After a long and hard-fought struggle and many months leading up to this week, we just completed three days of the virtual 38th World Zionist Congress. We worked especially hard to preserve the voice of all Zionist viewpoints. MERCAZ, the Masorti/Conservative Movement, along with a coalition of Zionist parties in Israel and the Reform Movement, and the support of the Zionist organizations (Hadassah, B’nai Brith International, Maccabi World Union, WIZO and NAAMAT/USA), succeeded in blocking a divisive agreement and reached an agreement incorporating significant changes, which ensures checks and balances and inclusion of all the Jewish People in the leadership of our Zionist Institutions.
While the new agreement gives power to one side of the political spectrum, we remain confident that the changes preserve the national and pluralistic character of our Zionist Institutions. We will continue to fight for the character of Zionism and its values, and work to inculcate the principles of transparency, quality, and accountability.
For the first time in its history the Zionist Movement will appoint a President from the Center-Left Liberal Zionist block. The President will be nominated by the Yesh Atid party and designated for a female candidate, who will represent the Zionist Movement in Israel and abroad as an ambassador for all Zionist streams and viewpoints. Also for the first time, the Deputy WZO Chair and Deputy Head of the Jewish Agency (JAFI) will be representatives from the Reform and Conservative Movements. Yizhar Hess, previously head of Masorti Israel will hold the WZO position. Kachol Lavan will appoint the Keren HaYesod Chair. Movement parity is ensured in the KKL and WZO Executive Boards. New departments for Social Engagement (Tikkun Olam) – headed by Meretz, working with Israelis in the Diaspora – headed by the Reform Movement, and a unit for Humanistic Judaism – under the Labour Party will be established.
Together we prevented unilateral control by the Haredim of the KKL Education Committee. It will instead have two co-chairs, Kachol Lavan and Eretz HaKodesh, with each appointing a rotating Chair for the committee, and control of the KKL Finance Committee will move from Likud to Yesh Atid. Also prevented was the formation of a sectarian department for Orthodox Spiritual Services. All WZO departments will serve all sectors of Israeli society and the Jewish People. Allocations of departments and spheres of activity will be divided balanced, between the right and left.
We have plenty to be proud of. Great thanks to our negotiators, our delegates and our staff, as well as MERCAZ members who reached out to Zionist organizations throughout the negotiations. There is still much to do over the next four years to ensure that this situation does not happen again.
Marilyn L. Wind
President, MERCAZ USA
Executive Director, MERCAZ USA