I am about to step on a whole lot of landmines.
I am about to criticize how one woman dresses, about to slam the current Prince Charming of American Jewry, about to make fun of the two most influential Jews in the United States.
Like with so much these past few months, I would like to understand how in the hell we got to the point that the most powerful Jews in the country are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
Now, sure they seem like two nice young people, well groomed, polite, socially graceful. Three adorable children, a nice family. All that’s to the good. But how did we then leap to them having more sway on the policies of the American government than any other Jews? Oh yeah, The Donald.
We were already in enough trouble having Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul, as the king of the Jews. Someone who knows nothing about Judaism, who said it wouldn’t bother him in the slightest if Israel ceased to be a democracy, being the go-to guy for all Republican presidential candidates, the funder of Israel’s most read, and totally slanted, daily newspaper, someone who Trump had over for dinner at the White House to listen to what America should do in the Middle East.
And now we have Jared Kushner, the prince, who as far as I can tell, has been smart enough to accomplish exactly two things in his life – be born into a wealthy real estate family and marry into a wealthy real estate family.
That’s pretty much all his experience and all his expertise is. And yet at the moment he seems to be in charge of well, pretty much everything.
Just this week, he was in Iraq with no less than the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff assessing how the war against ISIS is going. And just this week we learned that after the election he was sent to meet with a delegation of American Muslims asking for their suggestions on how to smooth relations between his father-in-law and Muslims.
But that is but the tip of Jared’s iceberg of responsibilities. As the Washington Post put it, “Kushner’s portfolio has already grown to encompass slices of everything from foreign policy (Mexico, the Middle East) to domestic issues (opioid addiction, veterans affairs) to serving as the in-house mediator for the various feuding camps within the West Wing (the ideologues, the Wall Street guys).”
Jared has been put in charge of dealing with China, no small country; smoothing things over with Mexico, no small task; and brokering a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which will take no small miracle.
And even that’s not the end of his jobs. He’s also in charge of the new White House Office of American Innovation whose mission is no less than to totally transform how the government does things.
And yet, as the Post notes, “he has little depth and lacks the self-awareness to know what he doesn’t know… His entrepreneurial background is exactly what Trump meant when he promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington.”
Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, compared the Trump-Kushner dynamic to “a mob family operation.” “It’s as if Trump is the don and he only trusts his close family members,” Mann said. “There’s no indication that experience in the real estate business prepares one for the tasks at hand. It’s the hubris of a businessman imagining he can run government just because he’s a businessman. I don’t know if Jared Kushner shares the hubris of his father-in-law, but he’s certainly willing to say ‘Yes, sir.’”
“He’s taken on a portfolio that is unprecedented in White House history,” said Paul Light, a professor at New York University who studies the presidency. “My experience is that somebody who has this much in his or her portfolio is not doing anything particularly well. They’re going to flit in and out.” It is, he added, “remarkable, unprecedented and unwise.”
And through it all, Jared’s got the very Jewish name of Kushner. I just have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that this is not going to end well for the Jews.
Now normally I don’t think like that. Indeed, I have always gotten angry at those who say Jews should not be too visible or be seen as too powerful, who say how terrible it would have been if Joe Lieberman had been elected vice president because then if anything went wrong people would blame the Jews.
That is ghetto thinking and it’s time we stopped doing it, I have always said. But I am starting to feel that way about Jared and Ivanka. They are so visible, they are, as we have just learned, worth more than $700 million, and they are so in the middle of everything. I listed all that Jared is tasked to do and the feeling of experts he won’t and can’t do all of it, indeed won’t, can’t do any of it well. So what happens when he fails over and over?
And now we have Ivanka, who promised after the election on national TV that she would not be part of the administration, that her only role would be that of “being a daughter.” But she has shown herself to be a liar off the old block. She now has a job in the White House, the title of assistant to the president, a West Wing office, high level security clearance and a portfolio of responsibilities of her own. What exactly qualifies her for any of them is as unclear as what qualifies Jared for any of his very many, very huge jobs.
That expert I quoted above said all this seems to him like a “mob family operation.” My feeling is that it’s more like the Clampetts of that old TV show, “Beverly Hillbillies.” Jared is Jethro, tall, handsome, but totally ignorant even as he delusionally thinks he is totally brilliant, can do anything, and Ivanka is Ellie May, beautiful, but not exactly a rocket scientist.
In point of fact, they are nothing but two very young pishers, who have no absolutely no experience in government, have no vast knowledge of anything, certainly not of China or Mexico or opioids or the intricacies of Middle East peacemaking or the mammoth task of overhauling the federal bureaucracy. And yet they have been put in charge of all of that, and more. And remember they don’t work on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
Speaking of which, I would like to pick one last bone. I wish Ivanka would stop making herself out to be an Orthodox Jew, like she did posting a photo of herself and her kids baking hamantaschen for Purim.
Look at another photo. Two very wealthy, very socially connected young pishers, qualified only to go out to parties and have fun, not be at the center of the American government. And look at Ivanka’s dress. Now the fact is that there is not an Orthodox woman on the face of the earth that would dress that way, would show that much skin, would go out naked from her head to her bosom. That is not how an Orthodox woman dresses.
Now you non-Orthodox can say what’s the big deal, the Orthodox concept of modesty in dress is out of date, stupid, you should be able to dress however you want. Fine do that if you want, but if you want to consider yourself Orthodox that means there are rules to follow and one of them is dressing appropriately. Which doesn’t mean shabbily or sloppily, but it does mean with discretion.
So Ivanka, if you want to claim to be Orthodox, you gotta dress the dress. And Jared, if you are so skilled and talented that you can handle China, make peace in the Middle East, keep Mexico happy, figure out ISIS and transform the American government, how about starting by making sure your ignoramus father-in-law has the brains to condemn anti-Semitism when asked to do so, and remembers to mention the Jews when making a statement marking International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Jared and Ivanka, prince and princess of the Jews. Very, very bad for the Jews.