JERUSALEM (JTA) — Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely publicly apologized if statements she made about American Jewry, including that the “never send their children to fight for their country” and that “most of them are having quite convenient lives,” offended Jews in the U.S.
In an interview with the Hadashot news she reiterated a statement earlier in the day in which she called American Jews her brothers and sister and acknowledged that like all families there are disagreements.
“To all those Americans who are lone soldiers, or those who have grandparents who fought in World War II, I salute you all. That was not my intent,” she also said in the interview Thursday evening. “When I was 18 I spent a year in Atlanta as part of my national service in the Jewish community. For the past 20 years the topic of the Jewish community in the US has concerned me and I truly feel that we are part of a family.”
“I apologize from the depths of my heart if someone was upset by my words,” she said in an interview on Israel’s Channel 1.
She also clarified her statements in a video posted on Facebook, saying she did not intend to offend the American Jewish community, and reiterating comments she made in her Thursday evening interviews.
“To me what happened over the past couple of days does not reflect the spirit of what I said – that that Israel embraces you as Jews and urges you to deepen your ties to Israel,” she said. She also said she “truly believes in dialogue between Israel and Diaspora Jewy, especially the illustrious U.S. Jewry.”
Hotovely said that she did not intend to offend lone soldiers serving in Israel or their families, or Jewish families who have members who served in the U.S. army. “The one thing I wanted to convey is there is a difference between the reality in Israel in that the US there is a very different reality, but that in no way contradicts the special bond that exists between us in this very important relationship,” she said.
Earlier Thursday, Hadashot reported that Netanyahu was considering firing Hotovely over the controversy.
Also on Thursday evening, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in a statement called on Netanyahu to remove Hotovely from her position.
“The Deputy Foreign Minister has a right to her ill-informed and insulting views. But such views disqualify her holding such an important role in Israel’s diplomatic corps. Her comments serve to underscore how the Israeli government disdains the majority of North American Jews,” the statement said.
“We note with appreciation the Prime Minister’s statement criticizing Hotovely’s words. As always, the Prime Minister finds the right words. This moment, however, demands action and not simply words. He needs to dismiss Hotovely immediately,” it also said.