WASHINGTON — Despite high expectations from a White House gathering for select Jewish leaders on Tuesday night, the event turned out to be a pre-Passover reception and did not address the forthcoming peace pan that administration officials have been preparing to unveil, according to sources who were there.
While the president’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt attended the gathering, he did not address the crowd, two attendees told The Times of Israel.
US President Donald Trump; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and Ivanka Trump, the president’s Jewish daughter, did not attend.
In its invitation, the White House billed the event as “a discussion with key administration officials on pertinent issues impacting the community.”
None of the speakers mentioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election eve promise to annex West Bank settlements, a move that has been vehemently protested by liberal Jewish leaders, who were not invited to the soiree, and by pro-Israel Democrats, who have warned it would cause a political emergency in Washington by undermining the viability of an eventual two-state solution.
One of the main speakers, it turned out, was Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who said he felt very comfortable and confident that the Trump administration would put forward a peace proposal that took into account Israel’s security concerns, two sources told The Times of Israel.
“I know a lot of people are concerned that the peace plan is going to be coming out soon,” Dermer said, according to Jewish Insider.
“But I have to say, as Israel’s ambassador, I am confident that this administration — given its support for Israel — will take Israel’s vital concerns into account in any plan they will put forward.”
For months, Trump’s team tasked with brokering an accord has said it would wait until after Israel’s April 9 election to reveal the proposal. A Channel 13 report said that the White House was now aiming for mid-June.
Other speakers at Tuesday’s event included Elan Carr, the State Department’s anti-Semitism envoy, and Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who directs American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad).
Carr told the attendees that after the Passover holiday he will be traveling in his new capacity as anti-Semitism envoy, with stops in Europe and in the Middle East to address anti-Semitism in the Arab world and their textbooks, one source said.
Leaders from three of the four major Jewish denominations — the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements — were not invited.
Since Trump took office in January 2017, non-Orthodox Jewish leaders have frequently criticized the president on matters ranging from his rhetoric to his immigration policies to even, at time, his approach to Israel.
Other groups that were excluded were the Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading Jewish civil rights group; J Street, the liberal Mideast advocacy group; and HIAS, a Jewish immigration advocacy group.