Jared Kushner Defends Father-in-Law Donald Trump After Anti-Semitism Claims

Ivanka's husband has been a force behind the scenes for the campaign.

July 06, 2016, 6:52 PM

— -- Jared Kushner, who is married to Donald Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka, has come to his father-in-law's defense over claims that he is anti-Semitic.

A 1,326-word op-ed that Kushner wrote for the newspaper that he owns is the latest in a back-and-forth with one of the reporters at his paper, The New York Observer.

Kushner described Trump as being "an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife."

"The difference between me and the journalists and Twitter throngs who find it so convenient to dismiss my father in law is simple. I know him and they don’t," Kushner wrote.

The disagreement started when a photo of Hillary Clinton that featured a six-pointed star that many likened to a Star of David over a pile of money was retweeted on Trump's Twitter account over the weekend, prompting outcry from Clinton and Trump opponents who said that the image evoked anti-Semitic sentiment.

One person who spoke out was Dana Schwartz, an entertainment writer at The Observer, the weekly newspaper that Kushner has owned for the past decade.

She wrote an open letter that was published on The Observer's website on Tuesday and addressed to Kushner.

"You went to Harvard, and hold two graduate degrees. Please do not condescend to me and pretend you don’t understand the imagery of a six-sided star when juxtaposed with money and accusations of financial dishonesty," Schwartz wrote.

"I’m asking you, not as a 'gotcha' journalist or as a liberal but as a human being: how do you allow this? Because, Mr. Kushner, you are allowing this," she wrote.

This is not the first time that The Observer has become entangled with the Trump campaign. New York Magazine reported that Observer Editor-in-Chief Ken Kurson read over Trump's speech to the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee before Trump delivered it in March. Kurson then told The Huffington Post that he “looked at a draft” of the speech.

After Schwartz's letter was published, Kurson told Politico that he disagrees with her criticism and said that "in my opinion, Donald Trump is not a Jew hater," though he called her "a beautiful and thoughtful writer."

PHOTO: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend the Turkish Society Annual Dinner Gala at The Plaza Hotel on Oct. 18, 2012 in New York.
Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend the Turkish Society Annual Dinner Gala at The Plaza Hotel on Oct. 18, 2012 in New York.
Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Later Tuesday, Kushner released a statement on the matter, in what appeared to be one of the very few times he has spoken publicly about his father-in-law during Trump’s presidential campaign.

"I know that Donald does not at all subscribe to any racist or anti-Semitic thinking. I have personally seen him embrace people of all racial and religious backgrounds. The suggestion that he may be intolerant is not reflective of the Donald Trump I know," the statement read.

The op-ed published this afternoon went into further detail about Kushner's family history. He detailed his grandparents' escape from the Nazis, describing how his relatives tried to flee using a tunnel and how his grandmother's brother was killed by Nazis who were waiting for them at the opposite end.

"I go into these details, which I have never discussed, because 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," he wrote.

Kushner criticized the backlash that Schwartz described receiving on Twitter, but said it was not fair to attribute that online abuse to Trump.

"Some of the tweets that Ms. Schwartz has received, depicting her being thrown into an oven, for example, are beyond disgusting. I am appalled that anyone, let alone someone who works for me, would have to endure that kind of hateful rhetoric. But blaming Donald Trump for the most outrageous things done by people who claim to support him is no different from blaming Bernie Sanders for the people who stomp and spit on American flags at his rallies," he wrote.

Schwartz reacted to the op-ed on Twitter, retweeting several outlets that questioned whether Kushner had responded sufficiently to her open letter.

She did note that Kushner at least admitted that the original tweet was a mistake, even though he qualified the sentiment by suggesting "my father in law's fast-moving team was careless in choosing an image to retweet."

Editor's note: The writer of this story was an intern at The Observer a number of years ago but did not interact with Dana Schwartz, Ken Kurson or Jared Kushner.

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