The preparations for Israel to celebrate 75 years were well underway. Thousands of visitors arrived and came for the celebrations to be held for Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Jerusalem street signs were up celebrating independence on all the corners of the city, plus parks and museums, and theaters.
In a prelude to the day, the World Zionist Organization held its Extraordinary Zionist Congress in the Jerusalem International Conference Center from April 19-21, 2023.
Newly elected WZO President Tova Dorfman opened the first plenary.
The American Zionist Movement held a special lunch meeting on the first day with Avi Mayer, the new editor of the Jerusalem Post, speaking and answering questions.
Also the first day in the afternoon, the Herzl Forum met at the ICC for a gathering of social and business, tech, and innovation leaders.
The second day opened with a program highlighting 125 years of Zionism.
Networking, meeting new people, and catching up with long-time friends after the pandemic closed down tourism to Jerusalem were highlights.
Thursday morning the WZC delegates were a wide offered a variety of tours. However, one group decided instead to march with Israeli flags to the Knesset to protest the government.
As buses returned, a buffet lunch was served.
The first WZC afternoon plenary began with an award to Avraham Duvdevani. Duvdev, as he is well known, was one of the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem in 1967. As an Israeli politician and activist, he has served both as the chairman of the WZO and chairman of the Jewish National Fund. Yaakov Hagoel, WZO Chairman made the presentation.
As Duvdev returned from the stage to his seat, people got up from their seats and crowded around to congratulate him.
And then…the balagan began as the plenary vote on resolutions opened.
The stenographer trying to record the discussions could not keep up with the commotion on stage as the presidium decided to leave for Rabin Hall.
The Rabin Hall was one of many meeting rooms in the Convention Center renamed for this conference.
Meanwhile, in the main auditorium, delegates shouted “busha’ as it got later and later and I and many others had to leave.
However, what you did not see or hear about was another group meeting.
At the same time the “adults’ were disrupting, and continued to do so into the next day to protest the presence of MK Simcha Rothman in the building,
a youth conference for informal education and young leadership was held in the Convention Center. The 1000 young Israelis had the opportunity to meet with young people from around the world.
The enthusiastic delegates aged 18-23 represented 14 global Zionist youth movements from an impressive variety of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Great Britain, South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Venezuela, Sweden, Denmark, and Israel.
They met and talked and interacted in large groups with translation provided, and ate lunch together in smaller groups.
They had panel discussions in various languages, here in English
and also Spanish for example.
While the World Zionist Congress ended with shouts of busha being heard,
the Youth Congress ended with the singing of Am Yisrael Chai.
An Extraordinary World Congress to celebrate Israel at 75.
With hope for the future with those Zionist Youth Leaders who were in Jerusalem from around the world meeting in the same Jerusalem International Conference Center. Hope they enjoyed their time on the Jerusalem streets and come back soon and often.