A veritable who’s who of American political figures are heading to Israel for Shimon Peres’s funeral on Friday. The U.S. delegation includes presidents Clinton and Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, members of Congress from both parties, and some important figures from nearly every phase of the Middle East peace process, including ambassador Martin Indyk, state department Middle East official Robert Malley, and Bush-era national security advisor Stephen Hadley. It’s a bipartisan group spanning decades’ worth of U.S. presidential administrations—people with a diverse history in Middle Eastern and American politics and vastly different views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Overall, the delegation is a tribute to Peres’s prestige in the U.S., his status as perhaps the only globally beloved consensus figure on the Israeli political scene, and his ability to embody his country’s greatest hopes and ambitions for a broad spectrum of admirers. American flags are currently flying at half-staff.
The delegation is also heavy on New York congressmen: Chuck Rangel, the long-tenured representative from upper Manhattan is going, as is Lee Zeldin, the only Jewish Republican member of the House. Democrats Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, two of the most prominent Jewish members of Congress, are joining them. But the most important New Yorker on Capitol Hill—Senator Chuck Schumer—apparently won’t be there, and it’s unclear as to why at this time.
Schumer, who is in line to be the next Senate minority leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, has clashed with the administration in a couple high-profile instances in recent years. He opposed the Iran nuclear deal, and not only supported the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, but led the successful effort to override president Obama’s recent veto of the bill, which allows Americans to sue Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 attacks. It notable, however, that Zeldin, Rangel, Nadler, and Engel all voted for the veto override as well, and Engel is another leading Democrat who opposed the Iran deal.
Whatever the case may be—be it a political or personal issue, or maybe even an oversight—Schumer’s absence means that one of the most important Jewish and pro-Israel members of the U.S. Congress isn’t scheduled to be present at Shimon Peres’s funeral. I reached out to Senator Schumer’s office for comment, but have yet to hear back.
Armin Rosen is a staff writer for Tablet magazine.