World Zionist Congress

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The Zionist Congress was established in 1897 by Theodor Herzl as the supreme organ of the Zionist Organization (ZO) and its legislative authority. In 1960 the names were changed to World Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני העולמי HaKongres HaTsioni HaOlami) and World Zionist Organization (WZO), respectively. The World Zionist Organization elects the officers and decides on the policies of the WZO and the Jewish Agency,[2][3] including "determining the allocation of funds."[4] The first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.[3] Any Jew over age 18 who belongs to a Zionist association is eligible to vote, and the number of elected delegates to the Congress is 500.[5][6] 38% of the delegates are allocated to Israel, 29% to the United States of America, and 33% to the remainder of the countries of the Diaspora.[2] In addition there are about 100 delegates which are appointed by International Organizations (e.g. B'nai B'rith, see below) affiliated with WZO.[6]

The Second Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland (1898).
Participant card for the first Zionist congress in Basel, Jewish Museum of Switzerland.[1]

After the First Zionist Congress in 1897, the Zionist Congress met every year until 1901, then every second year from 1903 to 1913 and 1921 to 1939. Until 1946, the Congress was held every two years in various European cities, save for interruptions during the two World Wars. Their goal was to build an infrastructure to further the cause of Jewish settlement in Palestine. Since the Second World War, meetings have been held approximately every four years. Also, since the creation of the State of Israel, the Congress has met every four or five years in Jerusalem.[7]

The 38th World Zionist Congress took place in 2020.

Representatives at the World Zionist Congress


The World Zionist Congress includes representatives of Zionist World Unions, Women's Zionist Organizations with Special Status and International Jewish Organizations.[2]

Basel Street in Tel Aviv (c. 1939) named in honor of the first Congress of 1897

Zionist World Unions


Zionist participants in the World Zionist Congress are free to form Brit Olamit or Zionist World Unions (ideological groupings), which are somewhat like political parties. While Israeli political parties can participate in the Congress, brits are also organized and voted into the Congress by non-Israelis, making the Congress a multinational deliberative body for the Jewish diaspora. However, as aliyah has brought Jews to Israel from other countries, Israeli representation in the legislature has increased at the expense of non-Israeli Jewish diaspora representation. A Brit Olamit (World Union) must have representation in at least five countries to send a delegation to the Congress.

There are currently six Zionist World Unions (with full voting rights):

Israeli representatives


Since the creation of the State of Israel, there are no elections held for Israeli delegates to the World Zionist Congress. Rather, elections to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, are deemed to fulfill this function, and Zionist parties represented in the Knesset are apportioned a number of Congress delegates proportional to their strength in the Knesset. The late left-wing leader Shulamit Aloni on several occasions criticized this practice, stating that "Most Israeli citizens neither know nor care that when they go to the polls they are among other things also electing delegates to the World Zionist Congress. (...) Had the Zionist Movement been required to do in Israel what it does in other countries - i.e., recruit paying members and get these members to hold specific elections to the World Zionist Congress - there might have been revealed an embarrassing low number of committed Zionists in Israel".[8]

Zionist organizations with special status


Two women's organizations have special status in the Zionist Organization and have full voting rights:

  • Women's International Zionist Organization – is an international, non-party Zionist body, which receives global representation by virtue of an agreement entered into in 1964.
  • Hadassah – received special status by virtue of a decision of the Zionist General Council, in 1994.[2]

International Jewish organizations


The international Jewish organizations have also been represented in the Zionist Congress since 1972, provided that they accept the Jerusalem Program,[9] even if not all their members are declared Zionists. These bodies have limited voting rights – they do not vote on matters of candidature and elections to the institutions of the WZO.[2]

The following are the International Jewish Organizations (limited voting rights):

Other participants in Congress (advisors, observers)

  • In addition to the delegates with full voting rights participating in Congress, there are also participants in an advisory capacity which can participate in debates but have no voting rights. These may consist of office holders such as members of the Zionist Executive, members of the Zionist General Council who were not elected as delegates to Congress, Chairs of the Zionist Federations, judicial office holders - the President of the Zionist Supreme Court, the Attorney, the Comptroller and representatives of the Aliyah Movement.[2]
  • Observers with no speaking or voting rights can be invited by the Zionist Executive or the Congress Presidium.

