Larry Jacob

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer – Political Chameleon

Chuck Schumer has been a strong supporter of Israel for all of his nearly 50-year career in public service – until last week. Now, I sense that his formerly strong support of Israel has waned. Furthermore, he has not been as supportive of American Jews as he should be in light of the recent plethora of antisemitic incidents in our schools and in general. He has not condemned, criticized, or even commented. His silence has been most disappointing as he is in a unique position. Many Jews feel he should be more outspoken. What has caused this seminal change? See below for my opinion.

In my view, Chuck Schumer is the consummate politician, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. He epitomizes what I always say about politicians: their best abilities are to get elected and to get re-elected. He sees the seismic shift in the Dem Party to the left on major issues, plus away from Israel, and toward antisemitism that we all see, and he is reacting to it. Sure, he could stick to his guns and resist the trend. He could continue to espouse unwavering support for Israel, but the politician in him won’t permit him to do it. His overriding instinct of preserving his Senate seat against a possible primary challenge in 2028 won’t permit it (even though four years is a lifetime in politics). Moreover, his desire to maintain his Majority Leadership position in the Senate won’t permit it. And so, we have “THE SPEECH.”

Schumer began his political career in the NY State assembly in 1975. In 1981 he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1998 he was elected to the US Senate. Currently, he is serving his 5th term, which makes him the longest-serving senator ever from NY. He has worked his way up to the very influential post of Senate Majority Leader.

For most of his career Schumer has been a staunch and outspoken supporter of Israel. This was understandable since he is Jewish, and he has represented a heavily Jewish constituency.

For instance:

In 1994, Schumer joined the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress in a campaign to petition the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Palestinian-American charity the Holy Land Foundation, which by the time it was shut down in 2001 was the largest Muslim charity in the US.
In June 2010, while speaking at an Orthodox Union event in Washington D.C., Schumer expressed support for Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was then a controversial topic. He buttressed his position by denoting statistics to demonstrate that the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank were experiencing “economic prosperity”, crediting this to their government’s cooperation with the Israeli government on combating various terrorist groups.
When the Palestinian citizens of the Gaza Strip voted to be governed by Hamas he advocated for Israel to “strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go,” while also stating that Israel should continue providing “humanitarian aid” to Palestinian civilians.
He has steadfastly supported Israel in its various conflicts involving others in Gaza and elsewhere. He defended the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 as being justified not only because it kept weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it showed the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.”
In May 2017, Schumer co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, Senate Bill 720, which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.
In May 2018, Schumer praised Trump for opening the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, saying, “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”
In the past he has frequently criticized the Palestinians for opposing a Jewish state or even a two-state solution, although presently he appears to be supporting the Biden Administration’s party line of a two-state solution.
Schumer was a co-sponsor of a Senate resolution expressing objection to the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlement-building in the occupied Palestinian territories as a violation of international law.
The US and Israel have been strong allies since Israel’s inception. Some of you students of history may recall that the US under President Harry Truman was the first country to recognize the State of Israel a mere eleven hours after it declared its independence. Over the years through Administration after Administration both Republican and Democrat, both liberal and conservative, the US and Israel have forged and maintained a symbiotic relationship that has worked out very well for both countries. The US has realized that Israel is its only reliable ally in the dangerous, mercurial and strategically critical Middle East, and Israel has realized that the US is its only staunch and powerful defender in an otherwise very hostile world.


Unfortunately, it appears clear to me that the US’s support has grown tepid in the last few years. It began in the Obama Administration, and the trend has accelerated under the Biden Administration. Both Biden and his administration have exhibited anti-Israel and pro-Iran and Hamas attitudes, particularly with respect to the aftermath of the October 7 terrorist attacks. More on that later.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has long had a contentious relationship with certain US presidential administrations. Most notably, I recall President Obama declined to invite him to the White House during his 2015 visit to the US in March 2015 to address Congress. Obama’s excuse was that it was policy not to meet so close to an election, but many interpreted it as a snub.

The Netanyahu-US relationship has deteriorated significantly following Hamas’ terror attack of October 7. Briefly, the Biden Administration has been pressuring Israel to exercise “restraint.” It has been pressuring Israel not to retaliate militarily. It favors negotiation and cease fires. It has been trying to balance its policy between the anti-Israel far left wing of the Dem Party and the majority of the rest of the country. Based on the polls I have seen it is not succeeding, and there is much concern. Many people in the US, particularly Jews, have interpreted the foregoing as anti-Israel and antisemitic. Israel has been adamantly pursuing a strong military response. Its attitude is that Hamas will continue to attack prospectively unless and until it is totally wiped out. It resents what it perceives as US interference.

Hence, we got “The Speech.” Essentially, Schumer threatened Israel. He said, in part, that “it’s become clear to me that the Netanyahu coalition[‘s reaction to Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack] no longer fits the needs of Israel. … If Netanyahu won’t step down and continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing US standards for assistance [the US will be forced to] play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage.” President Biden doubled down by calling it a “good speech” that had been cleared in advance by his staff.

The speech was interpreted by many as blatant and inappropriate interference in the elections of a sovereign nation and a clear threat. “Do what we want or else.”

Reaction was immediate and fiercely critical. Benny Ganz, Israeli’s opposition leader stated “Israel is a strong democracy, and only its citizens will determine its leadership and future.” Former PM Naftali Bennett, no fan of Netanyahu’s, stated “we are an independent nation, not a “banana republic.” In the US Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, called the speech “unprecedented,” and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson called it “just plain wrong.”


I would characterize it in stronger terms as a “sell-out” and “antisemitic.” In my experience such outrageous, blatant interference of a nation’s self-governance should be limited to dictatorships with massive human rights violations, not a staunch and reliable ally. Furthermore, every nation has a right, even an obligation to its citizens to defend itself in a manner in which it sees fit. Think what our reaction would have been if after the Japanese sneak attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 or the terror attacks on 9/11 if the world had urged us to stand down and not retaliate with force. Why should Israel be any different? Because it’s a Jewish state? You decide.

So why did Schumer give that speech? It was especially odd especially given his past support of Israel. Only he knows for sure, but I think he wanted to ingratiate himself with the members of the far-left wing of the Dem party, many of whom have expressed clearly antisemitic opinions. They are small but vociferous, and they have been pressuring the Biden Administration to scale back its support of Israel. They are particularly influential with the election looming. I don’t think Schumer is antisemitic, but, as I said, he is a political chameleon, and he perceives the trend of his party is to offer only tepid support to Israel in its fight with Hamas.

I seriously doubt that Israel will allow itself to be bullied by the US or anyone else, so it remains to be seen if the US will follow through on its threat.

About the Author
Larry was born and raised in New York. He is 73 years old. He has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and a Masters Degree in Marketing Management, and worked in the financial industry for 42 years in accounting and Compliance. Larry is also a veteran, whose hobbies are reading and golf. He has been writing a blog for three years, which is being read by people in 90 countries.
Related Topics
Related Posts