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Hadassah, other groups delay right-wing takeover of World Zionist Congress

Legacy Jewish groups like Naamat, Maccabi, B’nai B’rith International, the Women’s International Zionist Organization and Emunah step in to delay contentious vote

View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem, November 29, 2016. Photo (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem, November 29, 2016. Photo (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JTA — A coalition of Jewish groups including the likes of Hadassah and B’nai B’rith International has temporarily blocked a plan by Orthodox and right-wing parties to take over top positions throughout the World Zionist Congress, the Jewish National Fund and other crucial groups that spend $1 billion annually on international Jewish causes.

Under the plan reported this week in Israeli media, the Likud and Orthodox parties of the World Zionist Congress would have reserved for themselves top positions at these groups, including the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal.

On Tuesday, Sheila Katz, the National Council of Jewish Women CEO and a member of the Hatikvah slate in the Congress, said on Twitter that legacy groups including Hadassah, Naamat, Maccabi, B’nai B’rith International, the Women’s International Zionist Organization and Emunah stepped in to delay the vote on the right-wing plan until Thursday to renegotiate how the professional leadership will be selected.

The top positions have until now been filled in consultation with all constituent bodies, allowing liberal groups a say on spending related to religious pluralism in Israel, minority communities in the country and settlement activity in the West Bank.

The right-wing coalition believed it had a chance to take sole control of WZO spending because of its strong showing in this year’s election of the U.S. portion of the World Zionist Congress.

The liberal groups who stood to be disenfranchised include affiliates of left-leaning Israeli parties, the Reform and Conservative movements, and Hatikvah, a slate of prominent US liberal Zionists.

They pressed a cadre of legacy Zionist groups that rarely participate in the partisan political fray to step up and vote to keep the takeover from taking place. Many of these groups share donors and members with the liberal groups.

This year’s World Zionist Congress is taking place online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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