Thursday, March 7, 2013



The ZF has been an umbrella for Zionist organisations in the UK for over 100 years. We have a constitution which sets out the democratic process for organisations to apply to become an affiliate member. Within that process there are criteria which need to be fulfilled and thereafter an application can be presented for vote to the National Council ('NC’) of members representing over 50,000 people.

Part of that process requires the Constitution Committee ('CC') to consider all applications for membership as all organisations wishing to join must be thoroughly vetted prior to admittance. In this case, the CC reported to the NC that the Yachad application could not be recommended.  They confirmed that although Yachad have signed the Jerusalem Programme (as set out by the WZO in 2004), in practice they do not comply with it, which lies at the very core of our Constitution.  The CC came to this conclusion after it found a number of examples where it was found lacking in its overall support for Israel. All Zionist organisations need to show strong support for Israel and defend injustices on both sides.  However, despite the non recommendation by the CC, the application was not rejected and was put forward to the NC for vote and by a clear majority their application was not accepted. Had the discussion and vote gone in favour of Yachad, then they would have been accepted as an affiliate member.

When an application is not accepted, such as Yachads’, then there is the opportunity to reapply after 6 months.  The constitution was sent to Yachad prior to the vote, so they are aware of the process and their opportunity to reapply.  Yachad is not unique.  Our most recent example of this process was when Herut, a centre right organistion, applied in the same way as Yachad and was also not confirmed on first application.  Herut were then subsequently accepted onto the ZF as an affiliate organisation upon later satisfying all the constitutional requirements.  This democratic process lies at the heart of the moral fibre of the ZF.  No single NC member, nor any single board member can circumvent or override this process.

We at the ZF represent a wide variety of views when it comes to Israel. We are pro Israel, pro Palestinian and pro peace. Our affiliated members are from the left, such as Meretz and Pro-Zion, and from the right of the political spectrum. Difficult issues are discussed and debated regularly during NC meetings.  Even when views are radically polarised between members, we have always managed to work our way to consent and find common ground through dialogue and respect for one another.

Yachad’s application was not immediately turned down, but was discussed and debated and subsequently put forward for vote. I do not believe that the reasons of each of the members should be discussed publicly as this would do harm to both Yachad and the ZF and is not conducive to working together within our community at large.  

However, I do believe that our differences should not divide us, but make us stronger.  Open dialogue and communication is the road map to unity and working together for a common goal, namely a strong Israel and peace between Israel and her neighbours.  Respect and decency at minimum will ultimately be the only way to work alongside one another.  I don’t believe in making this dispute public and I will not respond to the public outburst by Yachad by denigrating and criticising this newly formed organisation within our community.  Where I respect an alternative point of view, no matter how strong it is, I request that others should respect mine.  

Accordingly and within the founding principles of the ZF, I would like to personally extend my hand to Yachad to discuss the issues that divide us and try to reconcile them through open and honest communication.  Should Yachad wish to bridge our differences and reapply at a later date in order to sit alongside the representatives of all the members of the ZF, then I would be happy to assist them in resolving those issues prior to any future vote.

If we are ever to work and live alongside one another then we must make every effort at finding middle ground.  We have been doing this at the ZF for over 100 years and will continue to do so for many more.

Paul Charney
Chairman ZF