Former participants


The course of the Congress


The Zionist Congress is conducted by the Congress Presidium. Congress deliberations are divided into five stages:[2]

  • Opening of the Congress, including a speech by the Chairman of the Executive, and other speeches determined in the agenda, election of the Congress Presidium, the report of the President of the Zionist Supreme Court on the election results, reports of the members of the Zionist Executive in supplement to the printed report, election of the Congress committees.
  • Election of the new Executive, according to the proposal of the Congress Standing Committee.
  • Meetings of the committees.
  • Reports of the committees and voting on the draft resolutions presented by them. The report of the Standing Committee and voting on its proposals for members of the Zionist General Council, the Comptroller and the Legal Institutions.
  • Congress closing ceremony.



The Zionist Congress, later to become the World Zionist Congress, was held at intervals of 1 year (1897–1901), then 2 years (1903–1939) until the outbreak of the Second World War, with an eight-year break (1913–1921) due to the First World War.

12th Zionist Congress, Carlsbad 1921
16th Zionist Congress, Zurich 1929
20th Zionist Congress, Zurich 1937
23rd Zionist Congress, Israeli postal stamp
25th Zionist Congress, Jerusalem, 1960
Number Name City Country Year
1 First Zionist Congress[10] Basel    Switzerland 1897
2 Second Zionist Congress[11][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1898
3 Third Zionist Congress[14][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1899
4 Fourth Zionist Congress[15][12][13] London   United Kingdom 1900
5 Fifth Zionist Congress[16][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1901
6 Sixth Zionist Congress[17][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1903
7 Seventh Zionist Congress[18][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1905
8 Eighth Zionist Congress[19][12][13] The Hague   Netherlands 1907
9 Ninth Zionist Congress[20][12][13] Hamburg   German Empire 1909
10 Tenth Zionist Congress[21][12][13] Basel    Switzerland 1911
11 Eleventh Zionist Congress[21][12][13] Vienna   Austria-Hungary 1913
12 Twelfth Zionist Congress[22][12][13] Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary)   Czechoslovakia 1921
13 Thirteenth Zionist Congress[23][13][24] Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary)   Czechoslovakia 1923
14 Fourteenth Zionist Congress[25][13][26] Vienna   Austria 1925
15 Fifteenth Zionist Congress[27][13][28] Basel    Switzerland 1927
16 Sixteenth Zionist Congress[29][13][30] Zürich    Switzerland 1929
17 Seventeenth Zionist Congress[31][13] Basel    Switzerland 1931
18 Eighteenth Zionist Congress[32][13] Prague   Czechoslovakia 1933
19 Nineteenth Zionist Congress[33][13] Lucerne    Switzerland 1935
20 Twentieth Zionist Congress[13] Zürich    Switzerland 1937
21 Twenty-first Zionist Congress[13] Geneva    Switzerland 1939
22 Twenty-second Zionist Congress[13][34] Basel    Switzerland 1946
23 Twenty-third Zionist Congress[13] Jerusalem   Israel 1951
24 Twenty-fourth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1956
25 Twenty-fifth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1960
26 Twenty-sixth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1964
27 Twenty-seventh Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1968
28 Twenty-eighth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1972
29 Twenty-ninth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1978
30 Thirtieth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1982
31 Thirty-first Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1987
32 Thirty-second Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1992
33 Thirty-third Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 1997
34 Thirty-fourth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 2003
35 Thirty-fifth Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 2006
36 Thirty-sixth Zionist Congress[35] Jerusalem   Israel 2010
37 Thirty-seventh Zionist Congress Jerusalem   Israel 2015
38 Thirty-eighth Zionist Congress[36] Jerusalem   Israel 2020

Important moments

  • The First Zionist Congress, held in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, had Theodor Herzl acting as chairperson. The Congress was attended by some 200 participants who formulated the Zionist platform, known as the "Basel programme", and established the Zionist Organization (ZO). In contrast with the older Hibbat Zion movement, the ZO took a clear stance in favour of political Zionism, stating in its programme that
"Zionism seeks to establish a home in Palestine for the Jewish people, secured under public law."

