The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has set off reverberations around the world. For many, the alarm bells could not be ringing any louder. A campaign that featured anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, and was supported by a legion of online anti-Semites, is now transitioning to an administration that makes many Americans justifiably fearful.
Steve Bannon, the former editor of the right-wing Breitbart News who has trafficked in conspiracy theories, race-baiting, and anti-Semitism, has been appointed as President-elect Trump’s chief strategist and counselor. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, an avowed Islamophobe, has been appointed as national security advisor. Senator Jeff Sessions, an anti-immigrant crusader who has made numerous racially insensitive and derogatory remarks, will become Trump’s attorney general. And Trump is considering the appointment of secretaries of defense and state who would seek to destroy the Iran deal, jeopardizing U.S. and Israeli security in the process.
If all of that wasn’t alarming enough, it’s now been reported that former Governor Mike Huckabee, a diehard supporter of illegal West Bank settlements and opponent of a two-state solution – who said last year that President Obama was marching Israelis to “the door of the oven” – may be appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Israel. It should be a stark warning to all of us who hope and strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace that an extremist like this would even be considered to oversee the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Indeed, Israel’s hardline right-wing has been buoyed by Trump’s election, and with good reason: following the election, Trump’s Israel advisor said that “settlements are not an obstacle to peace” and that the Trump administration will seek to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
The Israeli right-wingers who oppose a peace deal with the Palestinians wasted no time celebrating. One day after Trump’s victory, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party, one of the most ardent supporters of settlements in Israel’s governing coalition, proclaimed that “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” He and others called for annexing the entire West Bank – which would doom Israel’s future as a secure, Jewish, democratic state – and their allies have already announced plans for aggressive settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and elsewhere. Newly emboldened, these hardliners are now attempting to push a bill through the Knesset that would legalize all West Bank settlement outposts, which are currently illegal under Israeli law. The bill has passed its first reading.
These developments are disastrous for the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians, and the broader Middle East. In times like these, we have only one option: fight back.
We at Americans for Peace Now are already doing just that. We’re working with our Israeli sister organization, Peace Now, to combat settlement expansion on the ground in the West Bank and mobilize pro-peace Israelis. We’re galvanizing pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans to stand against the threats to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. We’ve publicly condemned the appointment of Steve Bannon and have joined the calls for his firing. And just last week, APN and eleven other Jewish organizations signed an open letter to President-elect trump vowing that, "if you choose to take actions that violate human rights, or that reverse the progress we have made at home and abroad. You will find us as powerful opponents of any effort to undermine these gains."
It is abundantly clear that we are now living in a very dangerous time. The threat to a two-state solution – the only viable, conflict-ending resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – is more pronounced than ever.
But the response cannot be one of despair and resignation. Our collective response must be fueled by hope, commitment, and tenacious perseverance. As one of the last bulwarks against the growing extremism that threatens a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, APN is here to lead that response – and we need your support.