Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely remarked during an interview on i24 News on Wednesday that most American Jews don’t understand Israel, “because they never sent their children to fight for their country”.
Given that Hotovely undertook her own national service as a tour guide in the Beit HaRav Kook museum in Jerusalem and as a Jewish Agency representative in Atlanta, most people would no doubt share the conclusion that she is hardly qualified to speak on the subject.
She has also never sent her children to fight for Israel, because both of her daughters are under the age of 4, and will probably, like her, choose to undertake their national service in civilian institutions rather than risking their lives by facing the enemy on the front line.
Furthermore, if sending one’s children to fight for their country is a pre-requisite for understanding Israel, how does she justify sitting in a government where over 20 percent of its members are Haredim, most of whom, as a matter of principle, choose not to send their children to serve in Israel’s armed forces or even undertake some other form of national service?
Hotovely’s insulting remarks will only help to reinforce the view of many American Jews that Israel doesn’t respect them and isn’t interested in their opinions.
This comes on top of Tourism Minister Yariv Levin having stated that Reform Jews “will be all but gone in three generations,” and Netanyahu having reneged on the Kotel agreement, which was intended to make all Jews feel that Israel is their spiritual home irrespective of their place of residence or religious affiliation.
It comes days after Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was accosted by security guards as he made his way to the Kotel Plaza with a Torah scroll. (Look at his latest profile picture on Facebook. It speaks for itself.)
Perhaps it is time for all of the members of Israel’s government to read Dale Carnegie’s classic work How to Win Friends and Influence People. Although written nearly 100 years ago, its message is still relevant today and the book is a must-read for people like Hotovely.
Hotovely is too young to remember that Reform rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was a key figure in mobilizing American support for the founding of the State of Israel. Without people like him, there would be no Jewish state and her family would still be in Georgia.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported as having criticized Hotovely’s remarks about American Jewry. However, that isn’t enough. For me, as a Reform rabbi, who made aliyah from England and whose son fell while on active service in Lebanon, her remarks are insulting. People like her have no place in our government and certainly not in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hotovely should be fired.