Non-Orthodox movements left out of Trump’s meeting with Jewish leaders

Officials of three Orthodox umbrella groups — Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, and America Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — confirmed their leaders had been invited to the meeting.

By RON KAMPEAS/JTA
April 16, 2019 18:24
2 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections. (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)

 
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WASHINGTON — The leaders of three of the four major Jewish religious streams were not invited to a White House briefing on issues “impacting the community,” nor was the Jewish community’s leading civil rights advocacy group.

Officials of three Orthodox umbrella groups — Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, and America Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — confirmed their leaders had been invited to the meeting, which is to take place Tuesday.
Officials of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, meantime, said the movements were not invited. A Washington D.C.-area Conservative rabbi, Stuart Weinblatt, was invited.


A request to the White House for comment went unanswered by press time. The more liberal streams have clashed with the White House on a range of policies, including immigration and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, seen as fueling bias. The Orthodox movements have been more welcoming of White House policies, particularly relating to Israel, including Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.


Previous administrations engaged consistently with the broad range of the religious streams, although there were at times tensions between administrations and individual advocacy groups.


“It’s clear the Trump White House invited a subset of the Jewish community and intentionally excluded others,” Halie Soifer, the director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in an email. “As with everything this president does, this meeting appears to be defined by narrow political calculation as opposed to genuine outreach to the Jewish community.”


Also not invited was the Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading Jewish civil rights group. Nor was J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, HIAS, the lead Jewish immigration advocacy group, or the Israel Policy Forum, a group dedicated to a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another anti-defamation group, also was not invited, although its founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, delivered a blessing at Trump’s inauguration.


Among the groups which did make the cut were the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Hadassah, the National Council of Young Israel, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Zionist Organization of America, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.


“Gathering with Jewish leaders,” an invitation viewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency says. “You are invited to a discussion with key Administration officials on pertinent issues impacting the community.”


It did not specify what the issues are.

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