WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, told an Israeli-American group that it must strive to preserve bipartisan support for Israel.
“If we don’t have bipartisan support for Israel, if Israel becomes the domain of one party or another, Israel will lose,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday at a luncheon at the Library of Congress organized by the Israeli American Council. The luncheon marked Israel’s 70th birthday this week.
Pro-Israel groups are grappling with diminishing support among Democrats for Israel. Younger liberals are increasingly sympathetic toward the Palestinians, and Democrats perceive that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his government disdain the left. Also, Netanyahu has an unabashed closeness to President Donald Trump.
“The U.S.-Israel relationship is – and must always be – rooted in bipartisanship,” Israeli American Council Chairman Adam Milstein said at the luncheon, which drew 60 lawmakers, including congressional leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader in the Senate and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
A principal funder of the council is Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is a major benefactor of Republicans.
The council was an early backer of the Taylor Force Act, which slashes funding to the Palestinians as long as Palestinian authorities continue payments to the families of Palestinians jailed or killed for attacks on Israelis.
Schumer also said that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel poses an acute threat.
“We have to fight BDS with every bit of strength in our bones,” he said. “In my judgment, it is a modern version of anti-Semitism. Not just anti-Israel, anti-Semitism.”