Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24, 2016--Donald TRUMP and the Jews of New York

For this I know I will be in big trouble.

Yesterday, on its Web page, the New York Times published two articles that essentially trashed Donald TRUMP:

"Donald Trump, Crony Capitalist" and "Trump Is No Power Broker in New York, Despite All the Signs." The signs being the ones on all the buildings with TRUMP on their facades--TRUMP Plaza, TRUMP Tower, and so on.

Putting aside the remarkable coincidence that the articles appeared on the day of the Nevada caucuses and exactly a week before Super Tuesday, they left out one important thing when talking about TRUMP as a crony capitalist, making deals with City officials to get permits and tax abatements to make his deals work (so what else is new in NYC?) and noting that his real estate "empire" is hardly an empire when compared to those of the real moguls--the Tishmans, the Silversteins, the Dursts, and so on--the critical thing missing from both articles is one thing that goes a long way to explain why TRUMP's NYC real estate colleagues have little good to say about him--

It is the fact that he isn't Jewish.

What do the following leading real estate families have in common with the aforementioned Dursts, Silversteins, and Tishmans?

The Malkins
The Roses
The Rudins
The Tishes
The Resnicks
The Zekendorfs
The Speyers
The Sterns
The Macklowes
The LeFraks

This is not a random or closely edited list, but rather the names of most of the major real estate families of New York City.

At the risk of being accused of being anti-Semitic, let me note that I am not a self-hating Jew, but someone proud of my heritage.

I also happen to be someone who spent a number of years involved with many of these remarkable men (they were all men) when I was acting dean of New York University's School of Continuing Education within which was situated the amazing Real Estate Institute.

With NYU's president I spend quite a few breakfasts and dinners with various mixes of these men in an attempt to advance the interests of the Institute and to, frankly, raise money for the university.

At the time, Donald TRUMP was beginning to make a BIG name for himself, consummating and carrying out huge deals in Manhattan all with his name emblazoned in brass. A little tacky some of my real estate friends said. Though Larry Silverstein, the Institute's chairman was angling to purchase the World Trade Center, there was no move to rename it for his beloved mother who launched the family real estate empire by each month visited the Silverstein tenement buildings on the Lower East Side to collect cash rents.

And so, though there were office buildings, residential towers, and hospital wings named for each of these men, TRUMP's obsession to name everything he owned after himself was considered to be beyond tacky. And it didn't help that he was not generous in his philanthropic work. Hardly an emergency room in town was named for him or Fred, his greatly-admired father, or his prematurely deceased brother. The Donald seemed interested only in making money and promoting himself. He was, I realize now, even at that early time, halfway to starring on The Apprentice.

Unspoken, but clearly implied or hinted at was that TRUMP was "not one of us."

At first I thought this referred to his lack of interest in NYU and the Institute, though each year he bought a table at the Real Estate Dinner and kicked in a minimalist $25K or so as a place holder. This when Larry and the other "boys" were anteing up millions for us and other New York charities. Especially, contributions to numerous Jewish causes, including for pretty much anything to help Israel and its government.

I once, perhaps after a drink or two or three, asked a couple of our benefactors, who also were university trustees, if Donald's estrangement from NYU and the RE Institute was because he wasn't Jewish.

The glances they exchanged and the fact that they changed the subject resonates with me still.

Larry Silverstein, Third From Left

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