Rift in Azf over Elections Widens

The rift within the American Zionist Federation over the selection of delegates to the 28th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem widened today. The United Zionist-Revisionists of America joined the Zionist Organization of America in denouncing the AZF’s plan for mall ballots to choose part of the 152 American delegates and repeated the ZOA charge of a “secret deal” by which several Zionist factions, abetted by several members from the Central Election Board in Jerusalem allegedly allocated to themselves more mandates than warranted by their membership rolls. But a strong re-affirmation of the mall ballot procedures was issued by the Labor Zionist Movement which includes Poale Zion, Farband, Pioneer Women, Friends of Labor Israel and its youth organizations, Habonim and Dror.

A statement signed by Dr. Leo Diesendruck, Poale Zion president; Samuel Bonchek, president of Farband and Esther Zackler, president of Pioneer Women welcomed the decision for mail ballots which they said was supported by over 80 percent of the constituent organizations of the AZF. The statement added that although 45 percent of the 152 American delegates would be allocated through the constituent organizations, 83 delegates would be subject to the vote of individual Zionists. The statement said that while the Labor Zionist Movement originally favored the ballot box procedure, it agreed to the mail ballot method because of the overwhelming support of this idea received at the Area Elections Committee; because it considers that the postal ballots, properly controlled by an independent and trustworthy body outside of the Zionist movement, is in accord with general practices of American democracy.

But Prof. Howard L. Adelson, president of the United Zionists-Revisionists of America declared today that “the use of a mail ballot system without controls is a clear invitation to election irregularities.” According to Adelson, the AZF on July 15 accepted the proposition that the election in the United States should be by an electoral conference which would designate the Congress delegates. “As a result of the opposition of Mr. Louis Pincus, chairman of the World Zionist Executive, this proposal, which might have made a compromise possible, became unworkable. Instead efforts were made by certain Zionist groups to introduce a ‘mail ballot election’ which had been overwhelmingly rejected at earlier meetings.”

‘STOP QUIBBLING…GET ON WITH JOB’

Adelson charged that pressure was brought to bear by the Central Election Board in Jerusalem for a deadline on the decision on election procedure which, if not met, would cause the Election Board to impose its own method of selection. Adelson charged further that “At a secret meeting attended by Hadassah, the Labor Zionist Movement, Mizrachi and some members of the Central Election Board who had come from Jerusalem, a deal was arranged…Participants in this secret deal allocated much higher percentages of the mandates to be distributed on an organizational basis to themselves than are warranted by the membership rolls. The Mizrachi was guaranteed about 17 percent of the seats to be distributed to organizations whereas its enrolled membership is far from 17 percent of all Zionists in this country. The Labor Movement was also guaranteed 17 percent, even though its actual membership does not warrant such a large number of mandates,” Adelson charged.

“Not only that, but the participants in this secret deal then proceeded to distribute 47 of the 83 mandates which they had previously suggested should be distributed in accordance with a mail ballot,” Adelson added. “Thus 116 mandates or 76 percent of all American seats, were distributed without any election in clear violation of democratic procedures and the relative strength of various Zionist groups.” He announced that his organization was “appealing to the Executive of the World Zionist Organization and the Tribunal of the World Zionist Congress to void the decision reached by the Area Elections Committee and the secret deals which made it possible.” The ZOA announced the same step a week ago. It has refused to allow its membership rosters to be inspected by the WZO’s controllers from Jerusalem.

The Labor Zionist Movement statement called for a vigorous election campaign throughout the United States and urged the organization of public meetings in cities where all Zionist bodies can indulge in the discussion of the ideological issues within the US Zionist movement. The LZM called on the AZF to adopt a leadership role in the areas of youth and campus activity. Jewish education and culture, and the promotion of American aliyah and the establishment of a viable effective and democratic Jewish community. “Democracy in the life of American Jewish institutions has too long been delayed by fear and selfishness. The American Zionist Federation has made a long awaited start. Let us now stop quibbling and get on with the job,” the statement declared.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency wishes all its readers a happy Succoth.

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