Fighting for Torah Valuesat the ExtraordinaryWorld Zionist Congress

Taken from the
Take me to the original article:
By: Rabbi Avromi Mostofsky

This past week, I went to the World Zionist Congress with low expectations. Our agenda was clear: fight for our values, even if we lose every vote. Historically, the chareidi community has been excluded by those who claim inclusivity. On Wednesday, my committee spent almost two hours debating the Supreme Court resolution. While at times it got heated, thanks to a superb committee chair, it remained mostly respectful. The left wing parties discovered that the Orthodox are able to negotiate in good faith and come prepared. At one point we were discussing changing the words rabbanim and rabbanot to manhigim and manhigot, in another resolution. After negotiations with the Rreform delegation, we were in agreement. At the last second, someone from a different party began shouting that those words don’t mean rabbi and rabbanot. However, the secretary shut that down instantly. In Hebrew he yelled back, “The Orthodox know what the meaning of rabbanim and rabbanot is. If they say the words manhigim and manhigot can be referring to those positions, and the Reform also agree, I’m going to go with the Orthodox!” At another point in our lively debate, Marc Jacobs, Esq. and I, went over to talk with some members of the Reform delegation. They had proposed an amendment to their own resolution, which would make it watered down and theoretically much easier for us to accept. Marc made it clear to them, on their amendment to the resolution, we would vote “Yes.” We appreciated their gesture, and it wasn’t unnoticed and so we would vote with them. Mizrachi requested a few minor adjustments to verbiage, and the Reform delegation accepted those. The amendment passed almost unanimously. “But on the actual resolution,” Marc explained, “we’d have to vote ‘no.’ The resolution goes against our core beliefs, and although we understand that you feel it’s important, we cannot vote yes.” Obviously, they wanted a yes vote, but it was clear that they truly respected his openness. This wasn’t personal. It was a matter of Torah. Does it mesh with what Hashem wants? The answer was no, so our vote would be no. The Eretz Hakodesh slate at the World Zionist Congress 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 discussed and approved for a final vote at this year’s Extraordinary World Zionist Congress were antithetical to these values, and we vehemently opposed them. On Thursday night, when the voting was expected to take place, we were ready to vote NO on most of them. Together with the other parties who put Hashem first, we had a slight majority. So, we believed. Prior to the voting, the Mizrachi slate came to us with an unusual request. They feared people were trying to vote multiple times by using other people’s clickers. (The voting was to take place electronically via these “clickers.” -Ed.) Indeed, at one point, an Israeli member of the Likud faction showed one of us that he managed to procure a second one.) To prevent this, Mizrachi prepared a petition to require a name-by-name vote. While voting this way would take all night, naming more than 700 people during each vote, we felt this was the best option. As this was unheard of, the Presidium, which devises all procedural matters, was called upon to debate the petition. They left the room amidst shouts of “Busha, busha! Shame, shame!” from the left. 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. Our entire delegation remained in place, waiting for instructions from Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the founder of our party. I then got word that the initial petition from Mizrachi was becomFighting for Torah Values at the Extraordinary World Zionist Congress By Rabbi Avromi Mostofsky Members of the Eretz Hakodesh delegation. The author is in the front, second from left APRIL 27, 2023 | The Jewish Home ing shaky. For Eretz Hakodesh, this was 77 not an option. The issues being voted on were against all our values, and we could accept nothing less than complete transparency. In the aftermath, many on the left accused the right of simply trying to delay so there wouldn’t be a vote. I’m willing to admit that was true, but only insomuch as the electronic system was greatly flawed and the only alternative was name-byname voting. I can’t speak for the left-wing parties, but we were prepared to remain all night voting name by name. Honestly. As other delegates seemed to be filtering out of the hall, not one of ours left. We stayed together waiting for instructions. Eretz Hakodesh exists because the Gedolim told us to do this. When the Gedolim say fight for the Torah, you fight. Staying all night is irrelevant. So we waited, recognizing that even if we lost the votes, at least we’d go home knowing it was honest and we fought for the Torah values. As Mizrachi eventually pulled their name-by-name petition, the next instructions were clear. Create a new petition, this time from our delegation, and get at least seventy signatures. But I had around fifteen minutes to do so. Immediately, with the help of our good friends in Shas and Likud, I drafted a new petition demanding a name-byname vote. Within minutes, we had the signatures we needed from across the spectrum. When you fight for Hashem’s honor, you don’t back down. Rabbi Lerner reminded us of this important rule throughout the weeks leading up to the Congress. With the Eretz Hakodesh 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 of Israel was originally on the agenda for after the voting. An all-night vote would impede the ceremony. The left put an event with President Herzog before Zionism. Indeed, when Yaakov Hagoel, the chairman of the WZO arrived at that event later in the evening, all of the attendees began to shout at him, “Busha, busha! Shame, shame!” So an agreement was made. For the first time ever, in an initiative led by Eretz Hakodesh, Shas, Likud and ZOA, 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 Hashem will never come second. We are here to stay, and we will defend the kedusha of the land, always.” A Likudnik responded, “Am Yisrael lo mifached, Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad.” (The Jewish Nation is not afraid. Hashem, our G-d, G-d is one.) As of now, 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 hopefully be able to defeat the resolutions against our values and pass those that we can accept. Perhaps the WZO will learn from this, and at the next Congress use a third party, or come up with another acceptable, verifiable voting system. At this year’s Extraordinary World Zionist 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, our Holy Land. We will never back down. We will never give in. “Am Yisrael lo mifached.”

Be In The Know!

Sign up for the Eretz HaKodesh Newsletter