Monday, March 23, 2020

  • Monday, March 23, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
From The Forward:

After two months of voting and an unprecedented surge in participation, Orthodox and right-wing groups dramatically increased their share of American delegates to the World Zionist Congress, according to the results released Monday.

More than a third of delegates will belong to the Orthodox Israel Coalition and Eretz Hakodesh, groups that will push the Congress for more funding for religious schools. Only around one in 10 American Jews are Orthodox.

Because voter turnout was so high, nearly every established party increased its raw vote total, but only the Orthodox and conservative organizations substantially increased their share of the overall vote, and thus the number of delegates they will send to the Congress.

While the slate of the Reform movement, the most liberal of the three major branches of Judaism, once again finished in first place, their share of the vote declined from 39% in 2015 to 25% this time. The Conservative movement, the more centrist of the three denominations, also declined from 17% to 12%. And Hatikvah, the coalition of progressive Jewish organizations that targeted disaffected liberal Zionist voters in a new voter turnout campaign, more than doubled the number of votes it received, their share of the overall delegation only grew from 5% to 6%.

This means that the vast majority of the new votes went to Orthodox and right-wing Zionist parties.

And the major reason why is because they were afraid of what the Hatikvah party planned to do - to subvert the Congress into accepting positions that go against the Jerusalem Program that it is based on.



A number of progressives who ran for the liberal slates were deeply uncomfortable with the Jerusalem Program and Zionism altogether:

When Hatikvah, the US progressive Zionist slate first asked me to join their list for the World Zionist Congress, I was deeply confused (wait, wasn’t that Herzl’s thing from 1897? That’s still around?) and deeply conflicted. As a candidate, I would have to sign the Jerusalem Program, a Zionist loyalty oath of sorts, when I had spent the past two years leading a campaign against Jewish communal loyalty oaths.

And:
Hadar Susskind gets why some people might not want to click the button. Susskind—who is coordinating the liberal Zionist Hatikvah slate’s efforts to turn out unprecedented numbers of progressive Jews to vote for them—acknowledges that the language in the Jerusalem Program makes some potential voters uncomfortable. For instance, the final principle that voters must stand by is “[s]ettling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.” Most progressive Jews are well aware that the primary “settling” effort in “practical Zionism” today is the further establishment of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, in defiance of international law. Left-leaning Zionists—as well as non-Zionists and anti-Zionists—have railed against such settlements for decades. So how can these critics affirm the WZC’s platform in good conscience?

“Most people read that as a right-wing statement, right?” says Susskind. “They go, ‘Oh, my God. If I click this thing, I’m supporting annexation [of the West Bank].’ But it’s vague. It doesn’t actually say that.” In his eyes, the line could just as easily refer to development inside the UN-recognized borders of Israel.

...The struggle of Hatikvah in the WZC contest is, in many ways, the struggle of liberal Zionism everywhere today. Advocates of the ideology are attempting to remain a force within institutions increasingly dominated by the right, while alienated leftists say they cannot in good conscience participate in organizations like the WZC; for leftists, the moral dilemmas that liberal Zionists face today are emblematic of contradictions that have been present since liberal Zionism’s founding. After all, the kibbutzniks whom Susskind admires may have been egalitarian on their agricultural settlements, but there were many of them among the Jewish soldiers who spurred the Nakba—the mass expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948—and the kibbutzim themselves were often established on the sites of eradicated Palestinian villages.
Hatikvah has candidates like Peter Beinart, Jeremy Ben Ami and the New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch.

Mainstream Zionists know what these people are about. When they announced the slate, there was a lot of publicity as to their aims - to stop funding for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, for example. The organizations have been spending years actively trying to undermine Israeli democracy and the will of the Israeli people. So while Hatikvah sent out a call for liberal Jews to vote for them, conservative Jews, especially religious Zionists, put out their own call.

In previous Zionist Congress elections, there was little sense of urgency and many Zionists didn't bother. Hatikvah added that sense of urgency that had been lacking previously. And when it comes to Israel, the more religious/right wing is far more emotionally invested than the Left is.

So even though Hatikvah managed to double their votes from 2015, the right-wing must have quadrupled or quintupled theirs.

All because of the threat of the Left taking over a venerable institution. Even haredi Jews who ignore all such events were urged by some of their leaders to vote for the Eretz Hakodesh slate which was the third largest party with 16% of the vote.

There may be far more Jews who embrace leftist causes than conservatives, but when it comes to which Jews are the most committed to Israel, the right is by far the winner. And there is a direct correlation between how

So, thanks, Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami. You got religious and right-wing Jews to vote.





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