Chuck The Speech

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My favorite column to write during the year is for the Purim edition. As someone who grew up during the heyday of Mad Magazine and shows like Get Smart, I enjoy reading, listening to, and writing satire. Unfortunately, I cannot write satire every week. Purim is gone, and it’s back to the same problems as before. Since I’m in the year of mourning for my mother, I had a subdued Purim. Many other people also had a subdued Purim, including our brethren in Israel, who are dealing with the hardship in the continuing war against Hamas.

There has been much discussion about Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech. Most of the criticism I have seen comes from those who criticize Democrats whenever they have the chance. Thus, it is easy to dismiss what they have to say. However, the negative reaction to this speech has included those who support the administration. Their outrage is important and should be considered seriously by Schumer and the President. I put myself in that group.

It is important for everyone to read the speech in its entirety. There were parts of the speech we can all agree on, such as condemning what Hamas did on October 7, and also noting that Israel is our historic home. However, those points were not newsworthy, since Schumer had made similar comments in the past about the history of anti-Semitism, including during his historic speech right after the Hamas massacre. What made news were his comments criticizing Israel for excessive civilian casualties and that there should be a change of Israeli government. His comments about a change of government were part of his discussion of a two-state solution.

There is much to discuss about what was wrong with the comments as to their accuracy. However, even if Schumer had been right on the merits, he was wrong on the timing. There is a time and place to say something. This was the wrong time and place. Hamas sees what we are seeing. There has been a continuous erosion of support for Israel worldwide and especially in the United States. Hamas has no incentive to make any deal since the longer it goes on, the worse it gets for Israel. Schumer’s speech plays into this narrative. This is the same person who months ago made a strong pro-Israel speech; now, he has now changed his tune. Hamas also sees that Israel’s funding is being stalled in Congress. On March 25, the United States for the first time failed to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire. The irony is that the ceasefire is for no fighting during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, of a war that was commenced by Hamas on the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeres.

Hamas is following the Putin playbook. Putin is playing the long game, waiting for the United States to back off in its support for Ukraine. It seems to be working. Trump and other Republicans are against giving additional funding for Ukraine to obtain additional weapons to defend themselves. Without United States support, Ukraine is doomed.

The best way to counteract this approach is to pressure Congress to pass aid to Israel as part of the bill to provide aid to Ukraine and Taiwan. The aid to Israel should have no strings attached. This will only happen if there is bipartisan support. There are groups in both parties who want to condition aid to Israel or oppose any aid, just like they oppose aid to Ukraine. Thus, it is important to support both the Democratic and Republican parties. The approach that has been presented by those who are upset with what happened is to abandon the Democratic Party, which is foolhardy.

There has also been an outcry about Schumer’s comments, which some have referred to as advocating regime change in Israel. It will have zero effect on Israeli politics, just like the comment made by an Israeli cabinet minister a few months ago that Trump would be better for Israel will have no effect on the 2024 U.S. election. The people who do not want Netanyahu to remain prime minster will not change their position to send a message to America not to meddle in Israeli politics, just like Trump supporters in America will not change their support to Biden because of perceived Israeli intervention in the American presidential election.

Nevertheless, it’s not a good look to call for the people of an ally to vote out the existing government. Besides the fact it can appear to be “election interference,” it makes the process of dealing with that individual difficult. It is hard to have a working relationship with a person who you have called to be ousted. There has to be a mending of the fences.

It was good to see the outrage to Schumer’s comments. For example, Newsday, a middle-left newspaper, had two days of letters to the editor, almost all of which criticized Schumer’s remarks. Maybe it will help get people out of their lethargy and become more involved. If that happens, then Schumer has unintentionally done a great service for those who support Israel. The ball is in our hands.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.