Aliyah minister backs Yankelevich over Stern for Jewish Agency chair

Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata's comments come after Elazar Stern, until now the leading candidate, revealed he would shred anonymous sexual harassment complaints in the IDF.

 View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem,  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem,
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White) on Monday said she supports former Diaspora affairs minister Omer Yankelevich to chair the Jewish Agency.

Tamano-Shata made her comments after her coalition colleague Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), who until now was the leading candidate for Jewish Agency chair, caused outrage on Sunday when he said he had shred anonymous complaints of sexual harassment when he headed the IDF Manpower Directorate from 2004-2008.Speaking on KAN Radio on Monday morning, Tamano-Shata criticized Stern for his attitude to sexual-harassment concerns.

“You do not shred complaints,” she said. “Behind every complaint is a woman; there is a life. People in high-ranking positions, certainly in the army and in inflexible systems, need to examine complaints even if they are anonymous.”Tamano-Shata suggested it might be advantageous to anchor such a requirement in law.

 MK Elazar Stern attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on March 1, 2017 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Elazar Stern attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on March 1, 2017 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

She declined to say directly how Stern’s comments should impact the selection process for chairman of the Jewish Agency, which is to take place soon.

“There are women candidates who are fitting for the role,” she said, adding that she was referring to Yankelevich.Yankelevich is supported by Blue and White leader Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the Jewish Agency role. As a member of Blue and White, she served as Diaspora affairs minister from May 2020 to June 2021.“She’s a former minister; she’s a close friend,” Tamano-Shata said. “We worked closely together when she was Diaspora affairs minister.”

Asked if Yankelevich would be her choice, Tamano-Shata said: “I’m not the person who decides, but if I would need to choose, I would choose Omer Yankelevich.”