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U.s., Israel Zionists Prepare United Statement for World Zionist Congress

September 9, 1977
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“Despite different trends, there is something basic to all Zionists. Thus it is possible to prepare a single Zionist statement which avoids banalities yet is acceptable to all factions; something like the American Constitution which serves as the basis for all law yet does not preclude varying interpretations.

This is how Faye Schenk, president of the American Zionist Federation, summed up a week of talks between a special delegation of the World Zionist Organization ideological commission and the AZF ideological commission. Each group had spent two years developing its own position paper. The purpose of the week-long deliberations was to narrow the gap between the two positions and pave the way for a single statement which could be presented at the World Zionist Congress next February in Jerusalem.

The Israeli delegates were Shlomo Derech and Zvi Yaron, chairman and secretary, respectively, of the Israeli commission. Heading the AZF commission was Rabbi David Polish, president of the Chicago Zionist Federation and past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Also on the American commission were Mrs. Rose Halprin, Prof. Melvin Urofsky, Prof. Manfred Vogel, Rabbi Mordechai Waxman, Prof. Allan Pollack and Rabbi Emanuel Rackman.

According to Polish, the meetings were successful and, pending final approval by both commissions, the principles which could lead to a joint statement have been agreed upon. “An example of joint influence,” he said, “is a clause which affirms aliya as the ultimate goal of Zionism while recognizing the reality of Jewish existence in the diaspora and the need for strengthening its well-being and viability.”


Prior to returning to Israel Tuesday, Yaron pointed out that the last Zionist Congress has requested the preparation of a broader ideological consensus which could then be enlarged upon and interpreted by the various political parties and groups. The purpose of this statement, which would amplify upon the Jerusalem Program of 1968, was viewed as threefold:

To generate a sense of a single movement within Zionist ranks, to arrive at a definitive distinction between those who are merely pro-Israel and those who are declared Zionists; and finally, to present a united front in the international campaign to preserve the name of Zionism as the positive and legitimate national aspiration of the Jewish people.

“It is hoped that this cooperative effort will yield a useful basis for the future development of Zionism in a rapidly changing society,” said Carmella Carr, AZF executive director. “Despite the obvious differences of approach which are to be expected between an ideology originating in Israel and one which comes from the diaspora, we are hopeful that a nearly unified posture will emerge form these deliberations and will be approved in time for the World Zionist Congress.”

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