With little fanfare, the 2020 Republican National Convention highlighted several sources of great pride for the American Jewish community.
Secretary Pompeo’s speech from the very heart of the Jewish people, with the Western Wall and Temple Mount as backdrop—highlighted the deep, warm relationship between the United States and the Jewish State. Pompeo’s message illustrated that the bond far transcends military and intelligence cooperation; it grows from a visceral kinship between these two covenantal nations. “This very city of G-d,” intoned Pompeo, “Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland.”
Amen and Hallelujah.
President Trump’s speech—along with those of Vice President Pence and numerous others—reinforced the centrality of Israel’s wellbeing to America’s worldview. Trump’s personal pride in keeping his promise to recognize Jerusalem is palpable. Nor is it mere symbolism; the President’s 2017 National Security Strategy provided a clear vision of a world aligned with both American interests and values: Strong sovereign states, proud and confident in their own traditions, respecting their people and striving for peace with their neighbors. No country better exemplifies that vision than Israel. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is, as the President often notes, recognizing reality. A Middle East policy based on reality: How simple. How revolutionary.
Perhaps the greatest source of pride for American Jews, however, had nothing to do with Israel. It arose when the President chose his Jewish daughter, Ivanka, to introduce him. She stood before America exuding strength, poise, sophistication, and pure class. She spoke with elegance, humor, and humility, reminding millions of just how great America can be. It’s hard to imagine a more positive image of the modern American Jew.
That she was not born Jewish makes it even more miraculous. Ivanka has embraced Judaism—and the Jewish people—with a full, open heart. In the finest Jewish tradition dating to the Bible, Judaism embraces her in turn. “Righteous converts,” in Jewish lore, embody souls that were Jewish at Sinai; their fellow Jews have special appreciation for their arduous journey back home. Many of our most venerated rabbis and storied heroes were Jews by choice rather than birth.
Ivanka’s prominence punctuated the unique role that she and husband, Jared Kushner, have played in this Administration. From the beginning, President Trump has kept his family engaged. While most contribute as political and media leaders, Jared and Ivanka have worked as special advisors to the President.
There’s no question of the esteem in which the President holds them – or about how they earned that trust. Time and again, Jared has been President Trump’s go-to man to meet logistical and diplomatic challenges. Pilloried by the “expert” class for his lack of relevant experience, vilified by Trump’s naysayers on all sides, Jared’s performance across multiple fronts has been simply phenomenal.
Jared played a central role in negotiating the First Step Act—a genuine coup of great importance to America’s Black community and President Trump’s finest bipartisan achievement to date. Moreover, he did it quietly, behind the scenes, without ever once seeking the limelight.
As the world witnessed just days after the Convention with the historic direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, Jared’s work towards Middle East peace has been even more astounding. Working closely with a hand-picked team that features a number of proud highly identified American Jews like Ambassador David Friedman, Avi Berkowitz, and Jason Greenblatt, Jared helped break decades of failure to forge an entirely new direction for the region. By all accounts, the personal relationships Jared developed with the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE played critical roles in integrating Arab concerns into a plan that refuses to inflict pointless pain upon Israel. Again, quietly, calmly, and without leaks.
When President Trump calls that pact the most important advance in a quarter-century he is being uncharacteristically understated. It’s already Israel’s warmest agreement with any Arab state. It is, in fact, the single greatest step ever taken towards normalizing Israel within the region and moving the broader Arab/Islamic world away from genocidal antisemitism. In the annals of the Arab/Israeli conflict, only Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem rivals it; and that came at much higher cost to Israel.
And Jared has been deeply involved in other administration successes, from renegotiating trade deals to securing the FIFA championship. Meanwhile, Ivanka has championed women’s issues and working mothers. She has done so quietly, cajoling large parts of the GOP to appreciate the pro-family aspects of federal programs that ease the burden on mothers in the workplace.
All this should suffice to make Jared and Ivanka the most celebrated couple – Jewish or otherwise – in American Jewish history. Tragically, the Jewish State, the Jewish people, the very existence of a Jewish nation—and America’s greatness—have become matters of deep controversy among American Jews. Jews who buy into the anti-American narrative of the Left and disdain all expressions of the Jewish collective also exert energy defaming Jared and Ivanka. Yet the astonishing couple have met even this undeserved and unseemly rancor with an apparently endless reserve of modesty, dignity, and grace.
Which is why it’s so important for us to remind America that Jews filled with love and gratitude towards America and proud as well of the Jewish collective – our religion, our people, and our homeland – should be brimming with pride over Jared and Ivanka.