-
nuing to compete in the elec-
tions held periodically to
divide power and posts
within the WZO.
The WZO Executive last
week gave preliminary ap-
proval to such a change in
Hadassah's status within
the Zionist organization, a
move that needs the en-
dorsement of the broader
Zionist General Council,
which meets in June.
This comes as the longtime
structure of the Zionist
organization is being in-
creasingly reassessed.
Hadassah has repeatedly
charged that the elections no
longer make sense in an era
when Zionism is more about
philanthropy than ideology.
The WZO itself commands
a $30 million budget, and
holds half the power in the
United Jewish Appeal-
funded Jewish Agency for
Israel, which has a $500
million budget.
Zionist elections were first
instituted by Theodor Herzl,
as he transformed the Jew-
ish dream of the ingathering
of the exiles into a repre-
sentative political move-
More than 200,000 Ameri-
can Jews cast ballots for the
elections before the 1987
Zionist congress.
In those elections, the old-
time Zionist movements —
both the non-political,
centrist Hadassah and af-
filiates of Israeli political
parties — saw their repre-
sentation sink while Zionist
groups affiliated with
Reform and Conservative
Judaism rose.
In changing its status,
Hadassah may, as cynics
claim, be seeking to stanch
its declining power.
At the same time, it will be
sending yet another signal
that the approaching
centennial of the Zionist
movement in 1997, and the
jubilee of the State of Israel
a year later, are likely to
witness a radical change in
the structure of the WZO.
Already, the WZO has
decided to establish a com-
mittee to look into such
broad-sweeping issues.

Ammiel Hirsch:
Supports status change.

And in New York, the
American Zionist Movement
this month formed its own
committee to study the
future of the WZO and map
out an American proposal
for new directions.
Under the proposal, which
awaits approval from the
General Zionist Council,
Hadassah will have a fixed
representation in the WZO,
as do international organ-
izations such as the Wo-
men's International Zionist
But how large a represen-
tation that will be has yet to
be decided, and can be ex-
pected to be the topic of
much argument.
At the Association of
Reform Zionist of America,
which has in the past
sparred loudly with
Hadassah over the question
of elections, Executive Di-
rector Ammiel Hirsch said
his group supports the pro-
posed change in Hadassah's
status, assuming that the
women's group's new fixed
representation is
"proportional," that repre-
sentation does not decrease
the size of the American
Zionist delegation that does
go up for elections, and that
Hadassah does not vote on
matters relating to per-
Currently, international
organizations with fixed
representation in the WZO,
such as B'nai B'rith, are not
allowed to vote on matters of
personnel. The exception is
the Women's International
Zionist Organization, which
does have the right to vote
on those matters but
refrains from so doing.

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