Yaakov Hagoel elected head of World Zionist Organisation

Yaakov Hagoel (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem Jerusalem Post)

The 38th World Zionist Congress was held online for the first time ever from 20-22 October.

“A lot more people were able to participate because of the virtual platform,” said Herbert Block, spokesman for the American Zionist Movement. “However, opportunities for direct interaction were limited because of all the people and the different time zones. You missed the in-person relationship building.”

The congress was composed of 524 delegates: 199 from Israel, 152 from the United States and 173 from the rest of the Jewish diaspora.

The main themes of this year’s congress were Aliyah, the effect of COVID-19 on Jewish communities around the world and the battle against growing antisemitism.

The Congress was opened with greetings from both the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu. The greetings were then followed by a beautiful opening video clip: ‘The World Zionist Organisation in the Inter-Congress Period’. The main theme of the first day was ‘Mutual Responsibility and Aliyah’, while on the second day of the congress there were two symposiums on the topic ‘From Crisis to Opportunity’ which were then followed by a ‘Security Overview and the IDF and the Coronavirus Challenges’.

The WZC is the only democratically elected global Jewish forum and is the direct continuation of The First Zionist Congress, convened by Theodor Herzl in 1897. Today, the WZC, which now meets every five years, is the overall supreme ideological and policy-making body of the Zionist movement. The delegates and the bodies they form at the WZC determine 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.

The closing session of the congress was addressed by Mr. Yaakov Hagoel, the elected chairman of the World Zionist Organization. In his speech Mr. Hagoel said that when Menachem Begin was asked how he will run the government in 1977 when he was elected prime minister, he said, “In a fine Jewish tradition”.

“I am not Menachem Begin” said Mr. Hagoel, “but I will try to lead the World Zionist Organisation in a fine Jewish tradition”.

Hila Zetler

SA Zionist Federation – Cape Council – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website: www.sazfcape.co.za

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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