President Donald Trump spoke with Jewish leaders in a conference call Thursday, ahead of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays.
During the call, the president highlighted his accomplishments over the past year, including upholding his promise to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the deportation of Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij, withdrawing the US from the United Nations Human Rights Council – citing its anti-Israel bias – and pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Trump also noted his administration’s decision to withhold funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority until PA chief Mahmoud Abbas agrees to renew negotiations with Israel.
"I said to some of the past negotiators," Trump said. "'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.'"
"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,” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, one of the organizations invited to participate in the conference call.
Known as the “High Holy Day Conference Call”, the tradition started in the Obama administration, and continued on with his successor.
Last year, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist leaders refused to help organize the conference call, protesting the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville.
Despite the boycott, President Trump held the conference call, including Orthodox leaders.
A spokesperson from the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center told the Religion News Service this week that it would boycott this year’s conference call as well.
According to a report by Channel 10, President Trump also mentioned his family ties to Judaism through his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the couple’s children.
“I have a personal connection to Judaism: Ivanka, Jared, and their kids.”