Photo Credit: The Western Wall Heritage Foundation
Delegation members from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain participate in the candle lighting ceremony for the 5th night of Hanukkah at the Western Wall Plaza, December 14, 2020.

{Reposted from  the author’s blog}

There has been a lot of ink spilled on Jared Kushner over the last 4 years. Most of it by a Trump hating media that paints almost anyone associated with the President in the most unflattering terms. Which of course meant Kushner was not spared since he is the President’s son in law.

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Not that they intentionally lied about him. But their spin is unmistakably tainted by their obvious bias.

I am not going to comment about his father in law. My feelings about him are well known. Suffice to to say they are mixed. That said, I may be one of the few people in the entire universe that feels that way. Most people think either that he is a hero that can do no wrong… or that he is a villain that can do no right. But I don’t look at the world in absolutist terms. The world is very grey to me.

Back to Kushner. The prevailing opinion by the Trump hating left and  the ‘Never Trumper’ right is that Kushner is an incompetant moron. Or at best not the brightest bulb in the room. The reason he got anywhere in life is because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He looks kind of like a Ken doll –  a privileged white boy whose father paved his way towards success.

I am constantly being told by Trump haters how mediocre a student  he was with ample testimony to that effect by former Harvard classmates. That the only reason he was admitted to Harvard was because of the over 2 millions dollars his father donated to them the year before.

I am also told that it was Kushner’s incompetence that ran his father’s real estate business into the ground. Same thing when he bought the New York Observer. He destroyed that too.

 Then there is his career in politics, and government. There too his critics say he is ignorant and incompetent. Having no business working in either.

When he was announced by his father in law as the point man on peace in the Middle East, he was ridiculed – having had zero experience in the field. How could Trump’s mediocre nepotistic choice to solve an intractable problem that the best, most experienced minds in the world couldn’t even begin to solve? After decades of trying!  To say they scoffed at the idea is an understatement.

The bottom line is that whatever Kushner had his hands on would at best bear no fruit or make things a lot worse.

Orthodox Jews that are Trump haters see Kushner that way too. They are embarrassed that he is considered an Orthodox Jew. They even question whether he is even observant at all – pointing to what they observed as blatant public violations of Shabbos and Kashrus long before he ever even met his wife. And they cast aspersions on the legitimacy of his wife’s conversion – calling it a sham conversion bought and paid for by his great wealth.

I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of the degree of animus Trump haters have against Kushner. All of which they believe to be legitimate based on everything they know about him. In this regard, they are true believers. The disgust against Kushner is palpable – surpassed only by the disgust they have for his father-in-law.

 So are they right? Is all that the truth? Is all that the sum and substance of the man?

Absolutely not. While there may be a grain of truth in all of those things, I am convinced that it’s an incontrollable – even unconscious bias that drives those opinions. With no possible way to convince them otherwise. They know it for a fact based on all the ‘evidence’. Much of it furnished by a media  biased against his father in law. But the truth is that in the vast majority of cases they don’t know Kushner and never even met him.

The truth is that Kushner is not stupid. Money may get you into Harvard. But it will not necessarily get you a Harvard BA in government. Nor will it get you an MBA and law degree from NYU. Or an internship with Manhattan New York DA, Robert Morgenthau.

What about his business acumen? Were his business deals all losers? Hardly. While in college he bought and sold real estate – turning in a profit of $20 million. After taking a bigger role in his father’s real estate business he purchased nearly 7 billion dollars worth of real estate. His personal net worth in 2019 was estimated to be about $800 million!  If that shows incompetence – I’d sure like a piece of it.

What about the New York Observer? Did he drive that into the ground? Nope. Even without any publishing experience the paper is now profitable and he has increased its readership from 1.3 million to 6 million!

What about his role in government? Is he the incompetent his critics insist he is? Thereby having no business being anywhere near the top echelons of power? That too is pure bias talking.

Let us consider what he is actually given credit for even by critics.

First the media credited him for the his father in law’s 2016 win over Hillary Clinton. He was the unofficial but de facto campaign manager near the end of the campaign.

And once in government he was actually responsible for shepherding the passage of prison reform by congress in a near unanimous bipartisan vote. This  after many unsuccessful attempts in the past. He was given credit for that even by Democrats.

And finally there was the primary task given to him by his father – finding a new approach to peace in the Middle East. So far he has been far more successful in doing so than decades of the expert predecessors that have tried and failed. This after decades of experts expressing fear that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would bring on an Armageddon. Same thing annexing the Golan Heights captured from Syria during the 6 Day War. Guess what? No Armageddon. Not even an intifada.

After decades of experts insisting that peace could never be achieved between Israel and an Arab state without first solving the Palestinian problem – Kushner proceeded to prove them all wrong. There are now 4 Arab nations that have made peace with Israel (or are about to) and trading freely with them. While it’s true that success has many fathers. Most observers give Kushner credit for his leadership in changing the focus away form Palestinians and toward Arab nations that have a common view about the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Kushner exploited that commonality and has so far gotten 4 Arab nations to play ball.

 If this is incompetence and mediocrity, we could sure use a lot more of it!

What about his levels of Halachic observance. Is he really observant? I don’t know. He does belong to a Chabad Shul that is walking distance form his home. And I believe he sends his kids to an Orthodox Jewish day school. Observations of public violations of Halacha might have legitimate explanations. In any case, I am not God’s accountant. Only He knows for sure

How will history judge Jared Kushner? Depends who’s writing it. But as things stand now the leftward tilt in academia will surely be unkind and spin everything negatively. But as I always say, the truth matters.

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.