In epic Twitter thread, Steve Schmidt explains why 1/6/21 will be the end of the Republican Party

The following is a remarkably powerful, articulate, and insightful tweet by Steve Schmidt, a founder of the Lincoln Project and the former Republican campaign manager for the 2008 John McCain for President Campaign. If you didn’t see it, I wanted to post it here for the record.

I have followed Schmidt closely over the last several years, and no one speaks as clearly and defiantly as he does about the corrosive illiberalism, authoritarianism, and corruption of Donald Trump and his followers.

The following was posted this morning (January 4) on the Daily Dos:

“Steve Schmidt, the former Republican strategist and newly minted member of the Democratic Party, went on Twitter Sunday evening to explain how January 6 will spell doom for the Republican Party. Much like the Whigs before them, the Republicans are about to plunge into a civil war that will pit the authoritarian and anti-authoritarian factions against each other.  

Being the ultimate insider and political operative, Schmidt knows the Republican Party as well as anyone. He successfully weaves the historical parallels and understanding of the inter party factions.  

As we know, he was the campaign manager for a campaign that gave us the proto-Trump, Sarah Palin, but he was known to have resisted her as the choice for VP and appears to have been aware of the potential danger that Palin represented and is now working to fight the anti-democratic urges that she and her political spawn, Donald Trump, represent. 

The fact is, there is only one viable option at the moment for anyone willing to fight authoritarianism, and that is through the Democratic Party. Schmidt may not agree with us on many policy goals, but we can all agree that this is a perilous moment for Democracy. 

This is a tweet thread by Schmidt. To be clear, he is not predicting the Republican Party is going to dissolve overnight or that this failed coup attempt will not cause significant damage. For all of those who think 2021 will be a cakewalk compared to 2020, think again. There will be an epic fight unfolding to preserve the nation as we know it. 

2021 will be a hard year in the life of the American nation. There is a great struggle that lies before us, and our disbelief at its arrival must not blind us to the lethal danger it poses to the American experiment. The poisonous bounty of Trump’s catastrophic presidency is ready for harvest, and the whole world will get to watch his seditious antics play out during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6th. It will play out as a farce, and it will fail.  Nearly 100 years on, America will have its version of the Beer Hall Putsch. The danger lies in the act, not the outcome. We are in a dangerous moment, and I’d like to try my best to explain how I see it. Before I start, there is an important matter of fact which unfortunately needs restating. Joe Biden won the presidential election decisively. The election was free, fair and legitimate. There is no evidence of any widespread fraud. Allegations of fraud are premeditated lies being made by a rancid assortment of Trump’s stooges and propagandists. With the exception of a few of the more addled House GOP members, like Louis Gohmert, every single House Member and every U.S. Senator that participates in denying this reality, and thus the legitimacy of our election, does so as a cynical act, which they know for certain has no legitimate basis. Such actions are a grievous sin against American democracy and a brutal betrayal of their oaths of office and duty. They will be desecrating the blood sacrifices of 13 generations of American patriots of all creeds and origins who died so that our children could be free. They are fighting to maintain the power of a defeated president against the sovereign will of the American people, as lawfully exercised under the Constitution of the United States. They are fighting to establish a tyranny. They are deliberately poisoning faith and belief in American democracy.  Democratic Republics cannot survive such a collapse. The system is rooted in the willingness of one side to cede power to another at the will of the people. There are no other systems of government except for this type that are free. The legitimacy of that system is being strangled by Trump’s lies and the lies of his movement. That movement is an autocratic one with fascistic markers. It is hostile to the American Constitution, the rule of law and the highest ideas and ideals of American liberty. Jan. 6 will be an historic day in America. The battle lines will be drawn. The autocrats will step forward into the light. They will include a majority of the House GOP conference. After the 6th, Kevin McCarthy will be the leader of House autocrats, and Liz Cheney will be the leader of House conservatives. They will include a substantial number of GOP Senators, and almost all of the known GOP presidential aspirants. The Rubicon will be crossed on the 6th. The ruthless and amoral cynicism of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and James Lankford and Josh Hawley will be on appalling display. It must be opposed fiercely. It must be recognized for what it is. Another storm is gathering in the constant struggle between liberty and her enemies. Trump has unleashed the fury and has found his following. It will be a long fight. At the hour of his defeat and defenestration, Trump has done his greatest damage. This is a movement that is fueled by lies, conspiracies, corruption, greed, extremism, racism, grievance, resentment, cynicism and a profound absence of love for America. It is right to feel anger and contempt toward its leaders and enablers. There is only one proposition that America’s pro-democracy coalition can offer to these people. “We win-you lose.” It’s that simple. Sedition is the precise word, and the right word, to describe what we have been witnessing. Never before have so many American leaders betrayed their country. We will watch their eternal disgrace on live TV.  The evidence of their ignominy will exist forever, as will the memory of their monumental betrayal. Shame on them all.”

