The World Zionist Congress: day 2

Whoever would have guessed that this week would see the nations of the world scrambling to demand recognition for having carried out the Holocaust?

Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday – you remember, the one about lies – was somewhat liberal in its interpretation of history. Bibi claimed that the Grand Mufti of Palestine had come up with the idea for the gas chambers (that’s the last time I go to a school Mufti Day). In fact, the Prime Minister rather helped to exonerate poor old misunderstood Mr Hitler, who had apparently only wanted to expel the Jews.

Yesterday, though, the world was having none of it. Herzog MK, Leader of the Opposition, who addressed the Congress plenum, dismissed the claim as completely made up, as did senior Israeli Holocaust historians.

The German foreign ministry was also unhappy and released an angry statement insisting that they, and they alone, were responsible for the Holocaust. It was to the effect of:

It vos us! IT VOS ALL US! Do not go giving ze credit to zese Palestinians: we planned ze whole zing. We held many meetings, employed many technical experts. The Mufti had nothing whatzoever to do vith it!

The day continued with the infamous committees: delegates were divided between groups looking at, for example, “Structure of the National Institutions in the Mirror of Time”. Clear as a bell.

I joined ‘A Free People In Our Own Land’, where the wonderful Rabbi Lea Mühlstein did her best to preside over three hours of unholy and occasionally violent rabble.

The free people within certainly did not deserve their own land. The right-wing parties present were so right-wing that they practically fell off the aeroplane.

One representative proposed a series of amendments to remove all motions’ references to Israel being a democracy, literally going so far as to oppose a motion to “refine Israel’s democratic institutions”. Another insisted that their own single-word vision for Israel be slotted in at regular intervals: “Where do you want to insert the word ‘Jewish’?” “At line 19, line 20, line 21… everywhere!”

Another proposed an extra clause stating that the World Zionist Organisation would not endorse the Koran as it is a “hate text” – because currently, of course, the WZO does little else but endorse Muslim holy books. When Yesh Atid voted against this particular bit of lunacy, they were denounced as “Yesh Atid l’Islam” (‘Yesh Atid for Islam’).

Someone’s resolution, and I have no doubt this person genuinely believed themselves to be a true liberal, called on the Israeli government to “support the Bedouin, or at least do them no irreparable damage”. That seems fairly comprehensive. Another asked, “Why are we demanding that an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall be ‘visible’?” Er, because they hadn’t invented invisible walls in Temple times?

The proposals regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community were highly controversial. “Why on earth does Israel have to be a ‘beacon’ of LGBT rights?” demanded one Likud representative. Their alternative suggestion was that Israel should aspire to lag behind other countries in this important moral sphere, making only perfunctory efforts to include all its citizens.

We were privileged, though, also to hear from possibly the only man in the world capable of making the aforementioned Likud representative appear progressive. They represented a party called, and this is actually its actual name: “Loving the Greater Israel”.

This delegate, who had somehow managed to sneak into the committee room by heavily disguising themselves as a human being, wanted to amend the LGBTQ inclusion resolution to add the clause: “as far as as is consistent with our religious beliefs.” Or in other words, only killing a reasonable number of people at Jerusalem Pride and only once in a while.

Someone else took issue with the title of the resolution – “The gay community” – and insisted that “if we care about LGBT then we care about everyone so I propose adding in the Ethiopians”. (Thus was born the LGBTE community…) Some wag from B’nai Brith North America then proposed adding in the Canadians too, and soon everything was in complete chaos.

People were standing up and screaming at each other, calling for recounts, accusing the chair of bias (imagine anyone being biased in favour of LGBTQ rights!), complaining, “You are not following the protocols!” – of Zion, presumably – and even, in one case, threatening to “fetch the Attorney-General”.

Chair Rabbi Lea stood firm in the face of this particular menace. “Fine, you can go and get the Attorney-General if you like,” she replied, to which the complainant shot back rather cryptically, “It’s not my job!” Er… quite. Then when Lea expelled someone else for persistently interrupting and swearing at her, he threatened, “I’ll tell the President!” and it all got a little bit silly. ‘I’ll tell Obama!’ ‘I’ll resurrect Herzl and tell him to Segway over here!’

The anarchy was too much for the interpreters sitting in the translation booth to keep up with, so they took to chatting amongst themselves, swapping opinions on the proposals being debated, and so on – all broadcast through the delegates’ headsets.

The actual violence didn’t kick off until the Truth & Reconciliation Commission motion. My party had proposed a South African-style healing process run jointly by Israeli Jews and Arabs. Boy oh boy did people oppose this. A Likud delegate said that no true Zionist could support such a thing, so those of us who were in favour must be infiltrators and imposters and needed our credentials inspected by the Congress hierarchy.

The chair told him to sit down and behave himself, so he launched himself across the room, fists clenched, and screamed into her face that she was facilitating “a bunch of racists” (I could sue him for that…).

Then Security was called, and according to surveys, security is most Israelis’ biggest political concern, so this was somewhat apt.

Then things descended into non-stop Zionist anarchy.

Today is the last day of the Congress and the day that those resolutions which made it through the committee stage are debated ‘on the floor’ (as in, writhing around fighting on). Join me again tomorrow morning for the final WZC sketch!

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