President Donald Trump speaks with Jewish leaders via phone .
(photo credit: COURTESY WHITE HOUSE)
NEW YORK – In a call on Friday with Jewish community leaders ahead of the High Holy Days, President Donald Trump professed an affinity for Israel and vowed to fight the scourge of antisemitism festering across the United States.
With his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on the line, Trump said the tradition of Judaism “strengthens our nation and inspires us all.”
“As we mark the beginning of the year 5,778 in the Jewish calendar, I want to express my deep admiration for the Jewish people. Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people have endured unthinkable persecution,” Trump said.
He noted that survivors of the Holocaust were invited on the call, and underscored the importance of sharing their history. But several Jewish community leaders protested the annual phonein over Trump’s response to a neo-Nazi rally last month in Charlottesville
, Virginia, in which he was seen to be equating their violent behavior with that of the minority groups in their crosshairs.
“We forcefully condemn those who seek to promote antisemitism,” Trump said, according to a transcript of the call released by the White House. “I will make sure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, to make sure they are safe.”
The president also said America would continue to support Israel under his leadership because of “values” shared by the two peoples.
“I am proud to stand with the Jewish people and with our cherished friend and ally, the State of Israel. The Jewish state is a symbol of resilience in the face of oppression – it has persevered in the face of hostility, championed democracy in the face of violence, and succeeded in the face of very, very tall odds,” he told the group. “And I can tell you on a personal basis, and I just left Israel recently, I love Israel.”
Introducing the call, Kushner said his father-in-law takes “great pride” in having a Jewish daughter and grandchildren. Trump in turn thanked Kushner for his service to the US in his administration, as he proceeds with delicate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.President Trump Gives Remarks at the Israel Museum
“This next New Year also offers a new opportunity to seek peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I am very hopeful that we will see significant progress before the end of the year,” Trump said. “[US] Ambassador [to Israel] David Friedman, Jared, Jason [Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations] and the rest of my team are working very hard to achieve a peace agreement. I think it’s something that actually could happen.”