This week, the 36th World Zionist Congress took place in Jerusalem, where over 540 delegates from around the world gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist Movement.
Meretz USA was represented by a delegation which included 7 delegates and 14 alternate delegates, the largest national grouping in the Meretz World Union faction, which totaled 35 delegates.
In spite of its small size, the Meretz USA delegation had a tremendous impact. In conjunction with our partners from J Street and Ameinu, we proposed and lobbied for two extremely significant resolutions, one calling on the Congress to declare its support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and another calling on the Congress and its affiliated federations to cancel the membership of any group that, directly or indirectly, endorses discrimination.
Against all odds, the first of these resolutions was approved by the Congress, and it now will lead to important policy changes by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.
The second resolution was approved in committee and submitted for consideration by the Congress plenum. Unfortunately, the plenum was unable to vote on it, after a group of Congress delegates who objected to our two-state resolution took over the stage in protest and prevented the democratic proceedings from continuing. (For more details, see the report on J Street’s website.) The Congress’ directors were forced to defer a vote on the remaining resolutions until an upcoming meeting of the “Va’ad HaPoel” (the Zionist General Council – the highest ranking body of the World Zionist Organization in between meetings of the Congress).
The Meretz USA delegation also supported many other resolutions, amongst them one calling on the state of Israel to accept all streams of Judaism, and to recognize non-Orthodox conversions.
Moreover, the efforts we led at the Meretz World Union, and the influence we had with our partners in the Congress, send a very clear message to the world: Zionism is not occupation. Zionism is not racism. Zionism is a movement rooted in human rights, equality, democracy and freedom of expression, and the efforts we made at this Congress are a first step in reclaiming this Zionist legacy.
Chazak Ve Ematz (strength and courage)!
President, Meretz USA
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