Hotovely apologized under pressure

T. Belman. I am bothered by this piling on. What she said was totally acceptable. She should be allowed to make her point, not shouted down by people who disagree or demand that she be politically correct.

Apology follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to fire her and withering criticism from both Israel and the US.

By Herb Keinon, JPOST

Amid numerous calls from Israeli politicians and US Jewish leaders for her dismissal, and after a threat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do just that, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely apologized Thursday evening for comments she had made that were deemed disparaging of American Jewry.

“American Jewry is very important to me,” she said in a filmed statement. “The connection, the dialogue like that between siblings in a family, is the most important thing.

It is permissible to criticize, permissible to express pain, but it is important to remember that there is only one state for the Jewish people and that is Israel, and it has a commitment to all the Jews of the world.”

Hotovely kicked up a storm after saying in an interview with i24 on Wednesday that American Jews do not understand the reality of life in Israel because they do not send their children to the military or live under the threat of missile fire.

Asked in the television interview to address the “abyss” in Israel’s ties with US Jewry and whether she understands why many US Jews no longer feel connected to Israel, Hotovely said: “I can’t  lives, don’t serve in the military (i24 News)

Maybe they are too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without the Jewish homeland.”

She continued: “But there is another issue, and I think it is not understanding the complexity of the region. People that never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq – most of them are having quite convenient lives – they don’t feel how it feels like to be attacked by rockets. And I think part of it is to actually experience what Israel is dealing with on a daily basis.”

Hotovely also addressed the issue of the egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, saying that one already exists – Ezrat Yisrael – but it stands empty “because most of the time those people are not even interested in going to the Kotel.”

She said the pluralistic movements were using the Western Wall as a “political matter” to gain legitimacy for their movements, and that they are “making a religious holy place something for political dispute.”

Netanyahu, under fire himself from some Diaspora leaders for reneging on an agreement due to haredi political pressure that would have created a larger, formal egalitarian space at the Western Wall, quickly and publicly admonished Hotovely.

In a rare move, his office issued a sharp statement publicly upbraiding her, saying he “condemns” her “offensive” remarks regarding the American Jewish community. “The Jews of the Diaspora are dear to us and are an inseparable part of our people. There is no place for such attacks, and her remarks do not reflect the position of the State of Israel.”

Later in the day, his office let it be known that he was considering firing her.

Responding, Hotovely said, “It is important to me to pass on the following message: If anybody was hurt, if any lone soldiers in Israel were hurt because they thought I was referring to them, I certainly did not direct these things to any soldier serving here in the IDF. There are people among American Jews who send their sons to fight here in the IDF, and certainly in American history there are people [Jews] who fought in the US Army.”

Hotovely said the point she was trying to make was that “the realities of life in Israel and in the US are very different.”

Netanyahu met with Hotovely and told her not to repeat the tenor of her remarks. In a Channel 12 interview, Hotovely said the prime minister’s criticism of her comments was in order and that he told her American Jewry was important for him and that it was equally important to him that she respect the community, to which she said: “I truly do.”

President Reuven Rivlin addressed the issue during a speech at a memorial service at Sde Boker marking 44 years to the death of David Ben-Gurion.

Referring to an agreement Ben-Gurion reached with the US Jewish community whereby neither community would interfere in the political decisions of the other and that Israel represented only its citizens, Rivlin said: “It is time for a renewed alliance, for a common language, between Israel and the Diaspora before we are too late.”

“The [US Jewish] community longs for a connection with Israel, but wants a relationship between equals – not of philanthropy on the one hand and blind admiration on the other,” he said. “We must embark on a new path – no longer a relationship of charity, but a shared commitment to justice, to Jewish and human mutual responsibility. No longer with the silencing of mutual criticism, but with courageous and sincere openness.”

Coalition and opposition MKs slammed Hotovely’s comments, with some in the opposition calling for her ouster.

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay said Hotovely’s remarks were “miserable” and mocked her for doing civilian service rather than serving in the IDF. She spent a year of that service in Atlanta.

