Schumer is no friend of Israel


In last week’s edition of The Jewish Star, Ezra Friedlander penned an article entitled, “Let’s stop shooting blanks at Senator Schumer.” Friedlander defends Senator Schumer from his critics who chided him for not expressing his written consent to the commutation of Shalom Rubashkin’s preposterous 27-year jail sentence (considering that Schumer is Jewish, whereas his non-Jewish colleague Rep. Nancy Pelosi did indeed express her own written consent).

Friedlander correctly asserts that the criticism of Schumer in this regard is unwarranted, since it’s fairly evident that Pelosi corresponds with Schumer on a host of important issues and it’s reasonable to argue that they corresponded on this issue as well, and that Schumer conveyed his approval to her written consent.

The commutation of Rubashkin’s sentence seems to have been a non-partisan issue, having the support of both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. It is therefore reasonable to assume, again, that Schumer did in fact support Rubashkin’s sentence commutation, even if he didn’t communicate his position explicitly.

But I dissent to the second part of Friedlander’s analysis, where his article metamorphoses into a quasi resume of Schumer’s Jewish and Israel credentials, apparently seeking to point out that of course Schumer is a friend of the Jewish community and a staunch supporter of Israel. I believe that this assumption is false.

While Schumer presents himself as one of the most ardent supporters of Israel, it just a façade. This should not be construed as arguing that Schumer is necessarily anti-Israel – far from it. But since he’s senator of the most populous Jewish state in the nation, he’s simply acting like the cunning and deceptive politician that many on the political Right have suspected him of being for a quite a while. In other words, he isn’t necessarily anti-Israel — it’s that issues relating to Israel aren’t as important to him as they may seem.

If you think that this is pure speculation and not rooted in fact, the last few years provide the necessary evidence for the case I am now arguing. It is by now common knowledge that Schumer voted against the notorious Iran Deal that former President Obama signed into law. Friedlander, not surprisingly, uses that as at least partial evidence for the case that Schumer is a proud supporter of Israel. The fact is, however, that while it is true Schumer did vote against the measure, he had no qualms about his Democratic colleagues voting for it, and he knew the Iran Deal would pass through Congress without his vote. According to a report in Politico (Oct. 11, 2015) by Josh Bresnahan, while many Democrats reached out to the New York Senator regarding the Iran Deal, he exerted no effort to convince them to vote against the measure.

Bresnahan wrote that “with liberal groups furious over his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Chuck Schumer has been quietly reaching out to dozens of his colleagues to explain his decision and assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal, according to Democratic senators and aides.” This was purely a political maneuver from a very politically savvy politician. Schumer could maintain the façade of a proud Israel supporter by publicly condemning the deal, while simultaneously convincing his Democratic colleagues to vote for it, so as not to alienate himself from the more leftist and progressive wing of his party. 

Now if the above analysis wasn’t adequate to convince you that Schumer puts party and his opposition to Trump over country, then consider that in October 2017 – just three months ago – after President Trump announced his decision to nix the Iran Deal, Schumer then disconcertingly reversed himself, and now supports the deal. The reason is obvious. Jonathan Tobin explained it in the Federalist on Oct. 19 (“President Trump Is Right: Chuck Schumer Is A Hypocrite On Iran”).

Tobin wrote: “This means that, although he still portrays himself as a defender of a Jewish state which is marked for extermination by Tehran, Schumer thinks bowing to the demands of the resistance is a smarter play than cooperating with the GOP. Even if that cooperation could end the sunset provisions in the JCOPA, and ensure that an Iran that has been enriched and empowered by the pact gives up its support for terrorism and an ominous missile-building program. … Schumer is signaling that Democrats regard opposing Trump as far more important than worrying about Tehran’s quest for regional hegemony, or its eventual acquisition of a bomb. Seen in that light, Trump’s accusation barely scratches the surface of Schumer’s hypocrisy.”

Rafi Metz is a resident of Far Rockaway