4 major Jewish groups to skip Presidents Conference Hanukkah party at Trump hotel


(JTA) — Four major Jewish organizations will not attend a Hanukkah party co-hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at a Washington, D.C., hotel owned by President-elect Donald Trump.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America will not be on hand for Wednesday’s party at the Trump International Hotel. The absences were first reported by Haaretz.

Earlier, eight liberal Jewish groups had said they would not attend the party, which is being co-hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan.

The venue has caused controversy, but none of the four major groups said it would be absent due to concerns about Trump. The ADL told JTA that scheduling conflicts would prevent its attendance and that the organization was not encouraging a boycott of any kind. The AJC told JTA that its absence was not meant as a slight toward Azerbaijan, whose relationship with Israel has been improving in recent years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Muslim-majority country Tuesday with a message that “Jews and Muslims can live together in peace,” according to his office.

JFNA and Hadassah did not comment to JTA, but told Haaretz that scheduling conflicts prevented them from attending.

The liberal Jewish groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women, said they would not attend in protest of Trump’s policies or in order to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.

Congressional critics, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, have raised concerns that governments and special interests will book rooms at the Trump-owned hotel in order to curry favor with the president-elect.

When the venue was first announced, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Presidents Conference, told JTA that the Azerbaijani Embassy had rented the location because of its proximity to the White House, where President Barack Obama’s final Hanukkah party will be taking place the same evening. He said that using a Trump property should not taint anyone who has business with the administration.

“You think that Trump knows who rents a room in his hotel and that influences how we represent to him?” he asked.

A protest of the event organized by IfNotNow, a Jewish group that opposes Trump and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, is expected to draw some 200 people.

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