Jason Dov Greenblatt of Teaneck, who began 2016 as the Trump Organization’s chief legal adviser and became one of two special advisers on the U.S./Israel relationship for his longtime boss, Donald J. Trump, this spring, will enter the new year ready for a new title.
He soon will become the new Trump administration’s special representative for international negotiations. According to CNN, his primary focuses will be the Israel-Palestinian peace process, the American relationship with Cuba, and trade agreements.
The Trump campaign’s other special adviser on the U.S./Israel relationship was Daniel Friedman, the controversial lawyer who Trump has named as the next ambassador to Israel.
Mr. Greenblatt could not talk to the Jewish Standard — “I’m swamped and not doing interviews,” he emailed in response to a request, suggesting that we try again later. “Thank you for understanding.” But in April, he did talk to us.
As he said in that April 21 interview with us, Mr. Greenblatt had not known until Mr. Trump told a press conference that he was being named as an Israel adviser. But although he has worked for the Trump Organization since 1997, focusing mainly on real estate, he felt strongly that his lifelong interest in Israel made him a strong if unconventional choice.
Mr. Greenblatt grew up in Queens; he went first to an Orthodox elementary day school and then to MTA, Yeshiva University’s high school for boys. After high school, he spent a year in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion, then went on to Yeshiva University, and then to NYU law school. He began his career at Fried Frank, tried his hand as an entrepreneur, and then went back to law.
His work experience has been as a lawyer; he does not have much experience in foreign policy, and most of his deepest knowledge of Israel comes more from firsthand experience than anything else.
He augments his knowledge of Israel with daily email alerts, news from AIPAC, and a weekly radio program with Malcolm Hoenlein, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, JTA Wire Service reported in the spring.
Mr. Greenblatt’s loyalty to Donald Trump is fierce. “Donald is a master negotiator, and people will want to sit at a table with him and make transactions,” he told us in April. “That’s what he brings to the table. We would be there for support and ideas, but it is Donald who has the knowledge, the experience, the capabilities to sit across the table from the Palestinians.
“The goal would be to get the Palestinians and the Israelis to the table. Of course the Israelis have tried many times. But someone like Donald could get the Palestinians back to the table.”
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Greenblatt believed that money can settle just about everything, including the Israeli/Palestinian problem, he told us in April. “If you take out the emotional part of it and the historical part of it, it is a business transaction. Land is going to be negotiated, water rights are going to be negotiated, security issues are going to be negotiated.
“So you need to say to them, ‘Listen, we want to discuss these two issues in this quarter, and then you’ll get your check, and these two issues in this quarter, and then you’ll get your check.
“At the end of the day, you want to resolve all the issues. I think it isn’t a good idea to do partial negotiations and then hope for the best.”
Mr. Greenblatt and his wife, psychiatrist Dr. Naomi Greenblatt, have six children, including a set of triplets. The family travels constantly, and they write about it. Dr. and Mr. Greenblatt have published three travel books together. All the children who are old enough join their parents in writing a blog about traveling as a family.
Although they go around the world, many of their trips are to Israel.
“My philosophy, in both business and in life, is that bringing people together and working to unite, rather than divide, is the strongest path to success,” Mr. Greenblatt is quoted in a statement released by the Trump campaign. “I truly believe that this approach is one that can yield results for the United States in matters all over the world.”