Throughout his long political career, serving ten years as a member of the Connecticut legislature, six years as Connecticut Attorney General and 24 years as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, who died last week at 82, was justly acknowledged to be a principled, stand-up guy.

According to the Almanac of American Politics, “In his first term [in the U.S. Senate] Joseph Lieberman exerted influence far out of proportion to his seniority, committee position or political clout, an influence that came from respect for his independence of mind civility of spirit and fidelity to causes in which he believes.”


And in his four terms in the U.S. Senate, he was a foremost and reliable supporter of the State of Israel. In addition to the expected reasons, he also maintained that Israel had an important role to play in terms of American security interests. He was also an unabashed, proud observant Jew known to walk to the Capitol on the Sabbath for a major legislative vote he couldn’t avoid.

Joe Lieberman was the first American Jew to run for Vice-President of the United States as the nominee of a major political party having been chosen by Al Gore to run on the Democratic ticket in the 2000 presidential election with him. In fact, many believe that Gore and Lieberman were actually elected and that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling throwing the election to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney was wrongly decided.

So, Lieberman has left behind a rich record from which historians and others can draw to piece together his legacy. Yet we suspect that for some time to come, his memory will tend to recall in most his Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that appeared barely a week before his death ripping into Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the latter’s speech on the Senate floor presuming to call for new Israeli elections and to instruct the Israeli electorate voters as to how they should vote in them: they must turn out their democratically elected prime minister and his duly appointed government.

Thus, in “Schumer Has Crossed A Red Line Over Israel,” Lieberman excoriated Schumer for arguing that by opposing a Palestinian state and refusing to accept unprecedented restrictions on waging a just war insisted upon by President Biden because of a claimed inordinate rise in civilian casualties, PM Netanyahu ‘has lost his way” and he, along with his right-wing coalition had forfeited their right to remain in office.

Indeed, Lieberman called Schumer out for his ominous concluding admonition:

Mr. Schumer ended his argument by lecturing Israeli friends that if Mr. Netanyahu and his coalition remain in power, ‘then the U.S. will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israel’s policy by using our leverage to change the present course.’ This is a shocking statement that treats Israel differently from other American allies by threatening to intervene in their domestic democratic politics. In making American support for Israel conditional, Mr. Schumer harms Israel’s credibility among its allies and enemies alike.

Ironically, President Biden – who praised Schumer’s speech – and presumably Schumer, the self-proclaimed “guardian of Israel” as well, are ardent supporters of the Abraham Accords and Israeli-Saudi normalization, which is premised on an independent, superstar Israel that is a transformative economic, industrial, technological and military resource. One wonders though, how they reconcile this with the humbling of Israel in the international arena.

A front-page article in last Friday’s New York Times – “A Loyal Israel, Ally, Germany Shifts Tone As Toll In Gaza Mounts” – provided just the right perspective for Schumer’s remarks.

As The Times reports, within days of Oct. 7 Germany’s chancellor. Olaf Scholz, was one of the first Western leaders to arrive in Tel Aviv and standing beside Prime Minister Netanyahu, he declared that Germany had “only one place – and it is alongside Israel.”

And it was just several weeks ago that Germany intervened in the International Court of Justice in defense of Israel’s conduct of the war against South Africa’s charges of genocide.

Yet last week, as The Times reports, with Israel’s continuing pursuit of Hamas and mounting deaths, the chancellor again stood next to Mr. Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and struck a very different tone: “No matter how important the goal, can it justify such terribly high costs?”

But important to whom and justified by whom? Surely Israel’s interest in ensuring there are no more Oct.7 massacres trumps the interests of its allies who are concerned with their public image in a world filled with those looking for any opportunity to defame and bring down the Jewish State.


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