Tamar “Tami” Zandberg (Hebrew: תמר זנדברג, was born in Ramat Gan on April 29, 1976, the daughter of journalist Esther Zandberg and Yoel Zandberg, and the sister of Israeli international soccer player Michael Zandberg. She attended Blich High school and served in the IDF in the Education Corps. She holds a master’s degree in Social Psychology from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a Law Degree (LLB) from Tel Aviv University. Before entering politics, she taught at Sapir Academic College in the Management and Public Policy department. She is pursuing a PhD in Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, researching issues of spatial planning and human rights.
She began her political career in 2003, when she started to work as a parliamentary assistant to Meretz MK Ran Cohen, a job she held until 2008. That year she was elected to the Tel Aviv city council. During her term on the council, she chaired the city’s Women’s Affairs Committee and was a member of both the Finance Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee. She was behind an initiative to introduce public transportation on Shabbat, and also fought to ban the opening of strip clubs, to approve civil and same-sex marriage, and to promote female-run small businesses.
Zandberg was active in the social protests in the summer of 2011, and was a member of the experts’ group that introduced the movement’s housing and transportation platform. Zandberg and other Meretz city council members withdrew from the council coalition led by Mayor Ron Huldai because of the violent suppression of the protests.
She considers herself a feminist, urban environmentalist and a social democrat. She heads the opposition ‘Social Home’ faction within Na’amat, Israel’s leading union for working women.
Zandberg was elected to the Knesset in the 2013 elections. During her first term she founded and co-chaired the Lobby for Sustainable Transportation, was involved in the founding of the Urban Renewal Lobby and headed the Israeli Beaches Sub Committee. She also introduced laws on decriminalizing the personal use of cannabis and guaranteeing paternity leave.
She ran in the fifth slot in the 2015 election and appeared to have lost her seat when Meretz won only won four seats. Party leader Zehava Gal-On announced that she would resign from the Knesset and as party chairperson to allow Zandberg, a rising star within the party, to re-enter the Knesset as the party’s fourth MK. However, Zandberg urged Gal-On to reconsider her decision and remain as the party’s leader in the Knesset. Once absentee and soldier ballots were counted, Meretz unexpectedly gained a fifth seat allowing Gal-On to remain in the Knesset as the party’s leader.
After being re-elected, Zandberg became a member of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and chair of the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, as well as co-heading the Social-Environmental Lobby, the Lobby for Sustainable Transportation and heading the Lobby for Urban Renewal. She won the Green Globe Award for her work as a public servant promoting environmental and sustainable legislation. She is also an animal rights activist, seeking to improving their living conditions, and a women’s rights activist who supports the Women of the Wall.
In 2018, the party elected Zandberg as its new leader.
In the April 2019 election, Meretz again won four seats. After no government could be formed, another election was held in September and Meretz agreed to form a joint list – the Democratic Union – with the new Democratic Israel Party created by former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The union picked up five seats. Once again, however, no government was formed and a third election was held in March 2020 with Meretz joining a coalition with Labor-Gesher. This union won seven seats and a government was formed, but lasted only until mid-December.
In March 2021, a fourth inconclusive election was held with Meretz running on its own this time and securing six seats. This time, however, a coalition of parties opposed to Netanyahu managed to form a government under Naftali Bennett and Zandberg was appointed Minister of Environmental Protection.
Zandberg is divorced and currently lives in Tel Aviv with her partner, Uri Zaki, and her daughter.