Why the World Zionist Congress elections matter

The stakes are extremely high and that is why more and more organizations and activists have entered the fray for this year’s election.

Dr. Igor Branovan  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dr. Igor Branovan
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Today, the World Zionist Congress elections open, and Diaspora Jewry will have almost two months to elect those who will hold seats in the World Zionist Congress (WZC), the legislative body that determines the policies of the world's leading Jewish organizations - the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency of Israel (JAFI), the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Keren Hayesod.
The WZC is the body that makes major policy decisions concerning the future of Zionism, Aliyah and absorption, Israeli advocacy worldwide, Jewish education and the war against antisemitism, settlement in Israel and other vital issues for Israel and the Jewish people’s future.  
Policies will be decided, and resources are allocated.
The stakes are extremely high and that is why more and more organizations and activists have entered the fray for this year’s election.
Unfortunately, while the Left has been largely out of power in Israel for a number of decades, they have significant control of the WZC due the liberal Diaspora Jewish establishment’s resources and power. In these elections, some extreme-Left figures like Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the far-Left group J Street, have entered the fray to move the balance of power even further Left.
This means that every single vote counts in an election open to all Jews above the age of 18.
Unfortunately, the Right is now playing with one hand tied behind its back.
A recent decision was made by the Area Elections Committee of the American Zionist Movement, the organization in charge of the elections in North America, that while students can have a discount on their registration fee, Holocaust survivors, World War Two veterans and other senior citizens may not.
The American Forum for Israel, an organization I proudly chair, which sees an increasingly liberal Jewish establishment, critical of Israel, supportive of dangerous concessions to the Palestinians and in agreement with a capitulation by the West to Iran, as extremely dangerous to Israel and the Jewish future, has appealed this discriminatory and dangerous decision which at first sight seems rather innocuous.
However, according to the Pew Research Center, one-fifth of all US Jews report annual household incomes of less than $30,000, especially affecting those who have reached retirement age.  
This decision is thus discriminatory against Holocaust survivors, the elderly, new immigrants and those on lower incomes.
Like the liberal Jewish establishment, we know that while students tend to veer Left politically, the elderly, especially those who lived through the Holocaust, World War Two and the establishment of the State of Israel, tend to understand the need for a strong and proud Israel.
The Jewish establishment also know that it is precisely these Jews who are sick and tired of their concessionist polices.
The American Forum for Israel’s election campaign has been centered around loosening the grip by the liberal and critical Jewish establishment.
It is seen as a threat by those who have been in power for so long.
We are those Jews who have had enough and we want to see our voices heard where it matters and no longer kowtow to the Left, those who wish to see a constricted Israel, favor the Iran nuclear agreement and do not condemn the insidious and anti-Semitic BDS movement.
Their Zionism is about concessions, submission and weakness.
Unfortunately, they are in control and place Jews who want a strong, proud and successful Israel on the sidelines, and try and keep us out. However, we want to stop this and have our voicesheard. We have an opportunity to say enough, and that we will no longer accept this contempt and disdain.
We should stand up proudly and say it is our time, it is time for our Zionism. Our Zionism is about strengthening Israel, it is about standing unequivocally with Israelis against their enemies, and it is about ensuring an unbreakable partnership between Israel and the Diaspora. It is about fighting Antisemitism in all of its manifestations, including anti-Zionism.
This is what these World Zionist Congress elections are really about, and any attempt to artificially tip the scales should be condemned and amended immediately.
This is a battle worth fighting and we will take all legal measures necessary to fight for inclusion and our Zionism.
We hope you will join us.
The writer is President of the American Forum for Israel  www.AmericanForumForIsrael.com