Zionist Council Ends Without Implementing Agreed Upon Goals
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Zionist Council Ends Without Implementing Agreed Upon Goals

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The Zionist General Council ended its three-day annual meeting here today, unable to agree how to implement a series of Zionist goals adopted in principle. The Council voted to defer the matter until it reconvenes next December.

The major objectives of the World Zionist movement — aliya, Jewish education and stronger ties between Israel and diaspora Jewry — are known collectively as the Caesaria Process. It was the end result of a Jewish Agency Assembly that convened in Caesaria three years ago.

There is no ideological dispute over that agenda. But according to Ephraim Even, the newly elected chairman of the Zionist Council, “The general consensus of this Council was that the adoption of the Caesaria Process is likely to deprive the Zionist movement of its ideological independence.” The major source of disagreement is the jurisdiction of the committee responsible for running the Zionist movement, such as determining how people should be appointed to office and how long they should serve. Kalman Sultanik, who was one of the chairmen at the Caesaria meeting, said “In order to introduce new blood into the (Jewish) Agency it was recommended that every department head be limited to two terms in office.” The World Zionist Organization (WZO) has never set a limit to the number of terms its leaders can serve. The WZO is a Zionist body, composed of the various Zionist parties, each of which is represented in the leadership of one or another department. The Jewish Agency embraces non-Zionists as well as Zionists.

While efforts to strengthen ties between the Agency and WZO are supported in principle, their implementation proved a stumbling block at the General Council meeting. Raanan Weitz, also a chairman at the Caesaria conference, observed that “In the fields of immigration and absorption, there should be a separation between the activities of the Jewish Agency and those of the government, with the Agency being responsible for immigration and the government for absorption. This separation of power includes a demand for involvement in operations by the Zionist Organization,” Weitz said.


Raphael Kotlowitz, chairman of the WZO’s immigration department, predicted that immigration from Western countries will reach 13,500 this year, the highest since 1973. He projected a 25 percent rise in immigration from the U.S. and a 46 percent rise from all Western countries.

Bernice Tannenbaum, acting chairman of the WZO Executive-American Section, said there was an urgent need to capitalize on the restoration of good relations between Israel and the U.S. With the American Presidential elections only a year away, it is crucial to reaffirm Israel’s importance to American interests in the Middle East, Tannenbaum said.

The General Council meeting which closed today will be followed next week by the annual Jewish Agency Assembly.

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