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Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Left

Susan Estrich on

Who was Sen. Chuck Schumer speaking to when he denounced Benjamin Netanyahu and urged Israel to hold new elections to replace him? And who was he speaking for?

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of Netanyahu's. Not one bit. When the history of Oct. 7 is finally written, Hamas will rightly be blamed for unspeakable evil. It was their doing and their fault. But is there any doubt that the massive intelligence and political failure that allowed that to happen was due to the malfeasance, shortsightedness and self-interested failings of the Netanyahu administration? Public opinion polls in Israel make absolutely clear that if elections were to be held today, Netanyahu would lose.

But that is for Israelis to decide.

We provide massive support for Israel. As we should. They are staunch allies in a part of the world where we need their support. They are a democracy, deserving of respect. We have the right to try to influence what they do with the military aid that we supply them.

But there are fine lines to be respected. Americans overwhelmingly support aid to Israel. We recognize that Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorists who slaughter their citizens just as we had the right to defend ourselves after our fellow citizens were slaughtered on 9/11. Innocent civilians were killed when we went after Osama bin Laden and his men, and the world did not turn on us as a result.

So why has the world turned on Israel?

Why has Schumer?

 

Public opinion polls in Israel show that Israelis overwhelmingly remain committed to winning this war. They have not won, not yet. They continue to live next door to a state run by terrorists who are committed to repeating the sort of slaughter and butchery of Oct. 7. The Israeli public says never again. Wouldn't we? Are we to say they must live with the prospect of terror? That they have no right to destroy Hamas?

The Democratic left is noisy. The war is hurting Joe Biden. It's ironic on all counts. By my lights, Biden has been terrific. He came immediately and forcefully to Israel's defense. At the same time, he and his administration have been responsive to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have used every diplomatic resource to try to secure a temporary ceasefire, to get aid into Gaza, to seek the return of the hostages. For this, he gets picketed everywhere he goes. And what would Trump do? Try to make hay? Trump attacks Jewish Democrats, saying we hate Israel and hate our religion and that Israel won't exist if we vote for Biden. Exactly who does the noisy left want to help -- and who do they want to punish?

Schumer is playing to the Democratic left in America. Instead of telling them to stand down, he is standing up with them. And playing into the hands of the Republican senators, who had their own meeting with Netanyahu, to embrace him. They would turn support for Israel into a partisan issue, to help Trump, at the expense of not only Biden but Israel. With the world effectively turning on Israel's right to defend itself -- and thus its right to exist -- plunging Israel further into our partisan divide is bad policy in the service of short-term partisan gain. It is the last thing true friends of Israel should do, which is not what Trump is.

The Israeli public doesn't need Schumer to tell them what to do. The Democratic left in America does. Biden needs support, not support for the protestors. And Israel needs a united America on its side so it can end this war by winning it and, with it, the right to exist in peace.

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To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


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