Reform Judaism hosts Israeli envoy Tzipi Hotovely after criticism from top rabbi
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Reform Judaism hosts Israeli envoy Tzipi Hotovely after criticism from top rabbi

Israeli ambassador meets progressive leaders a week after former senior rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner called on her to 'be ambassadorial and don’t incite hatred'

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Tzipi Hotovely
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Tzipi Hotovely

Reform Judaism quietly hosted an event for new Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely on Wednesday, just days after the movement’s former senior rabbi told her to “be ambassadorial and don’t incite hatred”.

The event, confirmed by two sources, was advertised only to significant Reform donors and supporters, and was on the heels of stinging criticism from Laura Janner-Klausner, who until October was the senior Reform rabbi in the UK.

One source alerted to the event alluded to Hotovely’s opposition to a Palestinian state, saying: “This event would obviously be controversial under any circumstances but particularly after Rabbi Laura’s criticism, and Hotovely’s subsequent interview, in which she continued to defend settlements and make other inflammatory remarks.”

Janner-Klausner spoke out last week after Hotovely, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, posted a video in her role as ambassador in which she called expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 “an Arab lie”.

The rabbi said the envoy’s views could do “off-the-scale” damage to the tenuous current state of engagement with Israel of young British Jews.

Janner-Klausner has led the call for a more nuanced approach to Israel education in the UK vis-a-vis the Palestinians, pointing to how young British Jews are increasingly becoming disenfranchised by what they see as Israel’s unfair and illegal occupation. How might Hotovely’s view impact this already fragile state of affairs?

“It is a terrible thing for young people’s relationship to the State of Israel, because if she is seen as the representative here, then it represents an Israel that young people will reject, and that would be a tragedy both for British Jewry and for Zionism,” Janner-Klausner said.

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