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ADL conference honors Jared Kushner for role in Abraham Accords

The organization’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, called the peace agreement “one of the most consequential foreign-policy accomplishments of the U.S. government over the last several decades.”

Senior adviser to former President Donald Trump Jared Kushner speaks at a Knesset event in Jerusalem celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, Oct. 11, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Senior adviser to former President Donald Trump Jared Kushner speaks at a Knesset event in Jerusalem celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, Oct. 11, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

A key Trump administration official who shepherded the signing of the Abraham Accords in the fall of 2020 received an award at the Anti-Defamation League’s annual “Never Is Now” conference, being held from March 6-7. More than 3,000 people, including as many as 300 students, are expected to attend the two-day event that features 25 panels and 100-plus experts.

The ADL praised Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, in a speech given on Wednesday morning by Jonathan Greenblatt, the organization’s CEO and national director.

Greenblatt called Kushner “someone who in his public service singularly helped further the cause of peace in the Middle East,” according to prepared remarks provided to JNS. He praised the investor as contributing to “something that has had an immeasurable impact on the Jewish community in Israel and around the world.”

He described the accords as “a groundbreaking achievement that brought about normalization with a number of countries around the Arab world at a scale once unthinkable. Not only are there now government-to-government relationships between countries like the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Israel, but real people-to-people connections are being made, too.”

The ADL leader said he regarded the normalization treaty “as one of the most consequential foreign-policy accomplishments of the U.S. government over the last several decades.”

In his acceptance of the award, Kushner pointed to the rise of anti-Jewish hatred and the Abraham Accords serving as a counter to that, saying “I believe that a small fraction of antisemitism comes from evil intent, a larger fraction from opportunists and the largest fraction by far comes from ignorance. To make progress, we must engage to eliminate the evil, outmaneuver the opportunists and educate the ignorant.”

The honor didn’t come without pushback from some who noted that the ADL spent the Trump years criticizing the president and his staff, particularly the work of his family members. When the accords were signed on the White House Lawn on Sept. 15, 2020, most American Jewish organizations met the development with silence, if not outright skepticism. After Kushner left his position, he was accused of using his newfound clout with the Arab world to further his private interests. 

The ADL is also honoring Julie Sweet, the chair and CEO of Accenture, on Thursday morning with the Courage Against Hate Award.

Speakers at the conference include former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Israeli President Isaac Herzog; Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism; Pfizer chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla; chef Eitan Bernath; author Dara Horn; comedian Bill Maher; Israeli activist Hen Mazzig; social-media influencer Montana Tucker; and the ADL’s Inaugural Rabbinic Fellow, David Wolpe.

Wolpe said on Wednesday that “it is time for the Jewish community to start thinking about giving their children, their time and their resources to colleges that want them.”

In her talk, Lipstadt said, “the fact that UN Women took so long to speak up about the massacre, violence and sexual assault against Jewish and other women on Oct. 7 is disgraceful and antisemitic.” She pointed out that Holocaust denial took two decades to develop while Oct. 7 denialism took two days.

IfNotNow, the left-wing anti-Israel group, protested outside of the conference with signs that read “Jewish safety requires Palestinian freedom” and “Lasting Ceasefire.”

Alyza Lewin, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, is scheduled to speak on Thursday. Others slated for panels on Thursday include comedian Alex Edelman, Zioness Movement founder Amanda Berman and actor Ariel Martin.

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