There is a certain symmetry to two years of Donald Trump's presidency: he rounded off his presidential election campaign with an ad condemned as dog-whistling to anti-Semites and he's ending the GOP's midterms campaign with an online ad described as a "bullhorn" to racists.
The suggestion that Trump was an inciter whose language and references mainstreamed hate speech has, of course, always been comprehensively dismissed by his close advisors.
This is what Trump’s erstwhile lawyer, now Middle East adviser Jason Greenblatt wrote in Haaretz during the campaign, back in May 2016 - a defense that sounded far-fetched then, and enirely fantastical now: Anyone thinking "hate speech espoused by...often anonymous individuals is indicative of the environment Mr. Trump will foster in our great country is reckless and ill-informed….to suggest, through innuendo and outright assertion, that Mr. Trump represents “the ascendancy of hate” is irresponsible in the extreme."
There was already significant tension in the overwhelmingly Democratic-voting U.S. Jewish community when Trump won the 2016 election. Since then, there have been a series of events, watershed moments, that have triggered intense debate within the Jewish community about whether the Trump presidency presents a threat to its well-being and safety.
From the shocking images of Charlottesville and Trump's morally hazardous comments, to the atrocity in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the same questions are being asked: Is the president consciously inciting against minorities and immigrants? Are we framing anti-Semitism in America solely, and wrongly, as a phenomenon of the Trump era? What is the relationship between xenophobia and hostility to American Muslims and refugees - and anti-Semitism? What activism best answers the needs of these times?
- Pittsburgh Jews give Trump a furious reception
- Thanks to Trump, the entire Mideast now knows: You're either with America, or against us
- From 'Satanic' to 'Anti-Christ': Pro-Trump attacks on George Soros intensify as midterms approach
- Donald Trump's Orthodox grandchildren aren't the future of American Jewish life
And - a debate that intensifies every day - what is the relationship between Trump's exploitation of racist tropes and a president who loudly proclaims his support for Israel, the Jewish state, and - to the plaudits of not only the Israeli government, but many U.S. Jews as well - moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?
As Israelis proudly identify as the world's outliers in expressing their confidence in the Trump presidency, echoing Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu's highly vocal warmth towards the president, how solid is the 'special relationship' between the two countries?
Has the Trump administration - by cancelling the Iran nuclear deal and aid to the Palestinians - proven its allyship with Jerusalem, or has it endangered its safety? Is the administration laying the ground for an 'ultimate' peace deal or an ethno-nationalist, annexationist Israel? How does the Israel-U.S. relationship fit into the rise of right-wing populist governments around the world? How reliable is a president as transactional and mercurial as Trump?
Over the last two years, Haaretz has covered these burning issues intensively from a broad range of viewpoints. I invite you to take a deep dive into my pick of the opinion pieces that explore and illuminate these topics from a range of writers distinguished by their diversity, clarity and sometimes passionate engagement.
The massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue is the result of Trump’s constant endorsement of hate against the other, a fear-mongering which has brought America to a very dark place
Ronald Linden: We Pittsburgh Jews Don't Want Your 'Thoughts and Prayers'
Keep your facile words. Instead, show us some balls. Stand up, don't cozy up, to the purveyors of hate, to the NRA, to the cowardly politicians who legitimized the synagogue shooter's sentiments
Eric Yoffie: Why the Midterms Terrify American Jews
We know where bigoted, autocratic, indecent and parochial views like those of Donald Trump lead. U.S. Jews should be praying for every Democratic candidate canvasser to succeed: the American Jewish future depends on it
After his "fine people" comment about Charlottesville's neo-Nazis, there’s nowhere left to hide. Trump is an aider and abettor of Nazis, anti-Semites and racists. He is their hero. There are no two ways about it.
Anton Shekhovtsov: How anti-Semitism Aids Moscow’s Covert Influence Campaign in the U.S
A pro-Kremlin website's sudden 'conversion' to hardcore anti-Semitism provided fuel for an alliance with America's far right, part of Moscow's strategy to provoke further polarization in the U.S.
Avraham Bronstein: The NRA's Wayne LaPierre's Chilling Christian Nationalist Call to Arms
Why did CPAC love Lapierre's anti-Semitic and anti-minority dog-whistling so much? Because his message - that they're the vanguard of 'real' Americans - resonates with the European-style ethno-nationalism many U.S. conservatives have adopted
Americans who protested Nazism too loudly, including Americans Jews, were criticized for their 'discourtesy': Our fear of incivility appeased Nazism. We can't go there again
As one of Trump’s court of sycophants, Dinesh D'Souza's noxious libels will likely be his most successful piece of agitprop yet. His migration of foolish, extremist ideas to mainstream audiences should trouble every American
When Richard Grenell praises the 'resurgence' of Europe's 'anti-establishment' populists, in a country where the virulently anti-Semitic, populist far right has returned to parliament, he puts German Jews and democracy in danger
Speaking in Israel's parliament, the U.S. vice president came to praise the Jewish people. But his speech actually repudiated Jewish tradition, echoed tropes used to persecute Jews, and cast us as a mere tools for the salvation of Christians
The Jew haters are celebrating. And Jews – from Jared Kushner to Sheldon Adelson – helped it happen
I’ve never felt less American and more Jewish. I hear my grandmother's voice in my ear: As Jews, we know history doesn't always march forward toward a better day.
U.S. Jews Were Once Strangers, Refugees, Immigrants
It is an earlier incarnation of Auschwitz, a place of indefinite detention for a vilified minority, that we saw on our border this week. The president's executive order offers no evidence this will change
In resisting the abuse of the vulnerable, prompted by President Trump’s Executive Order, do all American Jews now have a religious duty of civil disobedience?
