NYT: "Israelis’ Favorite Thing About Donald Trump? His Style (To Put It Bluntly)"
July 07, 2016, 06:53 AM
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As I’ve been pointing out for a long time, both New York City under Mayor Bloomberg and Israel under Prime Minister Netanyahu have done pretty well for themselves in recent years, largely by ignoring liberal pieties. Not surprisingly, the blunt NYC / Israel style of Donald Trump has done fairly well with voters in 2016 outside of heartland nice states like Iowa, Minnesota, and Utah.

A NYT reporter notes the stylistic conjunction:

Israelis’ Favorite Thing About Donald Trump? His Style (to Put It Bluntly)


JERUSALEM — Donald J. Trump has been called a lot of things by a lot of people around the world. In Israel, where his comments about remaining “neutral” in peace negotiations raised hackles but his condemnation of “radical Islam” wins plaudits, the word that keeps coming up is “dugri.”

A slang Hebrew term derived from the Arabic for “straight ahead,” dugri describes someone who is frank and blunt no matter the consequences. This is how many outsiders view Israelis, often with considerable discomfort. But here in Israel, a society that views pretension with suspicion and disdain, it is almost universally a compliment.

“Israelis tend to talk more frankly and openly about subjects that, in America, could be somewhat taboo,” said Zev Chafets, a co-host of a weekly radio program in Tel Aviv that focuses on the United States’ election. “Trump does that. People find that refreshing.”

Zev, author of 1990′s Devil’s Night about the decline of his hometown of Detroit, wrote classic NYT articles on Julian Castro and the Syrian Jews of Brooklyn. He moved to Israel in 1967 and was Menachem Begin’s press secretary.
American presidential elections are not, of course, won or lost in Israel, but candidates nevertheless treat it almost as a state with electoral votes, wooing the public with promises and calculated charm. This year, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, have promised to outdo each other in protecting Israel’s security.

Mr. Trump has also repeatedly pointed out that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner; Mrs. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, is also married to a Jew, Marc Mezvinsky. …

There are about 200,000 eligible American voters in Israel; in 2012, about 75,000 requested absentee ballots. In past elections, having the Israeli public and political class in one’s camp was seen as an asset for candidates from both parties, if only because of how it translated with influential pro-Israel activists and other Jewish leaders back home. …

Mr. Trump has had less interaction with Israel than Mrs. Clinton — he canceled a planned trip here last fall amid the controversy over his proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States — and to American Jewish groups. …

Mitchell Barak, an American-Israeli political consultant in Jerusalem, conducted a poll in February and found that Israelis overwhelmingly supported the Muslim ban, but that they would also prefer to see Mrs. Clinton as president. …

“Just like Clinton was the first black president,” Mr. Chafets quipped, “he was the first Jewish president.”

Still, Mrs. Clinton has so far stirred little real enthusiasm in Israel, possibly opening the door for Mr. Trump and his dugri style.

“It does concern me because that sort of bluff, gruff, tough-guy approach is admired here,” said Sheldon Schorer, an official with the Israel branch of Democrats Abroad. …

“Daber iti dugri” is the rough equivalent in Hebrew of “Give it to me straight.” Being dugri, long prized for its own sake, has taken on even more value at a time when many Israelis criticize the unwillingness of Mr. Obama and other Democrats to use the term “radical Islam.”

“There’s a natural affinity for his rebellion against political correctness,” Dahlia Scheindlin, a public-opinion expert in Tel Aviv, said of Mr. Trump, “because Israelis have embraced that rebellion for years.”

Mr. Schorer, the Democratic activist, said that beneath the growl, Mr. Trump’s inexperience and impetuousness could be troublesome to Israelis. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump came under fire in the United States for his use on Twitter of an image that many observers said included anti-Semitic stereotypes in an attack on Mrs. Clinton for being “corrupt.”

In Israel, Mr. Trump first raised alarms when he said during a Republican presidential primary debate in February that he would remain “neutral” in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He later modified that by saying he would portray himself as neutral to the Palestinians while really taking Israel’s side.

More recently, Mr. Trump has generated headlines in Israel by declaring that the United States should emulate some of Israel’s security practices. He has said a version of the security barrier Israel built along and through the occupied West Bank should be erected along the border with Mexico, and he asserted that the United States should follow what he called Israel’s “profiling” of Muslims at security checkpoints.

His compliments were not universally welcomed. A columnist for the left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, Chemi Shalev, worried that Mr. Trump’s admiration of Israel could weaken Democratic support in the United States for Israel’s security policies. “His compliments damn Israel with loud praise,” Mr. Shalev wrote. …

Mitchell Barak’s poll, commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany and undertaken in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, found that only the Russian group favored Mr. Trump. Over all, respondents preferred Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump by a ratio of more than two to one, though the largest number of those surveyed were undecided or picked other candidates who were still in the race at the time.

“They like strong leaders,” Mr. Barak said, adding that Mr. Trump “tells it like it is.” Dugri, again.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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