‘Worst fears, best hopes’ for the Trump presidency: Susie Gelman, Israel Policy Forum

Susie Gelman

Susie Gelman

Susie Gelman is hopeful about a two-state solution despite what she calls a “grim environment.” (Israel Policy Forum)

Editor’s note: The upset victory by Donald Trump in the 2016 elections stunned a Jewish activist and leadership class that is at times as divided as the electorate at large. JTA asked some of those leaders to describe their concerns and expectations in a series of brief essays, “Worst fears, best hopes,” that will appear regularly between now and Inauguration Day.

(JTA) — The election of Donald Trump and his subsequent actions have created serious concerns at Israel Policy Forum. Broadly speaking, we worry what a Trump administration portends for our country and the world.

More specific, we fear what it may mean for the future of our already challenging mission of advancing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Absent such an eventual agreement, the security of the State of Israel will be threatened, its future as a Jewish and democratic state will be jeopardized, and the long-term stability of the U.S.-Israel alliance, rooted in bipartisanship, could be irrevocably shaken.

Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief political strategist – someone who led an extremist publication that has promoted expressions of intolerance and hate toward a number of minority groups and has purveyed ugly and divisive rhetoric – is also cause for grave concern. The vile anti-Semitism unleashed during the campaign has intensified since the election.

In this grim environment, there are reasons to be hopeful that progress toward a two-state solution can be made. We look to Trump’s interview in The Wall Street Journal of Nov. 11, when he described a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “the ultimate deal.” Later he said, “As a deal maker, I’d like to do … the deal that can’t be made.”

We are cognizant that every president for nearly five decades has realized that it is in America’s interest to make progress on the two-state solution, to solve this intractable problem and to realize additional American regional priorities. Moreover, the majority of American Jews, Israelis and Palestinians support it.

So we at IPF are not abandoning hope. We will do all that we can to provide resources to illuminate a path forward and to stand up for what is right. We pledge to support any helpful efforts by the Trump administration to move toward a two-state future and to oppose any harmful steps that do the opposite.

(Susie Gelman is chair of the Israel Policy Forum.)

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

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