Hadassah president denounces WZO coalition agreement

Masorti director: We will leave Zionist institutions and establish new ones if we have no place at the table

World Zionist Organization building (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
World Zionist Organization building
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The National President of Hadassah Rhoda Smolow has publicly called for the controversial coalition agreement for the World Zionist Congress drawn up by right-wing, religious-Zionist, and ultra-Orthodox factions to be redrafted to better represent all Zionist movements. 
Smolow described the current agreement as “unacceptable” and one that could “disenfranchise” young Jews in the Diaspora from the Zionist movement. 
Director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel Dr. Yizhar Hess said the letter demonstrated that Hadassah had taken a “principled and ethical step” against “the hostile takeover of the national institutions.”
He also asserted that if the progressive Jewish denominations would not have “a place at the table” in the Zionist institutions, they would 
The proposed coalition agreement gives the most senior positions within the national institutions of the World Zionist Organization, Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael, and Keren Hayesod to the right-wing and Orthodox parties that devised it, and leaves the centrist, left-wing and progressive Jewish factions with little influence. 
Although the right-wing, religious parties won a narrow majority in the recent WZC elections, coalition agreements have usually been balanced and senior roles equitably distributed. 
Smolow’s open letter to the World Zionist Organization comes following an unprecedented letter by the Zionist organizations, including Hadassah, which have voting rights in the WZC, which also condemned the proposed coalition agreement and demanded changes. 
These organizations have enough delegates to stymie the passage of the deal, although voting against it would be unprecedented and could possibly cause legal problems within the WZC, and the letter did not state explicitly that they would vote agains the agreement. 
Writing on Monday, Smolow insisted that the coalition deal “must be redrafted in favor of a wide, balanced agreement that includes all Zionist movements, one that represents world Jewry both in Israel and the Diaspora.”
She said that the proposed deal “will have a negative impact not only for today… but also for future generations of Zionist activists,” and could reduce the participation of young Diaspora Jews in the Zionist endeavor. 
“This agreement if passed could very well disenfranchise the younger men and women with whom we will be depending on for our future leadership roles to support the Zionist movement which has always been inclusive of diverse ideologies,” wrote Smolow. 
“We implore you to consider the long term effect such an agreement will have on the future of the Zionist movement.”
Hess said the letter from Hadassah, which has traditionally acted cautiously and diplomatically in everything related to Israeli and Zionist politics, was unprecedented, and said that the future of the national institutions was now in danger due to what he described as the unbalanced coalition agreement. 
“I am proud of Hadassah whose interests in Israel vis-a-vis government officials is massive, but chose to take this principled and ethical step and came out unambiguously against the hostile take over of the national institutions,” said the Masorti director following the publication of Smolow’s letter. 
“If God forbid we get to a vote on the coalition agreement I hope the [Zionist] organizations will topple it,” adding that some officials in Israeli parties which have signed the agreement have expressed similar sentiment. 
“I am concerned for the fate of the national institutions. I hear central voices in the Conservative Movement of North America who are saying there is no longer any reason for the [non-Orthodox] streams to participate in the Zionist institutions.
“If in this place in Israel the denominations will also not have a place at the table, if in the institutions that the Jewish people and the non-Orthodox streams established are not partners in forming policy - we will leave them. We will continue to love the State of Israel, we will continue to be Zionists, but we will do it from outside. 
“We will will not leave the Zionist movement, but rather will establish a new Zionist organization.”