LAWRENCE SOLOMON: AS AMERICA’S FIRST ‘JEWISH’ PRESIDENT,
By Lawrence Solomon, with consent of the author
With Donald Trump's election, the extended First Family will be largely Jewish through marriage.
Donald Trump has been widely accused of courting anti-Semites and of being a threat to Israel, especially by American Jews. These accusers, and these Jews, have it wrong:
Trump — at a personal, professional and policy level — will go down in history as the most pro-Jewish, pro-Israel president ever.
The extended First Family will be largely Jewish.
Donald Jr.’s wife, with whom he has five children, is half-Jewish. Trump’s younger son, Eric, married a Jewish woman two years ago in a highly publicized wedding under a traditional chuppa. It was officiated by Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and husband of Ivanka, who herself converted to Orthodox Judaism seven years ago.
Ivanka keeps a kosher household ;and, to her father’s delight, she is religiously observant, even avoiding phone calls on the Sabbath.
Donald, who wholeheartedly embraces his family’s Jewish associations, encouraged his daughter’s conversion “from Day One” (in Ivanka’s words) and on the campaign trail gushed that Ivanka “is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby,” her third.
In business, Trump surrounded himself with tough-minded, often Orthodox Jews in top positions, as lawyers and trusted advisers.
He also succeeded in business by welcoming Jews (and blacks) as members at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, breaking the city’s long-held bans, and then made Palm Beach’s discrimination practices a cause célèbre by suing the city council over its support for anti-Semitic and racist bans.
The Trump Foundation’s IRS filings reveal a history of generous donations to Jewish organizations, an unusual practice by non-Jews, according to Jonathan Sarna, the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. The donations range from cultural to Zionist. Friends of the Israel Defense Forces is among Trump’s donees.
Jewish advisers — and full-throated Israel-backers of Christian as well as Jewish heritage — also dominate Trump’s political life:
A high-profile adviser that Trump’s detractors point to as an anti-Semitic exception — his chief strategist Steve Bannon — is no exception at all.
Bannon is an unabashed Zionist and opponent of the anti-Semitic BDS movement whose media outlet, Breitbart, has aggressively exposed Palestinian propaganda and championed pro-Israel policies.
Trump’s family members, whom he relies upon for advice, are ardent defenders of the cause of Jewish nationhood.
For example, Trump has indicated he may appoint Kushner, perhaps his closest adviser on Israel issues, as point man in negotiating between Israel and the Palestinians.
Through the Kushner family foundation, Kushner has supported groups and institutions in Israel’s West Bank, in aid of strengthening the settlement movement.
Ivanka, one of Trump’s closest adviser, describes Israel as one of the two causes she champions.
Trump’s wider circle notably includes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for whom he made a video endorsement during Israel’s 2013 election campaign.
Upon winning the presidency, Netanyahu was the first foreign leader that Trump called, and the first foreign leader he invited to the White House.
Trump’s foreign policy is every bit as pro-Israel as is his team of advisers.
During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undisputed and indivisible capital, to dismantle the Iran nucear deal, to give Israel a free hand in negotiating a peace with the Palestinians and to veto any anti-Israel resolutions presented at the United Nations.
To nip in the bud the growing possibility that Obama would back a declaration of Palestinian nationhood at the UN, soon after winning the presidential election Trump’s team warned the Obama administration to not try any last-minute “UN surprise” hostile to Israel.
In some respects, Trump’s position on Israel is more Zionist than Netanyahu’s stated position.
In 2009, under international pressure, and especially pressure from newly elected President Obama, Netanyahu dropped his long-standing opposition to a two-state solution — two peoples living side by side in two separate states.
European governments and others in the West still insist on a two-state solution, but they may soon be sidelined.
Because growing numbers of Israelis believe the Palestinians will never accept a Jewish state, few Israelis believe it to be a real-world solution.
Trump’s Israeli advisers publicly endorse this growing Israeli view, stating that Trump won’t impose a two-state solution and opening the possibility of a one-state solution or an entirely novel approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All previous U.S. presidents have had mixed, often hostile views toward Israel; none has ever given Israel the freedom to determine its own future and none has ever recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, although many had promised to do so, only to back off upon assuming office.
Trump would not back off, Ivanka stated categorically — “100 per cent” — when asked if her father would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump promises to be different. His life experience, his instincts, and his community of advisers all speak to his wholehearted embrace of things Jewish, especially the Jewish state. “We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 per cent, 1,000 per cent. It will be there forever,” he vowed.
No Jew could be more emphatic!