Jerusalem (Feb. 19)
– The “non-Zionist” members of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors have announced their “endorsement” of the World Zionist Organization’s Jerusalem Program which declares the “centrality” of Israel in Jewish life.
At the end of a three-day retreat in Caesaria, the Board announced endorsement, too, of two other cardinal planks of the WZO ideology: fostering Jewish “and Zionist” education; and “active encouragement” of aliya from the free world.
Board chairman Max Fisher of Detroit termed the endorsement “historic” and said it meant “we are all one family… we are all Zionists.”
In practical terms, the “endorsement” will mean an overhaul of the Jewish Agency — to be planned and formulated by a series of sub-com-missions — to meet what Fisher called “the aims of the eighties.” Agency chairman Leon Dulzin told reporters that “within one year” these sub-commissions will have reported back and the new “joint approach to the main Jewish issues” will be on the way to implementation.
MEANING OF THE ENDORSEMENT
Dulzin and Fisher made it clear at a joint press conference here last night that the “endorsement” of Zionist goals by the diaspora Jewish leaders who comprise the “non-Zionist” half of the Agency Board of Governors did not mean that the organizations represented by those leaders would immediately affiliate to the WZO. The endorsement, Dulzin explained, was “by these leaders personally.”
But Dulzin predicted that within five or 10 years there would indeed be a “unitary” Zionist movement (that is, not based on a party label in the diaspora) and that the “brave action” taken by the Board members this week in Caesaria would with time affect the organizations and communities from which they hail.
Fisher said such an action would have been inconceivable 10 or 15 years ago. Among those who endorsed the Zionist aims this week, he noted, were four presidents (three past, one serving) of the Council of Jewish Federations.
Both Dulzin and Fisher noted that neither the Jerusalem Program nor the WZO constitution “obliges people to make a personal commitment to aliya.” It was “an historic step forward, though,” they said, for the so-called “Zionists and non-Zionists” to unite now behind a program that set aliya — from the Western world as well as distressed countries — as a supreme goal.
In a personal statement Dulzin added that he “has never liked it when Zionists, no matter how old they are, demand of other Zionists that they go on aliya — while they themselves stay in the diaspora.” He said he made the comment “as an oleh who came to Israel out of Zionism.”
His remark was directed at some young Zionists in the diaspora who demand that the WZO insist on a personal commitment to aliya from its leadership.