A Letter to Jared Kushner

My letter to Jared Kushner

Hey Jared, I don’t write like this often, but I woke up this morning and didn’t know what else to do. The World feels like it is in disarray and you were the one I wanted to express those overwhelming feelings to now.

So many Jewish newspapers and well-known individuals have felt both secure and also complete confusion with your role in the Trump Whitehouse. For many, you are the closest thing Jews have gotten to Presidential power. And many welcomed the access you would have to the President. Given your “Jewish Credentials” we felt secure that our values would be well-represented in the upcoming Presidential administration.

I awoke this morning, the day after the Muslim Ban, to a sick heart. I am horrified with the directive given swiftly and with a heavy hand. With no real compassion or dignity to those affected most by this new law.

Jared, how can you be a part of what is happening? In July, I read your piece in the New York Observer, “The Donald Trump I Know.” In it you defended your father-in-law and told the readers that he indeed, is not a racist. You also felt that he cannot be accountable to the fringe elements who support him. I saw the story as largely apologetic and sad that you even felt you needed to explain this to the nation. But I took it for face value, that you truly did believe this.

Jared, of course you are aware of your family’s history. Your Grandmother Rae has told the story of how your family in the mid-1930s were unsuccessful in trying to flee Poland. They were refused entry into the US and because of this, many in your family perished. Then after the war, again, many in your family tried to reach America. Again, they were denied entry and ended up in a DP Camp in Italy for 3 ½ years, only arriving in the US in 1949. Your family had tried many times to get to the US but because of the carefully crafted immigration laws, which kept the majority of the Jews out, they were largely unsuccessful during those many years. Security concerns regarding the Jewish refugees was cited as the major reason. Your Grandmother told her story, in 1982, to a Holocaust Resource Center. She expressed disbelief that a country such as America, would keep their doors closed. Jared, I am going to tell you the obvious. President Trump’s Muslim Ban dishonors the memory of your family, your grandmother and all holocaust victims.

And now, let’s talk about Holocaust Remembrance Day. As you well know, since 2005, the UN and its member states have designated January 27th as a commemoration to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust. Jared, I have trouble believing that President Trump just randomly picked this date to sign his Refugee Ban! What an affront to the meaning of the day to sign this xenophobic ban on this particular day. On Friday, not only did the Whitehouse sign an Executive Order suspending refugee entrance from certain predominately Muslim countries for 120 days and indefinitely suspending refugees from Syria, it also put out a statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day without once mentioning the Jewish victims of that Holocaust! Many prominent community leaders have called out your father-in-law for both his timing and wording and that his speech is a marked departure from both sides of the political aisle. Previous Presidents have always clearly highlighted the centrality of the genocide of the Jewish people on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Jared, I have to believe that you were not a party to this decision making process. I can only conclude that the alt-right advisor, Steven Bannon, is who crafted the timing and content of the last few days. And this I find particularly troubling.

Jared, you know that Bannon is the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, a “White Supremacy” website. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the site spews racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and white nationalism. It believes in the supremacy of the white race. The former KKK leader David Duke called your father-in-law’s pick of Bannon, an “excellent” choice. And Jared, the Anti-Defamation League has opposed Bannon’s appointment as Senior Advisor. Both politicians on the left and right have spoken out against Bannon. And today, we see that Trump has reorganized the National Security Council and elevated Bannon to the top of the inter-agency group and has limited the power of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff. And you also are aware that there have been limits placed on government agencies in regards to the public expressions they can make. And Bannon has been very clear, as has your father-in-law, to disdain the access of the press and their ability to freely say what they believe. “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts” have become the new catch-phrases.

Jared, where have you been in all this? The hair on the back of your neck should be bristling. This is way too obvious, but it needs to be said. What would your Grandmother, Rae Kushner, have to say about all of this? Jared, I implore you to use your Jewish conscience as Steven Bannon and his ilk plot new ways to disrupt the long-held beliefs of our nation. Our country is better than this and we need someone with your background and Jewish values to help guide what has increasingly become a cold-hearted and racist administration. You have President Trump’s ear and I beg you to use it. Remember the words of the poet Emma Lazarus,

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Sincerely,

Judith Alban