'A vote for ZOA Coalition is a vote to defend Israel and the Jewish people'

The ZOA was the only US group at the first World Zionist Congress in 1897, helping to lay the foundation for the creation of Israel. Opinion

Yaakov Hagoel , | updated: 11:37

World Likud Chairman Yaakov Hagoel
World Likud Chairman Yaakov Hagoel
Nathaniel Cohen

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Since the establishment of the modern Zionist movement, the Jewish people have been given the opportunity to influence its path through the Zionist Congress elections. One of the issues I deal with in my role at the National Institutions is to transmit the Zionist message to future generations at a time when screens have replaced books, apps have replaced meetings and 15-second videos have replaced sentences.

As part of our role as "the People of the Book," it is incumbent upon us to tell the story of the Exodus. We are commanded to remember our past in every generation, but we also have a duty to plan our future.

The Zionist movement today has many challenges. The natural connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is facing an identity crisis. The rise of Antisemitism on the one hand and the helplessness of Jewish community leaders on the other, require us to rethink Zionism's role while adapting to modern times.

For years, programs for American Jews in Israel, both long and short term -- programs which are funded by Jewish donations -- have discriminated against Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and even areas in Jerusalem. Visiting youth groups and student delegations are not officially allowed to visit, tour, or study in any areas across the "Green Line.” Ironically however, independent American-Jewish groups who are against Jewish communities in these areas have arranged visits and even toured Area A of the Palestinian Authority. These groups meet with anti-Israel PA representatives and even volunteer to help "fight" the so-called "occupation."

Volunteering and giving back to society is an important foundation of our heritage. It is a deeply rooted value for Jewish youth to volunteer in foreign countries and help the needy. However, when Jewish activist do so without ever having visited their own Jewish homeland, it raises the question about the effectiveness of Zionist education.

At the last Zionist Congress, held in 2015, a debate arose about the rights of some members of the Zionist movement to promote the boycott of products and goods made in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The very thought of boycotting or discriminating against any part of our homeland raises again the question of where our movement is actually heading. Is this the way of Zionism? Should Zionism, the soul of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, discriminate between a Jew living in Tel Aviv and a Jew living in Ofra?

In one of my conversations with a representative of the US government, the question of the right of the Jewish people to live and settle peacefully in all areas of Israel came up. I called upon him to openly voice his support for the security of Israel and its sovereignty over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. His answer was that he could not be "more Zionist" than the Zionist movement itself. He expressed astonishment at the extreme positions of some members of the National Institutions who collaborate with the BDS movement which openly calls for the boycott of Israel.

Today, when Zionism faces a new era, we have the chance to influence its trajectory in the Zionist Congress elections. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was founded 122 years ago and was the first Zionist movement in the United States. Its members participated in the first Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

For years, the ZOA insisted on an uncompromising Zionist vision. Jewish identity, Zionist education in the Diaspora, the fight against Antisemitism, the encouragement of immigration to Israel, and the settlement of Eretz Yisrael in all its territory are only a small part of the ZOA's activities in recent years.

For over 20 years, the ZOA worked in a variety of ways to persuade US government officials and members of Congress to abide by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Last year, this dream was finally realized and today more countries are planning to move their embassies to the capital.

The ZOA is the largest and most established organization in the struggle to maintain true Zionist principles. In preparation for the elections to the 38th Zionist Congress, over 20 different Jewish organizations from the United States joined together, as one body and one force, to represent a wide variety of populations and communities sharing the same agenda -- uncompromising Zionism. Voting for the ZOA Coalition #11 is important because we must stand up to the delusional ideas that BDS is somehow a moral value or that compromising with anti-Israel elements will appease them.

Voting for small factions representing only a single segment of the population will not empower them, but only be a wasted vote and thus strengthen radical pro-BDS delegates that have united in order to use the National Institutions as a springboard to promote their ideology.

With tremendous support by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and countless Ministers, Knesset Members and Israeli leaders, I urge all American Jews who cares about the people, land and Torah of Israel to vote for ZOA Coalition #11 in the Zionist Congress.

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Yaakov Hagoel
Chairman, World Likud
Vice Chairman, World Zionist Organization




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