Anticipating Spring

On December 21, I wrote that the long, cold, and dark days of winter usher in my least favorite season of the year; and in this era of Covid, so much the more so – see

Though we are still eleven weeks from my most favorite season of spring, the anticipation of its lengthier, lighter, and warmer days inspire, even now, renewal and hope.  

To all who’ve been stricken by the coronavirus, may these words bring a measure of comfort, and for those who’ve lost their loved ones, may they find a pathway towards restoration and meaning:

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and snow squelches under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting everything is! The air is so clear and transparent that if you were to climb to the top of the pigeon loft or the bell tower, you feel you might actually see the whole universe from end to end. The sun is shining brightly, and its playful, beaming rays are bathing in the puddles along with the sparrows. The river is swelling and darkening; it has already woken up and very soon will begin to roar. The trees are bare, but they are already living and breathing.”
―Anton Chekhov, The Exclamation Mark

“We the People of the United States – A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century”

To paraphrase Dr. McCoy of the original Star Trek series – ‘I’m a rabbi, not a lawyer!’

That thought came to me four years ago when I watched Khir Khan, an Muslim lawyer and father of an American soldier killed in combat, speak at the Democratic National Convention about his love for America, faith in the U.S. Constitution, and disdain for Donald Trump’s Islamophobia and bigotry. Mr. Khan said before the nation:

“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’”

Mr. Khan then pulled a copy of the Constitution from his breast suit pocket and showed it to the nation.

I confess that I had never read the Constitution. Mr. Khan’s speech inspired me to do so, but I wanted a teacher to guide me because the Constitution is an imperfect document and the complexities of American jurisprudence require experts to interpret it.

A few months ago I learned of a book entitled We the People – A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century” by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley Law School and a noted legal scholar (a disclaimer – Erwin was for a brief period a member of my congregation in Los Angeles until he accepted the position as dean of the law school at Duke University. From there he returned to California to become dean of the UC Riverside law school, and then to UC Berkeley’s law school in 2017. I have followed him mainly through his op-eds in the LA Times and always found what he had to say instructive and clarifying).

I just finished reading Erwin’s clear and concise book and recommend it to anyone interested in gaining a progressive understanding of the Constitution, its amendments, and many key rulings in light of the multiple challenges Americans have faced historically and today given the new reality of a nine-member Supreme Court dominated by six conservative justices.

Erwin lays out his case for a progressive vision of the Constitution by shining a light on the core values articulated in the Constitution’s Preamble with one additional core value as advanced in the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments outlawing slavery, giving citizenship and the right to vote to former slaves, and granting suffrage for women. Here is the Preamble which I learned by memory in elementary school before reciting the pledge of allegiance:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The Preamble, Professor Chemerinsky notes, is often ignored by conservative legal scholars. But, he affirms, the four values under-girding our American constitutional system are contained in it and ought to be applied to every case coming before the Court: a democratic government, effective governance, justice, and liberty. To these he adds a fifth – equality – based on the above amendments.

Erwin considers the weakness of the “originalism” argument (Justices Scalia and Thomas advocated for it), the differences between liberal and conservative opinion, and how a justice’s political values often affect his/her rulings despite what he/she says in Senate confirmation hearings.

He discusses free speech and corporate funding in elections (i.e. Citizens United), gun ownership and the right to carry weapons of mass destruction, the unfairness of the electoral college giving inordinate power to small states, the sometimes lack of majority rule in national elections, the distortions brought about by partisan gerrymandering by state legislatures, the suppression of the vote and racial discrimination, equal protection, states’ rights, federalism, the separation of powers doctrine, just policing, fair trials, punishment and unfair incarceration based on color, the unconstitutional death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment, unfair sentencing, prison reform, the right to privacy, freedom of choice, due process, separation of church and state, racial discrimination and the constitutional justification for affirmative action, minimum entitlements, and judicial enforcement.

