Sallai Meridor is the Ambassador of Israel to the U.S.. He served as the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization from 1999-2005. Prior to this, Mr. Meridor served as the Treasurer of the Jewish Agency and WZO and as the Head of the Settlement Division of the WZO. During the years of his chairmanship, the Jewish Agency underwent a major transformation. The strategy and activities of the Agency were focused on dealing with the Jewish future - the young generation of Jews. Major initiatives included the Masa national effort to bring 20,000 young adults per annum from the Diaspora for a year-long formative experience in Israel, focusing the activities of the Agency in Israel on young Israelis and young Olim, special Aliyah efforts from FSU, Ethiopia, Argentina, and France, and strategic preparations for dealing with the future challenge of Aliyah choice. In response to the war of terror against Israel, a global Jewish mobilization effort and a major emergency campaign was launched. Internally, the budget of the Jewish agency was balanced, agreements to eliminate $700M in debt (which put the agency at risk) were reached, and the Agency took a historic step by restructuring its governing bodies to include significant nonpolitical representation from Israeli society. Finally, with a view towards the Jewish future, the first ever Jewish People Policy Planning Institute was established.
Prior to his work with the Jewish agency, Mr. Meridor served as an advisor to the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel. In his governmental service, he was involved in the designing of Israel's foreign and defense policies, played a role in the peace process leading to the Madrid Peace Conference, participated in the negotiations that followed as the representative of the Ministry of Defense, and led Israel's Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Arms Control. Born and educated in Jerusalem, Mr. Meridor earned his B.A. degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served as an Intelligence Officer in the IDF. He lives in Kfar Adumim with his wife No'a. They are the proud parents of three daughters.
Sallai Meridor: I think this is a major issue – a major issue for us all. And I think that we have to move fast forward in developing new technologies which will decrease the dependence of western societies and the world as a whole on oil, and especially oil that is coming from regions that are so volatile, vulnerable, and subject to influence of extremist trends. So the more we invest in finding alternative sources of energy, the more we encourage our scientists to focus on this matter, and the more responsible we will be for our children. And I am now wearing my hat as the Ambassador of Israel. This is one of the areas where I hope Israel and the United States could cooperate. We’ve done tremendously in so many areas that are of critical importance both to the United States and Israel. We have – the United States obviously, but Israel too – the best scientists worldwide. And I think that we are to encourage them to sit together and bring promise to the world that our grandchildren will be less dependent on oil than we are.
Recorded on: 7/3/2007 at The Aspen Ideas Festival