WASHINGTON – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday invoked a series of stereotypes about Jews that are often deemed offensive and even anti-Semitic — in an address to Jewish Republicans.
“I’m a negotiator like you folks were negotiators,” the controversial candidate declared to his audience at the Republican Jewish Coalition, as he explained that he would broker a stronger nuclear deal with Iran than the one concluded earlier this year. At another point in his speech, he said: “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
His speech came at the tail end of a morning of addresses in which the other Republican candidates boasted of their pro-Israel credentials and their close ties to the US Jewish community.
Although Trump did reiterate his tight ties with his “friend” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the audience wasn’t tolerant of the mogul’s attempts to duck a question on Jerusalem. Asked about his position on the unification of the Israeli capital, Trump refused to commit – as most Republican candidates have – to declaring the city to be the eternal capital of the Jewish state, and was greeted with boos.
However, the audience did not offer any negative response when Trump told them, “You’re not gonna support me even though you know I’m the best thing that could ever happen to Israel. And I’ll be that.” He continued, evoking a stereotype about Jews, money and control, “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. Isn’t it crazy?”
According to AP, he added: “You want to control your own politician.”
Trump backtracked on comments that he made Wednesday in which he suggested that Israelis could sacrifice more than they had already for the sake of peace.
“It has to be said that Israel has given a lot,” he acknowledged. “I don’t know whether or not they want to go that final step, you know, and that’s going to be up to them. But Israel has not been given the credit that they deserve for what they’ve done, I will say that. I will say that.” At the same time, he added that he didn’t know “if Israel has the commitment to make [a deal with the Palestinians]” or “if the other side has the commitment to make it.”
Trump, who previously questioned whether President Barack Obama was born a US citizen, also reiterated insinuations that the president was hiding something, implying that perhaps he is crypto-Muslim.
“Radical Islamic terrorism — we have a president who refuses to use the term,” he complained. “There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”
Earlier Thursday, the head of the Republican Party in Israel said that Trump should not not be the president of the United States. Speaking on Army Radio, Marc Zell said that American voters would be sure to recognize that the candidate did not possess the necessary qualities to lead his country.
“The voters understand that to lead the United States, you need a person who knows more than how to sell products, with all due respect to Donald Trump, and everything he has achieved in his career,” Zell said. “In my opinion, he cannot be president of the United States.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.