Jewish Organizations Respond to Schumer’s Speech

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, walks out of the Senate chamber following a series of votes at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor on March 14, criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling for new elections in Israel.

A CNN headline said the speech from the New York Democrat and Senate majority leader (the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States) “sent shockwaves from Washington to Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu responded by saying through his Likud Party that “Israel is not a banana republic.” He remains committed to Israel’s invasion of Gaza and a potential mission in Rafah, where many Gazans are congregating. The prime minister has called the mission essential because it targets Hamas, which is using those civilians as human shields.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem. It has an anti-Israel problem.”

President Joe Biden called it “a good speech.”

Here’s what some local Jewish organizations running the gamut along the Jewish political spectrum had to say.

Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania

Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania is a Jewish political advocacy organization that supports federal and state candidates, according to Jill Zipin, its founder and chair, and Burt Siegel, also a founder, agreed with Schumer’s speech.

“Senator Schumer is not calling for coup d’etat,” Zipin said. “He is just recognizing that Israel is a democracy, and within that democracy, he’s calling for Israeli people to call for elections because one piece of the stalemate in the region is Israeli leadership.”

Siegel said he has friends in Israel and relatives “who have left.”

“They’re fearful Israel is becoming isolated,” he added.

“When polling is done of the vast majority of American Jews, they dislike Bibi,” Zipin added. “When you look at polling of Israeli Jews, they likewise dislike Bibi.”

Zipin said that Schumer was not “singling out” Israel. He also criticized Hamas and called for new leadership in the Palestinian Authority.

“Israel cannot afford to lose the support of western democracies,” Siegel said.

“Chuck Schumer loves Israel. He wants to make sure the American-Israeli relationship remains strong,” Zipin added.

Siegel thinks new elections in Israel are possible.

“If we find that some of the hostages are dead or they talk about how they’ve been treated, I think the people of Israel will be so infuriated with the government that they’ll call for new elections,” he said.

Zipin added that Schumer “understands for Israel to survive going forward, there needs to be a two-state solution. Bibi Netanyahu opposes a two-state solution.”

American Jewish Committee

American Jewish Committee is a national advocacy group that focuses on civil rights and pro-Israel causes, according to Marcia Bronstein serves as the regional director of AJC’s Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey office.

She had the following to say about Schumer’s speech:

“Leader Schumer has long been a passionate, unwavering friend of Israel, and that continues to be true today. We don’t agree with any U.S. leader calling for elections in any sovereign country, and we made that objection known, but that does not take away from the underlying reality that the leader is deeply committed to Israel — as is the majority of Congress.”

Zionist Organization of America

Founded in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America is “the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States,” according to Mort Klein, a resident of the Main Line, is the organization’s national president.

“We found it appalling that the majority leader of the Senate, during a war, would be urging new elections and removing the prime minister of Israel,” Klein said. “Especially when the vast majority of Jews, of Israeli Jews, support Netanyahu’s policies in Gaza and support Netanyahu’s rejecting a Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu’s coalition holds 64 of 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. The ZOA president said Schumer wanted to align himself with the anti-Israel element in the Democratic Party.

“I think he sees that much of the base is now extremely hostile to Israel,” Klein said.

He also said Schumer may be concerned that “AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York) may be running against him.” Ocasio-Cortez is well-known for her criticisms of Israel.
Israel has offered a Palestinian state several times in the past. None of the offers were accepted.

“It’ll become an Iran-run terrorist state on top of Israel’s border along 70% of Israel’s population,” Klein said. “Israel gave a small state to the Arabs in Gaza. They got 30,000 rockets before 10-7, and they got 10-7.”

[email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here