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Politico: Schumer’s Israel views under scrutiny

Nick Reisman, Emily Ngo, and Jeff Coltin, June 4, 2024

A House Republican facing a tough reelection fight is using Chuck Schumer as a political foil.

Rep. Mike Lawler urged attendees of the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in Manhattan Monday to pressure the Senate majority leader into bringing the Antisemitism Awareness Act to the Senate floor.

“Right now, that is sitting on Chuck Schumer’s desk, the highest-ranking Jewish official in American history,” the Hudson Valley freshman said.

And the very mention of Schumer’s name drew jeers from some in the pro-Israel crowd  the second round of boos for New York’s senior senator in just as many days, likely inspired by his pivotal condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March.

Following Monday’s conference, PR firm NSA Creatives issued a press release announcing the crowd booed Schumer and highlighting Lawler’s line of attack.

The incident reflects Republicans’ estimation of cracks in Schumer’s base eight months into the Israel-Hamas war that has divided the Democratic Party and seen public sentiment shift toward sympathizing with Palestinians as their death toll climbs. Republicans like Lawler who are in tight election battles view their party’s pro-Israel posture as a winning message for some swing voters in heavily Jewish New York.

“Senator Schumer just secured $14 billion dollars, with no conditions, for Israel and is not playing these silly, partisan games,” Angelo Roefaro, a spokesperson for Schumer, told Playbook.

The same accomplishment was referenced at Manhattan’s Israel Day Parade Sunday when Jewish Community Relations Council of New York CEO Mark Treyger introduced the majority leader.

But there, at the annual march, Schumer was met by a smattering of boos as he took the mic to say, “We will defeat Hamas” and chant, “Bring them home.”

Schumer did not attend the Jerusalem Post conference, but several Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, were on hand to affirm their staunchly pro-Israel agenda.

The Antisemitism Awareness Act Lawler referenced would expand the definition of antisemitism the Department of Education uses to evaluate discrimination claims. Though it reached the Senate earlier last month, bipartisan objections over free speech have stalled its fast-track passage.

Now, after calling last March for new elections in Israel, Schumer has joined with other congressional leaders in inviting Netanyahu to address Congress.

It’s a move that some progressives say gives Netanyahu a powerful platform to attack President Joe Biden ahead of the November election. (“Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on X, saying he would not attend.)

Lawler, seeking to fend off a challenge from Democrat Mondaire Jones in November, has been a fixture at pro-Israel rallies.

He marched in the Israel Day parade alongside Democrats, including Schumer. Lawler told the right-wing Newsmax along the route, “We want peace. And the fastest way for that to occur is for Hamas to surrender and release the hostages.” Amira McKee and Isa Farfan