Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely attacked U.S. Jewry, blaming the growing rift between the American Jewish community and Israel on the former's "convenient lives," as well as not knowing "how it feels to be attacked by rockets," in an interview with i24 News on Wednesday.
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During the interview, Hotovely discussed the Western Wall crisis, saying that American Jews are using the situation for political gain and don't really visit the holy site currently at the center of a fierce debate between Israel and world Jewry over 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.
"And the Israeli government really was doing a lot to make sure that they can have egalitarian prayer, women can go together with their families, men can go together with their daughters, everything is set up, but they are not willing to get that, because if you're asking me this is a political matter, and they want to get recognition through the Kotel issue and they're making a religious holy place something for political dispute."
Hotovely also referred to what she termed "the liberal dictatorship" in academic spaces that refuses to hear other opinions. She further criticized Princeton University Hillel, which recently disinvited her from speaking amid protests from Jewish students, saying that she was poorly treated by the Jewish campus organization.
When asked about why Jewish Americans may not feel connected to Israel, the deputy minister said that perhaps they are "too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without a Jewish state."
“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.
Estimates say that around 200,000 U.S. Jews live in Israel, with many young people serving in its military.