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Israeli official’s comments reflect disconnect with American Jewry

Rimma and Yury Tarlavsky take part in the burial service for their son at Arlington National Cemetery. Their son, Army Captain Michael Tarlavsky of Passaic, New Jersey, was killed in Iraq in 2004.

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 – The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, went on Israeli news over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend claiming that American Jews are a “people that never send their kids to fight for their country.

Most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq.” As much as the Israelis resent American Jews meddling into their business, we Americans have the same reservations.

Hotovely’s comments were in relation to the growing American-Israeli divide, but there is something that she missed – it is easy to be a Jew in Israel, but in America, it takes work. Israeli identity is ingrained in Jewish identity, and Judaism is a part of the culture. Jewish Americans, on the other hand, have to make the decision of whether or not to be Jewish, and how their Judaism might affect their acceptance into the mainstream American culture.

I was not surprised to see Lee Rogers, a columnist from the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, use Hotovely’s words against American Jews, “The last thing the Jews want are the American people waking up to the fact that they’re fighting wars for them even though few Jews serve themselves.” Now, I expect a rabid anti-Semite to use anti-Semitic tropes against American Jews, but when the comments originate from a fellow Jew – albeit an Israeli Jew – that especially hurts.

Which gets to my next point – the idea of Jews not serving in proportion to their population is an old anti-Semitic lie that reached its heyday in Nazi Germany. In fact, we again saw it used this year in Charlottesville when we saw Neo-Nazis chanting, “Blood and Soil” – which refers to the idea that only white Americans have spilled blood for this country.

We know that American Jews have fought and died for our country as far back as Asser Levy and his comrades in the New Amsterdam colony. Since then, Jews have fought for America in every major war, and, in World War II, Jews served disproportionately more than the rest of the population. Thousands of medals have been awarded to American Jews, and to date, 27 American Jews have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

American Jews have raised their hands to enlist at the same rate as other Americans. Thousands have fought in the 16 year long war which began with the 9/11 attacks, and currently, there are 15,000 American Jews serving on active duty and an additional 5,000 serving in the Guard and the Reserves. In any case, I dare Hotovely to tell the parents of the 56 fallen Iraq and Afghanistan Jewish American heroes that American Jews don’t serve. These Jewish Gold Star Families have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting America and American values.

Here at JWV, we invite Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely to come meet with representatives of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. and visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. so that she can learn more about Jewish American Military History. We hope she takes us up on our offer.

Anna Selman is the programs and public relations coordinator for Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Arnold Pinsley December 1, 2017, 9:28 pm

    Perhaps she’d like to meet with me . I served in the USER from 1962 to 1968 training troops to serve in Vietnam and in the IDF as a squad leader in a base security battalion attatched to the air force from 1980 to 1986. I spent most of my civilian time in Israel editing, proofreading, and writing technical documents; primarily military

  • Mark Wolfe December 5, 2017, 6:30 pm

    I sent the following email to Ms. Hotevely-

    Ms. Hotovely-

    It is with some dismay that I saw this reference to remarks allegedly made by you.

    NOVEMBER 30, 2017 – The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, went on Israeli news over
    the Thanksgiving holiday weekend claiming that American Jews are a “people that never send their kids
    to fight for their country.”

    As a friend (and visitor to Israel) and the Christian father of a Jewish US Marine who was killed in Iraq,
    I find that your remark betrays a basic misunderstanding of America and the American psychology.
    There is no positive result for Israel that can come from them. In fact, they can cause significant damage
    to our countries mutually beneficial relationship.

    As a representative of the Israeli government, your remarks regarding a population of an important ally
    should be more tempered.

    You should know that my son felt deep kinship with his Israeli comrades in arms then engaged in Lebanon.
    He felt that we were (and are) fighting a common enemy for a common good.

    Hopefully, we I am next in Israel (or you in the US) we can make a personal acquaintance.

    Mark Wolfe

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