Quantcast
Connect with us

Jared Kushner’s grandmother deplored the ‘closed doors’ that faced America’s refugees

Published

on

Way before Jared Kushner became internationally famous by moving into the White House to work for his father-in-law Donald Trump, those of us who live in New Jersey knew the family was an amazing story of immigrant success.

Jared Kushner’s paternal grandparents, Holocaust survivors Joseph and Rae Kushner, came to the United States in 1949 as impoverished Eastern European refugees and begat a family whose office buildings, apartment complexes and philanthropic efforts are important parts of the business and social landscapes in New Jersey and elsewhere.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yes, there are scandals and feuds besetting parts of the family, and Jared’s father Charles racked up some prison time. But the family’s rise from refugees to titans is an example of what can happen when people are admitted into this country, work hard and prosper.

I got curious about the Kushner history after Jared invoked his immigrant forbears in his recent speech at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “I keep a photo of them on my desk” in the White House, he said.

As a grandson of Jewish Eastern European immigrants myself — my late father and Kushner’s late grandmother even had the same birth name, Slonimsky, but spelled it differently — I was impressed that Kushner remembers his roots and discusses his origins publicly.

But I wondered how — or if — Kushner could reconcile his father-in-law’s “keep ’em out” immigration philosophy with the story of his paternal grandparents, who spent 3 1/2 years in a displaced persons camp in Italy before being admitted to the U.S. In a 1982 interview given by the late Rae Kushner to a Holocaust research center, Jared’s grandmother talks about how wrong she felt it was for the U.S. to let people like her and her husband languish in displaced persons camps for years awaiting permission to enter the country.

I was especially taken by this portion: “The day after we got married [in Budapest, Hungary], we smuggled ourselves over the border into Italy,” Rae Kushner said. “This was our honeymoon. In Italy, we sat in a displaced persons camp. It was like being in the ghetto again. … Nobody wanted to take us in. So for 3 1/2 years we waited until we finally got a visa to come to the United States.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Later on, she says that, “For the Jews, the doors were closed. We never understood that. Even President Roosevelt kept the doors closed. Why?”

The answer, of course, can be found by looking at some less-than-inspiring U.S. history. The Immigration Act of 1924 set stringent limits on the number of people the U.S. would admit from Poland (where Joseph and Rae Kushner were from) and other Eastern European countries. Franklin Roosevelt didn’t seek to make exceptions to those rules — perhaps because, in addition to the immigration quotas, there was a nasty outfit called the America First Committee. Its prominent members included Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, and its supporters included Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semite who gained huge popularity as “the Radio Priest from Royal Oak, Michigan.” The committee tried to keep the U.S. out of World War II and blamed American Jews for supposedly pushing Roosevelt to have our country enter the hostilities. The committee folded after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, but its influence lingered.

It all added up to huge impediments for Jewish refugees to enter the United States. I wanted to know how Kushner reconciles his family immigration history with his father-in-law’s immigration policies. I also wanted to find out if Kushner knew the history of “America First,” which my children, who are members of Kushner’s generation, said they hadn’t heard about until I mentioned it to them recently.

ADVERTISEMENT

So I sent the White House press office an email outlining some of the major elements in this column, asking for comment or a conversation. I never heard back.

Perhaps Kushner opposes large parts of his father-in-law’s immigration program, and has been opposing it privately. But it’s also possible that Kushner has no problem reconciling his family history with Trump’s policies. Rae Kushner was an eloquent, plainspoken critic of U.S. immigration policies. Her grandson Jared’s public silence speaks volumes, too, in its own way.

ADVERTISEMENT

Filed under:

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

 


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump-loving anti-lockdown activist ready to start killing: ‘The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat’

Published

on

Couy Griffin, an anti-lockdown activist who is also the head of the "Cowboys for Trump" organization, is publicly calling for Democratic governors to be killed for purportedly committing "treason."

In an interview with The Daily Beast's Will Sommer, Griffin defended telling fellow activists at an anti-lockdown rally that "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat."

"You get to pick your poison: you either go before a firing squad, or you get the end of the rope," he said. "I’ll tell you what, partner, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

WSJ rips Trump for ‘hurting the country’ by ‘debasing’ the presidency: ‘Ugly even for him’

Published

on

President Donald Trump was slammed by the editorial board of the conservative Wall Street Journal on Tuesday evening.

"Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him," the newspaper noted. "Mr. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Mr. Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Mr. Scarborough was a GOP Congressman."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

‘Captain Crazy Pants’ starts new conspiracy theory against the NYT in late-night Twitter ‘meltdown’

Published

on

The leader of the free world started a new conspiracy on Tuesday evening.

At 10:31 in Washington, DC, Trump offered a new conspiracy theory about The New York Times' coverage of his administration, for which the newspaper has won a Pulitzer Prize.

"The Failing [New York Times], winner of [Pulitzer Prizes] for its totally flawed coverage of the illegal Russia Witch Hunt, does its research as follows: Think of the absolute worst things you can say about Donald J. Trump, pretend there are sources, and just say it," Trump argued, without any evidence.

He urged the newspaper to "return the Pulitzers" -- in all capital letters.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image