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December 26, 2017 10:26 am

Leave Schumer Alone About Rubashkin

avatar by Ezra Friedlander

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Senator Chuck Schumer. Photo: Screenshot.

We’ve seen much jubilation in the aftermath of the release of Sholom Rubashkin. But that was followed — quickly — by speculation from members of our community regarding the role, or lack thereof, of Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in the advocacy pertaining to the president’s commutation.

In the blogosphere, especially, there have been efforts urging people to contact Senator Schumer’s office to express their “outrage” on this issue. These recommendations were generally accompanied by lots of chest pounding and inflammatory language.

I’m always amazed at how our community manages to shoot ourselves in the foot, and display our political immaturity to the world. Or perhaps the right verbiage here might be “political suicide.”

There’s an old expression: Those who know don’t speak. And those who speak don’t know.

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Dear readers: Do you think for one moment that Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader (who did write a letter supporting the commutation), is not in contact with Schumer on a daily basis?? Do you think they don’t work together to formulate the official policy of the Democratic caucus? Wouldn’t you think that Schumer had given her the green light of approval before she decided to write a letter as sensitive as this to President Donald Trump? In my opinion, this proves that those who are writing these opinions have zero understanding of the governmental process.

Some may counter by asking why Schumer didn’t see fit to write his own letter as well? Honestly, I don’t have the answer to that question. Sometimes there are questions that beg for an answer, yet the answers remain unknown. But I can assure you of one thing. Nancy Pelosi would never write a letter of advocacy for Rubashkin without Senator Schumer’s advance notification and tacit approval.

Let me reiterate that I am not privy to inside information on this issue. I am just surmising what must have occurred based on my understanding of the political process.

The Rubashkin case was very important to our community and I was as outraged as everyone else about the travesty of justice, as I was elated at the news of his commuted sentence. But we need to understand that there is also a tomorrow. There was also a yesterday. And that yesterday included Senator Schumer coming out against the Iran deal.

It’s never a good idea to try to convince an elected official that he is not our friend. I’m not just addressing the Schumer issue on this. It’s something we have to realize when it comes to other officials as well. Because guess what happens? When you declare someone as your enemy, that is eventually what he will come to be. Once we write him off, this is how he will come to be perceived. And that is not responsible politics for our Jewish community.

The community must internalize that Chuck Schumer is as powerful as they come. In his capacity as Senate Democratic leader, there are a myriad of issues that the community approaches him on for support. And in many cases, he responds positively. The day might come when he will be even more powerful as Senate majority leader. Is it really in the best interest of our community to be in a situation where he views us as confrontational?

We need to conduct ourselves more pragmatically. For example, I personally supported Hillary Clinton for president. Yet the moment that Donald Trump was elected, I accepted him as my president. I decided to treat the office of the presidency with the respect and honor that it deserves, and I’ve publicly condemned anyone who did otherwise. There is a time, a place, and a season for everything.

We as a community need to internalize the larger picture. Yes, we are a vibrant and growing community, boruch Hashem — and we have much to be proud of. But our numbers are minuscule in the grand scheme of things. And we tend to shoot blanks. We sometimes declare war on an elected official, and when that happens outside of our local districts, we become marginalized. Elected officials at the highest level will pass us over and won’t even invite us to sit down at the table with them because of the immaturity with which we conduct our political and governmental relationships.

I say this as someone who is professionally engaged as the CEO of a public affairs consulting firm. I am in no way a community leader. But I see the handwriting on the wall, and I feel it’s time for us to take stock of our actions and add real value to all of our political interactions and relationships.

Ezra Friedlander is CEO of the Friedlander Group, a public policy consulting firm based in New York City and Washington, DC. He can be reached at Ezra@TheFriedlanderGroup.com and on Twitter at @EzraFriedlander.

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