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Schumer's Stand and the Need for a Jewish October 7th Wake-Up Call

What happened

Senator Chuck Schumer's critique of Israeli leadership and his call for new elections reflect a pivotal moment in U.S.-Israel relations, but also in the relations between American Jewry and Israel. Schumer's remarks, voicing both a political and a ‘Jewish’ discomfort, underscore the complex feelings many mainstream American Jews harbor towards Israel , intensified by the images coming out of Gaza. Israel must take stock of what brought one of its greatest supporters to take such an unusual step. Yet the general portrayal of Israel in the American public discourse, which fuels these feelings of discomfort, is largely a result of a failure of the American Jewish leadership, suggesting a significant part of this leadership bears responsibility for the current perception.


What does it teach us about U.S. Jewry


Many Americans utilize critical race theory as a framework to interpret both domestic societal issues and international relations. Within this context, Jews frequently find themselves categorized as white and privileged. This categorization leads to what can be described as 'Jewish erasure,' a phenomenon where the autonomy of Jews to self-define their identity and their connection to Israel is undermined. Furthermore, this perspective often results in the minimization and trivialization of antisemitism. Importantly, this perception has inadvertently validated the portrayal of the Jewish State as a white colonial state, which exacerbates the sense of Jewish discomfort.


Chuch Schumer

This perspective has been largely unopposed by American Jewish organizations who tend to focus on more blunt expressions of anti semitism. This crisis pertains not only to external perceptions but also to the internal comprehension of Jewish identity. The bitter truth is that many Jews internalize the framework that categorizes them as white, and by that challenging community cohesion and the collective Jewish political vitality.  Thus, the ability of the Jewish community to present a decisive and united front against the Jewish erasure, antisemitism from the left, or for Israel, is compromised. This is the true meaning of the end of the Golden Era of American Jewry.


Despite the decline in support and connection to Israel, the tragic events of October 7th marked a critical juncture, rallying global Jewish communities around Israel. Despite this rallying moment, the necessary steps to capitalize on this window of opportunity to refute the simplistic binary framework of CRT, were not fully taken.


What should U.S. Jewry do next


The tragic events of October 7th present a unique opportunity for a reset in these relations and to reframe the conversations about Jews and Israel in America. However, this window is rapidly closing. There's a dire need for bold leadership to challenge the framing of Jews as white, to support the rights of minorities but oppose the ‘DEI industry’ in the U.S., which increasingly vilifies Israel as a pariah state in the education system, the media, politics and corporate America.


Addressing the Jewish struggle against erasure and the Israeli fight against false colonialism claims necessitates a reboot of Jewish communal politics. Maybe also American Jewry, metaphorically, requires a "new election" for rejuvenated leadership.


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