The 38-year-old Pnina Tamano-Shata is Israel’s new Minister for Aliyah and Integration. She is the first person of African origin to hold a government post in Israel.
This centrist denounces racism, police violence and inequality in her country and around the world.
The young Pnina (pearl in Hebrew) was educated in a Zionist-religious school and then went on to study law and journalism. At university, she is one of the leaders of the students of Ethiopian origin. Initially a lawyer, in 2005 she became the first woman of Ethiopian origin to present a program on Channel 1, before being elected deputy in 2015 on the list of the centrist Yair Lapid.
She was the “first” woman to be elected in 2015 on the list of the centrist Yair Lapid. The first black person to sit in the Israeli parliament. In the Knesset, she specializes in issues of poverty, childcare and the fight against discrimination. On a visit to the United States, she was impressed by the Black Caucus, which brings together African-American members of parliament across party lines. Immediately after her election, she actively participated in the first Ethiopian demonstrations against police violence.
Nevertheless, Pnina Tamano-Shata thinks ahead: “Maybe one day I will be the first president of Israel. So far, we’ve had no women or Africans elected to this office.” But rather than following Barack Obama’s lead, Pnina Tamano-Shata quotes Martin Luther-King and Moses. Because of the name of the operation that took her from Ethiopia to Israel? Not only because of the name. “He was modest, he was wrong, but he guided his people,” explains Pnina Tamano-Shata.
She’s modest but her ambitions are not. Unlike the prophet, who died according to biblical tradition on Mount Nebo, the little Ethiopian girl was able to reach the Promised Land.