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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Saltan’

An Anglo in the Knesset: Catching Up with Jeremy Saltan

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

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.

Knesset’s Summer Session Opens

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Ministers of Knesset returned on Monday from their 39-day Spring Recess to begin the Knesset’s Summer Session. Two special sessions were held during the break. Unless new elections are called, this year’s Summer Session will last less than three months, ending on July 25, 2012. The fifth sitting of the 18th Knesset will start on October 15, 2012, after an 81-day Fall Recess, if the Knesset completes its upcoming fourth sitting.

Yair Lapid’s ‘Future’ Problem

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Former journalist and rookie politician Yair Lapid’s new party is off to a problematic start.

Lapid chose to step down as anchor of Channel 2′s Meet the Press a few months ago, after the Knesset started advancing a bill that would require a cooling off period between journalism and politics. Critics in the Knesset accused Lapid of using his television show as a political platform and agreed to bury the bill if Lapid quit.

A second bill targeted Lapid’s fundraising, which was not subject to any regulations, supervision, or transparency because he had refused to register his party in the Knesset Party Registry. This time Lapid waited to act, until the bill – which would have placed heavy penalties on him for fundraising outside of the system – passed. Lapid announced he would make the trip to the Party Registry office this week to name his party and comply with the same campaign rules and regulations the other parties are required to follow.

He chose the name Atid, which means ‘future’ in Hebrew. Lapid is promising the country a new future under his new party banner, Atid, which also happens to rhyme with Lapid.

Atid was a controversial pick, since many political insiders recall the previous Atid Party – led by one-term MKs Alex Goldfarb and Esther Salmovitz – which existed from November 1995 to June 1996. Goldfarb and Salmovitz were elected on the nationalist Tzomet Party list and broke away to join Rabin’s government, first as members of Yiud, before abandoning one of their friends and forming Atid. Goldfarb’s infamous and controversial vote supporting the Oslo Accords in return for a position as Deputy Housing Minister and a Mitsubishi car went down as one of the dirtiest corruption scandals in Knesset history.

Goldfarb would eventually join Labor, and the name Atid resurfaced in a new party called Atid Echad (One Future), an immigrant party with mostly Ethiopian support, led by Abraham Negosa and Yechezkel Stelzer. Atid Echad’s platform focused on immigration, absorption, Jewish education, and Jewish values.

The Atid Echad Party finished 17th out of the 31 lists that ran in the 2006 election, picking up 14,005 votes. The party did not pass the electoral threshold but took pride in coming only 4,000 votes shy of former Deputy General of the I.D.F. Uzi Dayan’s heavily-funded anti-corruption Tafnit Party. Negosa bounced around after leaving Atid Echad before accepting the 8th slot on Jewish Home (Habayit HaYehudi) before the 2009 elections. Following the elections, he returned to the party where he started his political career – Likud. Stelzer took control of Atid Echad in 2009 but chose not to run. Neither Negosa nor Stelzer have ever served as an MK.

Stelzer, in an exclusive interview with JewishPress.com, said that fundraising while playing by the rules is difficult, and it is impossible to pass the threshold with less than a million dollars. In 2006, the party raised $200,000, and he has no doubt he would have entered the Knesset if he had more funds. He disclosed that the money issue kept the party from running in 2009, and money will again determine whether the party runs in the next elections.

Stelzer expressed frustration at the prospect of Lapid appropriating Atid Echad votes because certain immigrants might get confused, and for this reason opposes Lapid’s use of the Atid name. He said that if Lapid reaches out to him all options will be on the negotiating table and open for discussion, including the possibility of merging the two parties or of Lapid buying the party Stelzer has registered.

The Party Registry needs to determine whether to authorize Lapid’s Atid Party despite the existence of Atid Echad, and Stelzer intends to inform the Registry, if contacted, that he does not consent to Lapid’s party name. If the Party Registry authorizes the Atid Party, legal action remains an option and strong possibility.

Stelzer told JewishPress.com: “I am receiving a lot of pressure from Rabbis and nationalist activists to take legal action against Lapid. If enough people pressure me I will strongly consider it.”

Lapid did not respond to requests for comment. This is consistent with his policy of not responding to journalists’ requests or talking to members of the press in general.

It seems that rookie politician Yair Lapid’s campaign is encountering one legal problem after another. He first dealt with legislation that forced him to relinquish his free public platform as television host of one of Israel’s highest rated shows earlier than he expected to. Further legislation required him to register his party to prevent him from raising money free from the restrictions the other parties face. Now he is facing legal issues surrounding the name of his party.

