The Zionist Organization was founded by Theodor Herzl at the First Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897; it was renamed the World Zionist Organization in 1960. Its goals were set forth in the Basle Program: "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, secured under public law." The right of membership in the ZO was given to anyone who accepted the Basle Program and purchased the Zionist shekel (dues). The first constitution was passed by the Third Congress in 1899 and amended over the years.
At the First Zionist Congress, the Zionist movement organized itself as a worldwide organization with permanent institutions. The supreme institution was, and still is, the Zionist Congress. The elected institutions that function between congresses are the Zionist General Council and the Zionist Executive; the latter carries out the movement's policies. The Zionist Congress also elects a law court, an attorney and a comptroller. The Zionist Executive is headed by its chairman, who is also the president of the ZO.
Since its foundation, the ZOC has established companies and institutions to carry out its policies; these include Keren Hayesod, the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Colonial Trust, and the Jewish Colonial Trust's subsidiary, the Anglo-Palestine Bank.
The WZO holds a congress every four years, which is used as a forum to bring members of the organization from around the world together and discuss ideas as well as elect new officials.
Scope and Content
The records in this series primarily document the 28th World Zionist Congress which was held in 1972. The files consist of material which include: biographies of participants; election committees; resolutions; names of delegates; photographs; and election rules.
The series also contains material documenting the election process of executives that took place in Canada and was arranged by ZOC.