Jason Greenblatt: The President’s Worthy Middle East Negotiator
During the 2016 presidential debates, when Hillary Clinton was asked to name a positive quality about Donald Trump, she praised his children. I agree with her sentiments. The president’s children are impressive in their maturity, eloquence, industry and commitment to family. Indeed, they have helped soften his image, and have won him accolades even from his most ardent detractors.
I have similar feelings about Jason Greenblatt, the man whom Trump has named to spearhead his peace efforts in the Middle East.
In all of the time I’ve known him, Greenblatt has constantly shown humility, intelligence and extraordinary patience. He is an excellent listener and utterly unflappable.
Greenblatt is an observant Jew, and in a region that respects religious individuals, I believe that he will be widely admired for the strength of his spiritual commitment. And just think of the symbolism. The son of parents who fled the Holocaust now represents the president of the United States.
In the mid 1990s, while I was serving as a rabbi at Oxford, the student president of our L’Chaim Society was Ron Dermer. He was brilliant and eloquent, and became a force in the pro-Israel community. But he also befriended leading Arab and Muslim students, who respected him greatly because of his Jewish observance and commitment. Today, Dermer is the first Israeli ambassador to the United States to publicly wear a yarmulke, and he has won over Washington’s elite with his integrity and uncompromising convictions.
Greenblatt is cast in the same mold. He lives by the Jewish values of family and community, and by the American values of liberty, democracy and personal responsibility.
During the presidential campaign, the New York Times reported that Jason was chosen to advise Trump on Israeli affairs almost arbitrarily. In reality, Donald and Jason have worked closely together for two decades. The choice was anything but arbitrary.
President Trump has said that peace in the Middle East is among his highest priorities. If that’s the case, he has chosen well with Greenblatt as his chief negotiator and David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Both men have the confidence of the president, are skilled negotiators and have the absolute trust of the pro-Israel community. And both live by the Jewish Biblical value of seeing all of God’s children — Jew, Arab, Christian, Hindu, atheist and agnostic — as equals, endowed with a spark of the Divine.
There is one more thing about Greenblatt that has always impressed me: He does not have a vindictive bone in his body. In all of my dealings with him, he has treated everyone with respect, cordiality and warmth. He is truly a mensch — and a blessing to the Jewish community.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books including his most recent “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.