Survey: Most Israelis Agree With Top Diplomat Hotovely's View on U.S. Jews' So-called Cushy Lives

Calls from abroad to oust Israel's deputy foreign minister for disparaging remarks not echoed in poll

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
Tzipi Hotovely, then a Likud MK, in May 2015.
Hotovely. In her recent remarks, she accused American Jews of using the controversy over egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall for political gains.
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely recently drew fire for accusing American Jews of not sending their children "to fight for their country" and living “convenient lives” that prevent them from understanding the hardships Israelis regularly face.

But it turns out that most Israeli Jews agree with her.

A survey published on Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 51 percent of Israeli Jews “strongly” or “moderately” concur with Hotovely’s disparaging remarks last month, which were fiercely condemned by American Jewish leaders and earned her a rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Even among Arab Israelis, a plurality of 38 percent said they agreed with Hotovely. (About one in four Arab Israelis declined to answer the question). She was responding, in an interview with i24 News, to the question of why Jewish Americans may not feel connected to Israel.

In her remarks, which prompted calls from abroad that she be fired, Hotovely also accused American Jews of using thecontroversy over egalitarian prayer at the Western Wallfor political gains.

Most Israelis, however, apparently see no reason for her ouster. The study found that only 23 percent of all respondents (among Jews 21 percent, and among Arabs 31 percent) felt that Netanyahu should have responded to calls to dismiss her.

The Peace Index, a monthly survey conducted by the IDI that attempts to gauge public opinion on hot-button issues, also asked Israelis whether they felt their government should consider the position of American Jews when it makes decisions on the religious status in Israel of Reform and Conservative Jews. A majority of 53 percent of all those responding said the government should not take into account the Americans' views “at all” or “so much” when making such decisions.

Asked to whom it was more important that Israel and American Jewry have good relations, to Israelis or to American Jews, most Israelis felt they stood to benefit much more from close ties. While 52 percent of the respondents said good bilateral ties were more critical for Israelis, only 12 percent said they were more critical for American Jews. A plurality (46 percent) of respondents agreed with the statement that what unites Israeli and American Jews is greater than what divides them. Only 14 percent thought that what divides them is greater than what unites them.

The survey was based on a representative sample of 600 Israeli adults with a margin of error of 4.1 percent.

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