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Donald Trump's speech to Republican Jews was filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Midday on Thursday, Donald Trump gave a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition. These are three real things that he said:

  • "Stupidly, you want to give money. ...You're not going to support me because I don't want your money."
  • "I'm a negotiator, like you folks."
  • "Is there anyone in this room who doesn't negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I've ever spoken."

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. The crowd appeared to laugh it off, but observers watching the speech were struck:

That wasn't the end of Trump's problems during the address. When asked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the candidate whiffed. He refused to tell the strongly pro-Israel group whether he thought Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, and was outright booed. He appeared to apportion blame to Israel for the failure of the peace process, and the room was dead silent.

Again, there was some applause for other pro-Israel comments, as well as digs at President Obama and Bernie Sanders. But overall, it was an utterly baffling address to give to a group of Republican Jews. It suggests that Trump isn't just "politically incorrect" when talking about Democratic-voting groups like Latinos and women but rather that he actually can't help himself from engaging in nasty stereotypes. And he can't even figure out the right talking points to use when speaking to a pro-Israel crowd, a deeply important constituency in the Republican Party.

So to recap: Trump stood in front of an audience of Jews and told them that they were all about money and making deals. He stood in front of a pro-Israel crowd and told them Israel was (at least partially) to blame for the failure to come to terms with the Palestinians.

Despite the applause, it's hard to characterize that as anything but a disaster.