Close confidants, advisers to Israeli politicians sway the public vote

#42 - Men behind the men: Tal Gan-Zvi, Shalom Shlomo and Moshe Klughaft

(L-R) Tal Gan-Zvi, Moshe Klughaft, Shalom Shlomo (Photo credits: Flash 90 / Wikipedia) (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
(L-R) Tal Gan-Zvi, Moshe Klughaft, Shalom Shlomo (Photo credits: Flash 90 / Wikipedia)
(photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
They are the men behind the men and in many cases, the brains behind the politicians.
These three – Shalom Shlomo, Tal Gan-Zvi and Moshe Klughaft – currently serve as close confidants and advisers to Israel’s three top politicians. They are barely known to the public, not because of a lack of media interest, but rather due to a well-thought-out strategy to keep their bosses in the limelight and themselves in the shadows.
While they are now on opposite sides of the political spectrum, all three used to work together and contributed to the major political upset in 2013, when the novice politician Naftali Bennett took Bayit Yehudi from 2% awareness two months before the elections to winning 12 seats in the Knesset.
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In recent months, Shlomo was one of the architects of the tenuous national unity government between Blue and White and Likud, and he continues to periodically advise Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
Gan-Zvi is the unofficial chief of staff and gatekeeper to Naftali Bennett, and has led the successful political strategy that has seen the former defense minister’s significant climb in polls that found him the candidate seen as most fit to be prime minister after Benjamin Netanyahu.
Klughaft is a strategist for Netanyahu, and his impact on the Likud leader’s messaging during the recent coalition crisis was already evident.
All three have had long careers in politics but strictly from behind the scenes. Shlomo worked for Netanyahu for what is thought to be longer than almost anyone before him – from 2005 to 2011 – proving his staying power. In 2013, he joined the staff of his former co-worker in Netanyahu’s office, Bennett, and helped catapult him into the Likud-led coalition.
“Shalom Shlomo has had a hand in every major Israeli political development of the last 15 years,” a fellow political strategist said.
Between elections, he serves as Israel director of business development of Publicis Groupe, the world’s third-largest advertising and communications group. At Publicis, he works with a number of multinational companies, helping them break into and navigate the complicated Israeli market.
Gan-Zvi has been at Bennett’s side since 2012. Prior to that, he worked for Nir Barkat during Barkat’s stint as mayor of Jerusalem. In 2015, when Bennett became education minister, Gan-Zvi was at his side, given almost exclusive authority to implement his boss’s policies.
He led the break-off from Bayit Yehudi and the establishment of the New Right Party in 2019, and has continued to serve as Bennett’s top adviser and close confidant ahead of the possibility that a new election will soon be called. If that happens, Bennett will have to decide if he will announce his candidacy for prime minister, going for the first time head-to-head against Netanyahu.
“He is the ultimate loyalist,” one former colleague said. “One of his most important traits is his ability to get things done.”
Klughaft recently joined Netanyahu’s team as a strategist, while continuing to run his international consulting firm that has seen success in recent years heading election campaigns in Georgia, Austria, Kosovo, Germany and Romania. In addition to advising Bennett, Klughaft has also worked for Labor and Meretz political candidates.
With elections still looming ahead of the December deadline for passing a national budget, Gan-Zvi, Shlomo and Klughaft will all have a busy year ahead.
Bennett will want to keep his high polling numbers up; Gantz will be praying to keep the coalition agreement that sees him become prime minister next November intact; and Netanyahu will be heading into a criminal trial and a fight the likes of which he has never experienced.
These men are worth watching.