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“Unleashing Common Jewish Stereotypes”: Donald Trump To Republican Jews; You Can’t Buy Me

Donald Trump’s speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition this morning was a sober-minded and detailed analysis of the security threats Israel faces and the most effective way to eliminate the Islamic State.

Haha, just kidding!

He spent most of the time talking about how Jews are good negotiators and then saying they wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t buy him. A wild, stereotype-filled ride from start to finish, yes, indeed.

The Republican presidential frontrunner kicked off his talk by doing the obvious thing and talking up his poll numbers, as one does, and saying Obama “is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel.”

He also sought to connect with the Jewish audience by touting his business experience.

“I’m a negotiator like you folks,” he said.

Like other candidates, he criticized the president’s negotiating abilities on the Iran deal. But unlike other candidates, he suggested the president’s decision not to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” means he is likely harboring a dark secret.

“I’ll tell you what, we have a president that refuses to use the term,” Trump said. “He refuses to say—there’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”

The line drew immediate, noisy applause. It isn’t the first time Trump has floated curious theories about Obama’s origins; he became a Tea Party darling by vociferously questioning whether the president was born in America. He told Fox News in 2011 that secret religious beliefs might explain the president’s alleged caginess about his birthplace (Hawaii, btw).

Perhaps the most curious part of the speech—which is really saying something—came when he suggested the Jewish audience wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t control him through donations.

“I don’t want your money, therefore you’re probably not gonna support me,” he said.

“Trump doesn’t want our money, therefore we can’t—” he continued, launching into an imagined dramatic inner monologue of what the audience must be thinking, “Even though he’s better than all these guys, even though he’s gonna do more for Israel than anybody else, even though Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him and I did and he won his race, I was very happy.”

That sentence, you will notice, includes both the first and third persons—really terrific. His mention of Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, drew more applause. And he didn’t really make his point.

But a few minutes later in the speech, he found himself back at the same idea: mulling over whether the audience would be able to support him even if he didn’t take campaign contributions that would make them his assumed puppet masters.

“You know, you’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money,” he said, drawing audience laughter.

The stereotype of Jews using their money to insidiously manipulate global politics is an old one, as Anti-Defamation League founder Abraham Foxman detailed in his book Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. He notes that anti-Israel Middle Eastern groups often use the ugly stereotype “to claim that Israel’s survival reflects not its moral status as a nation among nations but rather the manipulation of world opinion and, especially, of U.S. policy by wealthy, self-interested Jews.”

Later in his ramble, Trump suggested Jeb Bush’s acceptance of campaign contributions means his donors control him.

“He raised $125 million, which means he’s controlled totally, totally controlled, by the people who gave him the money,” he said.

This has been a theme throughout the mogul’s campaign. He’s argued repeatedly that other candidates are beholden to their donors and won’t prioritize the country’s best interests because of their muddied loyalties.

Trump, without saying it directly, made it clear that his loyalties will remain where they have always been: to himself.


By: Betsy Woodrull, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Chris Christie Ain’t Got It”: He Isn’t Aware Of What He Doesn’t Know

There’s a scene in the comedy film “High Anxiety” in which a driver meets Mel Brooks at the airport and offers to pick up his cumbersome trunk. “I got it, I got it, I got it,” the driver insists as he struggles to lift the luggage before gasping, “I ain’t got it!” It lands with a thud.

The sequence came to mind recently as I thought about why I’m so skeptical of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential prospects — and it doesn’t concern the scandal surrounding the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

Having observed Christie on the national scene for a number of years now, I’ve been left with the impression that he isn’t aware of what he doesn’t know. He’s in love with his image as a tough-talking pragmatic governor and thinks he can go before just about any audience and rock em’ and sock em’ with his New Jersey humor and war stories about budget battles. I imagine that he goes before new audiences thinking to himself, “I’ve got this,” without doing the homework necessary to really understand the nuances of national or international politics.

This struck me for the first time when I saw Christie speak at the annual dinner of the Cato Institute in May 2012, in which he rattled the libertarian audience at the outset by referring to them as “a small group of committed conservatives.”

Anybody who has a basic understanding of the intellectual traditions of the limited-government movement would know that libertarians take great pains to differentiate themselves ideologically from conservatives. Referring to a Cato Institute audience as “committed conservatives” is kind of like speaking at a jazz conference and mixing up John Coltrane and Kenny G.

