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December 4, 2015  RSS feed
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Did Trump remarks to GOP Jews cross the line?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates’ forum in Washington, Dec. 3. 
AP Photo/Susan Walsh Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates’ forum in Washington, Dec. 3. AP Photo/Susan Walsh (JTA) — Donald Trump told Jewish Republicans that he didn’t expect their support in his bid for the presidency.

“You’re not gonna support me even though you know I’m the best thing that could ever happen to Israel,” the billionaire tycoon said Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s candidates forum. “And I’ll be that. And I know why you’re not going to support me. You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” Trump said. “You want to control your own politicians.”

Introduced as a “mensch” with “chutzpah,” Trump, currently the Republican frontrunner, touted his Jewish familial connections. His daughter Ivanka is Jewish, as are his grandchildren. CONTINUED from FRONT PAGE

Trump also touted his past support from the Jewish community.

“I have so many awards from Jewish groups,” Trump said.

Trump referred several times to his savvy as a businessman and negotiator, saying he would negotiate a better Iran deal (“It’s so easy”) and calling Secretary of State John Kerry “probably the worst negotiator I’ve ever seen.” He later called the American negotiating team on Iran “stupid.”

Appealing to the audience, Trump said, “I’m a negotiator like you folks, we’re negotiators,” Trump said. “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? This room negotiates a lot. This room perhaps more than any room I’ve ever spoken to.”

Was he invoking Jewish stereotypes? The National Jewish Democratic Council thinks so: “Donald Trump has been remarkably offensive throughout his candidacy, but to make these sorts of remarks before a Jewish audience is a new level of outrageousness,” it said in a statement.

However, the Anti-Defamation League disagreed.

“Here, context is everything,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “After having carefully reviewed the speech, we do not believe that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti- Semitic stereotypes. He has made similar comments about spending his own money on the campaign, and not asking for money from donors, to many other groups.”

Greenblatt said he recognized that Trump’s comments could be understood as anti-Semitic and urged the candidate to clarify that was not his intent.

Trump’s bigger problem with the membership of the Republican Jewish coalition may be his Israel posture. Trump’s refusal to reveal his hand does not sit well with a crowd that wants to hear clear-cut pro-Israel positions up front.

He was booed for not pledging to recognize a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying that to do so would compromise him as a peace broker.

He also said not to have high expectations of a peace deal: “I don’t know that Israel has the commitment to make it, and I don’t know that the other side has the commitment to make it.”

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