Dem Sen. Schumer continues to face sharp backlash for speech that called for removal of Israeli PM Netanyahu

 March 23, 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a speech last week in which he called for Israelis to hold new elections and oust their current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, as Schumer views the Israeli leader as an impediment to peace and a "two-state solution" with the Palestinian people.

That speech has backfired significantly on Schumer with many Americans and Israelis viewing it as foreign election interference, as was revealed this week by former Bush White House foreign policy adviser Dan Senor in a conversation with Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade.

Israeli reaction to Schumer's speech was "hell no"

"I can't overstate how badly it landed in Israel and how badly it landed among the Jewish community in the United States and among the broader, sort of pro-Israel, pro-strong US-Israel relationship advocacy community in the United States," Senor told Kilmeade of Sen. Schumer's speech.

He noted that while both Israel and the U.S. were a "thriving democracy," neither was a "perfect country," and said, "Israelis choose their leaders. U.S. senators from the well of the Senate do not choose Israel's leaders."

Senor acknowledged that Israeli PM Netanyahu's approval ratings and popularity had fallen in the wake of judicial reforms and the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that resulted in the current conflict in Gaza, "But when you ask Israelis, should politicians from other countries be deciding who runs Israel? The reaction is 'hell no.' In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is now polling better since Schumer's speech, because people just take offense to this idea that the United States would treat Israel, or a U.S. senator would treat Israel like a banana republic."

Schumer's speech part of effort to "demonize" Israeli leader

Senor went on to point out in his interview with Kilmeade that even some of Israeli PM Netanyahu's "fiercest" critics and political rivals in Israel stood in support of a unified message to outsiders like Sen. Schumer who seek to influence or interfere in Israel's domestic affairs, "We choose who our leaders are, back off."

He further suggested that Schumer's comments, as well as the Biden administration's wavering support for Israel, were born from them being "frustrated with the reality that Israel intends to finish this war" in Gaza against the Hamas terrorists who hide behind Palestinian civilians and within an elaborate network of bunkers and tunnels.

"And so the idea that at the 11th hour, when they're heading into the final phase of this war, the U.S. is starting to have reservations and pull back," Senor said. "And Israel isn't folding to those requests that Israel pull back. And so their response is, well, look, we can't do anything about Israeli policy, so we're just going to demonize the elected leader of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and hope that that scores us some points internationally and domestically with their progressive base."

"That's what their calculation is, demonize Netanyahu, make this about Netanyahu, not about Israeli policy, because the reality is there's not much they can do about Israeli policy," he added. "So that's a bet they're making and I think it is backfiring."

Schumer urges Israel to hold new elections to remove Netanyahu from power

Sen. Schumer's speech was ostensibly one in support of both Israel and a "two-state solution" with the Palestinian people, though the senator pointed out four major obstacles to the goal of peace and Palestinian statehood -- Hamas and those who support them, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, "radical right-wing Israelis" in government positions, and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Schumer accused Netanyahu of having "lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel" and asserted that he was in league with other "far-right extremists" and was "too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza" that threatened to make Israel a "pariah" state in the global community.

Given all of that and more, the New York senator said, "I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government."

Widespread condemnation of Schumer's "totally inappropriate" remarks

As Senor noted, Sen. Schumer's call for the ouster of Israeli PM Netanyahu did not go over well with most people, either here in the U.S. or in Israel, as it reeked of political coercion and foreign interference in another nation's domestic affairs.

Indeed, according to The Jerusalem Post, the speech was widely condemned and criticized by leading Republicans in Congress, while Politico reported that Netanyahu himself said Schumer's speech was "totally inappropriate" and lambasted the apparent effort "to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something the Israeli public does on its own."

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