(JTA) — Among the expansive field of Republican presidential candidates on display in the party’s first debates Thursday night, Donald Trump may be the most closely connected to the Jewish people.
Trump is from New York, works in professions saturated with Jews and long has been a vocal supporter of Israel. His daughter and two grandchildren are Jewish, the executive vice president of his organization is Jewish — and Trump certainly has chutzpah.
“I have a Jewish daughter. This wasn’t in the plan, but I’m very glad it happened,” Trump said at the event, held in Manhattan. On Israel, he said, “We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1,000 percent. It will be there forever.”
Before the 2013 Israeli election, Trump recorded a video message endorsing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“You truly have a great prime minister in Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s a winner, he’s highly respected, he’s highly thought of by all,” Trump said in the 30-second spot. “Vote for Benjamin – terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.”
Trump at times has dabbled in Israeli real estate. About a decade ago, he bought a site in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area with plans to build Israel’s tallest building, to be called Trump Plaza Tower. He later sold the Ramat Gan property to an Israeli firm before its development. In 2012, Trump met with Israel’s tourism minister to discuss possible investments in real estate and tourism, according to the Israeli news website Ynet.
Trump’s closest Jewish association is with his daughter Ivanka’s family. Ivanka Trump, a fashion designer and celebrity in her own right, converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, the son of New York Jewish real estate mogul Charles Kushner.
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