Coleman: Schumer stabs Israel in the back with disgraceful remarks

Thursday, March 14, 2024

I’ve known Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) since we were schoolmates at PS 197 and James Madison High School in Brooklyn. The high school boasts an impressive number of Jewish graduates who went on to become leaders in their fields of endeavor, from entertainers and sports stars to Nobel Prize winning scientists and well-known public officials, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

That personal connection made it especially painful for me to watch Sen. Schumer stab Israel in the back in his public remarks on March 14. 

Sen. Schumer said that the elected Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu “no longer fits the needs of Israel.” He called the government “an obstacle to peace,” and demanded new elections. He threatened that if the Netanyahu-led coalition remains in power, “then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.”  

With these words, Chuck Schumer, who styles himself the “Shomer” or guardian of the Jewish people, crossed an unprecedented line.   

Here is the highest ranking Jewish elected political leader in American history threatening to use U.S. financial and diplomatic leverage to pressure Israel to dump its democratically elected government and adopt policies favored by radical Democrats in Congress and in the White House. This at the very moment that Israel is fighting a war for survival against the barbaric Hamas terrorists who murdered, mutilated and raped 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 and who still hold over 100 hostages, six of whom are American citizens.  

It’s hard to believe that the smart Brooklyn boy I knew 60 years ago has so completely missed the mark. Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza is determined by a War Cabinet agreed upon in October, which includes some of Netanyahu’s toughest critics. Moreover, the vast majority of Israelis approve of the government’s conduct of the war. Israel has done more than any nation in history to protect innocent civilians in wartime, while taking down a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza that has been decades in the making.

Netanyahu is leading a country that is still in shock, in mourning and unwaveringly determined that the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust will never be repeated. Ironically, attacking Netanyahu now will only make him stronger politically at home, as he defends Israel from both Hamas and its supporters in the U.S. at the same time.  

While Israelis face an existential enemy that publicly announces its intention to repeat Oct. 7 over and over again, Democrats are trying to look tough on Israel to please their radical supporters sitting safely here in the U.S. This is not the time to insert American political calculations into our relationship with a key strategic partner and a democratic ally in an increasingly fragmented world.  

In this moment of crisis, Israel deserves our wholehearted support. Americans know this — the majority of them support Israel. But Democrats in Washington are seeing their poll numbers dropping, and Schumer’s remarks make clear that they are increasingly willing to sacrifice our ally Israel to win votes in certain battleground states. It is a “shanda,” a disgrace, that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn, New York, is the one holding the knife.

Norm Coleman is the national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He served as a Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota from 2003-09.


This article was originally published by The Hill on March 14, 2024.