Jewish Son-in-law Kushner Guided Trump's Triumphant AIPAC Speech

An Orthodox Jew with connections to Israel, Kushner helped his father-in-law fine tune his Israel policy, sources say.

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Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law.
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law.Credit: Bloomberg
Emily Flitter

REUTERS - Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew with connections to Israel, played a key role in the Republican presidential candidate's AIPAC speech and has been a guiding force for all things Israel for the GOP frontrunner.

Ahead of AIPAC's annual conference last month in Washington, Kushner, a 35-year-old real estate investor and newspaper owner, advised his father-in-law to lay out concrete policies that would help smooth over relations with the Jewish community, according to two sources.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks as (L-R) his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner listen, at a campaign rally on caucus day in Waterloo, Iowa FebCredit: Reuters

Kushner further advised Trump to use a teleprompter for the speech, ditching his usual conversational style, the people close to Trump said.

In the end, Trump delivered an uncharacteristically detailed speech to the 18,000 people who attended the conference, outlining a series of policy positions broadly aligned with AIPAC's.

Donald Trump's full speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference.Credit: Donald Trump's full speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference.

Trump told attendees that Palestinians must scrub hatred of Israel from their educational system and stop naming public places after people who attacked Israel. He said the United States must stand with Israel in rejecting attempts by the United Nations to impose restrictions on Israel or parameters for a peace deal. He also criticized the U.S. deal with Iran as bad for Israel.

While helping Trump craft the speech, Kushner sought advice from the politically connected editor of his newspaper, the New York Observer. The editor, Ken Kurson, a former speech writer for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote in an email to Reuters that he reviewed the speech before Trump delivered it.

Kushner also help by fielding a call from Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who wanted to offer Trump the Israeli government's perspective ahead of the AIPAC speech, according to the sources.

Dermer's office declined to comment.

Kushner also used his family and business ties to arrange a series of meetings for Trump during a trip the candidate planned to make to Israel last year, sources say.

The trip never happened. Trump scrapped it after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump, and wife Melania Trump listen during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Credit: Bloomberg

Trump later suggested that if elected he would not take sides in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, a stance he said would help him negotiate a peace deal but which was unusually neutral for an American politician looking to court voters on Israel.

Along with his father, also a prominent real-estate developer, Kushner was listed in a 2015 report by AIPAC as a benefactor for its real estate committee, which required a donation of at least $36,000 to the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.

An AIPAC spokesman declined to comment.

Kushner's parents donated $20 million two years ago to a medical school campus in Jerusalem now named after them.

While "well respected," Kushner has no official campaign role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said. She confirmed however that Kushner had informally advised the candidate on Israel and in other areas.

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