by Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
The writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News.
There are moments in life when a person gets “discovered.” Entertainers perform for decades before getting “discovered.” So it is with the writers of great books, the thinkers of great thoughts, the leaders of political movements. Often, when they finally experience their breakthrough, they inevitably are asked: “Where were you all this time? What were you waiting for?”
November 2017 has been the month of Tzipi Hotovely. She finally — finally! — has been discovered.
I have been following the Deputy Minister from her earliest notices, even as she was just emerging as a novice within the Likud. An Orthodox woman. Law school graduate. Quite photogenic and telegenic. Incredibly brilliant. Well spoken. Fabulous command of English. Uncompromising in her support for the Jewish right to Yehudah and Shomron (Judea and Samaria). Kind-of “too good to be true.”
Others were watching the blowhards and the big shots in Israeli politics. The people who suck air out of the room and get the press, those who come and go. But all along Tzipi Hotovely quietly moved up the ranks, played by the rules. She did not try to attack party leader Bibi Netanyahu but found a way to live ideologically alongside him. She did not try to split the Likud nor to start a new party. Always worked within the ranks of Likud. And she indeed had chosen wisely to work within Israel’s most powerful party.
My colleagues all have been following her, and she long has been our favorite or among our top favorites among Israeli political leaders. Finally, she gained some notoriety earlier this month when a rabidly leftist Reform rabbi, some fool who has been a Hillel rabbi at Princeton for much too long, barred the Israeli Deputy Minister from speaking to students at Princeton. Thankfully, a Chabad chapter at the campus saw the amazing opportunity they had been handed to attract lots of Jewish Princeton students to hear this wonderful representative of Israel.
Once again Hillel had dropped the ball and had failed those of us who work on campuses for Israel — and thankfully once again Hillel, in failing to stand strongly enough for Israel, punted Jewish students to the Orthodox Jewish community. We get many non-observant Jewish young people from incompetent Hillels, driven to us by leftist Hillel rabbis who fail Israel and the Jewish community so very often.
When word spread that the leftist reform Hillel rabbi had barred Deputy Minister Hotovely, the outrage in America was so palpable that even Hillel had to apologize. And Tzipi Hotovely, for the first time, became an Israeli celebrity in America, with people asking: “Where were you all this time? What were you waiting for?”
With celebrity comes a new price to pay — dealing with the hatchets swung by the “Gotcha!” crowd. Most Reform Jews in America do not mind or dislike Tzipi Hotovely beause most Reform Jews in America are utterly not engaged in the great issues of Israel.
Most of them have absolutely no idea what is going on in Israel. They do not care about access to the Kotel. They cannot tell you the names of two different political parties in Israel. They have heard of Bibi Netanyahu, but otherwise have no idea who is leading any other party right now. I asked one the other day, and he was dead silent, then guessed: “Ben Gurion?”
I smiled and explained “No, that’s an airport.” He agreed. “Oooops.”
But the leaders of American Reform Judaism, the small insular echo chamber of Obama supporters whose Judaism is tied indelibly with the latest newsletter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the positions of the Democrat party, now suddenly have emerged with a rabid hate for Deputy Minister Hotovely.
They hate her because she is photogenic and telegenic — and they want Israel’s Orthodox leaders to be just the opposite.
She smiles, and they want her to scowl.
They hate her because she covers her hair as an Orthodox married woman.
They hate her because, when she supports Judea and Samaria, she does so logically, with a smile, with warmth, and with intelligence.
They hate her because she proves that an Orthodox woman can rise to be an Israeli Deputy Minister from a major party.
They hate her because, without her even staging a fight, she defeated the rabid leftist rabbis of Hillel.
So let us briefly address the latest nonsense coming out of America, from the leaders of a religious movement — Reform Judaism — that sees its ranks depleting of Jews, as more than 60% of their children now marry non-Jews, in most cases Reform Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women, thus assuring the utter disappearance of the American “Reform Jew” in another generation or two, and its replacement with the American “Reform Non-Jew Born of a Jewish Father and a Non-Jewish Mother but Bar-Mitzva’d or Bat-Mitzva’d by the Reform Rabbi Anyway Because the Temple Needs the Membership Money and the School Tuition.”
Herewith some thoughts over the uproar:
1. I actually listened to her interview . She was great. It was a 15-minute interview, and the whole tzimmes (controversy) over her remarks arises only from what she said in the last 40-45 seconds. No one has the right to criticize her performance in that interview unles he or she has listened to the whole thing.
2. Her style is perfect. She is soft spoken, intelligent, reasoned, great English, warm in appearance.
3. That is why they hate her. They want Orthodox right-wingers who embarrass us. People with angry visages, bad teeth or hair or complexions or voices or bad whatever-else their materialistic foci are. She is a superstar. She checks off all the boxes. Frum, Shomeret mitzvot, covers hair, brilliant, law graduate, Likud mainstream party. If only they could bring her down — especially after she brought them down in the aftermath of that Princeton Hillel thing!
