JERUSALEM (JTA) – A scheduled trip to the Czech Republic by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely reportedly was scrapped a week after she disparaged U.S. Jewry in an interview in English.
Hotovely had been scheduled to leave for the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Hours before her departure, the Prime Minister’s Office contacted her and told her not to travel to the eastern European country, Hadashot News reported Wednesday afternoon.
Hotovely’s office said the trip was postponed, not cancelled.
Hotovely appeared on Nov. 22 on i24, an Israel-based English-language news channel. She was addressing increased tensions between Israel and U.S. Jewry, including over restrictions on non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall and over the Israeli government’s policies on Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians.
After stating that she wished more American Jews would move to Israel to influence its political proves and to “bring American Jews closer to Israel,” she segued into a depiction of U.S. Jews as distant from the sacrifices other Americans make, and the threats that govern life in Israel.
“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 following day Netanyahu “condemned” what he called “offensive remarks” about American Jews by his deputy foreign minister. “The Jews of the Diaspora are dear to us and are an inseparable part of our people,” Netanyahu’s condemnation also said.
Hours later Hotovely apologized for her remarks. Leaders of the Reform movement in the United States and Israel called for her removal.
The dustup comes as liberal Jewish movements seek more rights at the Western Wall and are disappointed at Netanyahu for reneging on an agreement that would have seen more recognition of egalitarian prayer at the site.