Address by MK Tzippi Hotovely to Likud Anglos

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Address BY MK Tzipi Hotovely to Likud Anglos

Jerusalem

12 December 2010

*This transcript was taken from video of the event by Julie Tauber and is slightly edited. For more information on the event and links to videos, click here.

MK Tzipi Hotovely: Good evening everyone. It’s very impressive to see young people coming out of their houses on such a very cold Jerusalem evening. So way-to-go to you. And I must say for me this evening is a great opportunity to speak in front of people that for me at least are may be the most ideological part of the Israeli society because you made a strong price for living here. As opposed to me that I was born and raised here I think that you challenged your ideology and you came and you made Zionism a true fact by coming and living here and I’m very proud of the fact that I’m speaking in front of you. Just before we start I want to get a sense of whom I am speaking to. How many of you have made aliyah from the U.S.? [Many audience members raise their hands]. Everyone? Anyone in this room who made aliyah from a different place? Where are you from?

Audience Member: Canada

Hotovely: And you?

Audience Member: Germany

Audience Member: England

Audience Member: Australia

Australia?

Audience Member: Canada

Unfortunately You are a minority. I’m speaking in front of a very strong American Jewish community. So now I know whom I am speaking to. Another question: how many of you have made aliyah in the last five years? [Hands go up]. Kol HaKavod. Very nice. O.K. [Applause].

O.K. How many of you speak Hebrew? [Hands are raised]. All right! It’s very tempting for me to switch to Hebrew but you still prefer in English huh? O.K., you get one year to listen to me in English and that’s it. [Laughter].

Your Hebrew better be good enough to understand my speeches in the Knesset…I want to tell you a little bit about my purpose in coming here. Well, first of all, I would like to tell you a little bit about my background. Then I would like to speak a little bit about vision, the vision which I stand for in the Knesset. The third part, which is for me the most important part is to have the opportunity to listen to you, to listen to your questions, listen to your remarks.  This is maybe the first opportunity for you to speak in front of a Member of Knesset and I would like to make it more of a dialogue than a lecture so please feel free to challenge the things that I say and put on the table things you are bothered by, either as people that have just made Aliyah and are facing some kind of difficulties or regarding any kinds of ideas. We’ll discuss many issues tonight ideas.

First I’ll give you small background about who I am and what made me be a part of the Likud party. We’ll I’m very young, I am actually the youngest member of Knesset, but for most of my life I never planned a political career. I was planning to be a part of academic life in Israel. I had good potential for this. I finished my first degrees of with excellence and it was pretty clear to me that I was going to go on to a PhD program at Tel Aviv University and be a law professor . . . But what is nice about life is that God is laughing when man is making plans which . . . is pretty true about my life.

One day I got a phone call from . . . . a very famous and known television show in Israel and I was asked to participate in that television show. I was pretty much busy in the library working on articles . . . and I was thinking whether I should go or not. And I went to an interview that in three minutes changed my life. From this interview which had nothing to do with politics, and this is the most amazing thing about the story, I was discussing  something regarding Orthodoxy and the background of the Rambam, you have heard about the Rambam? A Great Jewish scholar.

From discussing the Rambam, I got a very interesting offer from a journalist who interviewed me, his name was Dan Margolit, he’s one of the Israeli, I would say, Tom Friedmans . . .  though now-a-days Tom Friedman is not a very good in the Israeli view. But still, he’s very famous and he asked me to join a political discussion. That was pretty much about the way Israel sees democracy in the media, which means you have a bunch of left wingers - central left, extreme left, regular left - and you have one representative of the right. So it was pretty sad to go through that kind of experience but this is pretty much the way they told me basically the way it looks and I was asked to be representative of all minorities – I’m saying that of course in a very sarcastic way - religious people, settlers. Even though I’ve never been a . . .  “settler” as I grew up in Rechovot, a nice city about 40 minutes from here, I was about to represent the right-wing view . . ., women – as the only women of religious background And I was part of that for three years and for those three years I didn’t just learn how to debate, but also I got the feeling that at the moment it seems like the main agenda that Israeli society is considering is totally irrelevant. The main agenda was how to make , how to go through, a two-state solution and that was the only thing that was put on the table.

After I think it was one year of this debating show, I got another emergency phone call, this time from Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. His secretary asked to make a meeting, of course I went. I was very excited, thinking what the former prime minister, the future prime minister would like to tell me. At this point I realized how important the media is for politicians, because the reason he wanted to meet me was only one: he saw me debating, he watched me on television on national issues, and he thought, that kind of voice is very unique in Israeli media and he wanted to make sure he had a good relationship with me just like he has with different journalists that are representing different approaches of the media so we used to meet few times.

This was around the time of the second Lebanon war, which was a very hectic time in Israeli society, and we discussed many issues about how to make him, you know become the prime minister again. At the minute the coalition failed and it was clear and obvious that Olmert was not going to be a prime minister and we’re going to elections and Livni cannot make a coalition. He invited many, I would say many famous people to work on the Likud, people like Benny Begin, Naton Peridon, people like Dovi Elon who used to be chief of staff. Then he made a very interesting addition to party by bringing a young voice and asking me to join the Likud.

