Our Senators

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By Larry Gordon

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Chuck Schumer is a great friend of the Jewish community here in New York and has been for a long time. He is a homegrown product, and it’s fairly simple to recall his numerous appearances at every type of yeshiva or Jewish-organization dinner here and just about anywhere in New York State.

But then Hillary Clinton lost last year’s election to Donald Trump and that result had an apparent deleterious effect on Mr. Schumer’s approach to policy and everyday politics. Just as Clinton was sure she was going to be the next president, Schumer was certain that he was going to be the new powerful Senate majority leader.

And then there is the matter of our other senator—Kirsten Gillibrand—and her misplaced support and praise for Brooklyn-born Linda Sarsour. Ms. Sarsour is an anti-Israel, pro-BDS activist who supports the intifada against Israel and has tweeted, “There is nothing creepier than Zionism.”

OK, so let’s give Gillibrand the benefit of the doubt—that is, she either had bad advice or just does not know who she is supporting and does not know what she is doing. New York is a big state that serves a lot of people and no doubt there is much that a senator needs to get done.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

But the line has to be drawn somewhere, and considering the number of Jewish constituents in the state, one would think that Senator Gillibrand would know better than to hitch her wagon to an avowed anti-Semite like Ms. Sarsour. To add insult to injury, Sarsour is scheduled to be a featured commencement speaker on June 1 at one of the City University of New York schools. Clearly this is offensive to most Jews and supporters of Israel. But then this idea about unbridled and thoughtless free speech comes to the fore, which becomes an issue, as proponents of free expression believe that everything goes—regardless of how hateful or damaging the pronouncement is.

On the Schumer front, it is disappointing that our senior senator is conducting himself in a fashion that is guided strictly by political considerations. This country would be better off if Mr. Schumer and the other Democrats would deal with the matter of governing instead of this irrational and senseless attempt to try to dislodge President Trump from office.

There is a time for politics and there is a time for governing. The Democrats can work with the White House on many issues but prefer to play the foil at every turn and try to upend and embarrass the president more than focus on getting things done.

Is this Democratic revenge for the Republican refusal to work with President Obama? It might be, but we should recall that during his eight years in office, it was Mr. Obama, for the most part, who was determined to marginalize the Republican congressmen and senators. In this case, it seems that it is the Democrats who genuinely believe that they can frustrate the political novice, Mr. Trump, and perhaps in some way chase him from office.

Senator Schumer is comfortable in office and appears certain that he can serve up the most disrespectful and blistering attacks on the president, even though Mr. Trump is popular in the New York Orthodox Jewish community. Schumer is confident that he can insult Trump, and when it comes to getting reelected, voters are just going to look the other way.

The Democrats’ behavior since the Trump election might be good for the future possibility of regaining control of at least one house of Congress, but it is just an awful display and politics at its worst—everyone involved should be ashamed.

It’s one matter if you can at least pretend you are doing the work of the people while at the same time trying to undermine your competition or, in this case, opponents. It is quite another when the best interests of the people are left behind in a cloud of dust with politicians dedicating all their energy to politics and nothing else.

Instead of thinking that they can make life so miserable for President Trump so that he may decide not to run for reelection in three and a half years, it is Schumer and Gillibrand who should be voted out of office for conducting their business at the expense of the people. v

Ambassador Friedman

It was a proud moment for us all as we watched U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman present his credentials on Tuesday to President Reuven Rivlin. It’s not just that Mr. Friedman is a friend as well as a product of an upbringing and a community that we are all so familiar with. We know where his heart is, and our prayers are with him as he takes up this vital, high-profile position at a most propitious and challenging time in the world.

There have been Orthodox Jewish U.S. ambassadors to Israel in the past, but never an ambassador who has demonstrated or stated unreservedly his belief on issues dealing with Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem, and the prospects for a peace settlement.

In the coming days, especially with the Trump visit to Israel looming, there will be talk of negotiations and even concessions on some level. But we can rest assured that with a personality like Mr. Friedman, a president like Mr. Trump, and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, the U.S.–Israel bond will emerge stronger than at any time in the past.

Positions and strategies in the Middle East are centered on rhetoric, words that rarely mean what they seem to mean on the surface. With the president arriving in Israel from Saudi Arabia, where he will be meeting with scores of Arab leaders, the talk has to be soft and gentle. Now is the time for diplomacy, not campaign bombast which usually get retracted or re-explained the next morning.

It looks like Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be accompanying Mr. Trump as he prays at the Kotel next week. The optics of that event would be misunderstood and create more problems for now than it would solve. But the president will certainly be accompanied by his ambassador, Mr. Friedman, and that in and of itself has the trappings of a great moment.

The media is waiting for President Trump to reverse his pledge on moving the embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem as well as his already-stated position on building within existing settlement communities. Let’s allow these issues to unfold without the application of unnecessary pressure or intensity. We are in good hands.

Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at editor@5tjt.com.

 

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