The Cowardice of Chuck Schumer

Jews are getting beaten on the streets of New York City, and he manages a finger wag.

Between 2017 and January 2021, I lost count of how many times various people would ask, “When are they going to hold him accountable?” The “him,” of course, was Donald Trump. And it was a fair question to ask. Many Republicans in Congress took a see-no-evil-hear-no-evil approach in response to whatever bile spewed from Trump’s mouth or his Twitter feed.

What we’ve witnessed in the United States following the latest battle between Israel and Hamas, the group that fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel over the last several weeks, laid the foundation for some of the ugliness we’ve seen on our shores in the form of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish people from coast to coast.

Naturally, most of the mainstream press has not covered the incidents with the passion and depth they would convoys of Trump supporters riding down the interstate or gummers in The Villages parading around in golf carts decorated with “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia. They take a more “measured” approach — which in simpler terms, means they became quasi-apologists for Hamas, particularly under the bullshit pretense of “proportionality.”

The press reports the 200+ deaths of Palestinians, including civilians, and how “only” a dozen or so Israelis have been killed in the fighting. That gives the press the permission structure to frame it as “Israeli aggression” instead of what it really is — a defensive response.

No one wants to see innocent lives lost. At the same time, the press has a responsibility to place what’s happening in the proper context, and it fails time and time again, relying more on the “proportionality” narrative. Keep in mind several facts:

  • Hamas purposely places military installations in civilian areas and fires rockets from among its civilian population.

  • Some rockets that Hamas fires don’t reach the Israeli border and land in Gaza, which means Hamas is inflicting some of those civilian casualties on its people.

  • Israel gives an advanced warning when it targets a building containing civilians to minimize collateral damage. Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets at civilian targets in Israel.

  • There’s no such thing as “proportionality” in war. Israel has the right to defend itself as long as Hamas is firing those rockets.

Important to note as well: If not for Israel’s iron dome defensive system, which intercepts 90% of the rockets fired by Hamas, imagine the level of destruction that 4,000 rockets would inflict on a country approximately the size of New Jersey.

As Newsweek’s Batya Ungar-Sargon points out, the New York Times headline, “Dozens Arrested After Conflict in Gaza Leads to Clashes in Times Square,” is a wildly dishonest framing of the events. Groups in Times Square did not “clash.” Jews were getting attacked on the streets. It wasn’t only in New York City. It happened in Los Angeles and other cities as well. Luca Lewis, who plays for the New York Red Bulls soccer team, detailed his run-in with a group of Palestinians who brazenly said they’d have killed him if he was Jewish.

In one video, Jews are targeted with an explosive, and it’s not a firecracker.

One vital missing element from the mainstream press at large is the absence of blame in determining who could be responsible for such bigoted attacks. Why not? I don’t have the capacity to go and recount all of the headlines about the anti-Asian hate propagated by Donald Trump due to him using terms such as the “China virus” or “Wuhan flu” (And please, before I get into it, spare me the “that’s different” or “false equivalence” bullshit because Trump manages to turn you into an unthinking rage monster).

Is it unfair to ask why some politicians have smeared Israel as an apartheid state? I don’t think so. However, the press hasn’t bothered to raise the question of whether or not such vitriol would have an impact on the behavior of others as they’re too busy telling us everything the batshit-insane representative from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, is doing.

For a moment, imagine the charge of calling Israel an apartheid state when considering its surroundings. In 2015, it was none other than Howard Stern who went off on noted anti-Semite Roger Waters of Pink Floyd about Israel when he said, “There are so many Arab countries and land around Israel, that if you threw a pin in a pool, that’s what Israel is.”

When it comes to incoherent blathering about Israel and the antisemitism that gets dishonestly framed as “criticism,” one needs to look no further than the merry band of ignoramuses known as “The Squad.” Specifically Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and the newest member of the group, Cori Bush.

Collectively, all of them have a Twitter following of approximately 20 million people. Social media is where they do their “work.” Tlaib, Omar, and Bush have all accused Israel of engaging in “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs in the region, which is absurd on its face. Ethnic cleansing is defined as “the mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society.” Considering the population of those in the area designated as Palestine and the number of Arabs living in Israel have both grown over the last 30 years, it’s pretty clear these people use the term “ethnic cleansing” as nothing but a political catchphrase rather than something that’s actually taking place.