How did he asked me? To live a political life was quite a challenge I thought still my academic career was still ahead, my media career was still ahead, and jumping into  political life in Israel is a thing that is very difficult to do because you could be a very rising nice star when you’re outside, but when once you get a job inside you’ll probably you know getting to the swamps and you could get all the security thing (inaudible) that are around but I truly believe the only way t influence those days of the way the daily life looks here is to be part of Israeli politics. And I made that decision. I ran through the primaries – it was I think maybe one or two, I think the shortest ever -  two and a half weeks of primaries and thank God I was elected in the 18th spot of the Likud party.

At the moment I got into the Likud and I was part of it I realized how much power you have as a Member of Knesset as a ruling party. It’s nothing similar to my friends that are of all different other parties. My friends are in Yisrael Beiteni, my friends in halhud HaLeumi, my friends in the Mafdal – actually the Jewish Home  . . . and all those people are saying you know, we can say whatever we want but only you have the opportunity to speak in front of the prime minister every single week. I get to see the prime minster every single week, get together. Every single week the prime minister answers our questions. We form those questions and every single week the prime minster is looking behind and is asking himself if his party is supporting him.

Now the Likud went through, I would say, a very challenging moment by listening to what was known as the “Bar Ilan speech.” The Bar Ilan speech was the speech that the prime minister, the vision of the prime minster to and try to adopt a two-state solution vision. Now I must tell you this is unacceptable to most of the Likud voters. Most of the Likud voters are against that. Most of the Likud members are at the moment against that. And just like Daniel mentioned when you see the ship is going the wrong way against its own ideology and against its own roots, this is the place where you need to take leadership and you need to make sure that the captain of the ship that knows that he has, I would say, a balancing group, that will bring strong pressure, a pressure that is strong enough to make sure that the pressure that is coming from the outside that is turning the wheel back to the I would like to say to the center, because the center at the moment means the left but I would like to say get back to the position on which the Likud was elected. 

So for the last two years we had few very strong battles regarding the first freeze, and regarding the second freeze and thank God we managed to do it. We managed to do it because many good people made sure that we have support from the people that are the voters, because if we get the feeling that we are not representing anyone anymore, the people that elected us, this is the place where we say O.K. the game is over. But if we get the sense or the feeling that most of the people are supporting us we have the legitimacy to fight for those people who voted for us and to say this is what they are expecting from us. And I think for most of those battles, those conflicts in the Likud we were pretty much speaking about it, about the fact that this is getting back to the Likud’s ideology. And at the moment there is a very strong, I would say, dialogue of some of the Likud members - what is the Likud’s ideology, because we, as you all know, most of the people in Israel don’t really believe that there is a chance for a pace agreement.

But on the other hand, it seems like while the Palestinians refuse to get the idea of negotiating they take a very, I would say, clever and sophisticated path, they take the second route. The second route means we get everything without paying anything. And getting everything without paying anything means we’ll go straight to the U.N., we’ll declare in a unilateral way a Palestinian state. At the moment there are a hundred countries around the world that are part of the U.N. that are supporting that. And this will be, I would say, pretty much at the end of all the games that Israel was playing through all those years, by saying let’s keep some of the settlement blocks, let’s do this, let’s do that, because declaring unilaterally a Palestinian state means that the world would recognize Jerusalem as a divided city. And this is the thing I guess none of the people sitting in this room would like to see happen. This is why I think that now-a-days especially after listening to Hillary Clinton last night, I think this is our moment to start speaking about vision.

What is our vision? It’s pretty clear that at the moment there is no chance to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. It doesn’t pay for them. And when we see the bad experiment we had with Gaza with the disengagement. When we see how Gaza has become a little terror state, no one would like to see the same thing happen in Judea and Samaria. I think that at the moment, Israel must start being the side that is taking initiative. Not just being, you know, told what to do from the big brother the U.S.  Not just by, you know, as we are at the moment, being forced to speak about borders.

The meaning of the fact that we’re forced to speak about borders is very clear. Once they will have borders, the easy way to the U.N. will be so clear. Because at the moment they can’t declare a Palestinian state because they are saying, the world can say, this is a unilateral declaration; we don’t have the agreement of the Israeli side. Once they will have agreement of the Israeli side, I would say agreed borders, this is he place where it’s the end of the game and they can go to the U.N. and declare in a unilateral way . . . a Palestinian state. And I think that if the people in this room really care about the idea that there won’t be a Palestinian state on Israeli land, I think, for me, this is the first goal: It’s not just about building few more houses in nice places like Eili, and Ofra, and Beit El, this is not the story. The story is about whether this country, this state, this land should be divided, whether this country is owned by two nations, or this country is owned by the Jewish people. And for me, it’s very clear that the Israeli land which should be only for the Jewish people. We could have citizens that are coming from different places, but this is the only Jewish homeland.

[Inaudible] . . . land than it is at the moment, to extend the territory. The second thing is to make ensure demography wont result in an Arab mayor in Jerusalem.  This way all the people that are part of the great Jerusalem will be able to vote to make sure that the mayor will be a Jewish person. And this is just one part of a vision about Jerusalem which at the moment is having a difficult time because most of the international communities are thinking about making Jerusalem into an international city which is as worse as dividing the city. I think we have to deal with that also. I’d like to pause here because I would like to listen to u and to hear what u have to say and then ill conclude. So ill take a few questions. [Applause].

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