World Zionist Congress Closes; Election of President Expected Next Year
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World Zionist Congress Closes; Election of President Expected Next Year

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The 27th World Zionist Congress closed today as dawn was breaking over the Jerusalem hills. It closed with the traditional singing of Hatikvah, the original Zionist anthem which became the national anthem of Israel. But many other traditions had been cast aside during the 10 days of plenary sessions and committee meetings. The general feeling here was that the Zionist movement, substantially altered in image and structure, was entering a new era, one that, for better or worse would determine the future of organized Zionism.

For one thing, the Congress closed without electing a new president, that task being deferred to the Actions Committee which is expected to hold elections next year. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, the incumbent, declined to stand for another term. But in a closing address to the Congress this morning, he said he would be at the disposal of the Zionist movement and its Executive at all times. “I don’t say good bye. I say adieu,” Dr. Goldmann said. “There is nothing that can separate me from the Zionist movement.”

Last night the Congress adopted by acclamation a revised program which defined the basic aims of the Zionist movement as: the unity of the Jewish people and the centrality of the land of Israel in its life; the integration of the Jewish people in its historic homeland through aliyah (immigration) from all lands; the strengthening of the State of Israel founded on the prophetic ideals of justice and peace; the preservation of the Jewish people through the fostering of Jewish education, Hebrew and Jewish spiritual and cultural values, and the protection of Jewish rights everywhere. The latter aim was put to action immediately in resolutions on the plight of Jews in Soviet Russia, Poland and in the Arab countries.


Resolutions adopted by the Congress effected major changes in the organizational structure of the movement. One called for establishment of a single Zionist “roof” organization in each country in which membership would be on an individual or institutional basis. An essentially non-Zionist organization therefore could join the Zionist organization without obliging all of its members to affiliate. The resolution provided that each Zionist federation hold a convention at least once every two years. The next World Zionist Congress will be comprised of delegates of political parties, non-affiliated groups and national delegations. The resolutions also called for the establishment of a Zionist Council in Israel to “foster Zionist values” and “Jewish unity.”

The Congress also authorized a WZO budget of nearly $350 million per fiscal year. It adopted an amendment to the constitution authorizing the Actions Committee to elect the WZO president and resolved to accept independent aliyah movements into the organization and to permit past presidents to participate in executive meetings.


A 12-member Executive for the WZO and the Jewish Agency was named at the closing session. Nine of the Executive members will head departments here. Three members will be based in New York and will not hold portfolios. The religious bloc – the Mizrachi-Hapoel Hamizrachi – to which the department of religious education had been assigned along with one seat in the Executive without portfolio, refused to accept the allocation and insisted on the immigration portfolio which it previously held. The two seats were left open and unfilled for the time being. The aliyah (immigration) portfolio went to Aryeh L. Pincus, who continues as chairman of the Jewish Agency. Two of the seats in the New York Executive will be filled by Dr. Emanuel Neumann, president of the World Union of General Zionists, and Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, president of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist Organization of America. The third New York seat was reserved for the religious bloc should it reconsider.

Other assignments, all in the Jerusalem Executive, were the settlement department to Ranaan Weitz; the department of education in diaspora to Chaim Finkelstein, of Buenos Aires. Argentina; and the department of youth and halutziot to Col. Mordechai Bar-on, all members of the Achdut Avodah faction in the Labor Party. The post of treasurer was assigned to Leon Dultzin of the World Union of General Zionists. Dr. Israel Goldstein remained as president of the Keren Hayesod, the fund-raising arm of the WZO, Joseph Klarman, of the Herut Party, was assigned the youth aliyah portfolio, and Abraham Shenker, of Mapam, the department of organization and information. In addition, two other members without portfolio were named, Dr. Narvoni of the Sephardic federation and Mrs. Yaglom, of Wizo, the women’s international Zionist organization.

Ehud Avriel, Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, who will leave that post shortly was named chairman of the Zionist Actions Committee and thereby emerged as a major personality within the Zionist movement. The Actions Committee, or General Council, is the governing body of the WZO between Congresses. Vienna-born Ambassador Avriel will serve as acting president of the WZO pending the election of a new president early next year. Mr. Avriel settled in Israel as a youth, was a kibbutz member and later helped organize “illegal” immigration during the Mandate era. He served as Israel’s Minister to Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania prior to his assignment to Rome.

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