On the eve of Donald J. Trump’s win in Indiana — and emergence as the presumptive Republican nominee — two of the country’s major Orthodox magazines boasted exclusive interviews with the presidential hopeful.
Ami Magazine and Mispacha, Orthodox weeklies printed in Israel and the United States, carried cover stories of the business magnate and Republican frontrunner. Mispacha led their cover with: “Can he close the deal of a lifetime?”
For some Orthodox Jewry, Trump already has.
Trump has been courting Orthodox support — successfully — in recent months. On Thursday, prominent Orthodox leader Rabbi Shmuely Boteach said that Trump was the strongest candidate running. While one poll showed that most New York Jews have a poor opinion of Trump, for Hasidic Jews, “Trump is their guy,” Jacob Kornbluh of Jewish Insider said recently.
“He is curious what people in the Orthodox community think about him and his ideas,” Yisroel Besser wrote in Mishpacha. “He is eager for me to understand that Orthodox Jews aren’t an alien species to him, something he’s read or heard about, but people he’s worked with all his life.”
“He has been extremely generous with the Orthodox Jewish media,” Ami wrote. “And why not?”
Trump added that his Orthodox son-in-law Jared Kushner is familiar with Mispacha. “So I told Jared, ‘Look I’ve made the cover of Time magazine four times, maybe I’ll even make the cover of Mishpacha!’” though he had difficulty pronouncing the Hebrew word, Besser wrote.
Trump told Mishpacha that he didn’t understand why American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic (this is not true among the Orthodox) and support President Barack Obama.
Trump said that he was concerned that visibly Jewish travelers had been targeted in parts of Europe. “They’ve learned that they can do whatever they want and get away with it,” Trump said, referring to those who might harass Jewish travelers. “Obama taught them that.”
“I think that Obama has made Iran powerful and rich, and weakened Israel that way,” Trump continued. “It’s dangerous.”
When Trump was asked by the Forward at a recent press conference what he would call the land to the east of the Green Line (which this outlet calls the West Bank), the republican candidate deferred to employee and Orthodox real estate attorney named Jason Greenblatt, who said that he wouldn’t call the land the “occupied territories.”
More recently Trump said that he supported settlement expansion in the West Bank.
Debra Heller, writing for Ami described Trump telling her that Obama got deal-making “wrong” when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I know a thing or two about deal-making,” Trump said. “Israel has been willing to sit down at the negotiating table without preconditions for years—and the Palestinians haven’t.”
Both magazines also featured extensive interviews with Greenblatt, who Mispach called Trump’s “special advisor on Israel.” Greenblatt has been with the Trump Organization for 19 years.
Trump previously said that he would be “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Grenblatt told Ami, “He is absolutely not neutral when it comes to Israel… He believes that the Palestinians need to stop teaching their children to hate.”
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.