Herzl wrote in his diary,

"Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State."[12]
  • The Twenty-third Zionist Congress, held in 1951 in Jerusalem, was the first to be held after the establishment of the State of Israel, and the first held in Jerusalem, which would become the norm. It was opened at the graveside of Theodor Herzl, whose remains had been moved from Vienna and reburied on the top of a hill in Jerusalem that was renamed after him, Mount Herzl. The Congress issued the "Jerusalem Program", placing its main focus on the newly created state as the central unifying element for the Jewish people.[13]
  • Ruth Popkin was the first woman to be Chair of the Presidium and President of the World Zionist Congress, being elected to both positions in 1987.[37]

See also



  1. ^ Battegay, Caspar 1978- (2018). Jüdische Schweiz 50 Objekte erzählen Geschichte = Jewish Switzerland : 50 objects tell their stories. Lubrich, Naomi 1976-, Christoph Merian Verlag, Jüdisches Museum der Schweiz ([1. Auflage] ed.). [Basel]. ISBN 978-3-85616-847-6. OCLC 1015350203.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Zionist Congress". World Zionist Organization. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Zionism: World Zionist Organization (WZO)". American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  4. ^ Cortellessa, Eric (21 October 2015). "At World Zionist Congress, Reform stakes its claim in Israel's future". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Rules for the Election of Delegates to the Zionist Congress" (Microsoft Word doc). World Zionist Organization. June 2004 [1976]. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Home".
  7. ^ "The Zionist Century | Zionist Congresses". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  8. ^ Shulamit Aloni speech at Meretz rally in Tel Aviv, 24 March 1997.
  9. ^ "38th World Zionist Congress Elections". 1 June 2017. Archived from the original on 1 June 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  10. ^ Zionisten-Kongress in Basel - am 30. und 31. August 1897. Offizielles Protokoll [Proceedings of the 1st Zionist Congress August 30 and 31, 1897 in Basel] (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereins Erez Israel. 1898. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  11. ^ Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 2. Zionisten-Congresses gehalten in Basel vom 28. bis 31. August 1898 [Proceedings of the 2nd Zionist Congress August 28 to 31, 1898 in Basel] (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereines "Erez Israel". 1898. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Zionist Congress: First to Twelfth Zionist Congress (1897 - 1921)". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Mitchell Geoffrey Bard, Moshe Schwartz (2005). 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know about Israel. Jason Aronson, Inc. pp. 5–8. ISBN 978-0-7425-4358-4. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  14. ^ Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 3. Zionisten-Congresses Basel 15. bis 17. August 1899 [Proceedings of the 3rd Zionist Congress August 15 to 17, 1899 in Basel] (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereins Erez Israel. 1899. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 4. Zionisten-Congresses in London 13., 14., 15., und 16. August 1900" [Proceedings of the 4th Zionist Congress August 13 to 16, 1900 in London]. (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereins Erez Israel. 1900. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 5. Zionisten-Congresses in Basel 26., 27. 28., 29. und 30 December 1901" [Proceedings of the 5th Zionist Congress December 26 to 30, 1901 in Basel]. (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereins Erez Israel. 1901. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 6. Zionisten-Congresses Basel August 1903" [Proceedings of the 6th Zionist Congress August 1903 in Basel]. (in German). Wien: Verlag des Vereins Erez Israel. 1903. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 7. Zionisten-Congresses Basel und des außerordentlichen Kongresses in Basel 27., 28., 29., 30., 31. Juli, 1. und 2. August 1905" [Proceedings of the 7th Zionist Congress and special congress July 27 to August 2nd, 1905 in Basel]. (in German). Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag. 1906. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 8. Zionisten-Kongresses im Haag vom 14. bis inklusive 21. August 1907" [Proceedings of the 8th Zionist Congress August 14 to 21, 1907 in The Haague]. (in German). Köln: Jüdischer Verlag. 