As for the supposed “apartheid,” all of them claim Israel is an apartheid state — yet another absurd allegation that’s nothing more than a smear of what is the only democratic state in the region. No one needs a lesson about the apartheid that took place in South Africa. Still, it’s the blueprint for what apartheid looks like. It takes a striking level of intellectual laziness to say that Israel engages in apartheid. Granted, it’s not a black and white issue as even democratic states struggle with discrimination (ask those of Korean descent who live in Japan, for example). This piece by Ben Sales provides a good 50,000-foot view of the state of affairs in Israel.

The question is: if politically charged rhetoric or politically heated rhetoric shoulders some of the blame for acts of violence or hate crimes, why does The Squad get a pass for the violence we’ve seen perpetrated against Jews in American cities? More importantly, why is no one willing to call them out for it?

And this brings us to New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Majority Leader in the Senate.

I have no love lost for Schumer, and that’s not a secret. In the movie Family Business, Vito (Dustin Hoffman) and Jessie (Sean Connery) are discussing a guy named Johnny Hunt. When Vito remembers who he is, he says, “He was a weasel when I knew him 30 years ago, and he’s still a weasel.”

That’s pretty much my assessment of Schumer. He was always somewhat of an odd duck. In 1995 when he was still in the House, he urged the Justice Department to launch an anti-trust investigation into Kellogg, General Mills, Post, and Quaker Oats because he thought the price of breakfast cereal was too high. Naturally, Schumer said the companies’ motivations were spurred by that awful benefit of sales — profits.

Schumer is the consummate career politician. Despite a Harvard law degree and passing the New York state bar exam, he’s never practiced law. He immediately went into politics, winning his first election to the state assembly in 1974. And he plays his greatest hits all the time. Every Republican judicial nominee is “out of the mainstream.” Anything to his political right is “radical.” You know the drill. Still, Schumer prides himself on being a politician who stays in touch with the New York electorate. It’s a fair self-assessment as for the last 20+ years, he annually visits all 62 counties in New York to talk to voters and constituents.

Now, for many people, that would make his silence over the last few weeks about what The Squad says about Israel and the violence we’ve seen against Jews by anti-Semites so odd.

But remember, he’s like Johnny Hunt. And weasels are gonna weasel. It was apparent that elected Democrats received some sort of communication (my guess would be the DNC) to make statements about the acts of violence getting perpetrated against Jews. There was a slew of tweets by many of them in a span of hours. Here is Schumer’s

On an episode of Golden Girls, the ladies go on an island vacation somewhere only to find they have to share a bathroom with three young guys. At one point, one of them says, “How do you think we feel having to gargle next to Grandma Moses and the Mosettes?” Rose says in response, “You…you rude person!”

Dorothy (the amazing Bea Arthur) quips, “Go easy on him, Rose.”

That’s Schumer’s tweet. It’s the equivalent of a “Now that’s not nice” finger wag at a 5-year-old who just called his younger sister a doody-head. That’s the best he could muster up? He sits back while the knobhead squad members throw out smears about Israel on a daily basis, and he says nothing.

And the reason why? He’s terrified of AOC. You see, Schumer is up for reelection in 2022. Now, he’s not scared of any Republican challenger because a Republican has no chance to beat him. It’s likely his “opponent” will be some Trumper type who will rely on low primary turnout and the fact that Schumer won in 2016 with 71% of the vote to grab the nomination and collect money from people who’d rather not burn it in their fireplace.

AOC is not as smart as she thinks she is, but she is politically savvy. I have my doubts as to whether or not she’ll challenge Schumer for his seat. Schumer’s a weasel, but you don’t get to be Majority Leader without knowing how to sidestep some landmines. Still, Schumer is afraid of her, as is Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, another longtime proud supporter of Israel, has remained silent as the far-left of her caucus goes off on Israel and stokes anger against Jews here at home.

But Schumer is distinct from Pelosi has always made sure to boast of his support for Israel and Jews here in the United States, making sense since he represents the state with the largest Jewish population in America. That makes his actions, or lack thereof, that much more appalling.

Calling Israel an “apartheid state” or to claim they’re engaging in “ethnic cleansing” is not “criticism” of Israel — a common defense used by people to give cover to their disdain for Jews and Israel (and no, there is no distinction between anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism in my view). And Schumer remains silent. Hell, even Bernie Sanders managed to burp out that Democrats should “tone down the rhetoric.”

But Sanders isn’t facing a possible primary challenge.

It’s relatively easy to write, “Sooner or later, Schumer will have to say something.”

He doesn’t. And he won’t. At least not until he secures the Democratic nomination for the Senate race in 2022. Then he might feel more empowered to speak out.

Just like a weasel.