Devin Sper

Schumer Demonstrates Why Israel Cannot Count on the Democrats

President Biden is an old-school Democrat, personally empathetic towards Israel even if this is not always reflected in policy. Today’s Democratic Party, however, has a large anti-Israel contingent which Biden believes he must appease to win reelection. His administration has also included many Obama administration foreign policy advisors hostile to Israel, such as Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice and Maher Bitar.

Having failed to vilify Israel directly, these anti-Israel factions now vilify its government. Their strategy involves linking the Israeli administration with the Democrats’ political rivals by branding its members “far-right extremists.” The greatest victory yet for the anti-Israel wing of the Democratic Party occurred when the highest-ranking Jew in US politics, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, called for the ouster of Israel’s democratically elected government in the midst a war for her survival.

Schumer prefaced his attack on Israel’s government by stating that he has been “a lifelong supporter of Israel.” In reality Schumer has supported Israel where it was in line with Democrat party policy but has opposed Israel where she was not. In March 2015, for example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to address a joint session of the United States Congress by then-Speaker of the House John Boehner. In an unprecedented display of disrespect for a foreign head of state, Schumer joined a number of other Democrats in boycotting the Prime Minister’s speech because he spoke out against passage of the Obama administration’s prized Iranian nuclear deal (the JCPOA).

As the leader of the Senate Democrats, Schumer has failed to unequivocally condemn and challenge anti-Israel rhetoric and actions within his party. When some Democratic lawmakers and activists have voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, Schumer’s response has been relatively muted. By not forcefully challenging or denouncing anti-Israel sentiment, Schumer legitimizes such views within the party and undermines the longstanding bipartisan consensus in support of Israel.

Schumer criticizes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for a failure to uphold what he terms “distinctly Jewish values.” Of course, when Schumer says “Jewish values” he actually means liberal values. Like many liberal Jews, he conflates Judaism with liberalism, highlighting where the two belief systems coincide and ignoring areas where they diverge. Moral relativism, for example, is antithetical to Judaism, which advocates personal responsibility, judging people on their merits as individuals, and other values anathema to today’s woke left.

Schumer’s claim that concern for Israel’s interests motivates his call to replace Israel’s government is disingenuous. It is clear he spoke on behalf of the Biden administration, which desires an Israeli government more malleable to the needs of their reelection campaign. This blatant call for regime change in Israel also reeks of hypocrisy, especially considering Schumer’s vocal condemnation of alleged foreign interference in US elections.

In 2018 Schumer said “Mr. President…Russia interfered in our 2016 elections… The American people will not trust that you will protect them if you continue to put your interests ahead of those of our country.” Neither will the Israeli people support any politician who puts the interests of Biden’s reelection campaign ahead of victory in their country’s life-and-death struggle. This is what Netanyahu’s main political rival Benny Gantz meant when he called Schumer’s speech “counterproductive,” and why Schumer’s call to replace Netanyahu will only strengthen the prime minister.

Netanyahu’s popularity has waned in Israel, but not for the reasons presumed by Schumer and Biden. Israelis across the political spectrum fault Netanyahu for not destroying Hamas and Hezbollah in numerous previous wars. They also blame him for enabling Hamas to rebuild its terror tunnels and infrastructure following each war by sending supplies and Qatari money. In fact, polls show that since the October 7 massacre, the Israeli electorate has moved significantly to the right. When the Israeli people do eventually replace Netanyahu, it will likely be with someone more decisive whose actions match his rhetoric.

Schumer is “anguished that the Israeli war campaign has killed so many innocent Palestinians…Palestinian civilians do not deserve to suffer for the sins of Hamas.” He ignores the fact that Hamas is the elected representative of the Palestinians of Gaza, who make up 100% of Hamas’ ranks. This election was imposed on Israel by the United States against Israel’s better judgement. Schumer’s assertion that only “the minority of Palestinians support Hamas” reflects wishful thinking rather than reality. There is no evidence for this and much evidence to the contrary, which I detailed in a previous article: Palestinian society is complicit in Palestinian terror. In fact, Hamas’ popularity in the West Bank has soared since the October 7 massacre.

Netanyahu has offered only mild criticism of Schumer’s speech, dismissing his remarks as “inappropriate.” As Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu’s first priority is winning the war on which the fate of Israel rests. At the prompting of the US over the past few decades, Israel has farmed out much of her weapons manufacture to the United States. Missiles for her iron dome system are now made in Tennessee and all her artillery shells come from Pennsylvania. This has left Israel overly dependent on the United States for resupply during the current conflict, which the Biden Administration is using to pressure Israel.

In claiming that “Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel,” Schumer purports to be a better judge of Israel’s interests than the Israeli people and their democratically elected representatives. Needless to say, Schumer and the Democrats’ real concern is the Biden Administration’s political survival, not Netanyahu’s.

Schumer has not served in the IDF and fought in its many wars as have the Israeli people. His friends and family have not been murdered by Hamas and the PLO, nor must they sleep in a bunker at night because their house is under rocket fire. Schumer has not known 150 years of Palestinian terror on a daily basis, as have the Jews of Israel, who are being condemned by much of the world for their survival.

While Schumer tells the Israeli people that they “are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past,” he continues to advocate the policies of appeasement and land-for-peace that have resulted in five wars with Hamas, three with Hezbollah and thousands of Israel casualties. He states that “Prime Minister Netanyahu…has shown zero interest in doing the courageous and visionary work required to pave the way for peace.” With all due respect to Chuck Schumer, Benjamin Netanyahu was an officer in Israel’s top commando unit, as were his two brothers. One brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed leading the raid to rescue the hostages at Entebbe is an Israeli national hero. It is despicable beyond words for a career politician and party hack like Schumer to question Benjamin Netanyahu’s courage.

For Chuck Schumer and the Biden administration, the war in Israel is just a headache for their election campaign. Biden began by promising Israel unwavering support in eliminating Hamas, and now demands that she stop short of victory and not enter Hamas’ last stronghold of Rafah. But for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the people of Israel, this is not a political game; it is an existential life-and-death struggle. Without a decisive victory in this war Israel’s future is grim, and the same holds true for the Jewish people everywhere. Some, like Chuck Schumer, may not understand this. They may not appreciate the incredible sacrifices the Israeli people are now making on their behalf, but they make them for all of us nevertheless.

About the Author
Devin Sper was born and raised in New York and lived in Israel for 10 years. He holds a degree in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served in the Israel Defense Forces. Devin Sper is the author of The Future of Israel, winner of a 2005 GLYPH award.
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