WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s deputy foreign minister said U.S. Jews are “people that never send their children to fight for their country” and that “most of them are having quite convenient lives.”
Tzipi Hotovely appeared Wednesday on i24, an Israel-based English-language news channel. She was addressing increased tensions between Israel and U.S. Jewry, including over restrictions on non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall and over the Israeli government’s policies on Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians.
Hotovely decried her disinvitation earlier this month from the Princeton University Hillel because of her past comments on Israeli Arabs. Hillel later apologized.
She said she wished more American Jews would move to Israel to influence the political process there. “One of my goals,” she said, is to “bring American Jews closer to Israel.
“Everyone is welcome to come here to influence Israeli politics.”
But she then segued into a depiction of U.S. Jews as distant from the sacrifices other Americans make, and the threats that govern life in Israel.
“The other issue is not understanding the complexity of the region,” she said. “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.”
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.
Additionally, a significant proportion of the U.S. Jewish population has lived in Israel, including stints in its military.