Only nativist mediocrities shun the competition of new challengers and seek to restrict immigration
From D.C. to Jerusalem: U.S.- Israel relations under Trump
Trump’s two year Mideast policy scorecard is a mixed picture: Partial success stories and incomplete policies. But an unleashed president could have an explosive effect on the region
Israelis shouldn't celebrate the Trump administration's decision to slash funds for the Palestinians. It's a radicalizing gift for terrorists - and a ticking time bomb for Israel's security
Jacob Bacharach: Trump's Israel Trip Was One Big Gaslighting Charade
He wanted to rehabilitate an image tarnished by accusations of anti-Semitism. But the U.S. president's 'spiritual grand tour' stop in Israel was an absurd series of empty gestures
Bradley Burston: Would Trump Save Israel in the Next War?
Given his complex relationship with Putin - for all that anyone knows, given his debtor relationship with Putin - would Trump even be capable of intervening in a meaningful way?
Dana H. Allin and Steven Simon: The Tragic Decline of Liberal Values in the U.S.-Israeli Alliance, From Truman to Trump
Punctuated by Trump’s cartoonish Mideast policy, Israel's 70th anniversary is a melancholy milestone for U.S.-Israel relations, marking the deterioration of the ethics and ideals that once bound them together
An 'Ultimate' Peace Plan - Without the Palestinians
Jason Greenblatt: The Palestinians Deserve So Much More Than Saeb Erekat
The inaccurate, unhelpful and false rhetoric of Palestinian leaders like chief negotiator Erekat have not brought peace, and never will. It’s time to hear different Palestinian voices with the courage to seize peace
In dozens of meetings, Mr. Greenblatt refused to discuss substance: borders, settlements, even the two-state solution. This White House can't come remotely close to facilitating a just and lasting Mideast peace
Trump's Mideast team, unlike the rest of his administration, has been transparent and consistent: Palestinians have no right to a state; Israel doesn't need to answer for its human rights abuses. But there's a Democratic backlash - and a future political windfall for the Palestinians
Trump’s ego wouldn’t allow him to refrain from boasting about the very steps that pushed the Palestinians away from negotiations in the first place
John Bolton dismisses the efforts of the 'so-called State of Palestine' to legally challenge Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Palestinian leaders believe international law is key to their fight back against hostile U.S. policy. But what are their chances of success?
He's 83, with no successor and no state. But Palestinian President Abbas consoles himself, in the twilight of his lifetime, with the belief that after two years of Trump, he's come out on top
Daniel Kurtzer: America Can't Save the Two-state Solution
I've believed in the two-state solution for over 40 years, but I fear it's fast becoming an illusion. Israelis and Palestinians are careening towards a one-state reality that carries extremely dangerous risks for both sides
No Israeli-Palestinian deal sullied by Donald Trump's fingerprints can be trusted, because the man himself can’t be trusted and neither can his word
Trump moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
Trump isn't destroying his own peace efforts but grounding them in reality: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And he’s reacted to Arab and Palestinian ‘predictions’ (read: threats) of violence with the contempt they deserve
Debra Shushan: The Day Donald Trump Was Crowned King in Jerusalem
Along with many other U.S. Jews, I wanted to feel pride at the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. But amid the carnage in Gaza, I felt nausea
U.S. 'pro-Israel' evangelicals who declare the president enacted God's will, by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, may want to consider the terrible historical cost of a selective and literalist use of the Bible
Anshel Pfeffer: Donald Trump Thinks the Jews Aren't Grateful Enough
'But I gave them Jerusalem!' A recent report warned of a 'growing frustration' in the White House for U.S. Jews' lack of appreciation for his policies toward Israel. Perhaps because they're too grown up, and informed, to supply such unfounded adulation
Uneasy allies: Trump, Israel and threats from the Mideast - Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria
Dan Shapiro: Why the Khashoggi Murder Is a Disaster for Israel
The grisly hit-job on Khashoggi has implications far beyond its exposure of the Saudi Crown Prince as brutal and reckless. In Jerusalem and D.C., they’re mourning their whole strategic concept for the Mideast - not least, for countering Iran
Obama thought Syria would be Russia’s Vietnam: in fact, the Mideast has become Putin’s playground. Thanks to diplomacy, arms sales and nuclear reactors - and Trump’s policy chaos - Russia is back, big time
Michael Koplow: Donald Trump Just Put Israel in Immediate Danger
Netanyahu has convinced Trump that leaving the Iran deal protects Israel. But the U.S. walk out means a full-on Israel-Iran war in Syria now becomes far more likely
Netanyahu always tells us Trump has Israel’s back on Iran. But the president won't confront tyrants, intent as he is on unraveling America’s commitments abroad. If Tehran races to nuclear capability, Israel will pay the price - alone
Amos Harel and Amir Tibon: Why Iran Thinks It Has an ‘Insurance Policy’ Against an Israeli or U.S. Strike
Israeli and American officials think Iran is trying to ‘wait out’ Trump's first term, and is banking on the wounded nuclear deal to shield it from a military strike until then
Khalaf Al Habtoor: The Arab World Needs to Move on From the Liberation of Palestine
Israel is going nowhere, and we in the Arab world have to deal with it. That means offering Israelis prosperity, security and friendship; all Israel needs to do is overcome their prejudices and give Palestinians their rights
Esther Solomon is the Opinion Editor of Haaretz English. Twitter: @EstherSolomon