In his conclusion, Erwin counsels against despair even in light of the current make-up of the Supreme Court:

“It is easy to become demoralized when confronted with a very conservative Court that likely will remain that way throughout most of the rest of my life. The temptation is to give up on the idea of using the Constitution for social justice. But such surrender is shortsighted. Arguments that today fall on deaf ears can be the basis for future action. A constitutional right to minimum entitlements is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. But if it will happen at all, it will result from progressives developing and defending and fighting for this vision for the Constitution.”

I recommend this wise and clearly written volume to anyone seeking a progressive understanding of past, current, and future rulings of the Supreme Court.

Stars Visible on Earth

On the winter solstice most years, the darkest day of the year, I’m reminded of the children’s memorial at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. One enters into the darkened hall of mirrors and hears the names recited of the 1.5 million children murdered by the Nazis. Only a few candle flames are in fact burning, yet the visitor sees thousands of flames reflected endlessly in the mirrors. Each flame represents a single soul of a murdered child flickering perpetually in the ether of memory.  

Winter is my least favorite season of the year because of the long nights, low angle of the sun, and the cold. Yet, as the winter solstice comes and goes, I know that spring soon will arrive, that the days will lengthen, the sun will rise higher in the sky, new growth will sprout with the grasses and trees, and flowers will appear again.

Though the immense tragedy caused by the coronavirus here and around the world is different in kind and extent from the death and destruction during the Holocaust, I think this year also of all who lost their lives and loved ones this past year.

The Hungarian Jewish poet Hannah Senesh left pre-statehood Palestine, parachuted into Yugoslavia on March 14, 1944, and crossed the Hungarian border to save Jewish children in her native land. She was immediately arrested by Hungarian gendarmes, and because she was carrying a British radio transmitter, was interrogated, tortured, tried, and executed by firing squad at the young age of 23 years on November 7, 1944. Among other famous poems set to music in Israel, Hannah wrote these words as an epitaph for the victims:

“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”

“A Republic, if you can keep it”

It is an understatement to say that American democracy was challenged by the sitting United States President aided and abetted by a sycophantic Republican Congress and 74 million Republican voters who followed a president lockstep despite his autocratic cravings and blatant disrespect for core democratic institutions and norms.

The following reflections about autocracy, oligarchy, democracy, journalism, the media, an informed public, and public morality are instructive as we look back upon what we Americans experienced during these past four years and in our 2020 election. Great damage was done to our democracy and it likely will take time for the nation to heal from the chaos and abuse.

“There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.” -Dr. Richard Beeman, professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

It is acknowledged, namely, that there are in the world three forms of government, autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy: autocracies and oligarchies are administered according to the tempers of their lords, but democratic states according to established laws.” – Aeschines (389-314 BCE), Greek statesman and orator

Journalism is one of the devices whereby industrial autocracy keeps its control over political democracy; it is the day-by-day, between-elections propaganda, whereby the minds of the people are kept in a state of acquiescence, so that when the crisis of an election comes, they go to the polls and cast their ballots for either one of the two candidates of their exploiters.” – Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), writer

I know a whole generation has been raised on the notion of multiculturalism; that all civilizations are just different. No! Not always. Sometimes things are better! Rule of law is better than autocracy and theocracy; equality of the sexes, better; protection of minorities, better; free speech, better; free elections, better; …Don’t get so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.” -Bill Maher, satirist, commentator, television host

Violence is interwoven with Falsehood

As so many Americans watch with horror and dismay the blatant anti-democratic moves by Trump, 17 state Attorneys General, 100 Republican members of Congress, and right-wing talk show hosts, the words of the Russian Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) are chilling:

“Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle.”

Once Trump loses his appeal to the Supreme Court (and I pray that he will), is violence in our streets inevitable? That’s the next threat our democracy will be forced to confront.

Federalist Paper No. 51 (by James Madison or Alexander Hamilton) anticipated Trump’s effort at subversion of our republic with these words:

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

These are dangerous times indeed!

Note: Since writing this blog another 26 Republican congressional representatives have shamelessly joined the law suit and the Supreme Court dismissed it unanimously as without basis. Now we’ll have to wait and see what Trump and his most violent-prone sycophants do.

