World Zionist Congress
The World Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני העולמי HaKongres HaTsioni HaOlami) established by Theodor Herzl, is the supreme organ of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and its legislative authority. It elects the officers and decides on the policies of the WZO and the Jewish Agency.
Any Jew over age 18 who belongs to a Zionist association is eligible to vote, and the number of elected delegates to the Congress is 500. 38% of the delegates are allocated to Israel, 29% to the United States of America, and 33% to the remainder of the countries of the Diaspora. In addition there are about 100 delegates which are appointed by International Organizations (e.g. B’nai B’rith, see below) affiliated with WZO.
From 1897 to 1901, the Zionist Congress met every year (see First Zionist Congress), then every second year from 1903 to 1913 and 1921 to 1939. Until 1946, the Congress was held every two years in various European cities, save for interruptions during the two World Wars. Their goal was to build an infrastructure to further the cause of Jewish settlement in Palestine. Since the Second World War, meetings have been held approximately every four years. Also, since the creation of the State of Israel, the Congress has met every four or five years in Jerusalem. The 35th World Zionist Congress was held in June 2006, where Zeev Bielski of Kadima was elected WZO Chairman.
The most recent Congress was held in June 2010 in Jerusalem and Avraham Duvdevani from the modern-Orthodox “Mizrahi” camp was elected as Chair. Natan Sharansky was elected as head of the Jewish Agency for Israel which was separated again from the position of WZO Chair.
The upcoming World Zionist Congress will take place in October 2015.
- 1 Representatives at the World Zionist Congress
- 2 The Course of the Congress
- 3 2015 Unites States Elections for World Zionist Congress
- 4 History
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Representatives at the World Zionist Congress
Zionist World Unions
Zionist participants in the World Zionist Congress are free to form Brit Olamit or Zionist World Unions (ideological groupings), which are somewhat like political parties. While Israeli political parties can participate in the Congress, brits are also organized and voted into the Congress by non-Israelis, making the Congress a multinational deliberative body for the Jewish diaspora. However, as aliyah has brought Jews to Israel from other countries, Israeli representation in the legislature has increased at the expense of non-Israeli Jewish diaspora representation. A Brit Olamit (World Union) must have representation in at least five countries to send a delegation to the Congress.
There are currently five Zionist World Unions (with full voting rights):
- World Zionist Union: Labor Zionist Movement – Arzenu – World Union of Meretz
- United Faction: Kadima–HaNoar HaTzioni– MERCAZ
- World Mizrachi/Ichud Le'umi/Herut/Yisrael Beytenu/Moledet/Tkuma
- World Likud/Shas
Zionist Organizations with Special Status
Two women's organizations have special status in the Zionist Organization and have full voting rights:
- WIZO - is an international, non-party Zionist body, which receives global representation by virtue of an agreement entered into in 1964.
- Hadassah – received special status by virtue of a decision of the Zionist General Council, in 1994. (duplicate?)
International Jewish Organizations
The international Jewish organizations have also been represented in the Zionist Congress since 1972, provided that they accept the Jerusalem Program, even if not all their members are declared Zionists. These bodies have limited voting rights - they do not vote on matters of candidature and elections to the institutions of the WZO.
The following are the International Jewish Organizations (limited voting rights):
- Bnai Brith International
- Maccabi World Union
- WIZO Women's International Zionist Organization (duplicate?)
- World Council of Conservative Masorti Synagogues
- World Emunah
- World Organization of Orthodox Synagogues & Communities in Israel and the Diaspora
- World Sephardi Federation
- World Union for Progressive Judaism
- World Union of Jewish Students
- Zionist Council in Israel
Other Participants in Congress (Advisors, Observers)
- In addition to the delegates with full voting rights participating in Congress, there are also participants in an advisory capacity which can participate in debates but have no voting rights. These may consist of office holders such as members of the Zionist Executive, members of the Zionist General Council who were not elected as delegates to Congress, Chairs of the Zionist Federations, judicial office holders - the President of the Zionist Supreme Court, the Attorney, the Comptroller and representatives of the Aliyah Movement.
- Observers with no speaking or voting rights can be invited by the Zionist Executive or the Congress Presidium.
The Course of the Congress
The Zionist Congress is conducted by the Congress Presidium. Congress deliberations are divided into five stages:
- Opening of the Congress, including a speech by the Chairman of the Executive, and other speeches determined in the agenda, election of the Congress Presidium, the report of the President of the Zionist Supreme Court on the election results, reports of the members of the Zionist Executive in supplement to the printed report, election of the Congress committees.
- Election of the new Executive, according to the proposal of the Congress Standing Committee.
