World Zionist Organization Meets Virtually, Contentiously

  • The World Zionist Organization is in charge of a network of Zionist Organizations
  • It allocates funds to these organization up to 3 billion shekels
  • In this year’s conference was felt more the schism in Israel society

The World Zionist Organization (WZO) met this week for three days. The WZO was established in 1897 by Theodore Herzl. The usual meeting takes place in Jerusalem, but this week it was done virtually because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Seven hundred delegates and observers from over 30 countries took part in the conference.

The World Zionist Organization (WZO) is a non-governmental organization that promotes Zionism. It was founded as the Zionist Organization (ZO; 1897–1960) at the initiative of Theodor Herzl at the First Zionist Congress, which took place in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.

The WZO is the umbrella organization of various national Zionist organizations. At the meeting were elections of executives of the WZO. Yaakov Hagoel was elected as head of the WZO, and Avraham Duvdevani, the former chair of WZO, was elected to lead the Jewish National Fund.

Hagoel, a former Army veteran, works as a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, and co-chair of the Jewish Agency task force to combat Anti-semitism.

He is also a member of the board of trustees of the United Jewish Appeal, and other Zionist commemoration organizations. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Ariel University, and Yad VaShem holocaust memorial museum. In August 2015 he was appointed chairman of World Likud.

Within the structure of the WZO, there is a conflict between right-wing religious Zionists and Ultra-Orthodox factions, which delayed election of the new chairman, Hagoel.

The unprecedented intervention of left activists within the organization is an indication that the left liberal members are looking to change the coalition agreements, which were drawn up by the Orthodox factions.

The center left-wing and non-religious factions condemned the agreement, which excluded them from major positions. The coalition agreement allocates funds to four major organizations, which are part of the WZO, allocations up to amounts of 3 or 4 billion shekels. During the meeting, there were negotiations between the two sides, which made significant changes in the agreement to satisfy the left-liberal secular members and their constituents.

Netanyahu spoke at the conference about the importance of peace between Israel and UAE. Benny Gantz made the final speech to conclude the proceedings.

On Monday, the President of the Hadassah organization, with the most votes in the WZO, called the agreement unacceptable, that it could alienate young adults in the diaspora from the Zionist movement.

This year’s elections were more turbulent than ever before, remarked Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who called for the agreement to be equitable.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his remarks above the political fray, speaking about the benefits of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

He said this peace agreement represents the legitimacy of the state of the Jews in the homeland of their ancestors. Likud Lieutenant Miki Zohar did much of the maneuvering of Likud and the religious factions at the conference

All sides of the Zionist State expressed their issues— conservative, reformed, and orthodox— each with their own interests in mind and the interest of the survival of the State of Israel as the true representative of the Jewish people.

Benny Gantz, second to Netanyahu in the unified government coalition and Minister of Defense, made the closing remarks.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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