This message comes from the leadership of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements of America. Please read carefully. This is vitally important for the status of the non-orthodox and non-right wing movements in world Jewry and in relationship with the State of Israel.
I am passing the following along to you on behalf of our movement with the hope that you will use whatever influence you may have with the leadership of the Zionist organizations below. Though I know that the alphabet soup of World Zionism is complicated and mind-numbing, I assure you as a past national chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) that this is vitally important.
The following letter went out on social media today:
“Your help is urgently needed in the next 48+ hours (before Tuesday, October 20) to stop the World Zionist Congress “take over” by extreme forces that would give the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox dominant control of the National Zionist Institutions including the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and Keren Kayemit L’Yisrael (KKL – The Israeli Jewish National Fund).
The American Reform movement successfully attained tens of thousands of votes in the recent World Zionist Congress elections, but now we could lose our voice in Israel because of an unprecedented and completely unacceptable political and ideological challenge to our values. There is an urgent vote on Tuesday, October 20 – and we’re asking the help of our Reform movement in America to make sure that North American Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Zionists will not be silenced.
What’s at stake: The principles, positions, and potential budget decisions incorporated in the agreement are nothing less than a disaster for the National Institutions and ignore completely the role of Diaspora Jewry in the World Zionist Organization, the umbrella movement for all Zionist organizations, often called “the Parliament of the Jewish People.”
The demand: The “Agreement on Principles” of the World Zionist Congress negotiated by the right-wing Zionist parties as it stands now, is completely unacceptable to the Reform and Conservative Zionist Movements. We demand that it be taken off the table and redrafted in favor of a wide balanced agreement that includes all the Zionist parties and factions representing world Jewry, as was the case in the past.
How we can oppose this: Right now, the agreement has a slight majority among the various political representatives in the World Zionist Congress, but can be opposed if we use the votes of generally neutral Zionist organizations such as Hadassah, WIZO, B’nai B’rith, Naamat, and Maccabi Olami – many of which are supported by Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews in North America.
What you can do: We need every organization to Vote Against this agreement! Please reach out utilizing the messaging below to your associates in these organizations and implore their leadership to take this courageous step and join us:
- Bnai Brith
- Maccabi Olami
Primary messaging to all your contacts: “I’m reaching out with an urgent message to you as a fellow Zionist. You are about to lose your voice in Israel. There is an urgent vote on October 20 – here’s how to make sure you and other North American Zionists will not be silenced. There is an unprecedented and completely unacceptable political and ideological challenge to our values that could have a dangerous effect on pluralism – and so many critical issues – in Israel. We cannot sugar coat this – this development is a battle for the very soul of Zionism, the core of the Zionist enterprise, and what being a Zionist has always stood for. We hope you will not sit idly by as the one place worldwide Jews can have our influence in Israel is undermined. We must join together in a strategic fight to make sure our values will not be compromised. Please show that you are in support of representative diversity in the Zionist Movement by demanding that your organization’s leadership takes this courageous step to vote against the current agreement.
News articles for additional reading:
Agreement gives powerful post to religious Zionists, ultra-Orthodox slates – JPost
Right-wing, ultra-Orthodox parties accused of plotting ‘hostile takeover’ of key Zionist institutions – Haaretz
Right, Orthodox to control WZO – JPost
Secondary messaging (full talking points here) – The “Agreement on Principles” of the World Zionist Congress negotiated by the right-wing Zionist parties as it stands now, is completely unacceptable to the Reform and Conservative Zionist Movements and we demand that it be taken off the table and redrafted.
- This agreement gives the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox dominant control of the National Zionist Institutions including the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Israeli Jewish National Fund (KKL). The principles, positions, and potential budget decisions incorporated in the agreement are nothing less than a disaster for the National Institutions and ignore completely the role of Diaspora Jewry in the World Zionist Organization
- Agreement of the Right-wing and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) in the World Zionist Congress – The “take over” by extreme forces of the National Institutions, removal of the non- Orthodox religious streams, and Reckless use of funds of the Jewish People and the Israeli Public
- The right-wing and Haredi parties in the World Zionist Organization this past Friday signed an unprecedented agreement bestowing them with a full takeover of the National Institutions including Keren Kayemet L”Yisrael (KKL-JNF) and the World Zionist Organization. This will be disastrous for our Movements that have worked to prevent egregious funding for Jewish Settlements over the Green Line
- The agreement gives unprecedented strength to two Haredi parties in the National institutions including full control of all of the educational activities of KKL with an annual budget of 94 million shekels, and through the establishment of two new departments in the WZO for activities directed at Haredim with tens of millions of shekels per year allocated
- The agreement completely ignores the Jewish Agency for Israel and will further the rift between the Jewish communities in North America and Israel. This is in continuation of the damage already caused by the steps of the Government of Israel regarding conversion and the Western Wall
- The agreement causes critical damage to the standing of the Reform and Conservative Movements, despite the fact that we make up over 20% of the delegates to the World Zionist Congress
- The agreement excludes representatives of the pluralistic religious streams in direct response to the demands of the Haredi parties
- The agreement gives unprecedented amounts of funds to be transferred from KKL to the WZO. This includes a long list of budgets for land purchases (for Jewish Settlement in the West Bank) of millions of shekels.
Please contact with any questions: Rabbi Josh Weinberg – email@example.com
It is important that we can organize our efforts, and would ask that you please share your contact and who you are speaking with, with Molly Blumenthal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fred Guttman said:
The WZO Vote today
This is from an article in Haaretz today. “Right-wing, ultra-Orthodox Parties Accused of Plotting ‘Hostile Takeover’ of Key Zionist Institutions.”
The Reform movement’s Yehoshua Braverman said that “anyone who cares about Israel and wants to see it as the fulfillment of the vision of Theodor Herzl should not be sleeping at night over this agreement. Jews from around the world have always known that the WZO and its affiliate organizations welcomed a diversity of voices,” he added. “If this agreement is passed, the message would be that Israel is only the homeland for Jews who think a certain way, and that is nothing less than a catastrophe.
If the takeover of JAFI contemplated by this “deal” goes forward, one can foresee the ultimate abandonment of the Jewish Agency by its North American supporters in short order.
One must assume that Jewish Agency Jerusalem leaders were aware of these developments but chose to remain “behind the scenes.” The other alternative is that JFNA was asleep at the switch and that no one at JFNA in NYC was aware of this coup. If they were, then shame on them.
Today we will also need to see what the “non-voting” organizations include B’nai Brith International, the Maccabi World Union, Hadassah, the Women’s International Zionist Organization and Na’amat (the latter three of which are women’s groups). All of these are supported by mostly Reform and Conservative Jews. If they do not vote with us, we should all upon our members to stop supporting them.
It might also be a good time to pressure local Federations to cut funds to JFNA and JAFI in protest and to increase funding for the IMPJ. (Please do not tell me how much you like Bougie. Having met him many times, I know that he is a “good guy.”) It would seem to me that if this coup goes through, the IMPJ funding could be cut.
Keep your eyes open today. These people are playing hardball. If they succeed, maybe we should play hardball as well?