Kushner Family's Settlement Donations Alarm U.S. Jewish Groups

'It's alarming how many of Trump's advisers on Israel have a long history of close personal and financial ties to some of the most extreme settlements.'

Spencer is noncommittal over the potential role of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in advising Trump.
Lucas Jackson, Reuters

The heads of several prominent Jewish-American organizations that oppose the occupation of Palestinian territories expressed deep concern over the findings of a report on West Bank settlement projects supported by the family of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

According to the report, published on Monday in Haaretz, the family of Jared Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump and is a trusted confidant of the president-elect, donated tens of thousands of dollars in recent years to projects in the settlements, including a small amount to one particularly radical yeshiva.

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Charles B. Kushner is flanked by his wife, Seryl Beth, left,and his attorney Alfred DeCotiis as he arrives at the  Newark Federal Court for sentencing. March 4, 2005.
Marko Georgiev / AP

"It's alarming how many of President-elect Donald Trump's advisers on Israel, including his son-in-law, have a long history of close personal and financial ties to the settlement movement and some of the most extreme settlements,” said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. J Street supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The report found that among organizations and institutions in the West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the leading beneficiary is American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva. The president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs. Located in one of the more hardline, ideological settlements, Beit El Yeshiva received $20,000 from the Kushner family in 2013.

"In recent years, the settlers have amassed power in Israel's government, setting the country on a course toward a one-state nightmare and permanent occupation," said Ben-Ami. "Americans who understand that Israel's future, security, democracy and Jewish nature depend on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be deeply frightened to see the settlement movement's friends here on the verge of doing the same in the American government.”

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights already filed a complaint in the past with the IRS about tax-exempt donations to the radical Od Yosef Chai yeshiva that received a small donation from the Kushner family. Located in the settlement of Yitzhar, Od Yosef Chai has served as a base for violent attacks against nearby Palestinian villages.

“Donations to such an institution clearly violate IRS prohibitions on supporting terrorist groups or activities,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah, which has been campaigning to deny ta-exempt status to philanthropic organizations that donate to projects in the settlements.

“In light of the Trump administration's suggestion that Jared Kushner may play an official diplomatic role in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Jacobs, “it is especially disturbing that his family's foundation invests both in this extremist yeshiva, and more generally in the settlements constructed in violation of decades of U.S. policy and international law." These, Jacobs said, "serve further to entrench the occupation that violates the human rights of Palestinians and threatens the security of Israelis.”