By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern
Ahead of the Jewish New Year 5779 (2018), Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. participated in a phone call with President Donald Trump. The President was introduced by his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
“It’s my honor to introduce in a few minutes the President. As we enter the final days of the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar the Jewish tradition calls for the month leading into Rosh Hashanah to be one of introspection and reflection,” said Kushner.
Kushner also spoke about Trump’s contributions to all American people. After the brief introduction the 45th President joined the call.
“To many Rabbis, Jewish leaders and friends who are on the line I am delighted to wish you L’Shana Tova, a sweet new year and you will have many others,” said Trump.
Trump expressed his deep gratitude to the Jewish people. Despite the Jewish people’s history of suffering and persecution, they have continued to thrive and contribute to the world.
Trump also stated his close personal connection to the Jewish people. His daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared are Jewish and the President is proud and loves his Jewish grandchildren.
During the High Holidays, reflection, atonement and remembrance are important, and the President reflected on some of his achievements for the Jewish people.
“As we hear the sound of shofars called this year we have much to celebrate as a nation,” said Trump. “Opportunities for all Americans are soaring, record numbers of Americans are working.”
Another of Trump’s administration’s accomplishments was moving the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 at 4p.m. The date and time is noteworthy because David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence the same date and time 70 years ago.
David Friedman, the United States Ambassador to Israel, also participated in the call and praised the opening of the Embassy as a significant and joyous moment.
“The embassy in Jerusalem has become a major tourist site in Israel,” said Friedman. “People just pull-up their cars, they get out, they take pictures. I have seen some people praying there. I have actually seen many people crying there.”
Another credit given to the Trump administration was the withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council. In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision. One of the reasons was stated by Haley to be the council having a “chronic bias against Israel”.
During the call, Trump also mentioned a long-overdue success with the deportation of the last known Nazi war criminal from the United States in August. Ninety-five year old Jakiw Palij was a guard and associated with terrible atrocities during the Holocaust. Palij’s deportation was ordered in 2004, however for 14 years American officials could not find an accepting country for Palij.
“We renew our pledge to confront anti-Semitism and hatred in all of its forms,” said Trump.
Alan Dershowitz, a participant in the call, thanked the President for doing what others have not been able to do.
Dershowitz asked, “Mr. President, should the Jewish community be optimistic that you can help bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict that we all pray for all the time?”
Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the President responded with a strong yes. Trump stated that while it is a challenge, his administration is working diligently on getting a deal.
Norman Colman, chairman of the Republican Jewish coalition, also participated in the call.
“In the spirit of introspection and reflection that we as Jews are called upon to do this time of year, please allow me to thank you for the courage and wisdom you’ve demonstrated in the promises made and promises kept this year that have really strengthened the U.S. Israel relation,” said Coleman. Coleman then questioned the President.
“Where do we go from here with Iran? What more can we do to neutralize Iran’s ongoing effort to destabilize the gulf region and continually threaten Israel’s existence?”
Trump said we will see what happens down the road and Iran is different now than before he became President. Trump stated that pulling out of the Iran deal was good for Israel and world peace and has demonstrated he has Israel and the Jewish people’s safety and security in mind.
“May you be inscribed in the book of life,” said Trump. “I send my warmest wishes to the Jewish people in the United States and around the world as we approach the high holidays.”
Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018