Israel’s top diplomat attacked American Jews yesterday. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said of American Jews:
“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, or to Iraq. Most of them are having quite convenient lives. They don’t feel how it feels to be attacked by rockets, and I think part of it is to actually experience what Israel is dealing with on a daily basis”
She spoke at the end of a 5-minute interview in the Israeli i24 News (in English), as noted by Haaretz today. Hotovely is top diplomat, because Benjamin Netanyahu holds the Foreign Minister portfolio himself.
Now, had these words come from a non-Jew, we would no doubt have had a riot going on in the media about anti-Semitic vitriol – about Jews being lazy, privileged, unpatriotic and all the rest of it. But apparently, Hotovely is allowed, because she’s a Jew herself, an orthodox one no less, and she’s ultra-Zionist and all, so no one is going to call her a ‘self-hater’.
Hotovely was lashing out against American Jewry, on the background of her being disinvited by Princeton University Hillel a couple of weeks ago, following a petition by progressive activists on campus. Hotovely has been on a major collision course with American Jewry recently, and also said earlier this month that “American Jews are losing it bigtime”, in that they are supposedly threatening the existence of world Jewry, given their “80 percent” assimilation rate and growing indifference to Israel.
Haaretz notes the facts regarding the presence of US Jews in the military, including their presence in the Israeli military:
“The U.S. military stopped recording the religion of recruits decades ago, but until then Jews served in slightly greater proportion than their percentage in the general population. There continues to be a Jewish presence in the military, including in the highest ranks. Gen. David Lee Goldfein is the U.S. Air Force chief of staff. There is an organized Jewish presence at military academies. A number of Jewish ex-servicemen have run for public office in recent years. Estimates say that around 200,000 U.S. Jews live in Israel, with many young people serving in its military.”
In fact, Haaretz does not appear to be quite up to date on this issue. In 2006, this site did a survey regarding the representation of various religious communities in the US military, and managed to get statistics from the Pentagon. The survey showed that Jews were underrepresented by about 50% in the military. Still, Hotoveli’s statement about them never sending their children to the military shows that she is both uninformed and incendiary.
When asked about why Jewish Americans may not feel connected to Israel, the deputy minister said that perhaps they are “too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without a Jewish state” – in a classical Hasbara diversion of the discussion from uncomfortable current issues, playing up the Holocaust card – the card that is always kept in pocket in case all else fails.
But even I don’t remember what it’s like to not have a Jewish state; I’m 45. And if I don’t remember, Hotovely certainly doesn’t – she’ll be turning 39 soon. Maybe she should have used leftist leader Avi Gabbay’s saying that he stole from Netanyahu – that “the left have forgotten what it means to be Jewish”– and applied it to American Jews instead.
Hotoveli has said unabashedly in the past that “this land is ours – all of it is ours.” But so far, she seems to have meant it regarding the whole of historical Palestine. Now she seems to be patronizing American Jews as if the whole of USA was hers too.
What we are seeing here is an Israeli politician who has finally been challenged by a major US Jewish campus organization, and she is so angry, she cannot control herself in her rage – behind that constant smile. The question to be asked is not whether American Jews are “losing it”, but whether Hotovely, as well as Israel, are losing the battle for the heart of American Jewry.