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Monday, 5 July 2010

World Zionist Congress - Ending with 2 Hatikvahs

World Zionist Congress - Ending with 2 Hatikvahs

So the World Zionist Congress is now over, and it seems that we managed to leave Jerusalem just as the city was being overrun and shut down (the journey to Tel Aviv still took an extra 40+ minutes). 

The last day of the WZC is primarily about the resolutions, and the votes which are held on all of them. The resolutions which have passed through the committee stage tend to advance relatively easily through the whole Congress. However, according to the antiquated WZC rules, a person can call for a Votum Separatum, which means that a rejected motion will still be voted on in the whole Congress, with the proposer generally speaking on its behalf at the beginning. 

For the group which I had been involved in, considering Zionist Education, there were 2 Votum Separatums on resolutions, which we had voted against. They were important items for us, and we had to make sure that they were defeated again, thankfully we were successful. 

During the voting it was clear that the pluralist, liberal parties had a majority of the votes on virtually all matters. And as members of the Orthodox right grew frustrated, towards the end of the session, a number of them invaded the stage to stall proceedings, and to sing Hatikvah. I do not think this was the Zionist dream Herzl had wanted us to pursue. And it provided a very disappointing picture: our way or no way. 

The disappointment of this spectacle, was tempered by two young Australian delegates, one from Habonim Dror, and one from Bnei Akiva. They took the stage and explained how they find ways to work together, even when they disagree; providing a wonderful model of pluralism. Hopefully it will be their voices leading our next generation. 

This was a disappointing recitation of the Hatikvah - a moment when the song was used to divide, rather than unite. But at the very end of the Congress, when we all stood together to sing Hatikvah, I felt a link back to the first Zionist Congress when this song was adopted as our anthem. It was a powerful moment. 

There were highs and lows during the course of the Congress. But despite all of that, there is something very inspiring about being a delegate at the same Congress, which Herzl founded in 1897. A lot has changed over the previous 113 years, much has been achieved and there is much left to do. We need to be worthy heirs to Herzl's vision; advancing the continued development of a pluralist, Jewish, democratic state.

World Zionist Congress – Catching up and the Voting

World Zionist Congress – Catching up and the Voting

So for the last two days with all of the meetings (and the lack of a reliable free wireless source in the hotel or the convention center) and various other things which have been going on, it has been impossible to get onto the internet to update the blog – I am sorry.

To bring you up to speed, I have been in and out of meetings for the last two days. Some of them specifically relating to our Arzenu group (and the Reform movement), and in others which have been as a part of our combined faction with Labour and Meretz. It's been exhausting, as our meetings have begun at 7:30, and we have been working through until the late hours. 

It has been eye-opening to see the way that Zionist politics works, and it has been especially interesting to see the ways in which different groups vote together on some issues, and in opposition on other matters. 

Last night we also had the opportunity to hear President Shimon Peres and the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, as we celebrated 150 years since Herzl's birth. 

Right now, as I update the blog, we are voting in the resolution session, as the motions which were debated yesterday are being confirmed by a vote of all the delegates present at the World Zionist Congress. Right now a lot of the motions involve the rights of all streams of Judaism, and it is wonderful to watch as these motions, which we support, are being passed.