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White House’s New Jewish Liaison is Conservative, Orthodox — and Known

The White House has named domestic policy adviser Tevi Troy as the administration’s new liaison to the Jewish community.

Troy was a policy director for Attorney General John Ashcroft when Ashcroft was a Republican senator from Missouri. He publicly defended Ashcroft against criticism from Jewish leaders during Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings for the attorney general post in 2001.

Troy, who was sworn in Monday, will retain his domestic policy portfolio but will also assume responsibility for dialoguing with the Jewish community on domestic and foreign affairs issues. He replaces Adam Goldman, who had served as liaison since Bush came to office but who announced in the spring that he was leaving the White House for the private sector.

Troy was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Troy, who is Orthodox, previously served the Bush administration as deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor.

Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, called Troy “philosophically very much a political conservative.”

“He sees an opportunity for President Bush and Republicans to make gains in the Jewish community,” Diament said.

The White House has made numerous efforts in recent weeks and months to court the American Jewish community’s vote and its political and financial influence. Goldman and others at the White House were said to have angered more liberal leaders of American Jewish organizations by allegedly bypassing their counsel in favor of more conservative Jews.

Troy’s appointment may concern Jewish leaders who oppose Ashcroft’s views on the separation of church and state and on civil liberties issues. But he is considered a known entity within Washington Jewish circles, and one who works well with Jewish organizational leaders.

Troy may have an advantage in enunciating administration policy to liberal members of the Jewish community because of his familiarity with the players, as opposed to Goldman, who served with Bush in Texas and had no Washington experience when he joined the White House.

“It’s good to have somebody who has a sense of the community in that position,” said Jess Hordes, Washington director of the Anti-Defamation League. “The key to his success will be to have an open door to the community and explain the views of the community to the White House.”

Some have speculated that Troy’s retention of the domestic policy portfolio could hurt the Jewish community by diverting his time and attention. But supporters note that Goldman also held other portfolios, and that Troy will have access to senior White House officials.

“It helps the community in that they have a very strong, smart person who understands the varied issues the Jewish community cares about, and he has access to the top decision makers,” said Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Troy is the author of “Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters or Technicians.” The book, which came out last year, discusses how presidents can benefit from seeking the counsel of intellectuals.

During Ashcroft’s 2001 confirmation hearings, Troy wrote in The New Republic about his experiences with the former senator, whose devout religious beliefs concerned many liberal leaders of Jewish organizations.

“What most liberals and most Jews don’t understand about people like Ashcroft is that their deep respect for religious faith genuinely transcends sectarian divides,” Troy wrote. “And that often makes it easier for me, as a religious Jew, to work for them than for Jews or Christians who don’t take any religion seriously as a force in people’s lives.”

In a 1997 American Enterprise article on conservative children of liberal parents, Troy said his parents were “Democratic Jewish public school teachers.”

“In New York City,” Troy told the magazine, “Jews wouldn’t think about voting anything other than Democratic.”

Troy’s brother, Dan, serves as chief counsel in the food and drug division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Another brother, Gil, is an author, professor and columnist for the Forward.

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