Hotovely apologizes over 'American Jews' comments

'I salute every American Jew who joined the IDF, or who fought during World War II.I didn't mean to offend anyone, and I apologize.'

David Rosenberg , | updated: 7:27 PM

Tzipi Hotovely
Tzipi Hotovely
Flash 90

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) issued an apology Thursday evening, hours after her office released a statement ‘clarifying’ comments she made Wednesday regarding American Jews and their relationship with the State of Israel.

In an interview with i24 on Wednesday, Hotovely said she has used her position to try to bring American Jews closer to Israel, and hopes that more Jews from North America immigrate to the Jewish state.

Hotovely added, however, that there is growing tension between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, stemming from, she claimed, a lack of understanding regarding the complexities of the geopolitical situation.

“The other issue is not understanding the complexity of the region,” she said. “Most [American] Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, or to Iraq. Most of them are having [sic] quite comfortable 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 deals with on a daily basis.

“This is the reason for the distancing between US Jews and Israel. American Jews contribute a great deal to Israel, but they cannot condition their connection to Israel on the government's policies. We need to remember that the past few years have seen stormy discussions about Judaism and identity. These arguments are a healthy part of democracy.”

Hotovely’s comments sparked an uproar, and drew condemnation from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. According to a report by Channel 2, the Prime Minister is weighing terminating Hotovely from her position in the government.

On Thursday morning, Hotovely’s office released a statement clarifying her comments on Wednesday.

That did little to assuage the anger of fellow MKs both in the government and the opposition, some of who demanded her suspension as Deputy Foreign Minister.

Speaking to Channel 2 Thursday night, Hotovely expressed her regret over her original comments, saying she had not meant to offend American Jews, and that she was cognizant of the great contributions American Jews have made to the State of Israel.

“To all American lone soldiers who had grandparents who fought in the Second World War, I salute you all,” said Hotovely.

“That wasn’t what I meant to say,” she added, saying that she never intended to diminish American-Jewish support for Israel.

“At age 18, I did my National Service with the Jewish community in Atlanta. I’ve focused on the issue of Jewish communities in the US for the past 20 years, and I see us as family.”

“They are my brothers and sisters. If someone was offended by what I said, I am truly sorry.”