Purim Jews, Pesach Jews, and the 2020 Election

In the days following the 2020 election, I was reminded of a meeting a number of years ago of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in Jerusalem. Yossi Klein Halevi (senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem) spoke to 200 Reform rabbis from around the world and characterized two broad psychological, emotional, moral, and political orientations of Jews based on the Purim and Exodus narratives. He acknowledged that most of us embrace and reflect both attitudes to a lesser and greater degree, but from time to time emphasize one over the other depending upon circumstances.

In my blog at the Times of Israel, I discuss why I believe that the Purim-Pesach continuum helps to explain why American Jews voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, and why Israeli Jews overwhelmingly preferred Donald Trump “from the standpoint of Israel’s interests.”


What GOOD LOSERS Sound Like

Though Donald Trump has time left before January 20 to formally and publicly concede the election to Joe Biden, few believe he will do so with the customary dignity, grace, humility, loyalty, and patriotism that all past losers of the presidential election have done following their losses.

I have compiled below partial concession statements of every losing presidential candidate since 1948 so we can recall what a good loser of the presidency sounds like:

“My heartiest congratulations to you on your election, and every good wish for a successful administration.” —Thomas E. Dewey, 1948 (to Harry S. Truman)

“It hurts too much to laugh, but I’m too old to cry… [I offer the new president] the support he will need to carry out the great tasks that lie before him. I pledge him mine. We vote as many, but we pray as one.” —Adlai Stevenson II, 1952 (to Dwight D. Eisenhower) – Stevenson ran against Eisenhower a second time in 1956

“I have great faith that our people, Republicans, Democrats alike, will unite behind our next president.” —Richard M. Nixon, 1960 (to John F. Kennedy)

“Congratulations on your victory. I will help you in any way that I can toward achieving a growing and better America and a secure and dignified peace.”—Barry M. Goldwater, 1964 (to Lyndon B. Johnson)

“…my congratulations. Please know that you will have my support in unifying and leading the nation. … I am confident that if constructive leaders in both our parties join together we shall be able to go on with the business of building the better America we all seek in a spirit of peace and harmony.” —Hubert H. Humphrey Jr., 1968 (to Richard M. Nixon)

“Congratulations on your victory. I hope that in the next four years you will lead us to a time of peace abroad and justice at home. You have my full support in such efforts. With best wishes to you and your gracious wife, Pat.” —George S. McGovern, 1972 (to Richard M. Nixon)

“I congratulate you on your victory. As one who has been honored to serve the people of this great land, both in Congress and as President, I believe that we must now put the divisions of the campaign behind us and unite the country once again in the common pursuit of peace and prosperity… I want to assure you that you will have my complete and wholehearted support as you take the oath of office this January. I also pledge to you that I, and all members of my Administration, will do all that we can to insure that you begin your term as smoothly and as effectively as possible.” —Gerald R. Ford Jr., 1976 (to Jimmy E. Carter Jr.)

“I have a deep appreciation of the system that lets people make a free choice about who will lead them for the next four years.” —James E. Carter Jr., 1980 (to Ronald W. Reagan)

“He has won. We are all Americans. He is our president, and we honor him tonight. Again tonight, the American people[‘s] choice was made peacefully, with dignity and with majesty. And although I would have rather won, tonight we rejoice in our democracy, we rejoice in the freedom of a wonderful people, and we accept their verdict.” —Walter F. Mondale, 1984 (to Ronald W. Reagan)

“I know I speak for all of you and for all the American people when I say that he will be our President, and we’ll work with him. This nation faces major challenges ahead, and we must work together.” —Michael S. Dukakis, 1988 (to George H. W. Bush)

“Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it — that the people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system. I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House. And I want the country to know that our entire Administration will work closely with his team to insure the smooth transition of power. There is important work to be done, and America must always come first. So we will get behind this new President and wish him well.—George H. W. Bush, 1992 (to William J. Clinton)

“I’ve said repeatedly in this campaign that the president was my opponent and not my enemy. And I wish him well and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America, because that’s what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.”—Robert J. Dole, 1996 (to William J. Clinton)

“Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency: ‘Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.’ Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. … our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country. … Let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome . . . .While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party…. While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. For the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together.” —Albert A. Gore Jr., 2000 (to George W. Bush)

“In an American election, there are no losers. Because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning, we all wake up as Americans. And that is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on earth. With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion. I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years. I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide. I know this is a difficult time for my supporters. But I ask them — all of you — to join me in doing that.” —John F. Kerry, 2004 (to George W. Bush)

