We may have just witnessed the first chink in the “Trump is good for the Jews because of Jared Kushner” armor.
One of the most oft-repeated mantras of Jewish supporters of President Donald Trump is that the former businessman will have the best interests of Israel and the Jews at heart because his daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, and that they are raising their children in the Orthodox Jewish tradition. Moreover, Kushner’s voice seems particularly strong in the administration, as he is said to be the president’s closest confidante and was appointed his senior adviser.
When the White House issued its statement last Friday on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it did not specifically mention Jews as victims of Nazi terror, an omission that had never occurred before.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” read the Jan. 27 statement. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.”
Some were quick to ask why Kushner allowed the omission. Surely he is sensitive to Jewish concerns, especially because his grandparents, the names behind Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, were Holocaust survivors. Perhaps he was unaware of the statement. And maybe the community is putting too much stock in expecting him to be involved in every issue of concern to Jews.
In the face of criticism, the administration defended its wording rather than acknowledge an oversight. “Everyone suffered in the Holocaust, including the Jewish people,” a spokesman said, missing the point.
When it becomes acceptable for Jews to be erased from the Holocaust, soon it becomes de rigueur. And then it becomes racist for Jews to cry victimhood as if they were targeted more than other people. That’s why any statement that lumps Jewish suffering in the Shoah with that of others is anti-Semitic and dangerous.
Holocaust denial has morphed; now it’s shared victimhood, which minimizes Jewish suffering and emboldens anti-Semites everywhere.
The Holocaust was a genocidal tragedy in targeting the Jewish people for destruction. For the president not to apologize and clarify that central point only adds to the perception that this administration is a safe haven, if not a platform, for bias and bigotry. We urge the president, who is not reticent about speaking out, to do so in reminding the nation that the Holocaust was an effort to annihilate the Jewish people, and that racism and religious persecution of any kind can never be tolerated.
And we hope Jared Kushner will encourage him to do the right thing.