I was reminded of this incident when controversy ensued following Christie’s appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas in late March. After failing to mention Israel at all during his opening remarks, he was asked to offer his reflections on his 2012 visit there.

“I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand the military risk that Israel faces every day,” Christie said during his remarks.

Christie’s overall intention, of course, was to tell the pro-Israel audience that he’s with them in steadfastly supporting the traditional U.S. ally. And yet he sloppily used the terminology “occupied territories.” Not only is the term inaccurate (as even the internationally accepted definition of occupation requires that the area in dispute is part of another sovereign nation), but the term endorses the Palestinian narrative that says any Jewish presence in the area is illegitimate.

According to a source who works within the pro-Israel community, Christie has repeatedly declined offers from those friendly to the idea of his candidacy to receive more advice and briefing on the issue. So it’s no surprise that the savvier RJC audience members were left with the impression that whatever his sympathies, he had little understanding of the dynamics of the Middle East.

To be clear, neither of these dustups are likely to be remembered much by the time the 2016 Republican primaries heat up. I’m not predicting a series of attack ads centered around his “occupied territories” remark. But Christie’s candidacy will be killed in its crib if he thinks he can rely on razzmatazz to impress Republican audiences — especially ones who are already suspicious of him.

His ego may have been inflated by the rousing reception he would receive when campaigning for Mitt Romney in Iowa, New Hampshire and other key states. But there’s a huge difference between being the warm-up act and undergoing the scrutiny of a candidate himself, where every slip-up gets magnified.

If he continues to take his “everything I need to know I learned in New Jersey” approach to national politics, Christie’s presidential candidacy is likely to end with a thud.


By: Philip Klein, Columnist, The Washington Times, April 10, 2014

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Line To Kiss Sheldon Adelson’s Boots”: Why Talk Directly To Voters When You Can Get A Billionaire To Help Manipulate Them

It’s hard to imagine a political spectacle more loathsome than the parade of Republican presidential candidates who spent the last few days bowing and scraping before the mighty bank account of the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. One by one, they stood at a microphone in Mr. Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition (also a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Adelson), hoping to sound sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-interventionist and philo-Semitic to win a portion of Mr. Adelson’s billions for their campaigns.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio made an unusually bold venture into foreign policy by calling for greater sanctions on Iran and Russia, and by announcing that the United States should not pressure Israel into a peace process. (Wild applause.) “Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me,” he said. “God bless you for what you do.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin brought up his father’s trip to Israel, and said he puts “a menorah candle” next to his Christmas tree. The name of his son, Matthew, actually comes from Hebrew, he pointed out.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also described his trip to Israel, but then did something unthinkable. He referred to the West Bank as the “occupied territories.” A shocked whisper went through the crowd. How dare Mr. Christie implicitly acknowledge that Israel’s presence in the West Bank might be anything less than welcome to the Palestinians? Even before Mr. Christie left the stage, leaders of the group told him he had stumbled, badly.

And sure enough, a few hours later, Mr. Christie apologized directly to Mr. Adelson for his brief attack of truthfulness.

It would be one thing if these attempts at pandering were the usual ethnic bromides of candidates looking for votes in New York or Florida, a familiar ritual. But the people gathered in Las Vegas were not there as voters — they were there as donors, led by one of the biggest of them all, Mr. Adelson, who dispensed nearly $100 million to his favored candidates in 2012. He singlehandedly kept Newt Gingrich’s candidacy alive with $20 million in checks, and this year he is looking for a more mainstream candidate he can send to the White House on a tide of cash.

“He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Victor Chaltiel, a friend and colleague of Mr. Adelson, told the Washington Post. Well, that’s a relief.

But not much of one. The ability of one man and his money to engender so much bootlicking among serious candidates, which ought to be frightening, has now become commonplace. Why talk directly to voters when you can get a billionaire to help you manipulate them with a barrage of false television ads, as the Koch brothers are doing with Republican Senate candidates around the country.

It’s a cynical calculation that is turning people away from political involvement. Mr. Adelson thinks that’s not only terrific, but hilarious. Politico reported that at a party on Saturday night for the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mr. Adelson said he couldn’t give the group the $50 million it requested because its director didn’t have change for $1 billion.

The event was closed to the press, but it’s not hard to hear the fawning laughter and applause from here.


By: David Firestone, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, March 31, 2014

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Campaign Financing, GOP Presidential Candidates, Sheldon Adelson | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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