1907. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 9. Zionisten-Kongresses in Hamburg vom 26. bis inklusive 30 December 1909" [Proceedings of the 9th Zionist Congress December 26 to 30, 1909 in Hamburg]. (in German). Köln und Leipzig: Jüdischer Verlag. 1910. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 10. Zionisten-Kongresses in Basel vom 9. bis inklusive 15. August 1911" [Proceedings of the 10th Zionist Congress August 9 to 15, 1911 in Basel]. (in German). Berlin und Leipzig: Jüdischer Verlag. 1911. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 12. Zionisten-Kongresses in Karlsbad vom 1. bis 14. September 1921" [Proceedings of the 12th Zionist Congress September 1 to 14, 1921 in Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary)]. (in German). Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag. 1922. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Stenographisches Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 13. Zionisten-Kongresses vom 6. bis 18. August 1923 in Karlsbad" [Proceedings of the 13th Zionist Congress August 6 to 18, 1923 in Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary)]. (in German). London: Zentralbüro der Zionistischen Organisation. 1924. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  24. ^ "The Thirteenth Zionist Congress Is Convened in Czechoslovakia". CIE. 6 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 14. Zionisten-Kongresses vom 16. bis 31 August 1925 in Wien" [Proceedings of the 14th Zionist Congress August 16 to 31, 1925 in Vienna]. (in German). London: Zentralbüro der Zionistischen Organisation. 1926. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  26. ^ "The Canadian Jewish Chronicle - Google News Archive Search".
  27. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 15. Zionisten-Kongresses Basel 30. August bis 11. September 1927" [Proceedings of the 15th Zionist Congress August 30 to September 11, 1927 in Basel]. (in German). London: Zentralbüro der Zionistischen Organisation. 1927. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  28. ^ "Fifteenth Zionist Congress Approves Jewish Agency Plan Sponsored by Weizmann". 12 September 1927.
  29. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 16. Zionistenkongresses und der konstituierenden Tagung des Council der Jewish Agency für Palästina, Zürich, 28. Juli bis 14. August 1929" [Proceedings of the 16th Zionist Congress and constituent meeting of the Council of the Jewish Angency for Palestine, July 28 to August 14, 1929 in Zürich]. (in German). London: Zentralbüro der Zionistischen Organisation. 1929. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  30. ^ Resolutions of the 16th Zionist Congress With a Summary Report of the Proceeding
  31. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 17. Zionistenkongresses und der zweiten Tagung des Council der Jewish Agency für Palästina, Basel, 30. Juni bis 17. Juli 1931" [Proceedings of the 17th Zionist Congress and 2nd meeting of the Council of the Jewish Angency for Palestine, June 30 to July 17, 1931 in Basel]. (in German). London: Zentralbureau der zionistischen Organisation. 1931. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 18. Zionistenkongresses und der dritten Tagung des Council der Jewish Agency für Palästina, Prag, 21. August bis 4. September 1933" [Proceedings of the 18th Zionist Congress and third meeting of the Council of the Jewish Angency for Palestine, August 21 to September 4, 1933 in Prague]. (in German). Wien: Fiba-Verlag. 1934. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  33. ^ "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des 19. Zionistenkongresses und der vierten Tagung des Council der Jewish Agency für Palästina, Luzern, 20. August bis 6. September 1935" [Proceedings of the 19th Zionist Congress and fourth meeting of the Council of the Jewish Angency for Palestine, August 20 to September 6, 1935 in Lucerne (Switzerland)]. (in German). Wien: Fiba-Verlag. 1936. ZDB 2176334-3. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  34. ^ Zaslawski, Valerie (3 January 2017). "Zionistenkongress von 1946: Den Judenstaat endlich vor Augen" [Zionist Congress of 1946: The Jewish state]. Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  35. ^ Jerusalem Post: WZO gets 1st religious-Zionist chairman
  36. ^ "Diaspora Jews Have Their Say: World Zionist Congress 2020". Jewish Exponent. 15 January 2020.
  37. ^ Tigay, Alan (5 January 2015). "Ruth Popkin, Hadassah past national president, dies at 101 | Obituaries". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 14 April 2015.