US Zionists Competing for 145 Seats – 2nd Largest Delegation
Elections to determine the composition of the American delegation to the 37th World Zionist Congress opened yesterday with almost 2000 people voting. After a full year of preparations, online registration and voting has begun among 11 slates, 9 of which have participated in previous Congresses and 2 slates new to the US scene.
Slates will be competing for 145 delegates, the US share of the 500 elected delegates provided for by the WZO Constitution. Slates range widely in their ideological approaches, making this election a unique opportunity for American Jewry to have its voice heard on critical issues facing Israel and the Jewish People.
Veteran Slates include: American Forum for Israel (American Forum of Russian Speaking Jews); ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America; Green Israel (Green Zionist Alliance); Hatikvah (Ameinu, Partners for Progressive Israel, Habonim-Dror and Hashomer Hatzair); Herut North America; MERCAZ USA; Religious Zionists Slate (Amit and Religious Zionists of America); Zionist Organization of America; Zionist Spring (Baltimore Zionist District, Bnai Zion; Young Judaea)
New Slates include: Alliance for New Zionist Vision (Lavi Olami); – World Sephardic Movement – Ohavei Tsion
Organizers have put out a general call to all American Jews who care about Israel and World Jewry to register and vote. This is the single best opportunity for American Jews to make their voices heard about the kind of Israel they would like to see. Participation assumes a deep abiding commitment to the State of Israel. Participation in this election is a personal act, important to the totality of the Jewish People, and an opportunity to express the individual’s vision for Israel’s Future.
The WZO constitution calls for elections to take place in every country of the world where there are active Zionist groups except in Israel. In Israel the Knesset elections determine the Israeli delegation of 200 to Congress. Given that Knesset elections are being held in Israel on March 17th, World Jewry will be engaged in elections across the globe this year. The US elections are the first of the area elections to take place, and it is not clear how many other countries will actually bring voters to the Zionist polls.
Voters can opt to register through the mail and vote later, but it is expected that the vast majority of registrations and voting will take place on line. Registration forms will be available in Russian and in Hebrew to accommodate the changing Jewish population in the United States. The election will continue for three and half months, and is slated to close on April 30, 2015.
“The first Zionist Congress was convened by Theodor Herzl in 1897 in Basel Switzerland. In his memoirs Herzl wrote, “At Basel I founded the Jewish State.” By casting a vote in this election one becomes part of a great historical continuum, and personally participates in crafting the future of the Jewish State,” said Judge Abraham Gafni, the chairman of the US Area Election Committee which oversees the execution of the elections in the United States. This is the very best opportunity to express one’s vision of and commitment to Israel’s future.
To learn more about the elections, please visit www.myselfourisrael.com where you can learn about the slates that are competing, some of the issues to come before the Congress, and eligibility to vote. The site will also link you to the place to actually get on line, register and vote. The US elections are administered by the American Zionist Movement, the umbrella organization of Zionist organizations in the United States.