President Donald Trump highlighted his various accomplishments of the past year in a conference call to leaders of the Jewish community. In advance of the holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the president touted the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the withdrawal of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council, the pulling out from Barack Obama’s deal with Iran, and the deportation of elderly Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij.

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 10 new, President Trump mentioned his connection to Judaism through his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and their children. “I have a personal connection to Judaism: Ivanka, Jared, and their kids.”

Regarding his decision to withhold taxpayer funds intended for the Palestinian Authority until PA leader Mahmoud Abbas agrees to renew negotiations with Israel, Trump told his listeners on Thursday, "I said to some of the past negotiators, 'Did you ever do that before? Did you ever use the money angle?' They said, 'No, sir. We thought it would be disrespectful.' I said, 'I don't think it's disrespectful at all. I think it's disrespectful when people don't come to the table.'"

In response, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said: "Each and every one of these is something that his predecessors could have done, but did not. And so we owe him our repeated thanks. We were privileged to receive the President's wishes for a blessed New Year.”

Now known as the “High Holy Day Conference Call”, the tradition started during the Obama administration. In 2017, leaders of the Jewish Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist communities refused to help in organizing the conference call in protest to Trump’s response to violence at a rally Charlottesville, Virginia. Despite the opposition, the president held the conference call, including Orthodox Jewish leaders.

The Reform movement’s Religious Action Center told the Religion News Service recently that it was boycotting this year’s conference call.  as well.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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