Batya Brownstein

Tzipi Hotovely prefers the truth to pandering

Being a Jew in the Diaspora does not equal being an Israeli citizen
Tzipi Hotovely in the Knesset, July 7, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Tzipi Hotovely in the Knesset, July 7, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

I have been shocked by the backlash following Deputy Foreign Minister and Likud member Tzipi Hotovely’s recent interview with i24 news, in which she expressed the opinion that American Jews who don’t send their children to war are incapable of fully comprehending the complexity of Israel’s reality. While I’ve read many articles slandering and criticizing her, I have yet to hear one real counter-argument.

Hers is an unpopular but secretly extremely common opinion shared by many Israelis, and it comes down to this: being Jewish does not make one entitled to Israel. Being Jewish does not mean that it is the Israeli government’s job to cater to oneself. Being Jewish does not give one the right to comment on and criticize things whose reality one does not understand. And neither do one’s donations.

The only thing that being Jewish means, as far as I’m concerned, is the potential to Israeli citizenship. If American Jews want to make aliyah and criticize a country where they have citizenship, that’s great. That’s how democracy works. But being Jewish does not equal being an Israeli citizen.

Why does the prime minister need to apologize for Hotovely’s remarks? Why does she need to be rebuked for politely and coherently expressing the stance that most Israelis hold? Israelis fight for this country, pay taxes in this country and vote. Americans don’t. And as long as that’s true, Americans shouldn’t have an automatic say in how Israel runs things.

Unfortunately, Israeli politicians are more concerned with the American community’s collective outrage than with the truth, and unfortunately, taking offense comes more naturally to said community than listening.

We don’t share a culture. We don’t share a language. We don’t share borders. So what on earth makes American Jewry think it’s entitled to tell us how to run our country? This reaction is a demonstration that every indignation is righteous except for ours.

About the Author
Born to a French mother and American father, Batya came to Israel at a young age. Upon graduating high school in Israel, she spent her military service in the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. She now studies International Relations and Political Science (B.A.) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lives in Jerusalem with her beautiful daughter.
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