Young Delegates Stage Sit-down at Zionist Council over Demands
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Young Delegates Stage Sit-down at Zionist Council over Demands

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The Zionist General Council was thrown into turmoil today, for the second time in two days, when student and youth delegates staged a sit-down in the convention hall to protest the Council’s refusal to open a debate on their demands. The students left their seats and squatted on the floor as confusion reigned and the chairman of the session, Fay Schenk, of the United States, banged her gavel in vain for order. An American student, Howard D. Mies, bearded and long-haired in the style of campus rebels, took the microphone and called, “Don’t take us for anarchists, we are just frustrated.”

The frustration of the youth element stemmed from the Jewish Agency executive’s decision to reject their demand that the current General Council session set an early date for the next World Zionist Congress and hold direct elections for Congress delegates. Those and other demands voiced at yesterday’s plenary session started a shouting match in which the youngsters and Zionist old-timers traded invectives in the meeting hall.

But Aryeh L, Pincus, Jewish Agency chairman, spoke in conciliatory tones today. He said the present session of the General Council could not set a Congress date for practical reasons. There would first have to be a census of members accompanied by “ideological clarifications” within the Zionist movement, all of which would take time to organize and finance. He promised that a Congress date would be announced within a reasonable time after the preliminary work was completed. Mr. Pincus said the youth demand for democratic elections was academic since the last Zionist Congress decided that elections rather than selection by parties would determine the delegates to the next Congress.

But Dan Schnitlich, of the Israel Students Association, refused to accept the decision. He said the youth delegates demanded a date for a new Zionist Congress, democratic elections and a new ideological network for the Zionist movement. He said while some of the demands may have been accepted in principle they had been rejected in fact. Mr. Schnitlich and his followers insisted on a general debate on the youth proposals. A debate on whether to hold a debate ensued. One delegate, B. Weinstein, said he was also a “youth rebel” but fought with other methods. Rabbi Israel Miller of Yeshiva University in New York maintained that “we must rely on the past.” Other speakers appealed to the youngsters not to “abandon Herzl,” the founding father of the Zionist movement.

The debate culminated in the sit-down which ended only after prolonged efforts persuaded the youngsters to return to their seats. During the furore, the Mapam delegation which had previously endorsed Mr. Pincus’ stand, switched to the students’ bandwagon, which brought a stormy reaction from members of other delegations.

Earlier in the day proposed changes in the structure of the Zionist Movement were criticized by Yaacob Tsur, of Israel and Dr. Emanuel Neumann, of New York. They said they agreed in principle with the changes but were not convinced of the proposed form they should take. Mr. Tsur said he agreed to the broadening of the Zionist executive by the inclusion of representatives of the major fund-raising bodies. But he insisted that the 50 percent to be nominated by the Zionist Organization must be a “fighting group” and not a junior partner or “poor relation.”

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