Tzipi Hotovely Is the Ugly, Extremist Face of Israel. British Jews Should Welcome Her

The Ambassador of Israel to the Court of St. James spends his days surrounded by history. The spacious office is situated on the Crown Estate in Kensington Palace Gardens, in an elegant mansion designed to imitate Christopher Wren’s Marlborough House. It was built originally in 1862 for William Makepeace Thackeray, popular Victorian satirist and author of Vanity Fair, and bought 90 years later by the Rothschild family, as a bequest to the young Jewish state.

There is no history attached to the official residence, a comfortable modern villa in St. John’s Wood, but it has some unique futures, such as a vista of Jerusalem, painted by Winston Churchill during his visit to the city in 1921, which hangs in the drawing room.

The office and residence are empty now, as Mark Regev, the urbane and silver-tongued ambassador left this week, ending his term after four years. The new ambassador, when she finally arrives in London to present her credentials at court, will herself be making history. Tzipi Hotovely, the eighteenth Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, will be the first woman in this position and at 41, by far the youngest.

The daughter of immigrants from the Soviet Republic of Georgia (her father is a salesman for pita bakeries), she is totally self-made, rising meteorically to the highest echelons without any connections. Though she wouldn’t describe herself as a feminist, she spoke out as a young religious woman against the pressure on her generation to make compromises and marry earlier. She herself married at the relatively ancient age, for her community, of 34.

You might think that as a working mother of three small daughters, all under the age of seven, and an impressive career as a lawyer, journalist and politician already to her credit, Hotovely would be greeted in London as an attractive poster-child for Israel.

But no. Na’amod, a young organization of left-wing British Jews, dedicated to campaigning against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza has organized a petition calling on the British government to reject Hotovely’s appointment due to her  “appalling record of racist and inflammatory behaviour throughout her political career.”

Mark Regev speaking at the Commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day event, 23 January 2018.Wikimedia Commons / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

They’re not wrong. Hotovely was hand-picked by Benjamin Netanyahu to feature on Likud’s candidate slate in the 2009 Knesset election, after impressing him with her performance as a panelist on a political chat-show, jousting with old white Ashkenazi men like Tommy Lapid, Ari Shavit and Gideon Levy. She is the prototype of the new far-right Likudnik, who have pulled the party to the extreme of the political spectrum.