Torah-Based Foreign Policy

Who Is Tzipi Hotovely, Israel's Right-wing Deputy Foreign Minister

As Israel's second highest ranking diplomat, Hotovely has advocated for the annexation of parts of the West Bank and dreams of an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount

Tzipi Hotovely sit on a discussion with the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women in 2011
Emil Salman

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel's deputy foreign minister, is known for her right-wing politics and at times radical statements. A member of the Israeli Bar Association, she was elected as a member of Knesset in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party in 2008 and became deputy foreign minister in 2015 - a former columnist for Israeli daily Maariv, she has long been called the "ideological voice of the Likud."

Netanyahu serves as foreign minister, and during her stint as his deputy she's led a campaign to train Israeli diplomats to defend Israel's settlements, decried a law which halted the illegal detention of African refugees, and said her dream was to see an Israeli flag flying atop the flashpoint Temple Mount.

Here are some statements Hotovely has made:

Temple Mount dreaming

In October 2015, amidst increased tensions over the Temple Mount, Hotovely told Knesset TV that her “dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount,” stoking tensions at the flashpoint site. "It's the holiest place for Jewish people," she said.

In response, MK Yoel Hasson of the Zionist Camp called on Netanyahu to “fire Hotovely tonight".

A Torah foreign policy

When Hotovely became deputy foreign minister in 2015, she said that Israel's foreign policy should focus on being right, not just on being smart. She said, “It’s important to say [that] this land is ours. All of it is ours. We didn’t come here to apologize for that."

Hotovely referenced a medieval Torah sage, saying “Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world. So that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took [the land] from them and gave [it] to us,” she quoted from the commentary.

She also quoted a rabbi in saying "if the Jews are convinced of the justice of their path vis-a-vis the world, they will already manage."

Prove UNESCO wrong

Hotovely attended a protest in 2016 that called for Israel to extend its sovereignty over Jerusalem-area settlements, after UNESCO failed to recognize Jerusalem's ties to the Jewish people.

“There’s an international battle over Jerusalem,” she said. “Some people think the answer to UNESCO [which passed a resolution last year that ignored the Jewish connection to Temple Mount] should be confined to the public-relations front. But there is a more powerful answer – sovereignty. Sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim is a statement that Jerusalem will remain united."

Her enemies break the silence

Hotovely believes that groups like Breaking the Silence or B'Tselem are enemies of the state.

In April 2017, she called members of the groups "unethical people and war criminals." She continued, "our wars are just, and in all these wars we face one enemy called Hamas and a second enemy that is those organizations."

When asked by the interviewer if she really meant that Breaking the Silence were enemies of Israel, Hotovely answered:  "Yes, it is an enemy that harms Israel. Unequivocally."

No Hillel for Hotovely

While on a diplomatic trip to various college campuses in the United States in November 2017, Princeton Hillel abruptly canceled Hotovely's talk after a petition from a progressive student group on campus.

“A liberal dictatorship is preventing American students from hearing an official representative of Israel’s government," she said. She told Haaretz that she was “saddened at the lack of openness toward different views of Israel.” She said it attested to a “deep and severe crisis of values.”

Detention over deportation

In a September 2017 ruling, Israel's high court prohibited unlimited detention of African refugees without trial as a practice for encouraging their so-called "voluntary" deportation.

In response, Hotovely explained the "problem" was with the ruling itself. "The High Court approved the agreements the Foreign Ministry made with those states” willing to take in the refugees, she wrote on Facebook. “It totally approved the idea that a sovereign state may decide who will stay in its territory and who will not, and that a state may deport people to third states. Where’s the problem? The High Court deprived us of the only tool that helped us deport them: detention.”

Who needs U.S. Jewry, anyway?

In an interview with i24 news on Wednesday, Hotovely said that the growing rift between U.S. Jewry and Israel was due to the American Jewish community's "convenient lives," as well as not knowing "how it feels to be attacked by rockets."

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.”

In the interview, Hotovely ripped into U.S. Jews over the Western Wall, saying they don't really visit the holy site currently at the center of a fierce debate between Israel and world Jewry over the creation of a non-Orthodox prayer space.

"The reason it's empty, if you ask me, it's not that they don't like the [current] arrangement. The reason it's empty is because most of the time those people are not even interested [in going] to the Kotel.