“Netanyahu already condemned her statements, but don’t be confused, she expresses the government’s decision to sacrifice relations with US Jewry for petty politics,” Gabbay said.

“We will return to power and fix what this government decided to destroy, including the critical alliance with US Jewry.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said Hotovely’s comments “combine ignorance and arrogance. This government does not stop dividing the Jewish People in Israel and abroad.”

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly called them “an insulting and stupid rant.”

“Instead of just criticizing her comments, the prime minister should dismiss Hotovely from dealing with foreign affairs. In any case, no one in America will want to see her face. American Jewry has a great and important part in contributing to Israel’s growth and we have unbreakable family ties with them,” Shmuly stated.

Inside the coalition, MK Yulia Malinovski of Yisrael Beytenu lamented “the intolerable ease with which some Jews divide and rank the Judaism of other Jews.”

Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, meanwhile, expressed appreciation for American Jews who support Israel.

“Tzipi Hotovely says American Jews have a comfortable life, but the choice to identify with Israel in a time that BDS rules on campuses is not a comfortable choice. It is a courageous choice, one of values, which comes from the fact that we’re family,” Azaria tweeted.

Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar, who is working on his political comeback, tweeted in English: “The Dep. Foreign Minister’s words against our brothers and sisters in the US are disgusting and outrageous, and demand an immediate apology.”

The Reform Movement in Israel called on Netanyahu to fire Hotovely following her remarks, accusing her of abusing her office and deepening the existing crisis with Diaspora Jewry that has sprung up over the Western Wall and conversion policy.

“It is unthinkable that this is the face of the State of Israel towards world Jewry,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel.

Lahav Harkov and Tamara Zieve contributed to this report.

November 24, 2017 | 8 Comments »

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8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. Why do American Jews, who have done little besides give Israel and Israelis a hard time, for quite some time, feel entitled to cloak themselves in the mantles of their parents, grand or even great-grandparents who contributed heroically and selflessly to the Zionist cause? Is it more of this “gold-star family” nonsense? Frankly, apart from the ceremony of military heroes’s families getting a flag in a special ceremony at the funeral, I never even heard of this term before Obama, Clinton and the dems began using it to defend an open Sharia-Supremacist Muslim and Clinton slush fund contributor who spoke at the dem national convention as the father of a soldier in the U.S. army whose heroism consisted of getting killed, which is another issue. Gee, I was brought up on the idea that heros were people like Audie Murphy who defeated the enemy single-handedly at great risk, not people who just got killed. If all it takes to be admired as a hero is to become a victim, logically, everybody should aspire to become a victim, no?

  2. Doesn’t sound like an apology to me. Good for her. She said diaspora Jews are important to Israel but there is only one Jewish state for all the Jews in the world. How is that an apology? It doesn’t contradict anything she said. The majority of today’s American Jews can still be important to Israel even if they are behaving like schmucks. Family, you know.

  3. I agree with Ted and our other commenters that the attacks on Hotovely are extremely unfair. The jist of what she said about American Jews is true, and it needs to be said. However, she went overboard to some extent, painting with too broad a brush. While I am not an expert on Jewish service in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know that many American Jews are serving today in the U.S. military, and that being the case, it is inevitable that some of them have fought in these countries and have given their lives there, or have suffered severe and disabling wounds there. Hotovely should not have given the impression that there are no American Jews who have served or are serving in combat units of the U.S. Army. This allegation reinforces the myth circulated by antisemites for years that Jews are slackers who evade military service and instead engage in war profiteering. Even in her apology, she restated this falsehood. However, she rightly acknowledged the contributions of American Jewish “lone soldiers” in Israel in her follow-up statement. She should also have mentioned that there are many American-born olim in Israel, and that many of them have served with distinction in the IDF. What she said was true of the Jewish “leaders” she encountered in her visit to the United States, and who treated her so badly. It is also true of many other American Jews, perhaps even a majority of them. But it is not true of all American Jews by any means. She should not have generalized to such a degree.

  4. According to the Pew report on US Jews & IL, < 44% have been in Israel, THE land of the Jews!
    Those US Jews who want Hotovely fired should immigrate to IL.

