I have one thing in common with Donald Trump. We both think highly of his daughter, Ivanka.
Granted, I have not had any thoughts of dating her, like her father has. But I’m more than willing to admit she seems terrific: smart, gracious, and hard-working, even though by birth she wouldn’t have to do much at all.
She’s also Jewish, having married Jared Kushner, a real estate developer who was raised Orthodox. “It’s been such a great life decision for me,” Ivanka said in a Vogue profile last year. “I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”
Why wouldn’t we happily welcome this accomplished and seemingly grounded young woman to Judaism? Barucha haba’a, Ivanka!
But some are taking this too far, alleging that respect and fondness for her can safely translate into some of the same for her dad. Donald and Ivanka are clearly close. Ivanka was the one to introduce her father when he announced his candidacy. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt described her as her father’s Svengali and insists that she has significant influence on her father’s actions.
Ivanka Trump is an executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, working on international development deals. She presents her role within the company as evidence that her father is not a misogynist, despite his comments on the campaign trail about, for example, Carly Fiorina’s appearance. Rather, she says, he’s a fair man who rewards those who earn his admiration. “If he didn’t feel that women were as competent as men,” she told Town and Country in a recent interview, “I would be relegated to some role [in Trump’s business] subordinate to my brothers. I think that is one of his great strengths: He fully prioritizes merit and accomplishment and skill and ability over background, education, and gender.”
Some would argue that Fiorina’s accomplishments did not stop Donald Trump from deciding it was acceptable to state that he finds her unattractive and, further, to imply that her looks would mar her effectiveness as president; or to tell a female reporter in 2014 that she would not have her job if she were not beautiful; or to make sexist comments when displeased by questions from journalist Megyn Kelly; and on, and on. However, it’s true that Ivanka is helping to run the Trump Organization along with the boys.
And that’s great. But the belief that Ivanka Trump’s level head and thoughtful, personable demeanor can somehow make up for her father’s lack thereof is unfounded and possibly dangerous. New York magazine reported in August that Ivanka attempted to guide her father away from his inflammatory statements about Mexican immigrants, writing up several statements for him to choose from to retract or at least clarify his comments. He chose none of them.
More recently, he failed to immediately reject support from David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, recently endorsed Trump and held up Ivanka’s marriage as evidence that Donald is not racist. “Trump’s daughter, who converted to Judaism in 2009. I don’t think Trump has any feelings and concerns about the KKK, other than he doesn’t like them,” Marino told the press. “He renounces them, and given the fact that he supported his daughter in that move shows that.” It does?
Looking at the racism, misogyny, and across-the-board, unbridled disrespect Donald Trump has shown on the campaign trail, we have to conclude that if this is not an accurate representation of the man, and if he’s receiving advice on how better to present himself, he isn’t listening. Rather, it seems prudent to assume that what we see in him as a candidate — shouting, mocking, bullying (“Don’t give them their coats!” he yelled as protesters were recently removed from a Trump rally) — is exactly what we would get.
Ivanka is one of her father’s staunchest supporters. She has continued to travel with him well into the last weeks of her pregnancy with her third child. But whatever she thinks of him, and whatever we think of her, must not cloud what he himself is showing us every day.
Pamela Rafalow Grossman’s work has been published in Salon.com, the “Village Voice,” “Ms.” magazine, and Time.com, among other outlets. She lives in New York City.
Don’t Go Gaga Over Ivanka — a Nice Jewish Daughter Doesn’t Atone for the Sins of the Father