This week, we came to the World Zionist Congress with low expectations. We came with one agenda: fight for our values, even as we expected to lose every vote. Historically, the religious community has been excluded by those who claim inclusivity.
On Wednesday, our committee spent almost two hours debating the Supreme Court resolution. While at times it got heated, it remained mostly respectful. The left wing parties discovered that the Orthodox are able to negotiate in good faith and come prepared.
Eretz Hakodesh was founded for one reason: Fighting for Torah values. We will never compromise on Torah values, and will always fight to keep the Kedusha (holiness) of the land. Many of the resolutions were antithetical to these values and we vehemently opposed them. Tonight, we planned to vote NO on all of them. Together with the other parties who put G-d first, we had a slight majority. So we believed.
Prior to the voting, Mizrachi came to us with an unusual request. They feared people were trying to vote multiple times by using other people’s clickers. To prevent this, they prepared a petition to require a name by name vote. While voting this way would take all night, we felt this was the best option.
As this was unheard of, the Presidium was called upon to debate the petition. They left the room amidst shouts of “Busha Busha” (shame shame). The same parties that demand “transparency and democracy” were unable to stomach a legitimately submitted petition.
The Presidium left to debate, and over an hour later we were told to break for dinner. It was at this point that word came out that Mizrachi was beginning to fold. For Eretz Hakodesh, this was not an option. The issues being voted on were against all our values, and we could accept nothing less than complete transparency. I can’t speak for the left wing parties, but we were prepared to remain all night voting name by name. Even if we lost the votes, at least we’d go home knowing it was honest and we fought for the Torah values.
Immediately, with the help of friends in Shas and Likud, I drafted a new petition demanding what Mizrachi had promised but didn’t have the courage to deliver. Within minutes, we had well over 70 signatures, from across the spectrum. When you fight for G-d’s honor, you don’t back down.
With this petition ready to go, the Presidium understood that without an immediate solution we’d be there all night. The left wing parties had no interest in that. An event with the President was originally on the agenda for after the voting. An all night vote was not worth their time. They put an event with President Herzog before Zionism.
Instead, an agreement was made. For the first time ever, led by Eretz Hakodesh, Shas and Likud, there were no votes at the World Zionist Congress. Rabbi Lerner emerged from the Presidium with the news. As he told our friends in Likud, “Tonight we showed everyone that the honor of G-d will never come second. We are here to stay, and we will defend the Kedusha of the land, always.”
A Likudnik responded, “Am Yisrael Loh Mifached, Hashem Elikeinu Hashem Echad” (The Jewish Nation is not afraid. Hashem our G-d, G-d is one.)
The Congress has effectively come to an end. Tomorrow’s newly scheduled “debates” are just a show. Nobody will change their minds, and all resolutions are going to remain the same. In the end, voting will take place in a few days, electronically, online. This means nobody will be able to vote twice. With a slim majority, the right wing parties will likely be able to defeat the resolutions against our values, and pass those that we can accept.
At this year’s Congress, it was Eretz Hakodesh, fighting for our values, that was successful in the end.
This is why our party exists. We will always defend Torah Values and Eretz Hakodesh (The Holy Land). We will never back down. We will never give in.
“Am Yisrael Lo Mifached”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rabbi Avromi Mostofsky lives with his family in NYC. He studied in Jerusalem where he received Smicha at the age of 22. He is active in his community and a delegate for Eretz Hakodesh at the World Zionist Congress.