“On Thursday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump delivered a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in which he essentially praised members of the organization for being a bunch of Shylocks.”
Daring openings are what they are, and Scott Eric Kaufman of Salon delivers one that might well be, according to murmur and buzz, worth its punch.
Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed chose a more sober lede that pretty much makes the point:
Donald Trump repeatedly invoked stereotypes about Jews and money during a speech to a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Thursday.
Zack Beauchamp summarized for Vox―
The nicest thing that you can say about these comments is that they play on ancient stereotypes of Jews as money-grubbing merchants. The meanest thing you can say is that they’re outright anti-Semitic.
―and pointed to some social media reaction, including Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, who tweeted his critique: “The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park”.
And then there are Jonathan Easley and Jonathan Swan of The Hill, both of whose names are on this review:
Donald Trump can do no wrong.
It seemed that Trump would face a skeptical and potentially hostile crowd – he arrived just hours after the Associated Press quoted him as saying that Israel might need to make serious concessions in any potential peace deal with the Palestinians.
Trump didn’t clarify his remarks during his address, and at one point drew boos for saying he hadn’t decided yet whether the U.S. should relocate its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But the showman largely captivated the crowd.
He brought a raft of jokes that had the crowd rolling, despite a reliance on well-worn stereotypes about Jewish people being good at business.
“Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals?” Trump asked. “This room negotiates a lot. This room perhaps more than any room I’ve ever spoken to.”
Later, the crowd erupted as Trump declared that the Jews in the audience wouldn’t support his candidacy because they like being asked for money and he’s the only one not seeking their financial support.
The heavyweights at RJC will likely cast their lots with a more establishment-friendly candidate, but Trump proved again that he’s a compelling and entertaining candidate.
Or if one has thirty-three minutes to spare, there is video. It’s hard to watch, for the most part because it’s Donald Trump, but two things stand out. First is the fact that he is making a typical, patronizing Trump pitch. Second is that yes, this makes the all of it sound even worse; the Trump patina on anti-Semitism is breathtaking to painful.
We might also beg personal indulgence, because one of the most puzzling talents the Republican frontrunner displays is the ability to make no sense at multiple valences simultaneously. To wit, Kaufman explains:
In his humble way, he spoke of how much the Jews love him, especially in Israel. “They look at my wall, and it’s loaded up” with awards from Jewish groups, he boasted, before adding that “the Christians are catching up, though, they’re catching up.”
And while it is true the Jewish stereotyping in his speech is a spectacle to behold and endure pretty much only as a masochistic exercise, what the billionaire bigot actually said is even stranger:
In fact I’ve been sometimes criticized because I received so many awards from Jewish groups, and, they look at my wall, it’s loaded up, and―but now the Christians are catching up, I have to tell you. My Christians are liking a lot, lately. And they’ve been great, they’ve been great. So, Obama is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel ....
It’s really hard to listen to because sometimes it seems like the entire thing is just one long string of transitions from one talking point to the next, and all wrapped up in a neat casing of patronizing stereotypes. No, really. after that line he ridicules his “great friends” who support the president, presenting them as pretty much stupid in need of his guidance. And then he touches the Iran nuclear accord talking point, then patronizes Jews with the remark about being a negotiator, then the gas station line; not a single sentence coming out of his mouth actually leads anywhere.
After his political bid fails, he should just go straight for a real Donald Trump Show; he could mop up the late-night talk circuit.
Top ― Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015. (RJC via YouTube) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Beauchamp, Zack. “Donald Trump’s speech to Republican Jews was filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes”. Vox. 3 December 2015.
Easley, Jonathan and Jonathan Swan. “Five takeaways from Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum”. The Hill. 3 December 2015.
Gray, Rosie. “Donald Trump Kept Repeating Jewish Stereotypes In Speech To Jewish Republicans”. BuzzFeed. 3 December 2015.
Kaufman, Scott Eric. “One yuuuuuge mistake: Donald Trump just delivered an anti-Semitic speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition”. Salon. 3 December 2015.
Shalev, Chemi. “The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park”. Twitter. 3 December 2015.