Kadima to go global with 40 branches

While other parties cut back on int'l movements, Kadima will be found from Uruguay to Australia.

kadima 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
kadima 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
It doesn't yet have the international name recognition of McDonald's or Coca-Cola, but Kadima will be a global phenomenon with 40 branches abroad by the end of the year, the chairman of World Kadima, MK Yoel Hasson, said Thursday. At a time when other Israeli parties have cut back on their international movements, Kadima will be found from Uruguay to Australia, and from Moscow to Miami. Kadima, which is the largest faction in the World Zionist Organization, decided to invest in building its overseas operations in order to spread the party's messages and demonstrate its staying power. "I want most of the countries in the world with Jewish populations to have Kadima branches," Hasson said. "The party's centrist message fits with mainstream Jewish communities around the world, who can also connect with the party due to their respect for [its founder] Ariel Sharon." World Kadima was initially formed to represent the party in the WZO. But since he took over as the head of the organization from the late Shlomo Gravetz, Hasson has been building it at the grassroots level. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and representatives of 15-20 world cities will participate in World Kadima's founding conference May 10 at Kfar Truman. In mid-June, a mission of Kadima leaders from the US will come to Israel for the official declaration of Kadima US and the naming of its new president. The center of World Kadima will be in New York, but boards with local presidents will be formed around the world. World Kadima already named its president in France, recycling magnate Claude Solarz. Hasson took advantage of World Kadima's affiliation with the Hanoar Hatzioni Haolami youth movement, which has a strong history and infrastructure in sites worldwide. Funding comes from the party, the WZO and international donors. Among Hasson's next steps will be to initiate an international Kadima membership drive and an English website. "Being head of World Kadima gives me an opportunity to reach out to young people in the Diaspora and talk to them about the importance of their connection to Israel, their Jewish roots and their Zionism," Hasson said. "I tell them that even if they don't live in Israel, they have to see it as the center of their life and that of the Jewish people." World Likud chairman Danny Danon expressed skepticism about World Kadima's chances to have any impact. "I am happy to see any Zionist activism around the world, but I haven't seen Kadima doing any real international activity yet," Danon said. "I think they are wasting their time. If they have no basis to exist in Israel, they have no basis to exist abroad either."