ZF still overshadowed by two-year-old events
EVENTS SURROUNDING the previous Zionist Federation conference two years ago are still prompting questions.
The JC understands a delegate this year queried whether the 2016 biennial — and the election of ZF leaders — had actually had enough people present to conduct official business.
According to the ZF’s governing constitution at the time, 50 delegates were required to make up a quorum. But the minutes record only 27 present in 2016. Those present decided to cut the quorum from 50 to 20, after being told this was needed to bring the ZF into line with the World Zionist Organisation (WZO).
The ZF’s constitution at the time nevertheless stated that, to make constitutional changes a two-thirds majority of 60 members was necessary. ZF chairman Paul Charney — who was re-elected for a fresh two yearterm on Sunday — said earlier this month: “All inquorate meetings are dealt with through a designated process to continue the running of the organisation, as was the case at the last biennial.”
The JC has also learned of an attempt two years ago to postpone the 2016 conference by a number of organisations affiliated with the ZF.
A letter was sent on behalf of the Jewish Labour Movement, the Reform and Liberal movements, the Progressive and Conservative Zionist groups Pro-Zion and Mercaz and the Reform and Masorti Zionist youth movements RSY-Netzer and Noam,
It asked for the conference to be put back for six months shortly before it was due to take place. The letter said they were making the request after learning that the ZF was five months behind on Paye payments and they believed it would be difficult to hold “fair and open elections” at the time.
According to the letter, Mr Charney had said “he has spoken with donors about the situation and they are willing, together with a contribution from Paul Charney him, to cover the debt in principle; but that this offer might not stand should the forthcoming elections result in any significant change to the positioning of the Federation.”
The letter said there was “a serious risk that this scenario will overshadow the democracy of the Federation as the electorate may be presented with a choice of potentially rendering the organisation insolvent (or in severe financial crisis) or to bow to the political direction of people outside of the ZF’s own structures of accountability.”
In response, Mr Charney wrote to members of the ZF’s National Zionist Council to say the organisation was four months in Paye arrears but had agreed funds from the WZO for this and he would “personally” would cover the rest.
He warned the council the letter from the JLM, Reform, Masorti and Liberals contained “highly confidential information and any dissemination of this information outside of National Council members will be dealt with in the strictest manner.”
Asked by the JC about the letter, Mr Charney said its claims were false. “An unsupported request to postpone was made and rejected,” he said. “I have never made those statements and fair and open elections were held.”