OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

The courageous vs. the craven

A House Speaker is born, a president is diminished, and a Senate Majority Leader goes into hiding.

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson on Jan. 15, 2024. Credit: Andrew Leyden/Shutterstock
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson on Jan. 15, 2024. Credit: Andrew Leyden/Shutterstock
Eric Levine
Eric Levine
Eric R. Levine is a founding member of the New York City law firm Eiseman, Levine, Lehrhaupt & Kakoyiannis, P.C. He is an essayist, political commentator and fundraiser for Republican candidates with an emphasis on the U.S. Senate.

Last week, the United States witnessed the birth of a Speaker of the House, the diminishing of a president and the disappearance of a Senate Majority Leader.

First, Mike Johnson stared down Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (D-Ga.) and her merry band of ignorant buffoons to pass a much-needed and long-overdue foreign aid package. Then he traveled to Columbia University—ground zero for the antisemitic protests exploding on our college campuses—to make two simple statements: Antisemitism is unacceptable, and America stands with Israel. If only U.S. President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had Johnson’s courage and moral clarity.

While the speaker was giving a lesson in leadership, Biden continued to embarrass himself and diminish his presidency by putting the politics of his reelection ahead of America’s national security interests. As for Schumer, he’s gone into hiding.

The Biden campaign has decided that for Biden to win in November, he must win both the Arab/Muslim vote in Michigan and a significant majority of 18- to 24-year-olds. The result has been made clear by Biden’s decision not to deal with the explosion of antisemitism on college campuses.

The president has already declared that Israel’s “conduct of the response in Gaza Strip has been over the top,” intentionally or unintentionally feeding the grotesque and patently false narrative that Israel is engaged in a “genocide” of Palestinians. His relentless public criticism of Israel’s democratically elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only reassures the protesters and their fellow Jew-haters that Israel is an illegitimate state with no right to exist and Jews are interlopers on Palestinian land who must be removed “by any means necessary.”

Worse still, perhaps, Biden regularly resorts to the politics of moral equivalence to advance his cynical, self-serving political agenda.

Last week, Biden was asked whether he condemned the antisemitism at our colleges and universities. Bizarrely, he responded that he condemns the “antisemitic protests” but also “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”

Ironically, Biden was condemning himself. Anyone who “understands what’s going on with the Palestinians” knows that the Palestinian people have no future unless and until Hamas has been destroyed.

Biden’s statement is also a non sequitur. Unlike the vile antisemitic college protests he was asked about, there is not one example of a college campus being overrun by protestors (peaceful or violent) calling for the extermination of the Palestinian people. So, it remains a mystery exactly whom Biden was condemning.

Even if one is convinced that Biden believes in the wisdom and morality of his statements, there is no excuse for his failure to go to Columbia University to tell those demanding the destruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jewish people that their conduct is reprehensible and un-American and that the protests must stop immediately.

Biden had the opportunity to do so and chose not to. Last week, the president went to a fundraiser hosted by Michael Douglas in the New York suburb of Irvington. As he traveled from his New York City hotel to the Westchester event approximately 20 miles north of the city, he came within blocks of Columbia. The moral urgency of the moment demanded he go there. Unfortunately, like those who should have known better and spoken out in the 1930s and 1940s, Biden drove by without saying a word.

Compare his indifference to the plight of Jewish students to his constant false accusations of racism made against Republicans. It was not long ago that he called the newly enacted Georgia election law “Jim Crow 2.0.” It was irrelevant to him that the same law led to black Americans voting in record numbers. How many times has Biden defamed America by calling it “systemically racist?” There was also the rally at which he called Republicans “semi-fascists.” While no one knows for certain what a “semi-fascist” is, one can be certain it is not a compliment.

Clearly, Biden has demonstrated his ability to call out bigotry, even when none exists. But he seems to lose his moral courage when the bigots are his voters and the targets are Jews.

While Biden’s moral failings are manifest, they pale in comparison to the utter depravity of Chuck Schumer.

The Senate Majority Leader never misses an opportunity to tell audiences that he is the highest-ranking Jew in America and the shomer or “guardian” of Israel. No one believes that—at least, not any more. Schumer is proud of his Judaism when it suits him politically. He stands by the State of Israel when it is easy. But when the going gets tough, he dissembles. His perfidy is exemplified by his public call for new elections in Israel in hopes of appeasing the radical progressive base of the Democratic Party. He is more determined to see regime change in Jerusalem than in Tehran.

As the senior senator from New York, Schumer has a special obligation to go to Columbia and stand with his brethren against today’s onslaught of antisemitism. But because that would hurt him politically, he has gone into hiding. He leaves it to the rest of the country to ask, “Where’s Chuckie?”

Like Biden, Schumer is driven by craven political considerations. He needs the Democratic Senate candidate in Michigan to win for him to remain majority leader. Thus, he has put his self-serving political needs ahead of his country and the welfare of his fellow Jews. Schumer has no moral core. He stands for nothing other than his own power.

The good news is that Mike Johnson is growing into his role as Speaker of the House. The bad news is that Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are both in dire need of a moral compass.

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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