The Jerusalem Post
US-born MK Tal aims to fix ties with ‘alienated Jews’
When new Blue and White MK Alon Tal grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, as Albert Rosenthal, he wanted to be a congressman.
On Wednesday, he was sworn in as a member of the Knesset.
He had run for the Knesset unsuccessfully before – but this time, as he puts it, the stars aligned. He was 11th on the Blue and White list that won eight seats, and entered the Knesset after three of the party’s ministers quit through the Norwegian Law.
“This is the greatest privilege of my life,” Tal told The Jerusalem Post in his first interview as an MK. “It is an honor to serve the third Jewish commonwealth
and take part in the celebration of democracy.”
Tal credited his accomplishment to the Young Judaea Year Course, which brought him to Israel. On the program, he worked on the farm of the sister of Benny Gantz, his future officer in the IDF and now the leader of his party. He remained loyal to Gantz and the party, even when it fell below the electoral threshold in the polls.
“Benny is fearless, and he always treated his soldiers like a mensch,” he said.
Tal’s key issues as an MK will be advancing environmental sustainability, the status of women, religious pluralism and improving Israel’s relations with what he calls “the alienated progressive Jewish world.”
A resident of Modi’in, Tal is the gabbai (sexton) of the Shalhevet Hamaccabim Masorti
(Conservative) synagogue. He is an attorney, the founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and was appointed as chairman of Tel Aviv University’s department of public policy in 2017.
Tal will be the eighth US-born MK in Israel’s history, following Yehuda Ben-Meir (National Religious Party), Marcia Freedman (Meretz), Meir Kahane (Kach), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Michael Oren (Kulanu), Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid).
“I am delighted that Prof. Alon Tal got into the Knesset,” Oren said. “He will surely make a major contribution to preserving Israel’s environment. I am especially proud that another American-born Israeli and former paratrooper has chosen the path of public service to our state.”