World / November 29, 2023

Chuck Schumer Is Antisemitism’s Great Enabler

A personal reply to the senator’s personal attack.

Dave Zirin
Chuck Schumer march for israel/ israel-palestine/ gaza
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer speaks during the March For Israel at the National Mall on November 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Noam Galai / Getty)

At first, I was shocked that Senator Chuck Schumer, standing in the well of the US Senate, called an article I wrote “antisemitic.” I was told that his problem was that I described last month’s massive “Stand With Israel” march, where Schumer spoke, as “a hate rally.” I was gratified that he had seen the piece, and I was ready to argue that the anti-Palestinian hate on display that day as well as the platforming of anti-Jewish Christian Zionists gave more than enough validity to my description.

But then I read Schumer’s full remarks—and was horrified. As a proud Jew, I was distressed that Schumer would use my article as an example, along with synagogue vandalization and Nazi hate crimes, as part of a “rising tide of antisemitism.” (In his litany of antisemitic examples, Elon Musk’s recent actions curiously did not merit a mention.)

Schumer is weaponizing the incendiary charge of antisemitism against me and The Nation as cover to slander the left generally—specifically the movement of a new generation of Jews marching and getting arrested in the name of a permanent cease-fire. He is also obfuscating his own craven efforts to ally with actual antisemites and genocidal Israeli politicians in the name of this war on Gaza.

Too harsh? Well, I attended the Stand with Israel rally, and I know what I saw. I saw Chuck Schumer join hands with Christian Zionist Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and share a stage with a notorious anti-Jewish bigot, the Rev. John Hagee. I also saw a rousing ovation for Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who has recently called for a total war on all Palestinians, saying, “It’s an entire nation out there that’s responsible.” In addition, I saw an over-his-head Van Jones call for peace only to be shouted down by the crowd.

Schumer either spent that day with his head in the sand or supports these kinds of alliances. My fear is that it’s the latter. Calling the march “a hate rally” was completely appropriate.

Let’s be clear: Antisemitism is not criticizing an intensely pro-war rally held in your home city just days after thousands marched for a cease-fire and lasting peace. Antisemitism is when people like Schumer bind Zionism (a 150-year-old political ideology) and Judaism (a 5,000-year-old religion) to such a degree that they want the world to believe that Israeli war crimes are being justly committed in our name as Jews.

Read the article Chuck Schumer called “anti-Semitic” and decide for yourself

In addition, Schumer’s desire to hand over billions in weapons to the Musk- and Christian Zionist–supporting government of Benjamin Netanyahu also aids antisemitism. He is providing cover for people who despise our faith, because they also support unconditionally Israel’s total war on Gazan civilians. Schumer, heal thyself, and stop supporting war crimes being committed in our name. By stoking even more antisemitism, it’s dangerous to Jews everywhere.

I am also disturbed that Schumer chose this week to engage in these attacks, a week when so many of us are still in shock over the shooting of three Palestinian US college students in Burlington, Vt. The war has come home, and Schumer’s instinct is to put out these fires with gasoline.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin is the sports editor at The Nation. He is the author of 11 books on the politics of sports. He is also the coproducer and writer of the new documentary Behind the Shield: The Power and Politics of the NFL.

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