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Azf Tribunal Rejects Api, Uzr Appeal

The American Zionist Federation Tribunal has rejected an appeal of the AZF’s election committee’s decision to mail out an informational booklet on the election for the 152 American delegates to the 29th World Zionist Congress in February without any campaign material from the eight competing slates.

In revealing the decision taken last Thursday, an AZF spokesperson quoted Samuel Rothstein, chairman of the Tribunal, as saying, “We heard the presentations and deliberated over several hours and came to a unanimous decision.” Rothstein also noted that the complaint by the Americans for Progressive Israel (API) and the United Zionists-Revisionists of America (UZR) was “moot” since by last week more than half the ballots had been mailed out to the more than 900,000 registered Zionists in the United States.

The API and the UZR had appealed the AZF election committee’s decision after the committee decided to reject a ruling from the central election committee in Jerusalem that the informational booklets, which were mailed out with the ballots, contain the party platforms but no pictures. The API and UZR had been the only ones to vote against the American election committee’s decision.

The two groups called the decision “undemocratic” and noted that voters will not be able to make an educated choice since they would not know the positions of the various slates.

BASIS FOR THE DECISION

The AZF spokesperson said that the AZF Tribunal accepted the arguments presented to it by Martin Markson, the AZF’s general counsel. These were that the central election committee in Jerusalem is an administrative body with no power to hear appeals, that its decision was a unilateral one without hearing arguments from either the American election committee or any of its constituent organizations, and that the decision not to include party platforms was a discretionary matter not subject to review or several by the central election committee.

Markson also argued that the voters will be able to make on “informed choice” and displayed examples of advertisements and other information that has appeared, the spokesperson said.

Five of the AZF Tribunal’s nine members took part in the hearing. In addition to Rothstein they were Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold, Helen Lusterman, Chaim Dubno and Nathan Zelikow. The decision, however, is being appealed by API and UZR to the World Zionist Congress Court in Jerusalem, according to Moshe Kagan associate chairman of the AZF Executive.

Meanwhile, the AZF said the ballots for the election must be returned to the American Arbitration Association, which is administering the election, by Jan. 3.

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