This weekend, Minister of Diaspora Affairs MK Tzipi Hotovely gave an interview to the newspaper Mekor Rishon. This interview is her first as Minister of Diaspora Affairs.
Two years ago, MK Hotovely gave an interview to i24 News and said that most Jews in the USA do not understand Israel and criticize Israel because they have never sent their children to fight for their country. She went on to say that the Egalitarian section of the Kotel (Western Wall) is empty most of the time because the Kotel does not interest people in the Reform Movement but rather offers them a chance to get recognition.
Her statement caused uproar in Jewish communities and international media. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned her statement and Hotovely apologized and clarified that the quotes that were published do not reflect her attitude towards USA Jewry.
During her interview to Mekor Rishon she emphasized:
“We are part of a big Jewish world. The issue of the Diaspora was very meaningful in the shaping of my life. I will meet everyone, speak to everyone, and know everyone. I separate my personal identity as an orthodox Jewish woman in Israel, from my National job as Minister of Diaspora Affairs. I am the voice, the face, and the feedback of Israel’s government to World Jewry. My job is to see the bigger picture, including France, England, South America, and Argentina”.
When asked if she understands the criticism towards her she said:
“I don’t get into their considerations, it is their right to criticize. They heap (criticism) on me in internal Israeli politics too, which is a different dynamic of Secular and Religious than American politics of streams of Judaism. I am pained by the distancing, after all we are brothers. I have one goal, connecting us all”.
When she was asked if she stands by her statement from 2 years ago in the interview that caused an uproar:
“To apologize is to understand that you did not speak in the language of the people you wanted to reach. I certainly did not mean to hurt anyone. Diaspora Jews are our brothers, and they are important to us and to the future of the Jewish people. My dream has always been to be Minister of Education so starting with the education of Diaspora Jewry is excellent”.