OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

The equal and opposite reaction to Chuck Schumer

The senator was likely surprised by the firestorm his attacks on Netanyahu have sparked.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he will do "everything in his power" to ensure the passage of the Taylor Force Act. Credit: Office of Sen. Chuck Schumer.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he will do "everything in his power" to ensure the passage of the Taylor Force Act. Credit: Office of Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

One of the basic laws of physics is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I doubt that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was a standout in physics class. He likely did not expect that the reaction to his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be a backlash that is still going strong.

Israel is in the midst of a war for its very existence. Oct. 7 was not just another day in the life of a country in a bad neighborhood. It was Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined. Schumer seemed to understand this last November when he spoke at the March for Israel in Washington, D.C. There, he said in front of 300,000 people, “Let us not forget history.” Recalling that Israel was nearly annihilated in 1967 and 1973, he asserted, “We cannot, we must not let that happen again.” He also acknowledged, “When Hamas says ‘from the river to the sea,’ they mean that all of present-day Israel should be a Jew-free land.” Schumer pledged, “We in America have your back. America feels your pain. We ache with you.”

Five months into the war that Schumer felt was fully justified, he has now reversed course. On March 14, he decided to tell the world that “Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.”

Why Schumer would first say “We in America have your back” and then call for the replacement of the democratically elected leader of Israel in the middle of a war is unthinkable. Schumer crossed every red line by interfering with a sovereign nation’s legitimate democratic rights. He also harmed the morale of every fellow Jew fighting on the frontlines against a cruel and evil enemy. To say the least, this was not the time to make such statements.

The backlash came swiftly. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rightly said that it was “grotesque and hypocritical” for Americans “who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of the democratically elected leader of Israel.” He added, “The Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem. It has an anti-Israel problem.”

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) said, “We want to speak very clearly and concisely to say that this is not only highly inappropriate, it is just plain wrong for an American leader to play such a divisive role in Israeli politics while our closest ally in the region is in an existential battle for its very survival. … We have to stand with and support them right now. But what you’re seeing from the White House and clearly the Senate Democrats is really the opposite.”

Even Israeli minister without portfolio Benny Gantz, one of Netanyahu’s political rivals, said, “Israel is a strong democracy and only its citizens will determine its leadership and future. Any external intervention in the matter is incorrect and unacceptable.”

I am certain that Schumer was shocked by the reaction to his remarks. It fired up Israel’s supporters worldwide in an unprecedented way. There was certainly an equal and opposite reaction. The laws of physics apply.

But I believe the most important reaction will be that of the Israeli people. Netanyahu always does better when he is attacked. In effect, Schumer just kicked off Netanyahu’s campaign and likely guaranteed his reelection.

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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