Voting has begun for the 38th World Zionist Congress, and the election is already shaping up into the familiar left-right dynamic witnessed in countless elections worldwide. Much has changed for American Jews since the 2015 election, however, as the threats to the pro-Israel community have grown exponentially, and will continue to grow if left unchecked. Sadly, this threat comes from other American Jews.
Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow have grown since 2015, primarily on American college campuses and in the political scene. Jewish Voice for Peace attempts to influence Jews and non-Jews on campuses by lying about Israeli policy and Jewish history. They have begun a “Return the Birthright” campaign that essentially calls for an end to Israel by giving all the land to Palestinians.
IfNotNow pushes the same ideology on presidential candidates; so far, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are on board. Former Vice President Joe Biden, while not as anti-Israel as the other two, has acquiesced to the notion that Israel is “occupying” Judea and Samaria. Similarly, leftist groups like J Street and T’ruah are gathering their supporters to gain more delegates in this year’s WZC as part of the Hatikvah Slate. These groups want to destroy the very nature of the Jewish state, transforming it into another Arab state in the Middle East in everything but name.
Combating this ideology, specifically regarding how Jews around the world view Israel, is where the Zionist Organization of America comes in.
The ZOA has been a staple in the WZC since the beginning, in 1897, and has not slowed down since. ZOA introduced multiple resolutions at the World Zionist Congress in October 2019 aimed at combating the stranglehold the left has taken on the Jewish community. These includes a resolution against Palestinian Authority payments to the families of terrorists who murder Jews, anti-BDS resolutions, resolution promoting Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, and the condemnation of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The anti-BDS resolution included an important clause excluding any group that promotes BDS from the WZC. Not only does this keep groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace out, it also forces other groups that agree with BDS to publicly denounce them if they want to participate.
Perhaps the most important ZOA resolution that passed was that all WZC entities will “use the names ‘Judea and Samaria’ in their statements, publications and maps, rather than the name ‘West Bank.’ ” This matters because language matters, and the left around the world is taking advantage of politeness and political correctness to change history and meaning. If the WZC uses the term “West Bank,” they have already ceded the argument to those that believe that the Jewish people have no historical and religious connection to Judea and Samaria.
ZOA, like every other political body, have had their share of losses. While they were successful at keeping out groups that support BDS, they were unsuccessful at an American registration rule requiring that all delegates and candidates were anti-BDS as well. Which means that even though the left-wing T’ruah must denounce BDS on their website, their leader Rabbi Jill Jacobs will defend it vociferously in both op-eds and on social media.
The consequence of prominent left-wing voices in the WZC is a spread of anti-Israel propaganda around the world. One such example is a film program, controlled by the Reform Movement, that includes praise for Machsom Watch. Machsom Watch is an NGO that watches Israeli checkpoints to verbally and physically harass Israeli soldiers for ensuring the safety of the people of Israel. Machsom Watch, like many other leftist organizations, operates in a world with no context (the checkpoints were erected after a wave of terrorist attacks) and no comparisons (the Israeli checkpoints are up to seven times faster to get through than U.S.-Mexico border crossings). This is the group that is praised in educational videos with funds paid by the World Zionist Organization.
The anti-Israel left within the WZC is not a fringe group. The left has continually classified Israel as a racist and apartheid state, despite the fact that it is the only place int he Middle East where every religion and race can live freely, and even has Arab Knesset members. Sanders has repeatedly called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist. In October 2019, the left pushed for a resolution that labeled Israeli society as being full of “institutional racism.” That measure was defeated by one vote.
While pro-Israel Jewry may have dodged a bullet by avoiding that resolution, they should heed the warning. The partisan divides are not limited to the United States, they are universal. It is incumbent on every American Jew who wants a voice in the future of the State of Israel to vote for the American Delegation in the World Zionist Congress immediately.
The opinions here reflect those of the author and the slate, and not of JNS.
Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Machsom Watch was praised in a WZO video. This was corrected to say that the group was praised in the teaching materials that accompanied the video.
Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for “The Daily Wire,” “The Queens Jewish Link” and “The Jewish Link of New Jersey.” Follow on Twitter @TheMoHill.