Hotoveley – A Step Too Far

The hawk has landed – Hotovely is now Israeli Ambassdor to the Court of St James

Israel’s new Ambassador, who arrived in London recently, comes trailing invective rather than glory. A religiously committed advocate for the Israeli settler movement, she has said: “This land is ours. All of it is ours.” The world needs to “recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.” Among her many inflammatory statements is “It’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.” The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Such open commitments to flouting International Law may be hard to justify even for the Establishment. The new Ambassador will serve as a bridge between politics and the world of Israeli extremists. For example in 2011 she invited representatives of the far-right Jewish supremacist organisation Lehava to a discussion of tactics. This organisation is violently opposed to relationships between Jews and non-Jews and is so extreme that the Israeli Defence Ministry has considered having it classed as a terrorist organisation.

Does this appointment mark a change from the past? Previous Ambassadors have been diplomatic in more traditional ways while continuing to advocate for a State violating International Law. Will the UK government take a firm line or continue, as in the past, to make strong, even condemnatory, statements about settlement expansion and more, but do nothing? To continue to declare its support for Two States while standing by and watching Israeli Settlements making that impossible.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews had already issued its welcome in June: “We will be delighted to work with the next Israeli Ambassador to sustain and advance the relationship between Israel and the UK Jewish Community…we will give her whatever support and advice we can to achieve these ends”.

It recently tweeted a renewed welcome.

But the welcome in June was not enough for Hotoveley who saw the Board’s ostensible commitment to a two-state solution, outlined in its 2019 Jewish Manifesto, as a step too far. She was furious with the Board of Deputies for stating “There was no prior consultation regarding this document [by the Board] with the government of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor with our ambassador, nor with any other political authority.’…(i)n every meeting between Jewish organisations around the world and politicians…we emphasize that the idea of a Palestinian state is one that the State of Israel completely opposes. (our emphasis)

“…an organization that supports the establishment of a Palestinian state is clearly working against Israeli interests… It is important to say explicitly: A Palestinian state is a danger to the State of Israel.”

(All quotes above are from the Jewish Chronicle – Incoming envoy Hotovely attacked Board over two-state commitment)

The Board of Deputies always presents itself as a voice of British Jews and not a mouthpiece for the Israeli Government. It is clear that the Israelis see it differently and expect to vet any statements about Palestine/Israel and ensure that the Board endorses Israeli policy.

She is no more enthusiastic about American Jews. When Deputy Foreign Minister she said that they “don’t understand the complexities of the region” because they “never send their children to fight for their country”. (our emphasis)

A petition against her appointment by the British Jewish organisation Na’amod  attracted around 1500 signatures. The liberal Zionist organisation Yachad said that it looked look forward to conveying to her “the high level of concern in this community about a potential unilateral annexation of West Bank territory”. Even Melanie Phillips fulminated against her appointment, saying that Hotovely “didn’t have a clue how the British mind works”.

As always, it will be up to civil society to oppose Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians, to support their struggle and to strongly resist the inevitable, ongoing, attempts to conflate antizionism or even criticism of the actions of the Israeli State with antisemitism. There are Jews across the world, including within Israel, who reject that notion and remain firmly committed to Jewish traditions – whether the Torah teachings such as “Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue” or the strong secular, democratic and socialist traditions as expressed most cogently by Marek Edelman, which we have adopted: “Always with the Oppressed, Never with the Oppressor.”

 

 

Comments (3)

  • George Wilmers says:

    The great irony is that appointment of Hotovely as ambassador is probably the best thing that could have happened to the BDS movement in the UK, insofar as it greatly facilitates the process of removing the scales from the eyes of the British public concerning the truly vicious nature of Israel’s ruling ideology.

    The JVL statement quotes “even” the rightwing journalist Melanie Phillips as “fulminating” against the appointment with the opinion that Hotovely had previously shown that she “didn’t have a clue how the British mind works.” This quotation glosses over the point that what much of the pro-Israel British establishment, from Starmer to Phillips, fears most is that Hotovely’s openly racist candour and relative honesty about Israel’s strategic aims is making their political campaign conflating antizionism with antisemitism considerably more difficult.

    From a Palestinian point of view there is little to choose between the future dystopia Phillips envisages for them, and that envisaged by Hotovely. The difference is largely one of presentation, but the Times columnist Melanie Phillips has her own opinions on the nature of “the British mind”, so it is worth quoting more of her reasoning (from the cited link) concerning why Hotovely’s religious fundamentalist arguments are inappropriate for British ears. Phillips is no less a zealot than Hotovely, but she believes that a secular form of obfuscation as practised by herself and Hotovely’s ambassadorial predecessors is far more persuasive:

    “Very few home-grown Israelis have anything other than a total tin ear when it comes to understanding the British psyche.They don’t understand how the British can believe stuff — like the view that the Palestinians are the indigenous people of the land of Israel — that is patently so ridiculous. And they don’t understand that lawfulness and fairness are of overwhelming importance for the British; it’s just that they’ve got where Jews and the Arabs stand on these issues precisely the wrong way round”.

    For a one minute video of Hotovely in fully fundamentalist flow see https://youtu.be/xrcKXtkM4Mc

  • Jenny Kassman says:

    Another of Frankenstein’s monsters…..

    I’ll be interested to see how our govt. responds to her. Having seen Boris, Dom C. & Dom Raab in action, nothing will surprise me.

    But I do agree with George that Hotovely’s appointment will be a boost for the BDS movement.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    The statements made by Mrs Hotovely are bound to give me sleepless nights. I am shocked at her open display of hardline ideology. Establishment here, be it the tories or Labour have not done much to ‘rein in’, sorry influenced the state of Israel to accept that their ideas and actions maybe rather unacceptable and that there may be consequences if it continues , and, looking at their track record to date, I doubt they will.

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