JERUSALEM (Jan. 30)
The 28th World Zionist Congress adjourned in the wee hours of Friday morning, but the fate of its most controversial resolution hung in the balance today. The resolution, requiring every office holder in the World Zionist Movement to obligate himself to aliya or be deposed, was rammed through the Congress by a 104-92 vote. Sponsored by ardent young Israelis of the Labor and Mapam factions, it alienated diaspora Zionists, particularly the powerful Hadassah contingent from the US which rose en bloc and marched out of the Congress hail in protest.
WZO Executive chairman Louis A. Pincus told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the res- olution was of doubtful legality. He said, however, that if it was upheld by the Congress’ legal experts it could be revoked by the Zionist General Council (Actions Committee) at its next meeting at the end of the year. Meanwhile it was apparent that the resolution would be ignored.
Even its sponsors seemed to have second thoughts after the bitter reaction of diaspora Zionists. Most Israeli Zionists castigated the younger elements responsible for falling to consider the obvious consequences of their action and their criticism was repeated in editorials in most Israeli newspapers today. The sponsors in fact tried to have the resolution withdrawn before the Congress adjourned but Congress rules and procedures made that impossible.
Pincus said, “In my opinion the decision of the Congress in this matter was unwise.” He noted there was “no doubt that the Congress believed aliya is the highest purpose of Zionism in both the unfree and free worlds, but the Congress representing a world voluntary movement should under no circumstances have tried to impose sanctions.” He observed that “even if the strict interpretations of the WZO constitution–which I very much doubt–permits the imposition of sanctions, the Congress should have seen that it would create a rift between Israel and the diaspora which is unnecessary and can only do harm.”
Pincus stated that in his view, “We must invest a great deal more effort in making the young people of Israel understand the complexities of diaspora Jewish life and the vital importance of us of a strong Zionist organization and not reduce everything to one oversimplified formula ending in sanctions.” He said he was concerned with “building a bridge between us and the diaspora, not widening the gap.”
CONGRESS ENDS WITH FISTICUFFS
The protests against the resolutions did not stem from opposition in principle to aliya by Zionist office holders but to making it a condition of holding office. An earlier resolution which the Congress adopted 200-136 applied the same sanctions against any Zionist office holder who failed to give his children a Zionist education preparatory for aliya. Hadassah also opposed that resolution on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to impose sanctions on members of a voluntary body.
The Hadassah walk-out shook the Congress at its stormy final session during which fist fights broke out repeatedly and bitter invectives were hurled between the Mizrachi and Herut delegates on one side and the Mapam and left-wing Zionist youth groups on the other. One point of contention between the two groups was the insistence by Mapam and left-wing Zionists that the rights of Palestinian Arabs be recognized in Congress resolutions and their opposition to Herut demands that more Jewish settlements be established in the occupied Arab territories.
Violence erupted after a series of resolutions were adopted which, in effect “forgave” the World Union of Jewish Students for their past defections from the Zionist party line. This was greeted by shouts of “WUJS Fatah” from Herut and Mizrachi youths and WUJS youth who sought to settle the issue by fisticuffs.