At the start of the historic 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC), and the first such global “virtual” online gathering, the American Zionist Movement (AZM) is proud of the largest-ever, and most diverse, delegation which will participate from the United States. Approximately one-third of the elected delegates to the WZC, meeting online this week from October 20-22, 2020, are from the US.
AZM’s President, Richard D. Heideman, said: “In 1897 Theodor Herzl gathered together the Jewish People in Basel, Switzerland for the First Zionist Congress. He set forth a vision and a dream. It is in the spirit of Herzl’s vision, and in tribute to his leadership, that today we appreciate the proud reality of Israel as a nation-state of the world.”
Heideman continued: “The US election for the Zionist Congress ended in March in the same week as the Coronavirus began to grip our nation, Israel and the world. When we concluded with the largest direct democratic participation by American Jews in decades we did not know if or how this Congress would take place. However, the work of Zionism – supporting Israel and connecting world Jewry to our national Jewish homeland – must continue despite the challenges of the Coronavirus situation. We gather this week in a way that Herzl could not have imagined. We do so in the spirit of his leadership, his vision and our common dream for a strong, vibrant, democratic and proud Israel which contributes to the betterment of the world.”
“The broad and diverse Delegates and Alternates from 28 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which together constitute the US delegation to the Congress, range in age from 18-89, a quarter of whom are youth (ages 35 and under) which bodes well for our ongoing and future efforts to move Zionism Forward in America. Let us all conduct ourselves during the Congress, and in selecting our future leadership team, with respectful dialogue that includes all our constituent organizations and diverse views and exemplifies the best of our traditions and our commitment to strengthening Zionism, Israel and the entire Jewish community,” said Heideman.
The election for US representatives to the WZC, conducted by AZM, garnered 123,575 votes, from American Jews in all 50 states, DC and US territories. It represented a significant increase – more than double – from the turnout of the prior WZC election in the US in 2015 and was the highest number of votes since an open Zionist election in the American Jewish community began 30 years ago.
The 38th WZC has long been scheduled to be held in Jerusalem this week. However, given the current COVID restrictions, the 2020 WZC sessions and deliberations will instead be conducted via a global virtual platform. The World Zionist Organization hopes to convene an additional extraordinary worldwide in-person Zionist Congress in Israel in Fall 2021 or during 2022.
The WZC is the ideological and policy-making body of the Zionist movement. The delegates and the bodies they form at the WZC will select the leadership and influence the policies of Israel’s National Institutions: the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (JNF) and Keren Hayesod – which together allocate nearly $1 billion annually in funding in support of Israel and Jewish communities around the world and will consider a dozen policy resolutions.
More information on the Zionist Congress, proposed resolutions, the AZM-conducted election and the American delegation is available by clicking here.
The American Zionist Movement (AZM) is comprised of 33 national Jewish Zionist organizations and works across a broad ideological, political and religious spectrum linking the American Jewish community together in support of Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people. AZM is the U.S. Zionist Federation in the World Zionist Organization.