Tal Zilbershtein: Israeli Political Advisor and Businessman

Tal Zilbershtein: Israeli Political Advisor and Businessman -

Tal Zilbershtein (Born in 1969) is an Israeli political advisor and businessman who has served as an advisor to prominent leaders in Israel and around the world, including Prime Ministers Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Zilbershtein is the founder and CEO of the communication consultancy firm GCS and has also acted as a communications advisor for various commercial enterprises.

Early Life

A graduate in Industrial Engineering and Management from Tel Aviv University, Zilbershtein was one of the founders of the "Dor Shalem Doresh Shalom" (A Generation Wholeheartedly Seeks Peace) organization, which advocated for the implementation of the Oslo Accords and received financial support from businessman Dov Lautman.

During Zilbershtein's tenure as the chairman, the organization participated in the 1998 municipal elections, winning seats in several local councils, including three in the Tel Aviv Municipality. However, Zilbershtein did not hold any of these positions.

As a result of his involvement with Dor Shalem, Zilbershtein developed a connection with Ehud Barak and was appointed to lead Barak's campaign for prime minister in 1999, in which Barak defeated Benjamin Netanyahu. Following this campaign, Zilbershtein faced allegations of financial irregularities related to the "Barak Affair," in which he was accused of using various organizations, including Dor Shalem, to unlawfully collect donations for Barak's election campaign.

The police recommended bringing Zilbershtein to trial, and the legal advisor, Dr. Eliakim Rubinstein, adopted the police's position. However, in 2006, the State Prosecutor's Office decided to close all the cases related to this affair, a decision that was made by Attorney Ruth David.

Founding GCS and Advisory Work

After his involvement in Ehud Barak's election campaign, Zilbershtein came into contact with American communication advisors Stanley Greenberg, James Carville, and Bob Shrum. Together with them and Moshe Gaon, in 1999, he founded an Israeli consultancy firm called "Greenberg/Gaon-Carville-Shrum/Silverstein," or GCS, based on the working methods and reputation of the three American advisors. Zilbershtein is the main owner of the company, serving as its CEO during its early years and currently as its chairman.

As CEO of GCS, Zilbershtein was involved in various election campaigns, including Ehud Barak's second campaign for prime minister in 2001, the presidential campaign in Bolivia in 2002 for Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (an event documented in the documentary film "Our Business Is Crisis"), parliamentary election campaigns in Austria in 2002 and 2006 for the Social Democratic Party led by Alfred Gusenbauer, the Labor Party primaries in 2002 for Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and the Kadima Party campaign in the 2006 Knesset elections.

Within the framework of GCS, Zilbershtein served as the CEO of the Cellular Companies Forum, an organization involved in public relations and lobbying on issues related to the health effects of cellular radiation and the promotion of shared interests among cellular companies in Israel.

He played a leading role in explaining the deployment of cellular antennas in Israel and served as a representative in the government and Knesset committees. The Cellular Companies Forum under his leadership faced criticism for the alleged unlawful installation of antennas near residential areas.

Zilbershtein strongly criticized Yael German, the former mayor of Herzliya, over her opposition to the installation of antennas in Herzliya, even stating that her continued opposition might lead to the city's disconnection from the cellular network.

GCS provided consulting services to other companies, including Hot, Partner, Chemicals Ltd., Cellcom, Taavura Semitrailer, Bank Mizrahi, Zeraim Gedera, Bezeq, Clal Insurance, and more.

Zilbershtein is considered one of the closest advisors to Ehud Olmert. After Olmert's election as Prime Minister, Zilbershtein was appointed as a special strategic advisor. He was a member of the "Hundred Days" team, a small group of political strategists tasked with planning changes in the Prime Minister's Office.

During the "Cash Envelopes Affair," Zilbershtein served as Olmert's spokesperson and publicly criticized Olmert's former patron, Ehud Barak, stating that "Barak is the last one to talk about ethical matters."

During the 18th Knesset elections, Zilbershtein began serving as an advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, who led the Likud Party's list for the Knesset. After Netanyahu's appointment as Prime Minister, Zilbershtein continued to serve as his advisor.

In August 2017, Zilbershtein was arrested by the Israel Police on suspicion of involvement in a large-scale fraud case. Businessman Beny Steinmetz was also implicated in the case.

In the 2017 Austrian elections, Zilbershtein's name made headlines. Austrian media reported that Zilbershtein, who advised the Social Democratic Party, was behind Facebook pages that promoted hate speech and anti-Semitic symbols against Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the Austrian People's Party, in an unusual departure from Austrian politics.

Georg Niedermühlbichler, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party who led the campaign for the presidency on its behalf, was forced to resign following the reports, and the party dismissed Zilbershtein. In his election speech, Kurz criticized the conduct of the "Zilbershteins."

In December 2015, it was reported that Beny Steinmetz, together with Tal Zilbershtein, Shimon Sheves, the heir to the Romanian royal estate, Prince Paul, and others, were accused by the Romanian Anti-Corruption Authority of attempting to take control of state-owned land through fraud and bribery, causing damage of 136 million euros to Romania.

In June 2019, Steinmetz and Zilbershtein were acquitted. On December 17, 2020, the Romanian Supreme Court upheld the decision, sentencing Steinmetz and Zilbershtein, in absentia, to five years in prison for bribery in a land deal.

Personal Life

In 2006, Zilbershtein married Natalie Kreiv, the former office manager of then-Interior Minister Roni Bar-On.

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