Why do I write to you, Mr. Kushner, and not to your father-in-law? I am afraid that nothing can change him and restore his sanity; however I have some faint hope that these few words will reach you and, possibly, make you pause. I am not writing to you as a Jew to another Jew, but as a human being reaching out to another human being.
Yet the Jewish dimension of the Charlottesville events cannot be left out of the picture. You heard the chants of the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and KKK marchers: “The Jews will not replace us.” You saw their faces, you know that they were armed. History was probably not your major, but your grandpa may have told you about SA marches, about the anti-Jewish rants in the Alt Reich, about the end of it all. We are not there yet, but if none of your political allies jump ship, we could be on our way.
Mr. Kushner, you have a Jewish wife and Jewish children. What will you tell your children if they ask you one day: “Dad, where were you when it all began? Did you say anything? Did you do anything?”
You may have much to lose if you express any criticism of the president, but will you be able to live with your conscience if you don’t? Mr. Kushner, if you dared to say publicly what I hope that you feel, you could trigger a process of immense consequence. You would be a hero for most Americans and leave a trace in history.
If you keep quiet and do nothing people will say one day: Jared Kushner had no shame.
Saul Friedlander is a retired professor of history at UCLA and author of “The Years of Persecution” and “The Years of Extermination.”