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Meet the Jews in Donald Trump's administration

  • Trump Donald
American Jews are watching the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency with both fear and hope.
by JOSEFIN DOLSTEN | Feb 09, 2017

Many have expressed worries about some of his supporters' ties to the so-called "alt-right" movement, whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness".

Those fears intensified when Trump named as his chief strategist Stephen Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, a site Bannon once referred to as a "platform" of the alt-right. Trump's strongly conservative Cabinet picks also back policies on healthcare, the environment, abortion and civil rights often diametrically opposed to the views of most Jewish voters.

Others have praised Trump's stance on Israel and his nomination of David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who supports West Bank settlements and has expressed doubts about the two-state solution, as US ambassador to Israel. Trump won 24 per cent of the Jewish vote, with especially strong support in the Orthodox community.

The president's Jewish advisers:

 

Jared Kushner

Trump's Orthodox son-in law (36) is serving as a senior adviser to the president. Scion of a prominent real estate family from New Jersey will focus on the Middle East and Israel as well as partnerships with the private sector and free trade, according to The New York Times.

Kushner, who married Trump's daughter Ivanka in 2009, played a crucial role in the president’s campaign, especially on Israel.

Trump appears to be smitten with Kushner, often referring to his “fantastic” son-in-law when boasting of his pro-Israel credentials.

Kushner in 2006, at 25, bought the New York Observer newspaper. Two years later he became CEO of Kushner Properties, four years after his father was sent to jail for tax evasion, illegal campaign donations and witness tampering. In 2015, Fortune put Kushner on its 40 “Under 40 list”, an “annual ranking of the most influential young people in business”.

David Friedman

Friedman, a bankruptcy expert and long-time Trump attorney, was tapped as the US ambassador to Israel. Trump's transition team in December said Friedman would serve from Jerusalem, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said that Trump had yet to decide on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv.

Friedman, who is in his late 50s, is the son of a Conservative rabbi with a family history of ties to Republican presidential candidates.

Friedman has expressed support for and funded construction in Israeli settlements, and has expressed doubt about the future of the two-state solution.

 

Jason Greenblatt

Greenblatt, the long-time chief legal officer for the Trump Organisation, is working as special representative for international negotiations focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US-Cuba relations and American trade agreements with other countries.

An Orthodox Jew and Yeshiva University graduate, Greenblatt studied at a West Bank yeshiva in the mid-1980s.

Greenblatt said he speaks with people involved in the Israeli government but has not spoken to any Palestinians since his yeshiva studies. He has helped draft Trump's speech at the lobbying group's annual conference last March.

Greenblatt, who has said he supports the two-state solution, has implied that Trump will take a laissez-faire approach to peace building.

Steven Mnuchin

Trump picked Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who worked as Trump's national finance chairman during the campaign, to serve as Treasury Secretary.

Trump and Mnuchin are old friends and prior to being in charge of Trump's campaign finances, Mnuchin, 54, served as an adviser. He is part of what The New York Times describes as one of Manhattan's "most influential families". Both became wealthy working at Goldman Sachs.

Some saw Trump teaming up with Mnuchin as unusual, considering that the real-estate mogul had consistently bashed Goldman Sachs during his campaign - but it doesn't seem to have hindered a good working relationship.

Stephen Miller

Trump named Miller, who played a crucial role in his campaign by writing speeches and warming up crowds at rallies, as senior adviser for policy.

Miller (31), who has described himself as "a practising Jew", joined the Trump campaign in early 2016, quickly rising through the ranks to become "one of the most important people in the campaign".

Previously he worked for seven years as an aide to Trump's choice for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, helping him draft materials to kill a bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill.

Though Miller grew up in a liberal Jewish home in Southern California, he was drawn to conservative causes early.

Carl Icahn

Icahn, a businessman and investor, is serving as a special adviser on regulatory reform issues. He is working as a private citizen rather than a federal employee or special government employee.

An early supporter of Trump’s candidacy, Icahn, 80, is the founder of Icahn Enterprises, a diversified conglomerate. He has also held substantial or controlling positions in numerous American companies over the years.

Icahn is a major giver to Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, among other philanthropies.

 

Gary Cohn

Cohn (56), the outgoing president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs, heads the White House National Economic Council. At Goldman Sachs, Cohn answered to CEO Lloyd Blankfein and was considered a strong candidate to lead the bank.

Cohn has a reputation for abrasiveness, but also for getting things done, according to a Wall Street Journal profile last year. In a 2014 New York Times op-ed, Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith wrote on the day he resigned that Blankfein and Cohn were responsible for a “decline in the firm’s moral fibre” that placed its interests above those of its clients.

Boris Epshteyn

Epshteyn, a Republican political strategist who appeared as a Trump surrogate on TV, is working as a special assistant to the president. Epshteyn, who is in his mid-30s, also is serving as assistant communications director for surrogate operations.

An investment banker and finance attorney, Epshteyn was a communications aide for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.

He defended Trump on major TV networks over 100 times, according to The New York Times. TV hosts have described Epshteyn, who moved to the United States from his native Moscow in 1993, as “very combative” and “abrasive”.

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David Shulkin

Dr David Shulkin, the undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, leads the department as secretary under Trump. He would be the first holdover appointment from the Obama administration, in which he served since 2015.

Shulkin, 57, is an internist who has had several chief executive roles, including as president of hospitals, notably Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York City. He also has held numerous physician leadership roles.

As an entrepreneur, Shulkin founded and served as chairman and CEO of DoctorQuality, one of the first consumer-oriented sources of information for quality and safety in healthcare.

Reed Cordish

Cordish, who is friends with Jared Kushner, will serve as assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, responsible for initiatives requiring multi-agency collaboration and also focusing on technological innovation and modernisation.

Cordish’s father, David, chairman and CEO of The Cordish Companies, is a friend of Trump.

Cordish, who is in his early 40s, was introduced to his now-wife Margaret by none other than Ivanka Trump. Cordish and his wife were listed as co-hosts for a Manhattan fundraiser for Trump’s presidential campaign in October, Jewish Insider reported.

Avrahm Berkowitz

Berkowitz (27), is serving as special assistant to Trump and assistant to Jared Kushner. Berkowitz and Kushner met on a basketball court during a Passover programme. The two stayed in touch and Berkowitz went on to work with Kushner in several capacities.

He later went on to write for Kushner's paper, the New York Observer. In 2016 Berkowitz, who was then finishing up his last semester at Harvard Law School, directed a Facebook Live talk show for the Trump campaign.  (JTA)

4 Comments

  1. 4 nat cheiman 10 Feb
    Many Jewish liberals say that Trump is anti Jewish. 
    Mind you, liberals will almost say anything to put down THE DONALD.
    Trump built an empire. Now he will build America.
    The Dems are hating this.
  2. 3 Jonni 10 Feb
    Mnuchin's bank OneWest stands accused of some dubious unethical banking practices in terms of loan foreclosures whereby hundreds of vulnerable innocent people lost their homes 
    Mnuchin doesn't come across as such a mensch until the accusations against him are settled 
  3. 2 Harold 10 Feb
    In 2009, a New York judge called OneWest's behaviour "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive'

    This was Mnuchin's bank that was involved in foreclosures.

    refer BBC article via google
  4. 1 martin 14 Feb
    Steven Mnuchin was involved with a bank with no moral compas.In 2009, a New York judge called OneWest's behaviour "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive'' 
    The jury is out on his ethical values

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