“We have to negotiate hard for every single bit of territory that we want to conquer. And we will not always win.”
With this rousing speech was launched not intense negotiations over the peace process, but my introduction to the political machinations of the 37th World Zionist Congress.
I’m attending on behalf of Britain’s Progressive Zionist movement – first the pre-conference of our political party grouping and then, from Tuesday, the event itself. I’ll be posting a sketch each day containing updates on what promises to be an… interesting democratic experience.
“The first question is, how does the Congress work?” announced our party’s chief whip. “It’s actually a bad question because it presupposes that the Congress does work.”
The room was packed with more-or-less progressive Zionists representing everywhere from Brazil to Ukraine. An opening roll-call saw each national delegation stand up and give a twirl to show patriotic pride – though the Australians added a chant of, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie… oy, oy, oy!” to bring a much-needed touch of sobriety to proceedings.
The whips continued: “We’ve all made sacrifices to be here: time, money… some of us have even sacrificed our families!” (I’d had no idea up until this point that Avraham Avinu was in attendance). “So listen to everything you overhear in corridors, and report back. And give nothing away!”
The WZC, then, exists in its own little world of contrived political intrigue. Party whips negotiate factions right up until the very lastest of last minutes; factions negotiate pressing internal issues such as who pays for the coffee at our 6am daily caucus meetings; backs are scratched and arms are twisted. Corridor conversations determine the outcome of delegates’ vote, without the delegates having to worry.
And thus a wave of self-sustaining conspiratorial intrigue continues its tsunami-like path through the Zionist movement.
Join me again tomorrow for the next WZC sketch!