Federation politics beget Israeli politics


For the second week in a row a report has surfaced that a top official at one of the overseas arms of the North American Jewish federation system will most likely enter Israel’s political arena.

Last week, the Jerusalem Post reported that the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Zeev Bielski, was seeking an elected position with the Kadima party. This week, the Post reports that the second in command at the Israel office of the United Jewish Communities Israel, Nachman Shai, would also be joining Kadima.

Bielski, the former mayor of Ra’anana, is something of a beloved figure in Israel for his work in reviving the town over which he presided prior to becoming the Jewish Agency chair. Shai, a hardnosed journalist, is the former Israel Defense Spokesman who served during the Persian Gulf War.

Here is the JPost’s mobile report on Shai:

Earlier Monday, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni responded to the Likud’s acquisition of [Miri]Regev by bringing in Nachman Shai, who is considered the highest profile and most successful former IDF spokesman.

Shai, whose joining of Kadima was reported first on www.jpost.com, gained fame during the Persian Gulf War when he comforted the population in sealed rooms during scud missile attacks and instructed concerned citizens to "drink water." He later served as director-general of the Science Ministry and chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and he is currently senior vice president of the United Jewish Communities and its director-general in Israel.  

"I considered this move a long time, and I decided that now I am ready," Shai said. "I think there is a time to come down from the stands and enter the playing field. I know the field well and I have been involved in many ways, but I decided this time to become a player."  

Shai emphasized that he had not been promised any position or reserved slot. Livni praised Shai’s contribution to advancing the Israel-Diaspora relationship and said that he would be a fitting component of Kadima’s Knesset list.

Likud MK Yuli Edelstein mocked Kadima for bringing in Shai, saying that "if Kadima formed the next government it would need a good spokesman to explain its failures and blunders."


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