Chuck Schumer, It’s Time to Prevent a Third Intifada
New York senator Chuck Schumer reminds me of my dad. He still uses a flip phone (does anyone even make these anymore?) and obsesses over liberal issues. However, my dad and I disagree with Schumer over one key point: whether the Obama administration should have vetoed the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2334, a document that opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I recognize that Schumer must strike a balance between the interests of his constituents and campaign donors, including rich, politically conservative Jews, when taking a stance as the Senate minority leader. Regardless of these complexities, Chuck Schumer’s decision to condemn Mr. Obama for not vetoing the resolution reveals either that he is appeasing his rich, pro-settlement campaign donors, or that he himself believes that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank need to be defended for the sake of sounding “pro-Israel.” In my opinion, Senator Schumer’s public stance couldn't be more wrong.
I believe that wherever one is on the Zionist spectrum, and regardless of one’s opinion on the current Israeli government, Israel may become an apartheid state in a few decades if a two-state solution isn’t reached. Israeli settlements are currently located in strategically selected areas across the West Bank, specifically around Jerusalem. This will make negotiating a two-state solution much more difficult, and perhaps even impossible. In any future peace negotiations, Israel can argue that it must retain large chunks of the West Bank under its control. Instead of a smooth border along 1967 UN resolution lines, the hypothetical border would look like the edge of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. This border would make a Palestinian state unfeasible.
Without a two-state solution, there will be an Arab majority in Israel in a few decades. Therefore, in an election, if a Jewish party were to win and become the head of the Knesset (Israeli parliament), it would imply that not all Arabs have the right to vote, because as a majority, they would’ve elected an Arab coalition. Without a Palestinian state in the next few decades, Israel will be either a Jewish apartheid state that doesn’t allow Arabs to be equally represented in government, or a non-Jewish democratic state that’s controlled by Arab parties.
I understand where Chuck Schumer’s public stance comes from. He and his supporters are afraid of the “anti-Israel bias” at the UN, and they believe that anything passed by the organization is inherently anti-Zionist. Sadly, Senator Schumer and many other Jews have a misconstrued notion of what it means to be pro-Israel. Being pro-Israel shouldn’t mean blindly supporting all Israeli policies. You can support Israel while still allowing yourself to be critical of the government's decisions. Israel puts its own existence in jeopardy if settlements continue to grow in size and number. Even though the settlements allow Israel to expand, which may sound appealing to many Jews, their construction threatens the future of a two-state solution, and undermines Israel’s future.
I’m not going to deny that my political beliefs align with left-wing Zionism (think Peter Beinart and J-Street). As a liberal Zionist, I condemn the occupation of the West Bank, not only because it’s an obstacle to peace, but because I believe it’s a violation of human rights. Zionists who support a one-state solution may disagree with me on whether the occupation is such a violation, but we should agree that the growing settlements are jeopardizing Israel’s future. The UN resolution Senator Schumer opposes is pro-Israel and Zionist, regardless of how you define the terms. I may be a “lefty,” but I hope that Jews and Zionists who strongly oppose this resolution pay greater attention to Israel’s long term future. Contrary to David Friedman’s (Trump’s pick for U.S. envoy to Israel) beliefs, the Obama administration and anti-occupation Jews who support a two-state solution are neither anti-Semitic nor Nazi sympathizers. Being critical of Israel’s policies does not make you anti-Israel. Sometimes criticism of a nation’s policies is necessary to protect its future and reputation. You can be pro-Israel and still be critical of a policy, like this one, that is harmful to both sides.
I encourage all Jews, all Zionists, and all supporters of human rights to realize that the settlements are not only a barrier to peace, but also create a path for the destruction of this Jewish democratic state. Sooner or later, Zionists will have to decide between a Jewish apartheid government in Israel, or a non-Jewish state. Sorry, Chuck Schumer, there’s no time to dilly dally on who has the right to tell Israel that the settlements in the West Bank are jeopardizing its future. Netanyahu and Israel’s right wing government need a wake-up call now, and I think you share the responsibility to give it to them.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Jodidio, Maya. "Chuck Schumer, It’s Time to Prevent a Third Intifada." 6 February 2017. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 21, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/chuck-schumer-it-s-time-to-prevent-third-intifada>.