PARLIAMENT OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE CONVENES IN JERUSALEM
Herzl’s dream has indeed become a reality. At the 37th World Zionist Congress Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to leave their mark on the state, land, and people of Israel.
The first Zionist Congress was convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. Last week the 37th meeting of the WZC (World Zionist Congress) took place in Jerusalem. Known as “The Parliament of the Jewish people” the congress convenes every five years. Participants come together to engage in dialogue regarding matters of concern to Israel, the Jewish People and the Zionist Movement. At the Congress, delegates debate and vote on resolutions and constitutional amendments intended to improve the ability of the National Institutions to meet identified challenges. These discussions take place in a variety of committees, the recommendations of which are voted upon by the entire assembly.
WIZO was represented by 25 delegates from Israel and abroad (India, Argentina, Denmark, France). Helena Glaser, Honorary President World WIZO was unanimously reelected as Chairperson of the Zionist General Council. This appointment strengthens the standing of the Zionist organizations versus the political parties. Tova Ben-Dov, President World WIZO was elected as a member of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization. Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive was elected as a member of the Presidium of the Zionist General Council.
The theme of this year’s Congress is “Non-Stop Zionism”. The congress was opened by Zionist Supreme Court Judge Tova Strassberg-Cohen, who reaffirmed the organizations ‘commitment and our individual and communal mandate to embrace pluralism, civility, and progress. The subsequent plenary, titled “Non-Stop Zionism,” was dedicated to a dialogue on how Zionism manifests itself in modern society. This preceded an afternoon of high-level conversations and panels with speakers of ranging political ideologies, religious belief, and nationalities. Topics included what it means to be “a free people in our own land,” the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and the prioritization of Aliyah (moving to Israel)
This gathering represents the entire political and religious spectrum of the Zionist movement. Finding the middle ground was no easy feat but despite the diversity of ideological and religious perspectives, participants across the board expressed values of unity, compromise, mutual respect and inclusion, united in their conviction to exist as “a free people in their land – the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
When Ata Farhat, Chairman of the Druze Zionist Council received a special honor and proclaimed that he is proud to be counted as an Israeli he received a standing ovation from the audience. This was a truly heartwarming moment and a testament to the inclusiveness of Israeli society.
A site visit in southern Israel to communities bordering the Gaza Strip was very impactful. The stories that these residents related were heartbreaking. Their brave determination in the face of continuous Palestinian terror has revealed to the Israeli public and the entire world, a unique and unusual model of courage and resilience and a true embodiment of the Zionism spirit.
In all, the Congress was an eye-opening experience about Zionism, the National Institutions of the WZO, and the State of Israel.