Broadbrushing Palestinians too widely with charges of hate and terror, Senator Schumer's now debunked claims show a level of irresponsible agitation we don't see in the comments of NY's junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Though Gillibrand also pledged "unwavering" support, including for over $2.4 billion in aid to Israel in 2009, her tone speaks of a "special friendship...to assure Israel's strategic military advantage in the region". Missing is the deception, flag waving and religious zealotry borrowed from the neocon playbook of fearmongering and propaganda.
Statements made by NY's most powerful Democratic US Reps also show a decided bent for Israeli exceptionalism, overlapping with the unending "war on terror" that has gutted US economic stability, paying for a decade of futility in an escalating war on terror.
The recent Zionist Organization of America banquet sought to pressure President Obama to end negotiations with Palestinians, with attendee NY Rep. Jerrold Nadler proclaiming Israeli settlements legal and a peace settlement unlikely.
Rep. Eliot Engel called for ending US aid to Palestinians (after previously calling for increases to Israel). Said Engel: "...until the Palestinians return to the negotiating table, we should not give them another dollar, another shekel...We are patriotic Americans when we stand up for Eretz Israel."
Mr. Engel's latest press release declared Israel justified in it's actions during the Gaza flotilla incident, in part: "this ship was filled with hate-filled provocateurs bent on violence. Their aim was not to distribute humanitarian supplies, but to violently force themselves through Israel's blockade of Gaza."
Yet newly released video proves the vessel was not exactly "filled" with violent people - though some passengers did violently resist the IDF's 4am armed boarding of the ship - others included well known peace activists, reporters, infants, seniors and doctors treating the injured from both sides.
Engel mixes murky facts with provocative bombast himself in discussing the incident: "The organizers of the flotilla have alleged links to Hamas and reportedly played a role in the attempted Millennium bombing in Los Angeles."
Then, Engel discounts the passengers wholesale: "True humanitarians would not have responded with violence, and no one should ever confuse relief workers with violent instigators." Today we ask, couldn't the ship have borne both?
In response, a petition has begun circulating within Engel's home area by voters who have volunteered for Gaza relief in the past. But Engel's seat is considered safe this November, his district so custom-gerrymandered it resembles the shape of a musical note.
Engel's Islamophobia also slows his opposition, with his tea party backed opponent Tony Mele unlikely to denounce Engel's support for years of debt-spending on war appropriations or his calls for blockades of Gaza and Iranian waters. During appearances at John Hagee's annual "End of Days" summits in D.C., Engel appeared despite protests by tens of thousands of Jewish-American voters, telling a cheering crowd "I don't want the U.S. to be evenhanded in the Middle East".
There may well have been loose cannons on both sides of the Gaza flotilla conflict, but Schumer, Engel and others join talk radio personalities like Sean Hannity in launching incendiary distortions many consider hatespeech, discounting out of hand any possibility that Israel violated human rights, international law or rules for engagement.
At least when Hannity is misleading Americans, taxpayers aren't directly paying for it.
Engel, Schumer, Nadler, and NY Rep Anthony Weiner all bow to the influential Israeli lobbying groups, approving aid and funding for US wars in the Mideast, but their analysis of the facts surrounding the flotilla incident is more akin to fresh Israeli propaganda than a sober presentation of the facts, which remain in dispute.
President Obama's wavering on the issue seems to show a seesaw balance between international outcry, the facts and AIPAC, but we still wait for Obama to have his Grimer Wormtongue moment and send Rahm Emannuel packing.
The truth is good and evil both exist side by side in the US, Israel, Gaza and every other land. We must be able to recognize the difference without broadbrushing eachother by race, religion, country, class or appearances. Let's talk about the bad apples on all sides in proper proportion. Because if we really were to generalize here, we'd likely see a much higher percentage of intolerance and immoral behavior among hyper-religious politicians than anyone else.