Jared Kushner, 36, Senior Advisor to TrumpLori Berkowitz

This article has been revised following formal complaints made to the Board of Varsity Publications Ltd, and discussions with the author. The substantive arguments of the piece remain the same. We sincerely apologise to the Jewish community for offence caused by the article in its original form. A response offering rebuttal to this article in its original form is available to read here.

When Jared Kushner was appointed as a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Opponents saw someone with zero political experience and numerous conflicts of interest. With no ties to Donald Trump other than through his daughter Ivanka, Kushner’s wife, the nepotism driving his entry to the White House has not gone unnoticed.

Kushner is used to such accusations. He did not gain admission to Harvard on merit, but allegedly because of his father’s extraordinary wealth; Kushner undertook undergraduate studies after his father gave Harvard a $2.5 million donation. He earned an MBA and JD from New York University in 2007 after his father donated $3 million to the university in 2001.

Ironically, it was Hillary Clinton who set the precedent for Kushner’s appointment and enabled Trump to bypass nepotism legislation. The Nepotism Act of 1967 was passed to prevent those in power promoting their close relatives, after John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as Attorney General. The Act was strictly enforced for many years: in 1977, the Office of Legal Counsel prevented Jimmy Carter’s son from serving as an unpaid assistant to a White House staff member.

But the interpretation of the law changed in 1993, when former President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary, to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. A lobby group promptly filed a lawsuit – not for nepotism, but to demand that the task force’s records be available as public information. In the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling, they included a few lines about the legality of Hillary’s appointment. The court stated that the national anti-nepotism statute doesn’t cover the Executive Office of the President or White House staff. Since the White House is not an agency, neither anti-nepotism legislation nor the Freedom of Information Act applies.

Judge Laurence Silberman wrote: “So, for example, a president would be barred from appointing his brother as attorney general, but perhaps not as a White House special assistant.” Despite being, according to Politico magazine, Trump’s “chief whisperer”, Kushner will not draw a salary – a move that helped him clear ethics rules – but this shouldn’t be an issue. Kushner, along with his brother, Joshua, and parents, Charles and Seryl, holds a family fortune of $1.8 billion, in addition to Ivanka’s substantial personal wealth.

Kushner has a record of abusing his power to achieve his personal goals. In an act of revenge, Kushner may have been instrumental in expelling Governor Chris Christie, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, from his father-in-law’s campaign and replacing him with Vice President Mike Pence. The cause for revenge dates back to the early 2000s, when Chris Christie, then-Attorney General of New Jersey, faced Jared Kushner’s father in federal court. Christie charged Kushner senior with sixteen counts of tax evasion and witness tampering – and won. The case catapulted Christie into the Republican elite and paved the way to him becoming the governor of New Jersey.

Kushner has already started paying back favours to his business network: less than a week after the inauguration, and he has successfully convinced Trump to appoint Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic advisor. The Wall Street giant has been a key investor in the technology company Kushner co-founded and has also provided loans for Kushner Companies.

Kushner’s primary duty as senior advisor will include handling all issues in the Middle East and Israel. “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” President Trump told Kushner at a Union Station event.

But in terms of balancing the interests of Palestine and Israel to achieve peace, Kushner appears to be unfit for the job at hand. His support for Israeli settlements will undermine attempts at Palestinian sovereignty. In fact, Kushner is currently serving as a director of a family foundation that has made $58,500 in charitable donations between 2011 and 2013 to West Bank settlements. These Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have been considered illegitimate by every US administration since 1967, make it difficult to create a plot of land for a Palestinian state.

Kushner is in a position to undo all the progress that has taken place in the Middle East over the last few years. The Obama presidency saw a drastic shift in developing a more neutral relationship with Palestine. The administration refused to veto a UN Security Council resolution that demanded an end to the construction of settlements in the West Bank. Israel, who the US has long been strong allies with, was furious. Trump, who had strongly advocated for a veto, called the resolution “extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

Additionally, Kushner holds multiple business loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, the Swiss unit of which is currently under a U.S. Justice Department investigation for allegedly helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. The bank, which is one of a number of others under similar investigations, has set aside $120million for settling the case, although it denies the allegations.

The role of a senior advisor is to guide the president to develop policies that represent his or her constituents. So what do Americans want?

A recent survey revealed that two-thirds of Americans would not oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. And given that over 60 per cent of Americans have less than $500 of savings and many are drowning in student loans, it’s fair to say that strengthening the middle class should be prioritised over big business.

It’s hard for me to see how Kushner, who got into the White House through nepotism, could possibly guide the President to represent the interests of the majority of Americans. Thus far, he has put his personal interests above all else