4. She said absolutely nothing wrong. She did not say that American Jews shirk their patriotic duties, only that most American Jews do not send their kids off to the military. That is absolutely 10,000% true. We all know the truth. We all know that almost no kid from any shul or temple ends up in the U.S. military fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq.
In my shul, we have had six boys leave home and go off to the military in the past three years — all to the Israeli military. Aliyah and tzava. We also were joined by one darling of a guy who in fact served in the United States Marines, fought in Iraq, and then became a baal teshuvah. He since has moved to Israel to live and learn Torah full time. Yes, our shul also has had two teen boys in public school in the last ten years who briefly flirted with the idea of joining the U.S. army. In each case, their mothers cried and wailed, and their fathers threatened to kill them. One is now in graduate school studying to be an engineer, the other in graduate school for an MBA. Neither ended up going to military service.
The leaders of Reform Judaism all know the truth. So does Rick Jacobs and all his pacifist leftist amigos. Most American Non-Jews and Jews nowadays do not send their kids to war because there is not a compulsory draft in the United States, and people outside certain demographic groups do not voluntarily opt to serve the United States in that way. That is as true a statement as ever has been made. We all know it. And inded that is why we so lovingly thank those Americans who do volunteer to serve in the armed forces. We thank them gratefully for their service. We despise the millionaire troglodytes in the National Football League who disrespect the American flag and the national anthem.
5. Again, the same is true of most American non-Jews outside the American Deep South. Particularly middle-class and upper-class Caucasians. Everyone knows this. Go to the average United States college campus, where students of military age attend. None of them has served in the armed forces. None of them ever will. And none of them even knows anyone else of their generation who has. Many of these campuses will not even allow the United States armed forces to send representatives to recruit on campus. That is the reality in America today.
Our parents and grandparents served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War. During those conflicts, Jews served in numbers at or above our demographic percentage in America. But America changed. That is an important reason that the current generation of military-age college students in today’s America often are roundly mocked as “snowflakes.” They cannot even handle being assigned to read something by Plato or Aristotle because they are too hurt by the “microaggression” or assigning them to read the writings of a “Dead White Male.” They demand advance notice — “trigger warnings” — before such microaggressions reach them, and they demand campus “safe spaces” to deal with their feelings. You think these snowflakes have been to Fallujah? Kabul? Basic training?
6. Depuity Minister Hotovely’s point was not to criticize Jews for non-patriotism, just to point out that mushy comfortable rich people in America, who never have experienced a bullet or rocket whizzing past their noses, or bombs and rockets landing in their backyards, or “cousins” across the border living night-and-day with no aspiration other than to kill them promptly, are simply at a disadvantage, if not completely incapable, at grasping what Israel and Israelis face next door, to the north, the east, the northwest, the southwest. They just don’t get it and have no clue how much they have no clue.
Reform Jews in America, to the degree that they even could find Israel on a map or globe, are by and large clueless on these issues. There are leftist Reform rabbis running around America, advocating that Americans boycott Israel, divest stock holdings in companies dealing with Israel, sanction Israel — even as they have utterly no clue as to what is going on in real life in Israel. And they are talking to us about “Jewish unity”?
7. Prime Minister Netanyahu knows 100% that Deputy Minister Hotovely said absoluely nothing wrong and everything right, and in a very soft, gentle, sweet tone, with a smile. And this is why, although I am fascinated by and write so often on the theoretical aspect of politics (and sociology), I despise personally engaging directly in politics. Politics is so much deceit — sheker. Bibi knows she is 100% right and that she did not speak impolitically, and that her tone was elegant and friendly, non accusatorial, just explanatory. Yet Bibi has been in “hot water” with American Reform Jewish management all year because of the Kotel nonsense that Reform has agitated and the conversion issues that see Israel’s Chief Rabbinate correctly refusing to accept ridiculous “conversions” that are not proper conversions — conversions that often do not even go through the most superficial motions of circumcision or mikveh, and certainly do not teach or require commitment to Torah and mitzvot.
Suddenly, this miniature controversy gave the Prime Minister an easy and cheap way, low cost, simple, to make some points with the whining Reform Jews like Rick Jacobs.
“You see? I’m not that bad. I’m on your side, too. I appreciate you so much that I share with you my revulsion at the terrible, intemperate words of that lady.” And yet Bibi knows that Tzipi Hotovely said nothing wrong. It is just a cheap way for him to calm down the people dealing with American Reform Jews. Sell her down the river. Push her under the bus. If you just view the recent little gem of an underrated movie, “Norman,” and think back to the Richard Gere character and the story line. That is exactly what Bibi has done by criticizing her.
8. But there will be no putting this genie back in the lamp nor this toothpaste back into the tube. Tzipi Hotovely finally has been discovered. And it is a great thing. Where was she all this time? What was she waiting for?