Immediate backlash to Schumer saying Netanyahu ‘obstacle’ to peace

Immediate backlash to Schumer saying Netanyahu ‘obstacle’ to peace

Republican lawmakers and even at least one Democrat in Congress pushed back against remarks on Thursday in which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “an obstacle for peace” and called for new Israeli elections.

The Jewish senator drew intense criticism from colleagues across the aisle and even a gentle reproach from his own party.

“It is highly inappropriate and simply wrong for Senator Schumer to be calling for new elections in Israel,” stated Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.). “We need to stand strong with Israel, but the White House and Senate Democrats are seemingly standing with and supporting Iran and its proxies instead.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is retiring at the end of this term, released a softer reproach.

“Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Schumer gave an impassioned address on the Senate floor outlining his vision for peace in the Middle East. As a Jewish American whose family came to America in 1902 from Lithuania to escape pogroms, I, too, have a deep and personal connection to Israel’s security and survival,” Cardin stated.

“I’d like to thank Leader Schumer for framing the challenges before us in such historic perspective,” he said. “I encourage every American to listen to this speech as it outlines a blueprint for what’s necessary in fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Israel has long been a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, and it’s imperative that we trust in the resilience and wisdom of its citizens at the ballot box and beyond,” the Maryland Democrat added. “As allies and friends, we must support the Israeli people in their efforts to shape their own destiny and chart the course of their post-war nation.”

‘You’ve done a lot of damage’

Other colleagues were considerably less reserved in their responses.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he was “dumbfounded” by Schumer’s speech, which he called “earth-shatteringly bad.”

Graham said he initially thought the remarks were a joke, calling Schumer’s comments “a departure in a very serious way about how the United States interacts with its allies.”

“I think it’s done enormous damage to very delicate negotiations,” the senator said. “This is not something any of us should be saying, calling on a government to be toppled basically by its own people.”

“I’m disappointed. You’ve done a lot of damage, my friend, and you need to fix this,” Graham told Schumer.

“In the last 24 hours, Joe Biden and Biden officials have given Iran a $10 billion sanctions waiver, sanctioned Israeli Jews and said that Israel’s top priority should be aiding Gazans,” stated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Now Democrat leader Schumer is calling for the overthrow of Israel’s government while Israel is fighting potentially existential wars, doing unbelievable damage to Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

“I am proud to call Benjamin Netanyahu a friend but that is irrelevant to just how staggeringly deranged and damaging all of this Democrat behavior is,” Cruz added. “Like any country, let alone any ally, Israel has a right to choose its own government and its top priority should be defending its citizens. It is unbelievable that these basic facts have to be explained, but apparently, Democrats have forgotten them.”

‘Foreign election interference’

“Chuck Schumer’s demand for new Israeli elections is inappropriate and offensive. Israel is a close ally and a healthy, vibrant democracy. The last thing Israel needs is the ‘foreign election interference’ that Democrats so often decry here,” stated Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

“Besides, the main elections that worry Chuck Schumer aren’t Israel’s but our elections, because the rampant antisemitism that the Democratic Party has allowed to fester in its ranks is massively unpopular with the pro-Israel American public,” the Arkansas Republican added. “Chuck Schumer should remove the log in his own party’s eye before he whines about the speck in Israel’s eye.” (The latter refers to a verse in the New Testament.)

“Instead of meddling in Israeli sovereign elections, Chuck Schumer should follow House Republicans’ lead in supporting our most precious ally in their darkest hour,” stated Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference.

“Chuck Schumer’s disgusting comments undermine Israel, are a boon to the Iranian regime, and is nothing short of turning our backs on Israel,” Stefanik added. “House Republicans will continue to stand strongly with our most precious ally Israel.”

“Chuck Schumer’s comments regarding Israel are offensive to our most important ally in the Middle East. Israel is a sovereign democracy and it is not for Schumer to decide their leader,” stated Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “It’s time he stop pandering to the woke mob.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote that Schumer “is out of line.”

“He should not be undermining our closest ally and the only democracy in the Middle East in the wake of a brutal terror attack,” Cornyn wrote. “This is a blatant attempt to appease extremists in his party to the detriment of our relationship with Israel.”

‘Decide for themselves’

“It’s completely inappropriate for Senator Schumer to undermine the leadership of Israel during a time of war. They are one of our closest allies, and the Israeli people are the only ones who get to decide when it’s time for a new leader,” stated Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).

“Chuck Schumer should be more concerned about his own political coalition which is increasingly Pro-Hamas,” Budd added.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “we should not attempt to dictate domestic politics of other countries.”

“They will rightfully resent our efforts to do so. People in the United States are upset when foreign governments wade into our domestic politics and interfere in our elections, and the Biden administration has warned allies against it,” Risch stated. “The people of Israel are entitled to and should decide for themselves what they want their government and their future to look like.”

“Outrageous for Chuck Schumer to attack the democratically-elected leadership of a close ally from the Senate floor. Democrats have harsher treatment for Israel than for Iran and Hamas. Let that sink in,” stated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.). “We must stand with Israel as they defend themselves against these terrorists.”

“Chuck Schumer calling for the U.S. to meddle in Israel’s elections is unprecedented and very dangerous,” stated Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the House majority whip. “If he wanted to focus on elections overseas maybe he should have called for an election in Gaza instead.”

Emmer noted that there haven’t been elections in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over in 2006. “I think Israelis would agree that Hamas is the ‘obstacle to peace,’” he said. Democrats have a problem, he added, “but it’s not with Netanyahu. It’s with the anti-Israel members of their own party that have taken over the woke left.”

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