History of the WZC and WZO

What is the World Zionist Congress?

The World Zionist Congress is the supreme institution and legislature of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The Congress meets once every five years to formulate policy and elect and oversee the WZO’s institutions. It has approximately 500 elected delegates, of which 38% are Israeli, 29% American, and 33% from the rest of the world. There are approximately 100 additional delegates appointed by international organizations (e.g. B’nai B’rith) affiliated with the WZO.

The Congress also elects the Executive, which runs WZO affairs, and the Zionist General Council, which meets once a year, and to which the Executive is subordinate.

The First Zionist Congress was convened by Theodor Herzl in 1897 in Basle, Switzerland, and is where the WZO was founded as part of the first Zionist Program, also known as the Basle Program. The basic program of the World Zionist Organization today is called the Jerusalem Program (more about the Jerusalem Program later). Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Congress is held in Jerusalem, and the bulk of the deliberations revolve around Israel-Diaspora relations, the centrality of Israel for the Jewish people, and Aliyah to Israel.

What is the World Zionist Organization?

The Zionist Organization (ZO) was founded by Theodor Herzl at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897; it was renamed the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1960. Its goals were set forth in the Basle Program: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, secured under public law.”

At the First Zionist Congress, the Zionist movement organized itself as a worldwide organization with permanent institutions. The supreme institution was, and still is, the Zionist Congress. Since its inception, the ZO has established companies and institutions to carry out its policies; these include Keren Hayesod (in the US today Jewish Federations of North America), Keren Kayemeth L’Israel (the Jewish National Fund), the Jewish Colonial Trust and its subsidiary, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, known today as Bank Leumi.

Today, the WZO works to promote Zionism, the Zionist idea, and the Zionist enterprise through Israel Education as vital and positive elements of contemporary Jewish life, in accordance with the principles articulated in the Jerusalem Program.

The Jerusalem Program

The Basle Program, established at the First Zionist Congress in 1897, established the foundations of Zionism. The Basle Program was renamed the Jerusalem Program in 1951 at the 23rd World Zionist Congress, revised in 1968 at the 27th World Zionist Congress, and most recently revised at the meeting of the Zionist General Council in June, 2004. This is the version that is agreed upon and used today. The full text of the Jerusalem Program is as follows:

Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future.

The foundations of Zionism are:

  • The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation;
  • Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli Society;
  • Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world;
  • Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language;
  • Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism;
  • Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.

All Zionists agree on the set of ideals and principles known as the Jerusalem Program.

Understanding the Slates

Who is running in the US Election to the 37th World Zionist Congress?

There are 11 slates running in the election. To view the slates, and download the PDFs of their election platform and list of candidates, please click here.

Eligibility

Who is eligible to register and vote in the election?

To be eligible to vote in the US Elections to the 37th World Zionist Congress, you must:

  • be 18 years of age or above
  • be a permanent resident of the United States
  • be Jewish
  • not vote/have not voted in March 2015 Knesset election
  • subscribe to the Jerusalem Program

Registration and Voting

Why do I have to register?

The election is organized around the idea that every Jew who accepts the Jerusalem Program has the right and responsibility to make her/his voice heard. It is a personal and individual act. Registration confers membership in the Zionist Federation (American Zionist Movement) for the purpose of the election. Multiples registrations by one person are considered invalid and will be voided.

How do I register?

You may register online or by paper registration form. To register, please click here and click on the register to vote button at the online, top of the screen. Registration must be done by each individual who would like to vote. To register by paper form, please click here to download a print the form. The form contains instructions on how to send it in by mail.

Do I have to pay to register?

YES. The fee for registration is $5 for those ages 30 and below, and $10 for those ages 31 and above.

What is the purpose of the registration fee?

To be eligible to vote in the Zionist election, one must be a member of the Zionist Federation in his/her country of residence. In the United States, the this is the American Zionist Movement. The registration fee is associated with a special individual membership category available during an election year only and must be paid in order to vote in the election. Membership must be personal and individual so each voter is required to pay for him or herself.  The fees are used to cover the cost of the election.

What methods of payment are accepted?

You can pay online by credit card (we accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express), eCheck, and Paypal. You can pay by credit card or check if you are registering by mail.

What happens once I register?

Once you register online, a page will pop up with a confirmation number, as well as a link you will need to click to vote. DO NOT CLOSE THIS WINDOW BEFORE CLINKING ON THE LINK TO VOTE. The link will take you to a page with a listing of the slates. Please check the box next to the slate for which you would like to vote and click submit. The page will then preview the slate you selected. If you made a mistake and would like to vote for a different slate, please DO NOT click your browser’s back button, rather click the return button on the bottom of the page. If you selected your desired slate, please click vote. You will receive a confirmation of your vote on the screen, as well as an email confirmation that your vote was accepted. This email will arrive from AZM@election-america.com.

If you are registering by mail, you have the option to select online voting on the registration form. Once your form is received, you will receive an email from AZM@election-america.com with your voting credentials needed to log in and vote. If you would like to vote through the mail as well, do not select the option to vote online, and a paper ballot will be mailed to you shortly after your form is received.

Until When Can I Register and Vote?

The general registration and voting period opened on January 14, 2015 and will close on April 30, 2015.

Questions?

What if I have a problem with registration and voting?

If you have trouble registering/voting online or by mail, please contact 844-413-2929 or email AZM@election-america.com with your questions.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the World Zionist Congress?

For questions regarding the Congress, please contact 212-318-6100 and someone will help you.

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