Zionist Federation chair steps down

Paul Charney says it is time for ‘the next generation of young leaders’ to take over


The long-standing chair of the Zionist Federation, Paul Charney, has stepped down from his post, saying that it is now time for “the next generation of young leaders” to take over.

One of the ZF’s two vice-chairs, Richard Woolf, will take over as interim chair until the next national council meeting, when a successor will be elected.

Mr Charney, who has headed the ZF for nine years, said he had been ready to resign before the latest outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas, but had stayed on in order to lead the community rally held in central London on Sunday.

He said: “I have taken the ZF as far as I can and now it is someone else’s turn. I will always support Israel but I am now looking for new opportunities”. He remains chair of Technion UK and of Elnet UK, an Israel-UK dialogue group whose chief executive is Joan Ryan, the former Labour MP and chair of Labour Friends of Israel.

The ZF has a chequered history of chief executives. One, Emma Bergen, quit within weeks of taking up her post in 2019. Mr Charney said the appointment was “not a good fit”; she went on to work at PJ Library, the children’s book club. She was succeeded by Joshua Forman, but he, too, lasted only a few months before returning to teaching.

The current ZF CEO is Steve Winston, its former campaigns director.

Mr Charney said he had given financial support where necessary to the ZF but now claimed it was “in a good financial situation”.

Acting chair Richard Woolf and acting vice-chair Robert Festenstein said: "We are saddened to formally announce the resignation of Paul Charney as chairman of the Zionist Federation.

"We thank him deeply for his dedication in developing the ZF. In addition we should also like to thank Jonathan Turner for his contributions following his resignation as president last month as he is making aliyah. In addition a number of other members of the Hanhalah (national council) have indicated that they wish to step down and we thank them for their service.

"Israel and the Jewish communities in the British Isles and Ireland are clearly facing many challenges and we at the ZF are determined to maintain our support for Israel in the face of ever increasing biased and dishonest reporting. We will be working hard over the next few months to work on strategies to deal with these issues, with a view to a more detailed announcement after the summer."

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