Arzenu, the progressive wing of world Zionism

ARZENU is the umbrella organisation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists.Founded in 1980 as an “ideological grouping” or Brit Olamit within the World Zionist Organisaton, Arzenu has constituent groups in ten countries and represents the interests of these groups and of Reform and Progressive Judaism worldwide in the governing bodies of World Zionist Organisation and in the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Arzenu works to stimulate Zionist interest and activities in Progressive communities throughout the world. In countries where there are Arzenu constituents, we work to further the interests of Progressive Judaism within local Zionist Federations.

Arzenu works together with all ideological groupings to promote Zionist activity in local Jewish communities and especially Zionist youth activity. Netzer Olami, the International Progressive Zionist Youth movement is also affiliated with Arzenu.

Arzenu is dedicated to working for Jewish pluralism in Israel and the promotion of full civil, human and religious rights for all its inhabitants.

In an interview in the Jerusalem Post towards the end of 2007, the chairman of the WZO and of the Jewish Agency, Ze’ev Bielski, called on the State of Israel to embrace the Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism. He emphasised that this is essential not only to increase aliyah, but also for the unity of the Jewish people.

The objectives of Arzenu are:

  • To encourage Zionist commitment among Reform/Progressive Jews throughout the world and their adherence to the Jerusalem Program.
  • To represent the interest of Reform/Progressive Jewish Zionists at the World Zionist Organisation and its associated bodies.
  • To encourage aliyah as a Reform/Progressive Jewish option and assist those Reform/Progressive Jews, who as individuals or as groups, are committed to aliyah.
  • To foster the development of Reform/Progressive Judaism in Israel.
  • To work for authentic Jewish pluralism in Israel through elimination of all legislation and other measures which violate the principles of equal rights for all religious streams as embodied in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
  • To contribute to the welfare of the State of Israel in all its aspects.
  • To develop and support the work of national Reform/Progressive Jewish Zionist organisations throughout the world.

Arzenu has two members of the Zionist Executive and is represented on committees and on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency by eight representatives from around the world.

Arzenu’s purpose is to strengthen Jewish commitment to Israel.

But to get people to feel committed, they need to take a stand and to debate. Arzenu offers them the opportunity to collate evidence, analyse data and evaluate positions.

Passionate debate goes hand in hand with deep commitment. But debate requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of Israel.

Arzenu evenings introduce various aspects of Israeli culture and society. A modern film, supplied by the Israeli Embassy, is followed by a round table discussion on current events.

We are deeply aware we don’t live in Israel, don’t serve in the army, don’t pay taxes and don’t live with the consequences of political decisions. Yet the events and decisions taken in Israel impinge directly on our lives here.

We are one people held together by a common history and destiny. Arzenu hopes to push for constructive change within the Jewish world while defending the Jewish state from its critics.