Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November/December 2018, pp. 22-27
By Janet McMahon
THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO the Oct. 6 confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest associate justice were fraught—to put it mildly—here in Washington, DC. Demonstrators who opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh, especially after he was accused of sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers, insisted that their voices be heard and vowed to make them heard in November. As Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said: “So to Americans, to so many millions who are outraged by what happened here, there’s one answer: vote.”
But on May 14 of this year, he also said the following: “In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem.…I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.” Schumer—who has received a career total of $138,285 in pro-Israel PAC contributions—has also said, “My name as you know comes from…the [Hebrew] word shomer, which means guardian. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov and I believe Hashem, actually, gave me the name as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate, to be a shomer for Israel, and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”
In the opinion of this writer, the core issue facing those who object to U.S. policies, foreign or domestic, is the question of whether their elected representatives actually represent them. (Being a resident of the nation’s capital, and thus having no voting representation in Congress, the writer is not confronted with this particular dilemma.) And, as the Washington Report’s decades of pro-Israel PAC compilations have demonstrated, the Israel lobby works very hard to ensure that voters do not have the option of choosing a candidate who does not pay obeisance to the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
But the lobby is not invincible—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), whom the lobby did everything in its power to defeat, being the current serving example. Schumer himself may soon be serving alongside fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Democratic Socialist who defeated Democratic stalwart Joseph Crowley in New York’s June 26 congressional primary. “What will Chuck Schumer do if he has to choose between the Democrats and Israel?” asked columnist Seth Lipsky in the July 18 New York Post. Lipsky went on to describe Ocasio-Cortez as “a nightmare for the Jewish state.”
A more pertinent question might be: What will Chuck Schumer—or Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and their pro-Israel fellow travelers—do if they have to choose between their constituents and Israel? Polls conducted by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, for example, show that a majority of Americans would limit aid to Israel.
A final question: Once they have the answer to the above question, what are Americans going to do about it?
Janet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.