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Lessons for Israelis from the Turbulent Trump Years

Outrage fatigue is real, unlikely partnerships are possible, and other hard-won insights from an American Jew who’s been here…and there.
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer is the President of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Yehuda is a leading thinker and author on the meaning of Israel to American Jews, on Jewish history and Jewish memory, and on questions of leadership and change in American Jewish life. Yehuda led the creation of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America in 2010 as a pioneering research and educational center for the leadership of the North American Jewish community, and teaches

“I’ve been in Jerusalem for the last two weeks, and while I always enjoy being here, I find – perhaps perversely – that it is especially meaningful for me to be here during hard times, like this current political moment. It is hard to be far away when the people of Israel are suffering; when I am here, I can see firsthand what you are experiencing and try to be with you in those moments of need.

Being here during this transition to the new government and seeing the first wave of changes in policies and procedures is evoking memories of the fateful first few weeks of the Trump administration in 2016 starting with the changes to the culture of American governance that Trump brought with him to the presidency, and then the disruptive first few months of his administration. In some ways, American political culture has since managed to recover from those disruptions, as Trump was repudiated by the electorate in 2020 and then again in the 2022 midterms; and as the Biden administration has succeeded, as measured by historical benchmarks, in advancing his legislative agenda. But in other ways, I think the American political climate is irreversibly altered, and the chaos that now defines the GOP as it took an astounding 15 votes to elect a speaker of the House indicates that Trump’s candidacy may be more of a marker than a blip.”

Read the complete op-ed on Times of Israel

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