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Zionist Tribunal Told Mail Ballots Not Unprecedented

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The Zionist Congress of Honor continued today to hear arguments by spokesmen for Zionist organizations in the United States on the issue of whether or not the mail ballot election procedure is democratic. Moshe Ben Zeev, former Attorney General of Israel who is representing the American Zionist Federation in the hearings, cited numerous precedents supporting the use of mail ballots.

The mail ballot procedure for the election of American delegates to the 28th World Zionist Congress scheduled to begin Jan. 17 has been challenged by the Zionist Organization of America and the United Zionists-Revisionists. Ben Zeev submitted examples where mail ballots have been upheld as legal by a US Federal Court of Appeals. In addition, he noted that the Zionist Congress elections in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Canada were being conducted in part or entirely by mail ballot with no challenge to the procedure. The Zionist tribunal is expected to end its hearings tomorrow and reach a decision within the next few days.

The tribunal agreed last night that the comptrollers office of the World Zionist Organization would audit the membership figures of the Zionist groups in the US. Comptroller Benzion Meiri said this could be done in three-four weeks so that the elections will be held in time for the Congress opening. The tribunal was given a document yesterday representing a summary of membership figures as reported by each Zionist organization. These figures are subject to verification.

MEMBERSHIP FIGURES GIVEN

Membership figures according to the summary are: American Jewish League for Israel, 7,596; Americans for Progressive Israel-Hashomer Hatzair, 13,678; Bnai Zion, 26,129; Hadassah, 327,228; Labor Zionist Movement (Poale Zion, Farband, Pioneer Women), 98,396; Religious Zionists of America (including Mizrachi Women and Hapoel Hamizrachi Women), 103,876; Tnuat Aliya, 3,000; United Zionists-Revisionists, 23,876; Zionist Organization of America, 114,823; and Youth Mobilization for Israel, approximately 5,500. Members of the nine youth movements constituting the American Zionist Youth Council were included in the respective adult movements or in the Youth Mobilization for Israel figure.

In addition to opposing the mail ballot, the ZOA and Revisionists charged that a caucus of Zionist factions held in the US last Sept. 8 agreed in advance on the distribution of Congress mandates among themselves, excluding the two plaintiff organizations. The parties involved, the Labor Zionists, Hadassah and Mizrachi, admitted to the caucus but claimed that pre-election agreements among the parties are an accepted practice and as such are legitimate.

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