  5. @ sabashimon:

    I’ve read it, must have missed it before. It is so thoroughly disgusting that it typifies the underhanded tactics and definitely unlawful acts that petty Israeli officials and hangers-on, seem to be able to get away with time after time. A Banana Republic would not have this bottom level behaviour.

    I wonder why they didn’t come crashing in at 4.a.m., They must have forgotten. Thank you very much for pointing it out to me.

    Can you believe that 250 12 inch vlnyl records could have been broken, one at a time, in an apartment building with nobody knowing….Each one caused a loud bang like a rifle shot. I ask, because that was just the beginning of the complete destruction in Karmiel, of our lifelong possessions, and the goods and other household items we brought to Israel for our children when they grew up and married. In those days , things were scarce. Every bed sheet was torn in shreds, maybe about 50-60 of them. Every photo and picture was torn to little pieces. Systematically…everything was destroyed. or maybe stolen too. I include 131 musical instruments- from Tenor Saxophones to French Horns. We were musicians and intended to set up an Academy. A Sad sight is a cornet, or trombone flattened like a board… My 2 6 speaker columns ..each was torn open and the speaker cones shredded. It was all like the aftermath of an all day air raid. My almost brand new Chrysler Simca, winner of Best European Car, was destroyed inside and out. Had it hauled off.

    We had been away, visiting in-laws in Canada with our 4 children. When we returned. we were walking on once valuable debris about 2 feet high, so that I, a small person, could touch the 8 foot high ceiling. We got no redress, nobody knew anything, the police threatened to jail me if I didn’t go away, took my fingerprints as a threat even, The mayor, said “if you don’t like it, go back where you came from” His name was Baruch Venger…. etc.etc Other than family deaths , the worst thing that ever occurred with us.

    We lost our potential new house, migrash and complete building materials. Ih the late 1970s the value was well over $350,000. Later found the Mayor was implicated, to aid his friend the City Engineer, who wanted some of my migrash so that he could build a bigger house on his adjoining plot. So they had to get rid of me and must have arranged the whole thing. My legal funds ran out so we decided to leave Israel…..after 14 years.

    Before I ever went to Israel, an adventurous girl I grew up with, who had been there said…”Israel is the sump hole of the Mediterranean…a complete cesspit with filth going on there you wouldn’t believe”. Well I didn’t believe, but learned the hard way. As I say. I love the country and the idea, but the people-many of them- and the high-handed actions……. drek. .

    Sorry for diatribe, but it just spilled out, started by reading the article you kindly linked me with, to show that I had a story too.

  6. Why does the diaspora get a free pass at criticizing Israel freely, openly and often, yet Israel can’t criticise the diaspora?
    At any rate Edgar, this story below is why many feel as you do…..illegal arab building goes on unabated yet crap like this happens on a regular basis. We. Have. Lost. Our. Way.

  7. What a disgusting bunch of bottom crawlers and hangers around sewer pipe outlets… What Hotovely said was perfectly accurate and truthful, and in no way was she trying to offend, just explain.

    There must be some heavey hitters still in America who pour money into Israel for the whole gamut to turn on her like that. Like children following the opportunity to point the teacher in someone else’s direction.

    Or like wolves in the wilderness turning on one of their own injured. or weaker or defenceless.

    I went on Aliya to Israel when there were less than 300 from Britain and Ireland in that year. There wereno personalities to welcome us, not any hoopla. We had to trek around Tel aviv and eventually found the dirtiest hotel in the city.

    I was married there, and we stayed for 14 years but eventually were driven out. Such a bunch of gansters and crooks many in the City Halls and officialdom, I have never hear dof before in any civilised country.

    If I was still living there, and had a son, after the Elor Azariya crime, I’d send him abroad so as not to serve in the IDF. The country is fullof criminals, who ger very lenient treatment there, because those in charge never know when they theselves will be in the dock waiting to be sentenced.

    I love the country and the idea of the country, but despise the people, not all but a good part of them, who are obvious to all. Politicians are the worst, no honour. Used car salesmen…….and lawyers…..are gen tlemen by comparison….

    Disgusting bunch od creepers.