Trump Son-in-Law on Antisemitism: Don’t Cry Wolf over a Tweet

Jared Kushner (Mike Coppola / Getty)
Mike Coppola / Getty

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has blasted accusations that the Trump campaign sent an antisemitic tweet, saying that false accusations make it more difficult to confront real bigotry.

In an op-ed in the New York Observer, which he owns, Kushner defends Trump, and warns: “In my opinion, accusations like “racist” and “anti-Semite” are being thrown around with a carelessness that risks rendering these words meaningless.”

He explained that he is descended from a family of Holocaust survivors, who know what real antisemitism means, and take it seriously. To emphasize the point, he described his family’s wartime experiences publicly for the first time:

This is not idle philosophy to me. I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors. On December 7, 1941—Pearl Harbor Day—the Nazis surrounded the ghetto of Novogroduk, and sorted the residents into two lines: those selected to die were put on the right; those who would live were put on the left …

My grandmother made it to the woods, where she joined the Bielski Brigade of partisan resistance fighters. There she met my grandfather, who had escaped from a labor camp called Voritz. He had lived in a hole in the woods—a literal hole that he had dug—for three years, foraging for food, staying out of sight and sleeping in that hole for the duration of the brutal Russian winter.

Trump, Kushner says, not only embraces his daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism, but has a natural empathy and love for the Jewish people and Israel, and has immediately responded to anti-Israel rhetoric he has encountered on the campaign trail:

The fact is that my father in law is an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife. His support has been unwavering and from the heart. I have personally seen him embrace people of all racial and religious backgrounds, at his companies and in his personal life. This caricature that some want to paint as someone who has “allowed” or encouraged intolerance just doesn’t reflect the Donald Trump I know. The from-the-heart reactions of this man are instinctively pro-Jewish and pro-Israel. Just last week, at an event in New Hampshire, an audience member asked about wasting money on “Zionist Israel.” My father-in-law didn’t miss a beat in replying that “Israel is a very, important ally of the United States and we are going to protect them 100 percent.” No script, no handlers, no TelePrompter—just a strong opinion from the heart.

Kushner’s op-ed was prompted, in part, by an open letter from a Jewish Observer employee who demanded that Kushner speak out against Trump’s tweet, and explained that she had received antisemitic tweets when she had criticized it.

While condemning the responses she had received, Kushner said that by blaming Trump for things people on the Internet fringe were doing, she was holding Trump to an impossible standard — one that no other presidential candidate faced:

This notion that has emerged that holds my father in law responsible for the views of everyone who supports him is frankly absurd. Not only is this expectation completely unique to Donald Trump, but it’s clear how easily it could be used to manipulate the public. Don’t like a candidate? Hire some goons to go hold signs in favor of that candidate at a rally. A few months ago, my father in law completely and totally disavowed the support of one of America’s best-known racists. The issue immediately became whether the seconds it took for him to do so proved that he was insufficiently committed to fighting racism. It’s an insane standard.

He urged her not to join the “Twitter throngs” who had thoughtlessly condemned Trump — “It doesn’t take a ton of courage to join a mob” — and to leave the liberal social media bubble and meet people with different views and backgrounds.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.