Gaza War Is Pushing Support for Israel to Historic Lows

On March 14, Sen. Charles Schumer, the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, gave a major speech on the Senate floor saying the Israeli government under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

Schumer is the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history. He added that “Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” clearly believing this war is doing just that.

He urged that Israel hold new elections now at a time when all the major polls show that this would lead to Netanyahu’s removal as prime minister.

In another speech given in the Senate on Nov. 29, Schumer gave a beautiful and emotional history about his family, his love for Israel, the scourge of antisemitism, and the relation of all that to Israel’s response to the horrible things Hamas did on Oct. 7.

Schumer was clearly defending Israel in both speeches, although some were shocked and upset by his limited criticism in the March 14 speech.

Clearly, almost all the Republicans in Congress, all of who I hope will be re-elected, are scared to death of money from the Israel Lobby being used against them. They are seemingly afraid to say the word “Israel” without first saying the words “our ally.”

However, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, longtime chief of staff to General and Secretary of State Colin Powell, said recently on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s podcast: “Israel is a significant strategic liability for the U.S.”

I have nothing against Israel. I have been there twice and have been treated very well both times, and had the privilege of meeting with Netanyahu, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and several other current and former Israeli leaders.

My hope for Israel and all countries is for peace and prosperity, but my first obligation is to my own country, and our one-sided attachment to Israel has made us enemies with, or at least created great resentment from, almost all the other countries in the Middle East.

Most people throughout the world have been sickened by the deaths of so many thousands of little children and are horrified by the photos of little children being starved to death during this war.

Sen. Schumer said in his pro-Israel Nov. 29th speech mentioned above that “this speech is not an attempt to label most criticism of Israel and the Israeli government as antisemitic. I (Schumer) don’t believe that criticism is.”

On March 18, Bloomberg News reported, “The possibility of famine looms over northern Gaza as half the population of the area already faces ‘crisis levels of food security or worse’ the United Nations warned.” The World Food Program said half the population “have completely exhausted their food supplies and coping capabilities and are struggling with catastrophic hunger.”

It is ridiculous to compare what Israel is doing to what the U.S. did in World War II. The U.S. was fighting against entire countries that had air forces, navies, huge weapons, and millions of soldiers. Hamas had none of these assets and only about 40,000 members when the war started.

The Palestinians had been living for many years in what has frequently been described as an “open air prison camp.” Israel has limited and controlled their food, water and medicine, and has almost completely restricted anything that could be turned into weapons.

I have great sympathy for the Palestinian people, about 95% of whom were not in Hamas, and I especially feel sorry for the little children who have been killed and who are being starved to death even now.

I have no sympathy for Hamas, and what they did on Oct. 7 was horrible. But this war is so lopsided, it is about like an NFL football team taking on a Peewee team.

Israel, with its great intelligence operation, could have gotten most Hamas members without killing so many innocent women and children. It has far exceeded what could be considered as a just war under today’s legal concepts.

George Washington, in his farewell address that is still read every year in the U.S. Senate, wrote: “The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

He added: “A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.”

The U.S. has provided mega-billions in military and economic aid to Israel since 1948. During most of those years, and especially now, Israel has been and is in much better fiscal shape than the U.S.

There will never be peace in the Middle East unless and until the U.S. adopts a more even-handed neutral policy in that part of the world. Israel is by far the strongest nation there and the only nuclear power with an estimated 300 nuclear bombs.

We should treat Israel as a friendly nation but give it its independence. As John Quincy Adams said many years ago, the U.S. should not go “abroad in search of monsters to destroy” but be the “well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” He added that we should be “the champion and vindicator only of (our) own.”

John James Duncan Jr. is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district from 1988 to 2019. A lawyer, former judge, and former long serving member of the Army National Guard, he is a member of the Republican Party.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Knoxville Focus.