Greg Nash

Donald Trump charmed influential Jewish powerbrokers and donors who gathered in Washington on Thursday for a GOP presidential forum, but may have hurt himself in the long run for staking out controversial positions on hot-button issues important to the group.

Hundreds of Jewish political activists gathered for the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) presidential forum, and Trump had the crowd rolling — even when his jokes touched on well-worn Jewish stereotypes about being good negotiators and strong businesspeople.

{mosads}“I’m a negotiator like you folks, we’re negotiators,” the real estate mogul said to laughs before launching into a broadside against the Obama administrations nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals?,” the party front-runner asked later. “This room negotiates a lot. This room perhaps more than any room I’ve ever spoken to.”

Trump earned more laughs for repeatedly telling the crowd that he didn’t expect their support because he’s not asking for their money.

But he also elicited some boos under questioning from RJC Chairman Matthew Brooks about whether the capital in Israel should be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, where the U.S. maintains its diplomatic presence.

“I have to wait until I meet with Bibi,” Trump said, referencing an upcoming meeting he says he’s scheduled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It’s an article of faith among most Republicans that the U.S. should relocate its embassy in the country to Jerusalem.

Earlier, Trump declined to clarify his position on what concessions he believes Israel needs to make to achieve a peace deal in the Middle East.

“You have to have commitment to [make a deal],” the business tycoon said. “I don’t know if Israel has the commitment to make it. I don’t know that the other side has the commitment to make it.”

He wouldn’t get more specific than that, saying that as a deal-maker he doesn’t want to “give away a lot of cards.”

Just hours before Trump was scheduled to address the RJC, The Associated Press ran an interview with Trump in which he said Israel needs to make some “sacrifices” on “certain things” if it’s to achieve a peace deal in the Middle East. 

Trump didn’t elaborate on what concessions he believes Israel should make, but he described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a “huge sticking point” in negotiations.

Palestinians have repeatedly called for Israel to make land concessions as per the borders drawn by the United Nations in 1948, while Israel has bucked those calls and argued that it only took control of the land after its neighbors attacked the country.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rebuked Trump for the remarks in his address to the RJC earlier in the day, saying that “there is no moral equivalence between Israel and those who seek to destroy her.”

“Understanding that fundamental truth is essential to being the next commander in chief,” Rubio said. “This is not a real estate deal with two sides arguing over money. It’s a struggle to safeguard the future of Israel.”

By suggesting that Israel might need to make serious concessions in a possible peace deal with the Palestinians, Trump was expressing a thought that is rarely circulated in hawkish Republican circles, but he received no reaction from the crowd for his remarks.

Still, his speech was largely well-received. Unlike the other candidates, Trump forewent a planned speech, instead treating the gathering like one of his rallies, even interrupting his comments to greet someone in the audience.

He ripped Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying she’s “been involved in corruption her whole life” and claiming that she’s only running for president to stay out of jail. 

Trump said Clinton is sticking close to President Obama in hopes that the Justice Department will bail her out of the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account and server as secretary of State. 

“She can’t go against [Obama] because then he goes boom and she gets indicted,” he said. “He’s got total control over her. 

Trump also accused Clinton of ignoring “hundreds” of requests for more security from diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. 

“She shouldn’t be allowed to run for president,” Trump declared.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video