A Jew against Jews

by Jerold Auerbach
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The self-appointed “guardian” has become a sharp critic, even as he recognizes that Israel confronts “vicious enemies” who pose “existential threats” to its long-term peace and prosperity.

(JNS) How ironic that a prominent Jewish senator should spark overflowing praise and a full-page in The New York Times for lacerating the Jewish state. So it is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has joined the ever-growing list of Jews against Jews. Proudly identifying himself as “a guardian of the People of Israel,” he recognizes that Israel is “surrounded by vicious enemies”—namely, Hamas, whose recent massacre of 1,200 Jews was the most devastating assault since the Holocaust.

Citing Hamas horrors such as “raping women, executing babies, desecrating bodies, brutalizing whole communities” and “using Palestinians as human shields,” Schumer nonetheless identifies “inflamed tensions in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities” that have resulted in “people on all sides of this war” who are “turning away from a two-state solution.” This, according to Schumer, is “a grave mistake” for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Not surprisingly for a liberal Jewish senator, Schumer claims that the only plausible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “a demilitarized Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity, dignity and mutual recognition.” Jews and Palestinians alike, he writes, “have long historic claims to this land.”

Schumer’s assertion of shared historic claims is fantasy, not history. The biblical narrative of the Jewish holy land can be traced to Abraham’s purchase of a burial site in Hebron for his wife, Sarah. (There were no Palestinians then.) King David reigned in Hebron before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. (There were no Palestinians then.) Following World War I, the League of Nations British Mandate for Palestine guaranteed the legal rights of Jews to settle west of the Jordan River. (There were no Palestinians then.)

After Israel’s 1948 war of independence, notes historian Benny Morris, Arabs in Palestine were not yet identified as “Palestinians.” At a Jericho conference that year, ironically, Palestinian delegates favored a resolution calling for “the unification of Palestine and Transjordan as a step toward full Arab unity.” There was no expressed interest in an independent Palestinian state. It took the Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War and Jordan’s loss of control over its West Bank for Palestinians to begin to emerge as a distinctive people. Why was it, wondered Walid Shoebat, an Arab resident of Bethlehem, “that on June 4, 1967, I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian.”

Perhaps anticipating that his laceration of Israel might be taken as a sign of anti-Semitism, Schumer tried hard to display his Jewish credentials. His name, he pointed out, comes from the Hebrew word shomer, translated as “guardian.” As the “highest-ranking Jewish elected official ever” in the United States, he feels “very keenly … [his] responsibility as Shomer Yisroel—a guardian of the People of Israel.”

Curiously, the self-appointed “guardian” has become a sharp critic, even as he recognizes that Israel confronts “vicious enemies” who pose “existential threats to Israel’s long-term peace and prosperity.” Nonetheless, Israel “must make some significant course corrections” to erase Schumer’s displeasure with the Jewish state. Indeed, “what horrifies so many Jews especially is our sense that Israel is falling short of upholding these distinctly Jewish values that we hold so dear.”

Alas, Israel does not follow in Schumer’s path. Only he can define “Jewish values.”

Schumer’s predictable proposal, based on the erroneous assertion that “both Jews and Palestinians have long historic claims to this land,” is a negotiated two-state solution. He recognizes that Jews have lived in their promised land for more than three millennia: “A Jewish homeland in Israel is no 20th-century contrivance.” But his claim that Palestinians “in past centuries … have formed their own distinct culture, identity, cuisine and literature” is pure fantasy.

In their shared discomfort with Israel, Chuck Schumer and The New York Times—for decades, Jewish-owned by the Sulzberger family—are appropriate partners in the Jewish Hall of Shame.


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