Op-Ed: We will not look away from Trump’s threat to the two-state solution

Ben Weinberg and Dan Toubman

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The result of last week’s election challenged the values that many students on this campus hold dear. A Trump presidency poses dangerous threats to our country’s most vulnerable people. Trump’s policies could shut out immigrants, entrench a discriminatory criminal justice system and limit women’s right to choose. Trump’s campaign rhetoric has emboldened hateful discourses of misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and a range of other forms of bigotry.

Donald Trump’s nationalist populism empowers politicians and power-holders, in the United States and abroad, to undermine the values of security, democracy and equality. As board members of J Street U Northwestern, we are particularly concerned that these changes threaten the future of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish Americans voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump in this election, and it is fairly clear why. Our values compel us to support inclusion and to fight against hate. We support a peaceful and secure world with a responsible American foreign policy. Most American Jews support a Jewish and democratic state of Israel, existing peacefully alongside a secure and sovereign Palestinian state. When Trump takes office in January, he will be the first American president to officially reject a commitment to realizing the two-state solution.

Two states is the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ensures security, peace and self-determination for both peoples. We, in the American Jewish community, must strengthen our commitment to this goal.

Leaders on the Israeli right have already begun to celebrate the results of the American election and extol the virtues of the new administration. For Israeli politicians committed to maintaining the military occupation of the West Bank and the expansion of the settlement enterprise, the Trump administration presents an opportunity to gain American governmental support in killing the two-state solution once and for all. It is a chance to further entrench the occupation –– and diminish long-term prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace –– while American Jews look away.

On Tuesday, the Israeli government will decide whether to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. The village’s 340 inhabitants live in makeshift shelters without running water or electricity. They pose no threat to Israeli security. A decision in favor of Susya’s destruction would leave roughly 100 families homeless and signal a governmental commitment to further eroding the viability of the two-state solution.

We as J Street U students are not alone in our concern: In August, the U.S. State Department vocalized its opposition to the planned demolition. Some brave communal institutions, such as the New Israel Fund and Union for Reform Judaism, have also spoken out against the proposed demolition. But thus far, the broader American Jewish community has remained worryingly silent. If American Jews are to take leadership in the fight for social justice and equality, let Susya be the first test. It is more important now than ever before to speak up loudly on behalf of peace, inclusion and equality and to make it clear that when we see actions that undermine those values, we will not look away.

The two-state solution is under attack, and with it, the long-term safety and sovereignty of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Our community has the power to make change: we must hold American Jewish leadership accountable. We call on any student who opposes home demolition, supports a two-state solution or simply believes in the urgency of peace to join us in advocating for change. It is time to organize for the people of Susya and all others threatened by injustice and to build and sustain our community’s commitment to social justice. We won’t look away, and we won’t let our communal leaders and politicians look away, either. We see, and we will speak up.

Ben Weinberg and Dan Toubman are board members of J Street U Northwestern. Ben can be contacted at benjaminweinberg2018@u.northwestern.edu. Dan can be contacted at danieltoubman2017@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.