Nahman Shai

Nahman Shai, born on November 28, 1946, is an Israeli politician currently serving as the Minister of Diaspora Affairs on behalf of the Labor Party since June 13, 2021. He previously served as a Member of Knesset in the 18th Knesset representing the Kadima party and in the 19th and 20th Knessets representing the Labor Party.

Prior to his political career, he held various high-profile positions including Commander of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson's Unit, IDF Spokesperson, CEO of the Second Authority for Television and Radio, communications advisor, journalist, CEO of the News Company of Channel 2, and CEO of the Broadcasting Authority. He has also served as the CEO of the International Jewish Organization UJC. Shai holds a doctorate in Communication and Political Science.


Nahman Shai, born Nahman Shaikewitz in Jerusalem to parents who immigrated to Israel from Poland and Russia, completed his schooling at the Hebrew Gymnasium Rehavia. His career in communication began in 1964 when he joined the IDF and worked as a journalist in the IDF magazine "Bamachane Nachal."

He later continued his career at "Kol Israel" as a reporter covering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and law enforcement issues. From 1972 to 1977, he worked as a reporter on Israeli television covering military and security matters. In 1977, he spent a year studying in the United States as part of the American Press Institute program. Upon his return to Israel, he became the Israeli television reporter in the Knesset.

In 1979, he was appointed as the Press Secretary of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations until 1981, and from 1981 to 1983, he served as the Communication Advisor at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. When Moshe Arens was appointed as the Minister of Defense, he invited Shai to work as his communication advisor.

Shai continued in this role with the next Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin. He served in this capacity until 1985 when he was appointed as the Commander of the IDF Radio Station. In September 1989, he was appointed as the IDF Spokesperson, holding the rank of Brigadier General. He is particularly remembered for his role during the Gulf War, earning him the nickname "the national soother."

After concluding his role as the IDF Spokesperson in 1991, Shai was appointed as the CEO of the Second Authority for Television and Radio. He also served as the CEO of the News Company of Channel 2. In 1999, he was appointed as the CEO of the Ministry of Science, Culture, and Sport by Minister Matan Vilnai. Subsequently, from 2000 to 2002, he served as the CEO of the Broadcasting Authority.

From 2002 to 2009, Shai served as the CEO of the International Jewish Organization UJC. He also taught advanced journalism courses at Tel Aviv University and the College of Management.

In 2013, Shai published his book, "Melachmideh: Israel, the World, and the Battle for Awareness," published by Yediot Ahronot. The book explores the role of media during the Second Intifada and earned him the Yitzhak Sadeh Award for Military Literature in 2013.

Shai holds a bachelor's degree in General History and Political Science and a master's degree in Mass Communication from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his Ph.D. in Communication and Political Science at Bar-Ilan University in 2009 under the supervision of Prof. Eitan Gilboa. His doctoral thesis, focusing on Israeli security, was awarded the Chetnik Prize for Security Research from Tel Aviv University.

Political Career

On November 3, 2008, Nahman Shai joined the Kadima party and was elected to the 18th Knesset. During his time in the Knesset, he served as the head of the Public Diplomacy Caucus and the head of the Caucus for Strengthening Ties with the Jewish People. He also led the Knesset delegation to the European Parliament.

In preparation for the 19th Knesset elections, Shai left Kadima and ran in the primaries of the Labor Party. He was placed 14th on the party's list and was elected to the Knesset. During his time in the 19th Knesset, he served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Internal Affairs Committee.

He also led the Public Diplomacy Caucus, the Caucus for Strengthening U.S.-Israel Relations, the Caucus for the Sake of Jerusalem, the Blue and White Caucus, the Home Front Security Caucus, and the Camels Caucus.

He chaired the Knesset delegation to the Council of Europe and served as the head of the Israel-Germany Parliamentary Friendship Association. On May 28, 2014, he was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset on behalf of the Labor Party.

Leading up to the 20th Knesset elections, Shai was placed 20th on the "Zionist Camp" joint list of the Labor Party and the "Movement." He secured a seat in the Knesset.

On February 6, 2017, the German Ambassador to Israel, Clemens von Goetze, awarded Nahman Shai the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his significant contribution to promoting Israel-Germany relations.

In 2019, during the Labor Party's primaries for the 21st Knesset elections, Shai placed 16th and was subsequently placed 24th on the party's list, failing to secure a seat in the Knesset. He was later placed 8th on the list after a commitment to represent the non-affiliated constituency but was not elected to the Knesset.

On June 13, 2021, with the formation of the 36th government, Shai was appointed as the Minister of Diaspora Affairs. During his tenure, he appointed Ziona Koenig-Yair as the Director-General of his ministry. Following the Surfside building collapse tragedy in Miami, he was sent as the government's representative to Miami to support the local Jewish community.

Shai reached out to the Greek government to cancel the law prohibiting kosher slaughter.

Academic Career

In 2020-2021, Shai served as a visiting professor at Emory University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, on behalf of the Institute for the Study of Israel.

Personal Life

Nahman Shai is married and has three children. He resides in Mevaseret Zion.

Key Members of the Cabinet:

    *  Energy Minister Karine Elharrar
    *  Construction and Housing Minister and Jerusalem Minister Zeev Elkin
    *  Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai
    *  Public Security Minister Amir Bar-Lev
    *  Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz
    *  Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel
    *  Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg
    *  Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper
    *  Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen
    *  Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen
    *  Minister for Religious Services Matan Kahana
    *  Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman
    *  Transportation and Road Safety Minister Merav Michaeli
    *  Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar
    *  Minister in the Ministry of Finance Hamad Amar
    *  Agriculture and Periphery Development Minister Oded Forer
    *  Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej
    *  Science, Technology, and Space Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen
    *  Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov
    *  Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton
    *  Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern
    *  Diaspora Affairs Minister Nahman Shai
    *  Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked
    *  Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata
    *  Minister without Portfolio Eli Avidar

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