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Permanent home of the Zionist Congress

54 years after Benjamin Zeev Herzl declared: "In Basel, I founded the state of the Jews", the 23rd Zionist Congress convened at Binyanei Ha'uma in Jerusalem, its permanent home from that time on. Everyone saw it as a symbol of the state, the embodiment of Herzl's vision at Basel. Piles of earth were moved from place to place, an entrance plaza was leveled and flattened, accessways were paved and electricity and telephone lines were installed. Hundreds of people worked day and night in order to prepare the Great Hall for the congress-goers. And thus, within the unfinished frame of the building, between the scaffolding and steel bars, a stately backdrop was prepared, made of cloth and cardboard. Thousands of meters of cloth covered exposed concrete walls, the ceiling was covered with cardboard panels, the floor was laid with blue carpets and 1,900 seats were installed. The Congress convened on August 14, 1951 with 450 delegates present and more than 1,500 participants from all over the world.

Jerusalem couldn't handle all of those coming to the congress. Even though 500 hotel rooms, public institutions and boardinghouses were recruited, it was still not enough. Jerusalem residents were called on to lodge congress guests at their private homes. The festive congress was opened during a period of austerity – the commissary that was established to feed the congress was given a special allocation of basic commodities. The deliberations of the first Zionist Congress held in the Land of Israel led to three important decisions: the creation of the State of Israel, the ingathering of the Diaspora into the Land of Israel and ensuring the unity of the Jewish people. Since no one filled the role of president of the congress that year, David Ben-Gurion served as Chairman of the Zionist Executive. Since then, Nahum Goldman, Arye Dulchin, Simcha Dinitz, Avraham Burg, Sallai Meridor and Zeev Bielski are among those who have served as Presidents of the Zionist Congress.

Ever since, the International Conference Center - Binyanei Ha'uma has been hosting the Zionist congresses and its delegates from throughout the world, exactly as Benjamin Zeev Herzl foresaw in Basel. 
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