Oh where, oh where has Ivanka Trump gone?
Oh where, oh where can she be?
This parody of that kids’ song has been looping around my head for days, a refrain that echoes my horror at the violence in Charlottesville and the disgust over President Trump’s inexcusable defense of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Of all the Trumps, of all the White House aides, of all Jews associated with this presidency, I remained convinced that it would be the first daughter who would be vehemently vocal in her condemnation. She needed to do this for her country, yes, but also for her family.
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After all, she converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner in 2009, and the couple is raising their three children as modern Orthodox Jews. No one needs a history lesson to understand how abhorrent the Charlottesville’s marchers’ chants — Jews will not replace us — must have sounded to anyone with a shred of decency, let alone to someone whose ancestors-in-law survived the Holocaust.
But Ivanka’s reaction has been lukewarm, at best. As of this writing, she can claim one two-part tweet about the incident:
1:2 There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.
2:2 We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville
She was conspicuously silent after President Dad went rogue (a second time) during a press conference in which he doubled down on earlier statements that both sides were to blame for the Charlottesville tragedy. This silence has been particularly repugnant in light of the condemnation by others, including CEOs, GOP stalwarts, the Charlottesville victim’s mother and, more recently, the rabbi who presided over Ivanka’s religious conversion.
In a letter signed by two other rabbis and addressed to Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the Kushners’ Manhattan synagogue, Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein denounced the president’s remarks: “We are appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and antisemitism, and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK and alt-right. While we always avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence.”
So … Oh where, oh where has Ivanka Trump gone?
Oh where, oh where can she be?
Granted, cowards and sellouts abound in Washington, and they wear all manner of political stripes. Two recent examples: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and economic adviser Gary Cohn, both Jews who are said to be privately fuming but nevertheless publicly mute, though Mnuchin most recently defended his boss. While the two men can quit a job, it is more difficult for Ivanka to turn her back on a father. Still, she could, and should, come out more strongly in her rebukes.
The father-child relationship is a delicately powerful bond, one whose individual machinations may not be easily understood by the public, but I had hoped for so much more from the social media savvy Ivanka. As a woman. As an entrepreneur. As a mother. As a member of an ancient faith known for having endured appalling prejudice through the centuries. I had hoped she, along with Kushner, would wave a fairy wand of moderation over a presidential candidate who has been anything but.
My hope is fading fast.
Some have excused Ivanka’s taciturnity and posited that she has been doing what she can behind the scenes. The Kushners, The New York Times reported, were staying with the president during the march and had pressed Trump to reconsider his tone and his words after his initial offensive statements. Apparently that advice didn’t stick. Days later, Trump went off-script at the Trump Tower press conference. Coincidentally during the latter comments the Kushners were off on a mini-vacation in Vermont. Out of sight, out of mind.
This isn’t the only time Ivanka has gone MIA when reasonable voices were much needed. She remained mostly mum on some of her “favorite” issues, including those involving climate change, women and LGBTQ rights. But enough is enough.
We can no longer afford to worry where oh where the first daughter has gone. She needs to speak up strongly.