- Meetings of the committees.
- Reports of the committees and voting on the draft resolutions presented by them. The report of the Standing Committee and voting on its proposals for members of the Zionist General Council, the Comptroller and the Legal Institutions.
- Congress closing ceremony.
2015 Unites States Elections for World Zionist Congress
The US slates (parties) include:
- Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) - "Defend Jews & Israeli Rights", endorsed by World Likud, AFSI, JCCWatch, APT, Stand With Us and One Israel Fund
- Herut North America - "The Jabotinsky Movement"
- Zionist Spring: "Restoring Vision to World Zionism" (Bnai Zion Foundation, Young Judea, World Confederation of United Zionists)
- Mercaz USA: "The Zionist Arm of the Conservative Movement"
- Alliance for New Zionist Vision
- American Forum for Israel
- Ohavei Zion - World Sephardic Zionist Organization
- ARZA: "Representing Reform Judaism"
- HATIKVAH - "The Progressive Zionist Voice" - a joint slate of Ameinu, Partners for Progressive Israel, Habonim Dror and Hashomer Hatzair, that includes individuals who are lay-activists and staff people associated with such groups as J Street, New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now, Open Hillel, and the Jewish Labor Committee.
- Green Israel: Aytzim/Green Zionist Alliance/Jewcology
- Religious Zionists: "Vote Torah for the Soul of Israel" - Orthodox Union, Bnei Akiva, Yeshiva University, NCSY, Landers College, RCA, Young Israel
The Zionist Congress, later to become the World Zionist Congress, was held at intervals of 1 year (1897-1901), then 2 years (1903-1939) until the outbreak of the Second World War, with an eight-year break (1913-1921) due to the First World War. No.
- First Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1897)
Theodor Herzl acted as chairperson. The Congress was attended by some 200 participants who formulated the Zionist platform, known as the "Basel programme", and established the Zionist Organization (ZO). In contrast with the older Hibbat Zion movement, the ZO took a clear stance in favour of political Zionism, stating in its programme that
- "Zionism seeks for the Jewish people a publicly recognized legally secured homeland in Palestine."
Herzl wrote in his diary,
- "Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State."
- Second Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1898)
- Third Zionist Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1899)
- Fourth Zionist Zionist Congress - London, England (1900)
- Fifth Zionist Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1901)
- Sixth Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1903)
- Seventh Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1905)
- Eighth Zionist Congress - The Hague, Netherlands (1907)
- Ninth Zionist Congress - Hamburg, Germany (1909)
- Tenth Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1911)
- Eleventh Zionist Congress - Vienna, Austria (1913)
- Twelfth Zionist Congress - Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czechoslovakia (1921)
- Thirteenth Zionist Congress - Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czechoslovakia (1923)
- Fourteenth Zionist Congress - Vienna, Austria (1925)
- Fifteenth Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1927)
- Sixteenth Zionist Congress - Zürich, Switzerland (1929)
- Seventeenth Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1931)
- Eighteenth Zionist Congress - Prague, Czechoslovakia (1933)
- Nineteenth Zionist Congress - Lucerne, Switzerland (1935)
- Twentieth Zionist Congress - Zürich, Switzerland (1937)
- Twenty-first Zionist Congress - Geneva, Switzerland (1939)
- Twenty-second Zionist Congress - Basle, Switzerland (1946)
- Twenty-third Zionist Congress - Jerusalem, Israel (1951)
The Twenty-third Zionist Congress was the first to be held after the establishment of the State of Israel, and the first held in Jerusalem, which would become the norm. It was opened at the graveside of Theodor Herzl, whose remains had been moved from Vienna and reburied on the top of a hill in Jerusalem that was renamed after him, Mount Herzl. The Congress issued the "Jerusalem Program", placing its main focus on the newly-created state as the central unifying element for the Jewish people.
- "Zionist Congress". World Zionist Organization. Retrieved 21 Feb 2015.
- "Rules for the Election of Delegates to the Zionist Congress" (Microsoft Word doc). World Zionist Organization. June 2004 . Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "The Zionist Century | Concepts | Zionist Congresses". Jafi.org.il. Retrieved 2008-11-29.[dead link]
- http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=world+zionist+congress&itemNo=728815[dead link]
- http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=178563 Jerusalem Post: WZO gets 1st religious-Zionist chairman
- "Zionist Congress: First to Twelfth Zionist Congress (1897 - 1921)". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Mitchell Geoffrey Bard, Moshe Schwartz (2005). 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know about Israel. Jason Aronson, Inc. pp. 5–8. ISBN 978-0-7425-4358-4. Retrieved 20 March 2015.