US non-Zionist leftists mobilize to increase influence over World Zionist Congress

“We’re deeply worried about the idea of non-Zionist progressives running for the World Zionist Congress,” Karma Feinstein-Cohen, executive director of World Herut, told World Israel News.

By World Israel News Staff 

“Between January 21 and March 11, 2020, American Jews will have the opportunity to vote online for the Jewish future in Israel and around the world,” says the American Zionist Movement (AZM) on its website.

“Make sure your point of view is represented in the next World Zionist Congress,” says AZM.

“When you vote, you will be able to choose from over a dozen slates representing diverse political beliefs, religious denominations and cultural traditions. Those elected from the United States will join delegates from Israel and around the world at the 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC) in October 2020, the international ‘parliament of the Jewish people,’ to make decisions regarding key institutions which allocate nearly $1 Billion annually to support Israel and World Jewry,” the movement explains.

Among those jockeying for position to have a greater voice is the left-wing Hatikvah, opposed to expanding an Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria and supportive of establishing a Palestinian state in those areas.

“Hatikvah is the progressive slate. We dream of a just and thriving Jewish democracy and hope for a negotiated two state solution. A vote for Hatikvah is a vote for critical services in Israel and against settlement expansion,” it says on its Facebook page.

The slate says that it stands with Israel’s Labor Party and Meretz. Those parties were leading forces in the Israeli government which signed understandings with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.

Labor has plummeted from a ruling party to its smallest representation ever in the Knesset. Meretz has also fallen significantly.

Hatikvah complains that while “the World Zionist Organization built essential institutions in the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish settlement in Palestine,” and “has continued to fund youth education, immigrant absorption, and other critical services,” it also “serves as a conduit for the present-day Israeli government to fund settlement expansion” in Judea and Samaria.

“We want an end to the occupation and to the Arab-Israeli conflict,” it says.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the J Street organization, is on the list, reports JTA. Peter Beinart is also a first-time candidate, the newswire reports. He has expressed support for boycotting products from Israeli settlements.

Also among the candidates on the Hatikvah slate touted on its Facebook page is Jesse Miller, noted as a board member of J Street U at Columbia University in New York, where he is an undergraduate student. J Street U is J Street’s college and university campus organizing arm.

Early this year, past and present members of the J Street U board called for promoting a move to punish Israel for building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria by cutting U.S. military assistance to the Jewish State. They proposed that every shekel which the Israeli government spends on settlements and [Arab] home demolitions should result in a proportional reduction of American military aid, according to a report by The Intercept.

Speaking at the annual J Street Conference in Washington in October, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, called for transferring a portion of the U.S. military assistance to Israel to humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip instead.

“We’re deeply worried about the idea of non-Zionist progressives running for the World Zionist Congress,” Karma Feinstein-Cohen told World Israel News. She is executive director of World Herut, which is running in the elections on its own slate.

“World Zionist Congress elections take place every five years and the resolutions adopted during the WZC have tremendous impact on Israel and world Jewry. The idea that some of the 13 slates running in the WZC seek to penalize Israel for developing Israeli territory should concern everyone who cares about the Jewish State.

“Criticism of Israeli policy is abundantly fair. But the Hatikvah slate has adopted the J-Street platform that seeks to defund and jeopardize Israel’s development, prosperity and security. That is counter-Zionistic.”

“Beinart and Ben-Ami are taking advantage of the WZC’s openness. Their entry into the arena is less participation than infiltration,” she said.