Donald Trump set off a mini-controversy during his address to the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Washington Thursday.
Trump "repeatedly invoked stereotypes about Jews and money" in the speech, BuzzFeed noted, pointing to Trump statements, like "Is there anyone in this room who doesn't negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I've ever spoken" and "You're not going to support me because I don't want your money." A Twitter debate erupted as Trump spoke. "You have to give plaudits to Donald Trump for chutzpah," tweeted the Guardian's Ben Cohen. "Who else gives a borderline anti-Semitic speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition?"
One of those who commented was Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman now on the RJC board of directors, who tweeted "What the hell does that mean?" after Trump's "I don't want your money" line. After the speech, Fleischer expanded a bit on his impressions of Trump's performance:
He knows who's on the board of the RJC, and the board of the RJC is indeed a lot of business leaders who do a lot of negotiations. He saw a lot of people from New York in that front row and he knew several of them… But what I objected to was his statement about, I know why you're not supporting me — it's because I won't take your money. And it wasn't the money — it was the implication that you are here because you need to buy and influence a politician, as opposed to you are here because of the ideology that you believe in and the love for Israel in your heart. That's what I found offensive about that remark. We're here because we want to listen to these candidates tell us about the American-Israeli bond, why that is in America's national defense interest, and if they have knowledge about the nuance of those issues, that means they'll be strong presidents. That's what we want. It has nothing to do with whether we can give them money or not. And that's what was offensive about that remark. It's not the Jewish-money-businessman issue.