It remains to be seen what Lapid’s options are if he cannot come to an agreement with Stelzer on how the two parties will move forward. One thing is certain though, it will be interesting to watch Yair Lapid’s future problem with Atid Echad unfold.

Government Job Cuts to Pay for Gas Tax Reduction

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced before pesach that he would lower the gas taxes by 15 agurot. However, he waited until no one was paying attention – due to the media focus on the Machpela House incident with Defense Minister Barak – to announce that 2% of government jobs would be cut in order to fund the tax reduction. Netanyahu explained that lowering taxes means shrinking the government, and, this time, cutting taxes means cutting public sector jobs. He emphasized that no one needs to be fired if enough workers embrace early retirement or quit, but conceded that this means the ministries will not be hiring for a long time.

Among those affected are the Justice Ministry, which will lose 134 jobs, Homeland Security Ministry (77), Health Ministry (48), Defense Ministry (45), Education Ministry (43), Industry and Trade Ministry (37), Prime Minister’s Office (35), Welfare Ministry (19), State Comptroller (12), and the President’s Office, which will need to lay off one worker.

There will be many exemptions. Minority workers will keep their jobs, since the government must reach its target of a 10% employment rate of affirmative action groups in the public sector by the end of 2012. In addition, pressure from various groups has succeeded in exempting soldiers, policemen, doctors and nurses in hospitals, and teachers from the cuts.

Netanyahu is known to be a master spin-doctor, and the way he managed to cut public sector jobs by 2% under everyone’s noses will surely be added to his list of spin-doctor achievements.

MK Douses Colleague During Heated Knesset Committee Session

Monday, January 9th, 2012

A heated confrontation between two MKs turned a routine committee meeting into a full-fledged waterfight Monday. The fracas occurred against the backdrop of a Knesset Education Committee session, with Knesset members discussing an Israeli-Arab high school principal in the town of Ar’ara who took his students on a human rights march last month. Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle was defending the principal when Israel Beiteinu MK Anastassia Michaeli interrupted him, saying “you are marching against the state.” Majadle promptly told her to “shut up.” When Michaeli responded that he was talking in a disrespectful manner, Majadle repeated his call for her to shut up and accused her of being a fascist. Majadle then asked Committee Chairman MK Alex Miller, also of Yisrael Beitenu, to silence Michaeli. At some point, Michaeli actually left the meeting, only to return and continue verbally sparring with Majadle. Appearing to get up to leave the session again, Michaeli turned and threw a cup of water at Majadle before storming out of the room in tears.

Majadle, visibly shocked, turned to Miller, and said, “She’s crazy. That says it all. I’m sure you wouldn’t condone such wild and fascist behavior. . .We’ll take this matter to the Ethics Committee and we’ll call her to order.”

After the incident, Michaeli was unrepentant: “Majadle will learn not to insult women. He hurt the honor of the Knesset and of this place.” Michaeli said she intends on filing a complaint with the Ethics Committee: “The times when a man can curse a woman in public, offend her and act violently are over. Times have changed. I won’t let anyone, as dignified a Knesset member he may be, the privilege to act violently. . .Water is great way to cool down.”

The Jewish Press’ Knesset Insider, Jeremy Saltan, reported that the usually routine session was split along national lines, with many of the Jewish MKs perturbed by the Arab MKs’ strident calls for unrestrained freedom of expression, even if directed against the state of Israel. Saltan also noted that Michaeli seemed agitated upon entering the session, increasing speculation that her conduct may have been related to the recent and sudden departures of two members of her staff. To be sure, Saltan said, Majadle had insulted Michaeli, and spoke disrespectfully to her throughout the exchange. In response, Majadele explained: “What I said was in line with the accepted regulations of the place. I didn’t use any offensive words to hurt her honor and status. When she continued to disrupt I told her: ‘Please shut up.’” Majadle ignored more pointed questions about having called Michaeli crazy and a fascist.

Later Monday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced that an ethics complaint would be filed against Michaeli.

Michaeli has a history of rocky relations with Arab Knesset members. She has sponsored legislation that they have condemned as discriminatory but that she insists merely reflects the Jewish nature and composition of the state. And during the Knesset debate about the Gaza flotilla in June 2011, she attempted to remove Balad MK Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset podium, explaining that “after Zoabi participated in the flotilla and then stood before a PLO flag,” she “had no right to take the stage.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/mk-douses-colleague-during-heated-knesset-committee-session/2012/01/09/

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