Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 14 March 2024



Chuck Schumer Lectures Israelis on War and Peace


(3 min)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks on the Senate floor at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. Photo: /Associated Press

The Israel-Hamas war is melting brains on the Democratic side of the aisle, and the latest evidence is a remarkable speech Thursday by Sen. Charles Schumer calling for new elections to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yes, the Majority Leader is telling Israelis to replace their government—or the U.S. “will have no choice” but to intervene to “change the present course,” whatever that means.

Mr. Netanyahu is the duly elected Prime Minister of an American ally. Israeli voters will have a chance to hold him accountable, if they choose, for whatever policy and security lapses left his country vulnerable to Hamas’s vicious invasion on Oct. 7. He also will have to answer for how effectively he has prosecuted the war, including whether he has struck the right bargains in exchanging temporary cease-fires for the release of Israeli hostages, and whether the ultimate end-state for Gaza leaves Israel safer or otherwise.

But precisely because Israel is a democracy, accountability for Mr. Netanyahu is baked in. The Prime Minister at this moment represents a broad consensus in Israeli society that the country can’t afford to allow Hamas to continue its violent and corrupt control of Gaza after the horrors unleashed on Oct. 7.

Mr. Schumer knows all this and said as much in his speech on the Senate floor. He blamed Hamas for the atrocities of Oct. 7, and he noted that the terror group has “knowingly invited an immense civilian toll during this war” by using Gazans as human shields. The Senator also allowed that Israel “is surrounded by vicious enemies.”

So what does the Democrat from New York want? He hopes a different Israeli Prime Minister would advance a two-state solution of the sort Mr. Netanyahu has resisted. This reflects the political neurosis developing among Democrats, who wish some deus ex machina would allow Israel to “win” the war against Hamas in a way that would minimize the anger of the anti-Israel left in the U.S.

This is foolish on the merits, and Mr. Schumer’s intervention may backfire in Israel, where it was roundly denounced Thursday as unwelcome interference. It’s not obvious any Israeli politician would rush after Oct. 7 to negotiate with the Palestinians over a state unless or until Hamas is defeated in Gaza—at a minimum. The idea that Israel is the obstacle to Middle East peace, rather than the Iranian regime sponsoring terror proxies across the region, is so naive it’s more suited to a faculty lounge than the Senate floor.

The bigger problem is Mr. Schumer’s own surrender. Rather than placating the anti-Israel left in his party, he and President Biden ought to be trying to lead them.


The first half of Mr. Schumer’s speech largely set out the reasons that friendship with Israel remains in America’s national interest, and what’s at stake for Israel in its war. As uncharacteristic as it would have been for Mr. Schumer, it would have been better for his country, his party, Israel and his own reputation if he had left it at that and stopped talking.

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Appeared in the March 15, 2024, print edition as 'Chuck Schumer Lectures Israel'.

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