The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday defended Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence tosses baseball to reporters, says he's rooting for Cubs Will Trump pull a Jefferson and avoid really conceding the election? IRS makes inflation adjustments for 2017 MORE after the GOP front-runner's freewheeling speech before a group of Jewish Republicans drew criticism.
"After having carefully reviewed the speech, we do not believe that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes," Jonathan Greenblatt, the league's CEO, said in a statement.
Greenblatt said that Trump "has made similar comments about spending his own money on the campaign, and not asking for money from donors, to many other groups."
Trump, a billionaire real estate tycoon, garnered attention
on Thursday for his remarks in a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), an audience addressed by several other candidates.
The celebrity businessman appeared to touch on several Jewish stereotypes in his speech, including about being a good negotiator and having a tough business personality.
“I’m a negotiator like you folks, we’re negotiators,” Trump said to laughs at the gathering before launching into a criticism of the Obama administration's nuclear pact with Iran.
“Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals?,” Trump asked later. “This room negotiates a lot. This room perhaps more than any room I’ve ever spoken to.”
Trump also repeatedly told the audience that he did not want their money.
The ADL pushed back on pundits criticizing Trump's remarks, saying that "context is everything."
"Mr. Trump’s presentation was completely supportive of Israel and the Jewish community, even if one might disagree with him on some of the other issues he raised," Greenblatt said Thursday.
"In this case he is speaking to a group of Jewish Republicans, a significant portion of whom are business people," he continued.
The group said that while it does not believe Trump "intended his comments regarding negotiations and money to relate specifically to their Jewishness," the group called on the candidate "to clarify that this was not his intention, and that he rejects the traditional stereotypes about Jews and money."
The group has repeatedly slammed some of Trump's previous remarks, including his "factually challenged
" claim of hearing scores of American Muslims chanting after 9/11 and his "hate speech and stereotyping
" when remarking on criminals and rapists coming into the U.S. from Mexico.
Democrats pointed to Trump's remarks before the Jewish audience on negotiating deals, as well as remarks from several other GOP candidates, to declare that "these Republican Apprentices are not ready for prime time."
Democratic National Committee spokesman TJ Helmstetter knocked "the Republican candidates’ tone-deaf and offensive remarks," adding in a statement, "it’s no wonder that Jewish voters identify as Democrats by a two-to-one margin."