In an extraordinary speech this morning—and by extraordinary I don’t mean it was good but rather that it was astoundingly abnormal—the majority leader of the U.S. Senate called for the collapse of the legitimately elected government of a sovereign ally.

This is something new. This is something that has never happened before.

Chuck Schumer stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and declared that Israel needs a new government under a prime minister other than Benjamin Netanyahu. Schumer is calling for this despite the fact that, were there to be such a change in government right now, it wouldn’t change policy at the most important level. Israel’s populace and its politicians are in alignment. Its government is a unity government in which the prime minister’s most formidable rival is sitting alongside the majority coalition. The current Israeli government, the one Schumer says he wants to see replaced, unquestionably represents a consensus view of the Israeli electorate on the most important issues, and that view is shared by something like 75 percent of Israeli voters.

Moreover, when it comes to the war in Gaza, Netanyahu is not the decision-maker; he is one of three. Bibi, opposition leader Benny Gantz, and defense minister Yoav Gallant make up a “war cabinet” troika, and all policy moves are the result of a majority vote among them.

No matter. Chuck Schumer simply barreled on. He likened the coalition to Hamas, a terrorist group under the sway of the theocratic mullocracy in Iran. They are both, he said, “obstacles to peace.” I will forbear from calling Schumer names for the moral equivalence he is drawing here, which trust me, is demanding a level of restraint Schumer himself should have shown by canceling the delivery of this speech.

Anyway, the “peace” Schumer accuses Netanyahu of obstructing is some kind of new Palestinian nation. This is, of course,  the “two-state solution” that was rejected by Arabs 77 years ago when it was first formally proposed by the United Nations. I’m not going to go through the history of the failure of this idea; I’m only going to note that it now involves the creation of a polity whose citizenry has made it clear they would ardently and passionately support all continued efforts to destroy Israel by any means necessary. That’s what every poll of the Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank tells us.

Polling also tells us that a vast majority of the population of Israel now opposes the establishment of that new state, and by huge margins. Only 30 years ago, the two-state solution was the policy of the government of Israel. And while Palestinians rejected every effort to put the policy into effect—”I am a failure, and you made me one,” Bill Clinton told Yasser Arafat at Camp David —it was still such a potent idea that as late as 2010, Netanyahu himself came out in favor of a demilitarized Palestinian state. In 2012, 65 percent of Israelis were still saying  they favored a state in theory.

But by 2023, after two wars with Gaza (a big one in 2014, a smaller one in 2021) were succeeded by the horror of October 7, 65 percent of Israelis said they did not. And it’s likely that since Gallup did that polling, the number  has fallen still further.

Simply put, the deposition or removal of Bibi Netanyahu would neither further the “cause” of the two-state solution, which is dead for now and probably for a long time, nor change the approach to the war in Gaza one bit.

So much for the policy implications of Schumer’s speech. Now for the geopolitical implications. Imagine Mike Mansfield, Senate Majority Leader in the 1970s, calling for the collapse of the parliamentary government in Great Britain; or Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole calling for a new government in Australia in the 1990s. You can’t. Because it would have been unthinkable to them. In our lifetimes, the only governments our public officials ever suggest should be replaced by their populaces are authoritarian and totalitarian ones.

Israel is neither, to put it mildly. But Israel is a problem—for Democrats, in 2024. Or at least they believe it is, and Biden has been trying to split the baby since October 7. The administration says and acts as though Israel has the right to defend itself, and has backed its stated policy of destroying Hamas. But the Bidenites don’t want their leftist and Arabist and progressive constituencies to get so mad they will stay home or vote for Trump.

Those of us who support the Israeli goal of destroying Hamas have to take seriously the fact that the Biden people believe they are endangering themselves politically and give them some running room in the way they’ve given Israel running room. The administration’s policy toward Israel since October 7 seems almost miraculous because he hasn’t bent backward, or changed course, or made concrete demands that Israel cease its efforts. No other American leader has given Israel the leeway or the runway he has. The war has been on for five months now.

Now look. I am a conservative and I’ve been around a long time, so believe me when I say I’ve had contempt for Joe Biden for nearly 40 years—since the first time I heard him speak, and speak, and speak, and speak, and speak, at a lunch at the Washington Times in 1986. A question was posed. He opened his mouth to answer it. He closed his mouth…45 minutes later.

But I’m still grateful for what he’s done—so far. And what he’s decided is that he wants people to think he supports Israel but just despises that monstrous Bibi. Everything bad is Bibi. Everything wrong is Bibi. Biden is Bibi’s enemy. Kamala Harris said last week that we have to draw a distinction between the government of Israel and its people. As I’ve shown above, this is ridiculous as a matter of fact. It’s even worse as a matter of political theory, since we do not draw such distinctions when we’re talking about a democratically elected government. But she’s a good soldier, and was playing her part, which is the demonization of Benjamin Netanyahu even as what Netanyahu does the Biden administration continues to support.

In this sense, Schumer was being a good soldier too. But a bad Jew.

For 25 years now, I’ve heard Schumer say at Jewish events that his name means “guard” in Hebrew. Schumer = shomer. “My people,” he would shout over a piece of rubber kosher chicken at the Marriott Marquis ballroom, “were the guardians at the gates of Jerusalem! And that is still the role that is most important to me!” When I first heard this spiel, after he was newly elected to the Senate, I found it discomfiting—shouldn’t his most important role be to represent the people of New York? Was he deliberately trying to create a dual-loyalties narrative? What on earth was he doing?

Well, if being a shomer for Israel was his supposed birthright, he just traded it for a mess of political pottage. The highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history just used his status and his standing to provide cover to Biden for his “trash Bibi while supporting Israel” plan. And in so doing, he has defamed the Jewish state, he has slandered its legitimately elected prime minister, he has made outrageous and unseemly demands of a democratic ally, and he has turned himself into Biden’s Luca Brasi—a designated political hit man in service of a disingenuous argument.

I’m willing to forgive Biden for his game-playing here, at least until he changes course. Schumer deserves no forgiveness, and American Jews who support Israel especially after 10/7 have every reason now to view him with open contempt—and close their hearts and, most important, their wallets to him.

 

 

+ A A -
You may also like
135 Shares
Share via
Copy link