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January 23, 2017 8:28 am

Anti-Zionism, B’Tselem and the World Zionist Organization

avatar by Matan Peleg

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Uri Zaki. Photo: Facebook.

Uri Zaki. Photo: Facebook.

In Israel, there is a critical news story that has passed beneath the radar of public awareness. Perhaps this is not a surprise, given the high visibility of the recent UN Security Council vote, John Kerry’s speech and the Elor Azaria trial verdict.

Nevertheless, this virtually unreported story is incredibly significant, and potentially damaging, to the future vitality of the state of Israel.

In the closing days of 2016, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) approved the appointment of Uri Zaki, a former director of B’Tselem USA, to a senior position in the organization’s Department for Zionist Enterprises.

Zaki’s appointment represents a microcosm of the titanic battle raging between two ideas within the WZO: the Zionist idea that strives for Jewish independence in the state of Israel; and, in opposition, an idea seeking to limit the sovereignty of the Jewish people, by encouraging foreign governments to impose their policies on Israel.

B’Tselem, the organization in which Zaki has played a prominent role, has continuously worked to undermine the Israel in every way possible, culminating this past October in the UN Security Council, when B’Tselem’s CEO urged the council members to “take action” against it. For its anti-Israel activities, B’Tselem and other groups of the same ilk have been rightfully spurned by the pro-Israel community for advancing values opposed to the aims of Zionism.

By approving Zaki’s appointment without even requiring him to issue a public renunciation of B’Tselem’s anti-Zionist policies, the WZO has astoundingly enabled radical anti-Zionism to finally gain a foothold in the mainstream Zionist circle, something it had heretofore failed to accomplish.

Ultimately, the real problem is not Uri Zaki; he is merely a symptom of it.

Today, we see an increasing and distressing trend in which organizations promoting de-legitimization of Israel partake in various WZO programs.

For example, the Herzl Museum in Jerusalem, one of the primary symbols of the WZO, encourages its visitors to volunteer with Shatil, the operating arm of the New Israel Fund (NIF). The NIF, of course, funds dozens of anti-Zionist organizations. The Herzl Museum also promotes volunteering with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, an NGO that falsely accuses Israel of violating international law, promoting “ethnically discriminatory policies” against the Bedouins in the Negev and perpetrating war crimes in Gaza.

At a time when Israel is quite literally fighting for its right to exist against those seeking to destroy it, this Zionist embrace of an anti-Israel agenda sets a very dangerous precedent. It sends a message that one can engage in a slew of anti-Israel activity, including accusing Israel of perpetrating war crimes, slandering the IDF and promoting international pressure, yet still be accepted by the Zionist movement.

This misguided and self-destructive thinking not only empowers those who work endlessly to undermine the state of Israel, but also corrodes the very fabric of the Zionist enterprise that the WZO has been so committed to nurturing and promoting.

As the organization that represents the very essence of consensual Zionist values, the WZO has a responsibility to unequivocally reject all those who de-legitimize the State of Israel. This must be a red line, and if serving as a leader in an organization that accuses Israel of apartheid policies and war crimes does not cross that red line, then what does?

Since its founding in 1897 by Theodor Herzl at the First World Zionist Congress, the WZO has been spearheaded the Zionist movement. It’s a shame that such a venerable organization fails to draw a clear and distinct line around the values that constitute its very identity.

The WZO must decide if it wants to continue promoting the Zionism of Herzl or not. If the WZO opts to continue its association with anti-Zionist organizations and forgo the Zionist values on which it was established, it will, at the very least, need to adopt a new name. Because it certainly will no longer be a Zionist organization.

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  • Leona Rund Zions

    My heart is breaking. My Dad was a member of the Farband Labour Zionist organization, Trumpeldor Branch, and these young men and women were true Zionists to the core. I believe my generation (f the 30’s/40’s) were strong believers, as well, not only by osmosis, but through living the Dream as earnestly as our Parents. I and my friends danced the Hora all night in Union Square, NYC, when Israel was declared a State. My Father’s Sister had gone to Palestine as aa Halutz (Pioneer) around 1918, but my Dad was sent to America and his Brother to Argentina to give them the possibility of safety and a good life. My Father and his Brother never saw each other, again, but, after 28 years, he was united with his Sister and Mother, when our Family went to Israel in 1950. It was a new and vibrant country, then, full of hope for the future even after the 1948 War. Jews had won, on their own turf, and protecting their own people as well as those Arabs, Druse and Bedouins, who did not run, but stayed and threw their lot in with this young but ancient land. As teenagers, my cousins and I and their next door Arab neighbor went together to an Esther Williams movie in a Barn. All was peace and harmony for a blessed time. It was also the year of the first Maccabiah Games. Imagine, Jewish athletes. I guess it is the fault of my Generation. We thought we finally were free to be unafraid, to live normal lives, and so, although the Holocaust was finally recognized and given it’s due, we allowed our children to become soft, comfortable and complacent; encouraged them to strive for and protect others who hadn’t yet come out from under the yoke of bigotry. Does anyone in the BLM movement know the supporting and activist role that Jews played in the Civil Rights Movement? MLK knew and appreciated that. Some of our boys and girls gave up their lives for that. Well, thanks to the ignorance of the Media, the latent anti-Semitism that is always below the surface, the present Palestinians, who didn’t even exist at the time as a cohesive people, have adopted that “locational appellation” which belonged to anyone living under the British Protectorate, and with massively effective PR created a History that never existed. The ones that deserted the infant Israel were never allowed to assimilate into the countries of their Brother Arabs, but were kept in Camps, to this day, as a growing, festering Army to serve the purposes of their unaccepting, inhospitable brethren. You won’t learn the truth from the tenured Professors that have been secured in our Universities’ Middle Eastern Depts. Our generation dropped the ball. Our progeny are ready to save the World even if it means our demise. Foolish lemmings rushing to the Sea. They really believe that this self-sacrifice will finally win them acceptance among the Nations. Light one candle; be a light unto the World. Spiritual light and electric light are fine, but fire will burn our own house down.

  • kathie

    This is due to the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been pushing their Cultural Marxist lies on the American campus since the 60’s and that has infected Israel since the 80’s.

    There is no “peace” with Islam. There is only a constant state of war. Israel would do well to simply expel all Muslims, build a wall and fortify the land, and be done with it. And, any Jews who work to destabilize the state, they can be expelled as well.

  • Harvela

    It’s part of a strategy by those desiring the eradication of Israel.They understand that key to this is to weaken and divide the diaspora support and nurturing of the Zionist enterprise.It’s a long term project.
    We see it with JStreet and Yachad and of course the quasi assimilated Jews that make up the likes of JVP. Jews have been their own worst enemies since time immemorial. There is a need to ingratiate themselves to Jew haters even when that means selling out their brothers and sisters .

  • Nina

    Another war between jews ? How new it is…
    You are right to aknowledge us. I’m going to try to make a good translation for french community.
    Without algemeiner a lot a news so important can’t be found. TY