Pnina Tamanu-Shata sworn into office as Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Integration
Pnina Tamanu-Shata’s anti-racism activism in Israel and her dedication to equality for all those who wish to live in Israel resulted in her selection as the Minister of Aliyah and Integration in 2020. She was officially sworn into office on May 17, 2020.
Tamanu-Shata was born in Wazuba, Ethiopia, on January 1, 1981. Due to civil war and famine, Pnina, age three, and her family fled Ethiopia for Israel in 1984. She and her family were rescued from Sudan by Israeli Hercules planes and brought to Israel in a secret operation known as Operation Moses, along with a total of 8000 Ethiopian Jews. Her family settled in Petah Tikva after spending several years in an immigrant facility.
After completing her service in the Israel Defense Forces, Tamanu-Shata enrolled in law school, became known as an advocate for social justice, and was elected president of the Ethiopian Student Union. Later she worked as a law reporter for Israel’s Channel 1, and in 2013 she became the first woman to host a news talk show in Israel.
Inspired by a protest by Ethiopians in Israel, Tamanu-Shata left journalism to pursue politics. After she joined the Yesh Atid party in 2013 and the party won nineteen seats in the Knesset, she became the first Ethiopian woman to serve as a member of Knesset. As an MK, she worked for equality and affordable housing. She lost her seat in 2015 but remained a staunch activist, which led to her subsequent appointment as Minister of Aliyah and Integration in 2020, by incoming deputy prime minister Benny Gantz. In this role,she worked toward social equality for underprivileged communities, and she struggled to keep Israel’s borders open to immigration during the coronavirus pandemic. She led Operation Rock of Israel, which aimed to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
In June 2021, Pnina Tamanu-Shata was awarded the Magen Begin Prize for Israeli leadership for her efforts and achievements.
“All Past and Present MKs: Penina Tamanu.” The Knesset, 2021. https://main.knesset.gov.il/en/MK/APPS/mk/mk-government-activity/905
“Jew of the Week: Pnina Tamano-Shata.” Jew of the Week, May 23, 2017. https://www.jewoftheweek.net/tag/wuzaba/
Brenner, Hadassah. “Aliyah & Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata awarded Magen Begin Prize.” The Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2021. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/aliyah-and-integration-minister-pnina-tamano-shata-awarded-magen-begin-prize-670296
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Pnina Tamanu-Shata sworn into office as Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Integration ." (Viewed on September 27, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/may/17/2020/pnina-tamanu-shata-sworn-office-israeli-minister-aliyah-and-integration>.