'The Ambassador' reality show star running for Knesset

She made the trek from Ethiopian at the age of ten, and as and adult became deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Now she's running for Knesset.

January 22, 2019 12:15
2 minute read.
Former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv Mehereta Baruch-Ron, 2019.

Former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv Mehereta Baruch-Ron, 2019.. (photo credit: BEN OMANSKY)


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In the 2004 reality TV show The Ambassador, young Israeli contestants competed over the right to defend the Jewish state in public diplomacy around the world.

Since then, its judges Nachman Shai and Yaakov Peri became Knesset members and the winner of the contest, Eytan Schwartz, ran unsuccessfully for the Knesset with Labor. Now the second-place finisher, Mehereta Baruch-Ron, is joining the fray, announcing Tuesday that she is seeking a Knesset seat with the Meretz Party.

Baruch-Ron, 44, was born in Seramle, Ethiopia. At age 10, she made the difficult journey by foot into Sudan, where she was airlifted to Israel without her family. She went from being illiterate to earning two degrees and then becoming the first Ethiopian-born deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, a post she has held for six years.

“Meretz is a deep expression of what makes me Israeli,” Baruch-Ron said. “The party believes in the value of each human, without regard for religion, race or gender. Serving the public as a Meretz MK would be the ultimate victory for me as an Israeli democrat over the racists and the wicked. I am a proud Ethiopian, and in the Knesset, I would represent equality, social justice and peace.”

Shai endorsed Baruch-Ron’s candidacy, calling her “wonderful” and saying that he respects her public service.

Another new Meretz Knesset candidate, Nir Avishay Cohen, made a name for himself when he testified to the organization Breaking the Silence about what he witnessed serving in the West Bank as an officer in the IDF. He was an aide in the outgoing Knesset to Meretz MK Essawi Frej.

In former IDF chief of sfaff Moshe Ya'alon's Telem Party, a new candidate is Dr. Mor Altshuler, a scholar of Hasidism, Kabbalism, and Jewish Messianic thought. Former Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer, who is running in the Meretz primary, expressed outrage at Altshuler's candidacy, because in 2011, she slapped him in a Channel 1 make-up room before they were going to go on TV. Altshuler said she had apologized after the incident, which she said came after a Peace Now film crew mistreated her.

Meanwhile, in Likud, a Chicago-born candidate, attorney Ziv Agmon, is running for the 21st slot that is reserved for a candidate who lives in the Galilee region. Agmon nearly entered the current Knesset after a few MKs resigned, but he ended up being one candidate away from entering.

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