Jewish agency rejects left-wing Meretz USA

The central question at stake is ultimately a very subjective one: What constitutes a major Jewish organization?

Meretz USA claims to have 9,000 members and an operating budget of $250,000 — a sizable increase over the past few years due to a merger with another left-wing organization, Americans for a Progressive Israel.

Meretz applied for membership in the Presidents Conference in 1998 and was notified in a phone call this past fall that its budget and membership were too small to qualify for membership.

"We feel there's a lack of balance in the membership," said Meretz's executive director, Charney Bromberg.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference, dismissed those allegations, noting that groups representing a broad spectrum of opinion — including the left-wing Americans for Peace Now and the Labor Zionist Alliance — are members of the Conference of Presidents.