Jared Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has come under fire from his family over his recent defense of his father-in-law, who has increasingly faced charges of fostering anti-Semitism.
The GOP candidate set off a firestorm this week over a tweeted image of rival Hillary Clinton juxtaposed with piles of money alongside a six-pointed star reminiscent of a Star of David. The ad, which many have viewed as anti-Semitic, accused Clinton of being the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”
Kushner, who has been increasingly involved in Trump’s presidential campaign, as is his wife Ivanka Trump, was forced into the spotlight this week after a Jewish employee at the New York Observer, which Kushner owns, penned an open letter to him accusing him of knowingly ignoring the anti-Semitic symbolism in the Clinton ad and pandering to white supremacists.
The letter by Dana Schwartz garnered international attention, forcing Kushner to deny the charges in a Wednesday press statement that called Trump an “incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife.”
In an essay in the Observer later Wednesday, Kushner took his defense of his father-in-law further, revealing his family’s history of Holocaust survival because, he wrote, “it’s important to me that people understand where I’m coming from when I report that I know the difference between actual, dangerous intolerance versus these labels that get tossed around in an effort to score political points.”
The essay was criticized by Kushner’s extended family on Thursday, as revealed by Politico, with several cousins blasting him for invoking the family’s ordeal during World War II.
“I have a different takeaway from my Grandparents’ experience in the war,” wrote Marc Kushner, a first cousin, in a Facebook post on Thursday. “It is our responsibility as the next generation to speak up against hate. Antisemitism or otherwise.”
I have a different take-away from my Grandparents' experience in the war. It is our responsibility as the next generation to speak up against hate. Anti-semitism or otherwise.
Another cousin, Jacob Schulder, wrote a longer, more critical post of Kushner, writing: “When an out of touch with reality nominee hires an out of touch with reality campaign manager, who is also a son-in-law, you get the BS Jared wrote. I don’t think Trump is an antiSemite; I think he’s a lying idiot (among other things) with little to no experiences outside his teetering fiefdom of failed development projects, divorces, bankrupted sports leagues, fraudulent ‘Universities’ and golf courses (and the list keeps going). The very first thing a responsible campaign manager should do, I’d think, and I mean the very first thing, would be to take away his father-in-law’s Twitter account.
“That my grandparents have been dragged into this is a shame,” he went on. “Thank you Jared for using something sacred and special to the descendants of Joe and Rae Kushner to validate the sloppy manner in which you’ve handled this campaign. From the references to ‘Palestine’ at the AIPAC conference (which got Donald jeered) to the justification of the itchy Twitter fingers your fatherinlaw has, you’ve managed to further prove what so many of us have known for many years. Kudos to you for having gone this far; no one expected this. But for the sake of the family name, which may have no meaning to you but still has meaning to others, please don’t invoke our grandparents in vain just so you can sleep better at night. It is self serving and disgusting.”
The Trump campaign has doubled down on its message denying the anti-Semitic reference in the Clinton tweet and has accused the media of distorting the ad.
On Thursday, Trump invoked a Disney movie to argue his defense of the tweet, posting an image of the poster for the wildly popular 2013 animated film Frozen, which also features a six-pointed star.
“Where is the outrage for this Disney book? Is this the ‘Star of David’ also? Dishonest media! #Frozen,” Trump wrote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 7, 2016
At a rally in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Trump said that the star in the tweet was just “a regular star or maybe a sheriff’s star” and that he wished his campaign had not deleted the image amid criticism.
“These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior, showing an inscription that says ‘Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever’ with anti-Semitism is ridiculous,” Trump’s representatives responded in a statement on Monday.