When will Ivanka and Jared stand up to Trump?
With two notable exceptions, most of former President Trump’s Jewish allies have criticized him for dining with the antisemitic rapper Kanye West and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
Those two exceptions are the president’s own Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
For whatever reason, the couple has what seems to be an unlimited ability to stay quiet. Throughout his campaign and presidency, Ivanka and Kushner stayed silent, or defended Trump, at moments when a moderating voice could have made a difference. And now, as their father and father-in-law gives presidential imprimatur to two antisemites, neither Kushner nor Ivanka has commented in public about it.
But now that Trump is running again, and could once again be president, their silence is even more dangerous, if not inexcusable. Ivanka, who has said she is stepping away from politics to spend time with her family, might want to consider how her father’s normalizing of vicious antisemites affects all Jewish families, hers included.
For inspiration, she might look at the child of another Republican politician.
After a woman came forward with proof that Herschel Walker, the former college football star in a close race for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia, paid for her abortion, his son took to Twitter.
“You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over six times in six months running from your violence,” Christian Walker tweeted on Oct. 3.
“I don’t care about someone who has a bad past and takes accountability. But how DARE YOU LIE and act as though you’re some ‘moral, Christian, upright man.’ You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other people’s lives. How dare you,” he added.
Until that moment, despite their disparate childhoods, Christian had been as quiet and loyal as Ivanka and Jared. A conservative Christian, he was at Mar-a-Lago last December just after his father announced his candidacy.
“I got to hug a future senator!” Christian tweeted.
But his father’s glaring hypocrisy — running as a staunch conservative Christian as accusations about his past poured in — likely compelled the son to speak up. Some lies are too much to bear, some actions too dangerous to ignore.
After Trump’s Mar-a-Lago meeting, the former president’s staunchest Jewish defenders may have felt a similar sense of duty.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, who delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, wrote yesterday in the Hollywood Reporter that he could “not believe that a man with Jewish grandchildren” could make “such an ill-conceived decision.” Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, whose organization had just given the former president an award, said Trump’s action “legitimizes Jew-hatred and Jew haters.” David Friedman, a longtime Trump lawyer who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel under Trump, tweeted that the meeting was “unacceptable.”
Is it unreasonable to expect Ivanka and her husband to say … something? They are an observant Jewish couple. They keep Shabbat. They send their children, the former president’s grandchildren, to Jewish schools. They, and the members of their Jewish community, are as vulnerable to anti-Jewish harrassment and antisemitic attacks as anyone.
Not unreasonable, you could say, but not exactly unexpected. Trump and Kushner, who both held senior positions in President Trump’s administration, have, with one recent exception, refused to speak out against the man or his policies.
Not a peep in 2018 when Trump’s administration separated children from their families at the border. When Trump refused to back down from his comment that there were “fine people on both sides” during the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Ivanka and Kushner refused, again, to speak out against his statement.
But this time feels different.
For at least six years, while Trump’s Jewish supporters have trumpeted his support for Israel, his Jewish critics have warned that Trump’s relationship with the alt-right is dangerous, if not a deal-breaker.
“Donald Trump has a white supremacist problem,” I wrote in February 2016, just after he announced his candidacy for presidency. Bari Weiss warned supporters of Israel that Trump “wasn’t worth it,” considering who his allies were. After the Trump campaign tweeted a Der Sturmer-like image of Hillary Clinton and a Star of David, Rabbi David Wolpe wrote, “You need not be an anti-Semite to give anti-Semitism criminally free reign, and this Trump has done.”
Has it really taken six toxic years, an explosion of online antisemitism and a record number of violent antisemitic attacks for Trump’s Jewish allies to realize what so many of us have long warned: Donald Trump is bad for the Jews?
Maybe by speaking out, Ivanka will ensure that Trump more carefully considers with whom he consorts. A son or daughter’s voice has an impact: Christian Walker’s criticism of his father “upended the race,” according to the New York Times. Shortly after he spoke up, a poll showed Walker’s support had slipped by 4 percentage points.
Only recently has Ivanka publicly countered her father. In her testimony before the Jan. 6 Committee, Ivanka said she supported then-Attorney General William Barr’s message to Trump that he had lost the presidential election.
“I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he was saying,” she told the committee.
That gentle refutation of her father’s point of view prompted Trump to tweet that his daughter was “checked out” and not aware of what he continues to insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, was widespread election fraud.
But for Ivanka, it was a big step. With Trump yet again a candidate for president, and with every indication that he will embrace the same hateful groups and divisive rhetoric that worked for him before, it’s time for the Kushners to find Christian Walker’s courage, and speak up.