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An Anglo in the Knesset: Catching Up with Jeremy Saltan

Jeremy Saltan

Jeremy Saltan

Why don’t you tell our readers a little about yourself. Where are you from? When did you make aliyah? What is your professional and education background?

My name is Jeremy ‘Man’ Saltan. I am 28 years old and I am married with one daughter. I made aliyah with my family from Chicago to Bet Shemesh in 1995 at the age of 11. I have been a resident of Mevaseret Tzion since 2006.

I spent my IDF service as a commander in the PDCs (Palestinian Detention Centers) for Security Prisoners. My first post was in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. I had an eventful service, and received ‘soldier of the year’ honors in 2005 for the Efraim district near Tulkarem. By the end of my service I was Deputy Warden of one of the jails. I’ve been in the reserves since my release from active duty, and I am a veteran of the second Lebanese war.

Following my army service, I worked for the OU (Orthodox Union) in Jerusalem as Assistant Director of NESTO (Native English Speaking Teen Olim), a sister youth group of NCSY that helped integrate Anglo teens into Israeli society.

I also opened Israel’s first comedy club in Jerusalem, Off The Wall Comedy Basement, with a partner. I served as manager for the club’s first two years before taking a more backseat role. I am in my fifth year as a house comedian. My routine focuses mostly on Israeli politics.

Aside from comedy, I have been active in other areas of the entertainment industry as a director, producer, actor, writer and model in theater, television and film.

I also spent a short while as managing director of a Jerusalem commercial real estate company.

I founded “Knesset Jeremy,” the only blog in English that documents all plenum discussions and bills passed, in 2010, and I write about Israeli politics in the Times of Israel.

I graduated two ICPT (Israel Center for Political Training) Bar-Ilan University programs on Knesset legislative work and political campaign management. I have an associates degree in political science from Liberty International University. I also completed various Dale Carnegie Business and Managment programs.

What do you do in the Knesset? How did you get that job?

I work in the Knesset for National Union Chairman Ya’akov “Katzeleh” Katz. I work on his social media and run his personal website. I also draft legislation and persuade Knesset Members from other parties to co-sponsor his bills. My most well-known work was on the Grunis Law, which canceled the minimum tenure for the Supreme Court president position, clearing the way for Asher Dan Grunis to get the job. I also worked very hard on the Outpost Bill which did not pass. I also work for the Faction Manager Uri Bank and help him with the factions’ daily Knesset tasks. When Bank was on vacation I led the weekly faction meeting with the MKs and I take over Bank’s role when he serves in the reserves.

I have volunteered for the National Union in each election since 1999. In the 2009 election I was the head of the party’s campaign in the Bet Shemesh area, which gave the National Union the highest percentage of the vote among the top 20 largest cities in Israel. After completing my studies at the ICPT in 2010 I started working with MK Katz.

Are there many Anglos in Israeli politics? Do you work with many? If so, what do they do?

I wouldn’t say there are many Anglos in Israeli politics but there are around a dozen of us. I work with them from time to time. To name a few of the Anglos I work with: National Union Faction Manager Uri Bank; Jonathon Javor, the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Deputy Chairman Otniel Schneller; and Jonathon Daniels, who works for the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman and Deputy Speaker Danny Danon.

What would you say is the general attitude towards Anglos amongst Israeli politicians, if any?

Most Israeli politicians don’t understand why Anglos would make Aliyah because of the financial difficulties of living here. Some of the more cynical politicians think that Jews will do a better service to Israel if they stay in their home countries and make Israel a campaign issue there. The ideological politicians appreciate Anglos the most.

You’re also involved with the English-language theater. Do you feel Anglos contribute considerably to cultural life in Israel?

I feel that Anglos contribute to cultural life in Israel but many are discouraged because it is more difficult to make money in a limited market. One of the reason I opened my comedy club was to prove that an Anglo can open a small business, even a cultural one, in Israel and still succeed.

Finally, do you think English-speaking Olim successfully integrate into Israeli society? Have many Anglos failed to integrate? Plaese be specific.

One of the reasons I worked with NESTO is because I feel it is important for Anglos to integrate into Israeli society. Integration doesn’t mean you need to give up on speaking English at home or whatever Anglo comforts one is used to. To me integration happens when the person defines themselves Israeli by their own standards, whatever they might be. I think there have been many Anglos who failed to integrate, although in most cases their children are able to. I really believe that serving in the IDF makes you Israeli. By my definition of Israeli, I don’t know any person who served his country who doesn’t feel that way.

A big reason why I started “Knesset Jeremy” was to help Anglos learn about the political process by giving them information in English on every bill and every MK’s speech. I hope this will lead to Anglos learning more about the Israeli political process and help them take an active part and integrate.

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One Response to “An Anglo in the Knesset: Catching Up with Jeremy Saltan”

  1. Gidon Ariel says:

    Jeremy for Knesset!

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