At the 30th World Zionist Congress: Assembly Bogged Down over Allocation of Portfolios in New Execut
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At the 30th World Zionist Congress: Assembly Bogged Down over Allocation of Portfolios in New Execut

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The 30th World Zionist Congress was bogged down over the weekend while Labor and Likud fought a bitter behind-the-scenes battle over the allocation of portfolios in the new Executive.

As the wrangling continued today, hopes faded that a new Executive would be elected, leaving the rest of the week open to deal with the alarming increase of anti-Semitism around the world and other urgent issues. The Congress is scheduled to close next Thursday, December 16.

In another development since it opened last Tuesday. Charlotte Jacobson, outgoing chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section, urged sweeping reforms in the structure of the WZO. Akiva Levinsky, WZO Treasurer, warned that the $1 billion the Jewish people raises annually for Israel from all sources “is not sufficient to meet the needs of the Jewish people.”

His remarks coincided with publication of the WZO Comptrollers report containing scathing criticisms of Keren Hayesod. Comptroller Benzion Meiri said the KH overhead amounted to 13.3 percent of its income in fiscal year 1981-82.

The Labor Zionists are demanding greater representation on the WZO executive in light of the gains they made in the Knesset since the last Congress four years ago. The Labor Alignment presently holds 50 seats compared to 34 in 1978 and as a consequence insists on heading at least one major department–either aliya or youth aliya–in addition to those it already chairs.

Likud is prepared to concede some smaller department to Labor. The dispute has been embittered by ideological conflicts which emerged during the ceremonial session last Tuesday night. The Laborites have accused Likud of trying to re-write Zionist history to play up the role of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist movement and downgrade the contributions of Labor which founded the Jewish State and governed it for its first 30 years.

WZO Executive chairman Leon Dulzin delivered a sharp attack from the podium against veteran Laborite Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, a former minister in Labor-led governments. Ben Aharon had spoken of the “demise” of Zionism and suggested that Zionist Congresses were unnecessary and should be abolished.

Mrs. Jacobson, who represents the World Confederation of United Zionists, which comprises Hadassah, Bnai Zion and the American Jewish League for Israel, endorsed Dulzin’s proposal to establish a commission to work out reforms. She suggested special elections for Congress delegates inside Israel instead of the present allocation of delegates based on Knesset strength. She also vigorously attacked what she said was the persistent refusal of the WZO to give its American Section greater authority over issues which concerned American communities. She mentioned specifically the appointment of shlichim (emissaries), their deployment and work patterns.


The Congress Court, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Moshe Etzioni, meanwhile, completed its allocation of delegates to the various parties, a process made difficult this year because of the failure to hold elections in the U.S. and disputes over the outcome of the elections in Britain and France.

The Court decided there would be 651 delegates: 168 for Likud; 145 for Labor; 98 for the World Confederation of United Zionists; 55 for for Mizrachi; and smaller numbers for the minor parties.


Levinsky, in his address, said the $1 billion raised annually for Israel by world Jewry represented the receipts of the United Jewish Appeal, Keren Hayesod, the sale of Israel Bonds and direct contributions to hospitals, universities and yeshivas in Israel. This is “a sizable sum and not to be scoffed at.” But it is less than the burden borne by Israelis who, in addition to taxes must pay involuntary loans to finance the war in Lebanon, he said.

Levinsky said that in the future he proposed to allocate for larger resources to youth and education work, especially to universities so that they can enlarge their study programs for Jewish students from the Diaspora.


The Comptroller, in his report, accused the KH of permitting widespread financial abuses. He said he found instances where flight expenses abroad were mislabeled as telegram and telex expenses. He charged that a third of all employes at the KH headquarters in Jerusalem were given inflated titles and drew higher salaries than other WZO professional staff. He alleged irregularities in the overtime pay and procedures and abuses by shlichim abroad who in some cases sought reimbursement for vacation trips disguised as legitimate expenses.


Meiri’s report was challenged by KH chairman Avraham Avi-Hai in a letter published in The Jerusalem Post today. He said a “number of administrative weaknesses” have been corrected and others are in the process of being corrected. He noted that the KH staff in Jerusalem has been reduced to ill from 145 employes.

Avi-Hai criticized the Post for publishing the Meiri report. “Criticism has its place, but so does positive coverage of a great volunteer movement of identification with Zion and Israel,” he wrote. According to insiders, Avi-Hai attempted to prevent publication of the Comptrollers report but was overruled by Dulzin.

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