OpinionIsrael at War

By undermining Israel’s war against Hamas, Schumer is making US Jews unsafe

While Schumer in America is worried about obstacles to peace, Israelis are more worried about obstacles to victory against a cunning foe sworn to its destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in Israel in February 2023. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in Israel in February 2023. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
DAVID SUISSA Editor-in-Chief Tribe Media/Jewish Journal (Israeli American Council)
David Suissa
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and Jewish Journal. He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Whenever I speak to Israelis, whether from the left or right, I hear the same refrain: Israel’s war in Gaza is against a vicious terror army that represents an existential threat; a terror army that invaded Israel and murdered parents in front of their children and infants in front of their parents, brutally raped women, slaughtered babies, burned families alive, mutilated bodies, seized scores of hostages, all while gleefully filming these atrocities so they could show them off to the folks back in Gaza.

So, when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer began his infamous speech last week by saying, “I rise to speak today about what I believe can—and should—be the path forward to secure mutual peace and lasting prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians,” I can only imagine the typical Israeli reaction.

“What are you talking about, Mr. Schumer? Are you watching what we’re watching?”

Given that the murderers of Hamas have promised to repeat Oct. 7, and given that Israel will never survive in the Middle East unless it shows there’s an enormous price to pay for slaughtering 1,200 Jews, the last thing on the mind of Israelis right now is creating “a path forward to secure mutual peace.”

But Schumer was undaunted. Even while recognizing the tremendous obstacles, he insisted that “to achieve that lasting peace, Israel must make some significant course corrections.”

The problem is that when Israelis hear “significant course corrections,” it goes squarely against their survival instinct, which tells them: “Israel must finish with Hamas or we’re in big trouble.”

In other words, while Schumer in America is worried about obstacles to peace, Israelis in Israel are more worried about obstacles to victory against a cunning foe sworn to its destruction.

Schumer tried to say all the right things in his speech, to show his love for Israel and empathy for its difficult position. Much of the speech came across as logical and reasonable. He deserves credit for making a genuine effort to dissect a complicated mess and offer a path forward.

But as a longtime politician, Schumer must know that what matters in speeches is not so much what you say but what people take away.

And these are the two things people are taking away from his speech: One, given the unacceptable losses of Palestinian lives in Gaza, it’s time for Israel to pivot away from its current track of destroying Hamas and think of an endgame, and two, it’s time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go.

“The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7,” said Schumer, in the most controversial part of his speech. “The world has changed—radically—since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

People can agree or disagree with Netanyahu, but what miffed so many Israel supporters is that when an ally meddles in Israel’s electoral politics, it crosses a line. Schumer may well be right that “a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel,” but is that for him to say or push for?

Schumer must have sensed that he had gone too far, as he subsequently tweeted a softer statement:

“The U.S. cannot dictate the outcome of an election. That is for the Israeli public to decide. As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders. But the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice. There needs to be a fresh debate about the future.”

In any case, people will take away that Schumer pushed for Bibi to go, that he’s against the relentless war track and that he thinks Israel should start thinking of a peace track.

All of that is fuel to Jew haters. At a time when antisemitism is rising to alarming levels, the last thing American Jews need right now is to have prominent Jewish politicians, especially those known to support Israel, publicly rebuke Israel during a war for its survival.

Across college campuses and elsewhere, Jews are under siege and watching their backs. Pro-Hamas mobs are using Israel’s defensive war in Gaza—the same war Schumer said needed “significant course corrections”—as their key ammunition to target Jews.

By piling on, Schumer, intentionally or not, has made American Jews less safe.

Originally published by The Jewish Journal.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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