Gaffe Track: Sure, The Donald Knows Some Jewish Stereotypes

Gary Cameron / Reuters
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The candidate: You’re not going to believe this, but Donald Trump

The gaffe: Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump made some statements about Israel and the peace process that didn’t go over so well. But he also unspooled a string of anti-Semitic stereotypes:

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

Oy. Trump didn’t quite say Jews are moneygrubbers, but he came pretty, pretty close.

The defense: We’ll turn this over to the RJC’s spokesman, who suggests it’s OK to make Jewish jokes if you make them to Jews (or something): “Donald Trump is well aware of the composition of our board and our audience—one that includes many successful business men and women as well as dealmakers like him.”

Why it matters (or doesn’t): Who knows? There are lots of things that aren’t permitted in polite company that Trump does all the time. It’s a bit rich to see GOP grandees suddenly appalled by these jokes—after all, he’s been trading in racist stereotypes throughout the campaign.

The lesson: This schmuck’s shtick is a shanda.