“A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit — to dine at the White House — was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.” —John S. McCain III, 2008 (to Barack H. Obama)

“We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. Rising. Healing. Linking arms. Moving on. That’s what’s supposed to happen in the aftermath of even the bitterest elections. At least that’s what vanquished candidates are supposed to encourage. May the loser in this election uphold that tradition. So very much rides on it.” —Willard Mitt Romney, 2012 (to Barack H. Obama)

“Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country… Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.” —Hillary D. Rodham Clinton, 2016 (to Donald J. Trump)

What a BAD LOSER sounds like

“Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight. And a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people, and we won’t stand for it. This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity. We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list, OK? We will win this, and as far as I’m concerned, we already have.” —Donald J. Trump, White House East Room, November 4, 2020, 2:21 am

Current Electoral Vote and Popular Vote Counts (as of Sunday, November 29, 2020) with votes still outstanding and being counted:

Electoral College – Biden (306) to Trump (232) – 270 to win

Popular Vote – Biden (80,117,578) to Trump (73,923,495) – The difference of 6,194,083

“Will Biden Undo Trump’s Disastrous Legacy on Israel/Palestine?”

November 24, 2020 Posted by Mairav Zonszein in Jewish Currents

[Note: What follows is part of a comprehensive overview by the Israeli-American journalist of what the Trump Administration has done in league with the right-wing government of the State of Israel vis a vis the occupied territories and its negative impact on a potential two states for two peoples peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and what President-Elect Joe Biden’s options are to reverse these policies and thereby restore traditional American policy in the Middle East that supports a two-state solution. I recommend reading the entire piece – the link to the full piece is at the end.]

IN ITS FINAL WEEKS, the Trump administration appears to be shoring up its legacy of support for Israeli territorial-maximalist ambitions. Last Thursday, Mike Pompeo visited Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank—a first for a US secretary of state. Just one year ago, Pompeo reversed decades of US policy by announcing that the Trump administration would no longer consider Israeli settlements to be in violation of international law. During last week’s visit, he made two new declarations further entrenching Israel’s occupation and shielding it from criticism. First, he outlined a new customs guideline that designates goods manufactured in Area C of the West Bank—the portion of the territory under full Israeli control—as Israeli products, regardless of whether they were made by Israelis or Palestinians, effectively recognizing Israeli sovereignty there and further blurring the line between Israel and the territories it occupied in the 1967 War. Second, he announced that he had directed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to “identify oranizations that engage in, or otherwise support” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,which he called a “cancer” and labeled “a manifestation of anti-Semitism.” “[A]nti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” Pompeo declared.

These are only the latest items on a long list of policies implemented by the Trump administration to bolster Israel’s perpetual control of the occupied territories while stifling criticism of Israel and delegitimizing Palestine solidarity activism. That list includes: moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; shuttering the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington, DC; ending US support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and all assistance from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to the West Bank and Gaza; greenlighting Israeli annexation of large parts of the West Bank; extending US–Israel scientific cooperation to include Israeli institutions in the West Bank; signing an executive order on antisemitism that conflates it with anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel; brokering normalization deals between Israel and several Gulf states; and shredding the Iran nuclear deal.

President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a Middle East policy that upended international norms and all but buried the two-state solution model. The question now is: What will Biden—whose record on the issue has been guided by the imperative that there be “no daylight” between the US and Israel—do to undo the damage wrought by Donald Trump?

“Almost all of this can be easily undone early on in a Biden administration by executive action,” said Dylan Williams, head of policy at J Street. Williams said a Biden administration could immediately repudiate Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan and reiterate its opposition to unilateral annexation of territory. “It could and should revoke the ‘Pompeo Doctrine’”—open US support for Israeli annexation of the West Bank—“and reinstate the longstanding State Department legal opinion that settlements are illegal under international law.”

Williams added that Biden’s State Department could also reinstate the previous US customs guidelines on labeling of products from the West Bank, refuse to fund joint scientific research projects in settlements, and once again refer to Israel’s “occupation” in their reports. (The 2020 Democratic National Convention’s platform does not mention the word “occupation,” though it states a commitment to stopping settlement expansion.)

Mairav Zonszein is an Israeli-American journalist who covers politics in Israel, Palestine and the US, civil rights, antisemitism, and the media. She has written for The Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, and The Intercept, among others, and is a longtime contributor to +972 Magazine.