Netanyahu: Hotovely's words don't reflect my position

Prime Minister says in interview he completely rejects Deputy Foreign Minister's remarks on American Jews, urges unity.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Netanyahu with Tzipi Hotovely
Netanyahu with Tzipi Hotovely
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday told Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, that he completely rejects Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely's remarks on American Jews.

"Hotovely's words anger me - they do not reflect my position and my worldview," Netanyahu told radio station Kan Bet, as part of a special interview for a series of programs in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, which the station will begin to air next week.

The prime minister said that he "completely rejects such statements" and added, "This really angers me, because this is not my approach, and I think that maybe I am more sensitive to this than others."

Netanyahu called for unity with Diaspora Jewry. "Here in Israel, we must do everything in our power to maintain the connection with the Jewish people, but rejecting them is a very big mistake. They do not have to adopt exactly our perceptions about identity and the way we interpret Jewish identity, but it is important to preserve the motif of consciousness and pride," he said.

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 U.S. 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 earlier reports said that the Prime Minister is weighing terminating Hotovely from her position in the government.

Her office later released a statement "clarifying" the comments, and Hotovely herself subsequently issued an apology, 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.