In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and trusted confidant of US President-elect Donald Trump, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organisations and institutions located in illegal West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms.
Kushner’s family donates a few million dollars a year on average to charitable causes through the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, which Jared sits on the board of along with his brother and two sisters. The foundation was established in 1997.
Among organisations and institutions in the occupied West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva (religious school) received $20,000 in 2013.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in New York, is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs. Friedman, who has served as Trump’s real estate lawyer for the past 15 years and is considered to be very close to the president-elect, has expressed interest in becoming the next US ambassador to Israel, Haaretz added.
Freidman is also seen as a top contender for the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who was also keynote speaker at last year’s fundraising dinner for the Beit El Yeshiva American friends group.
The list of organisations that received donations from Kushner’s family foundation has included the Etzion Foundation, whose US fundraising offices are located in New Jersey. The foundation supports Yeshivat Har Etzion, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Herzog College teachers’ training institution – all are located in the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc outside Jerusalem. In 2012, the Kushner family foundation donated $5,000 to the Etzion Foundation, in addition to another $10,000 in 2013.
Another recipient of Kushner funding in Gush Etzion, which headquartered in the settlement of Efrat, is Ohr Torah Stone which received $5,000 in 2011.
The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, a religious school in the occupied West Bank, was granted $500 by the Kushner family. According to Haaretz, this particular school did not receive any funding from the Israeli government, as it had been involved in launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinian villages and Israeli security forces.
In 2014, the Kushner family pledged $18 million to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, in addition to the $2 million it had already committed earlier. The Kushners have a history of supporting hospitals – both in Israel and the United States – but this was by far the largest gift given by the family to a single medical institution, Haaretz noted.
Another key beneficiary of Kushner charity in Israel is the Israeli army. Between 2011 and 2013, the foundation donated a total of $315,000 to Friends of the IDF, on whose board Jared serves.
Among other institutions and organisations the Kushners have supported in Israel in the past four years, are the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra ($2,500); the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design ($1,000); United Hatzalah ($70,000); the Israel Cancer Research Fund ($10,000); Meir Panim Lachayal, another organisation that supports Israeli soldiers ($4,000); the Shalva Children’s Centre ($20,000); Ma’ayanei Yeshua Hospital ($25,000); and the Rabin Medical Centre ($23,000).
In the United States, the family foundation supports many Jewish day schools, charities and cultural centres. In recent years, it has contributed close to $30,000 to various institutions operated by Chabad – the ultra-Orthodox outreach organization.
One of the single largest beneficiaries of Kushner contributions in recent years has been the Ramaz School in Manhattan which received $250,000. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the former principal of Ramaz, supervised Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s conversion before she married Jared.
Last November, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely welcomed suggestions that US President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner could be appointed as a special envoy to broker peace in the Middle East.