From my Doha perch it's easy to avoid the whole "dual loyalty" debate currently raging in Washington.  That does not mean that as a reporter I have shied away from raising it where appropriate
 
But in case anyone missed it, there has been a growing argument in recent weeks among Washington policy wonks over this very issue, with scathing editorial salvos fired between the formidable Harvard Professor Stephen Walt and the pro-Israel Washington Institute's equally outspoken Robert Satloff
 
Their debate centres on whether "dual loyalty" is an appropriate term to use when describing US government officials who put Israel's interests ahead of America's, even when it jeopardizes US national security.   
 
According to Politico's Ben Smith, it seems US Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat-New York) has added more grist to the intellectual food fight
 
In effect, Schumer has done to the Obama administration the equivalent of what Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, did to Joe Biden, the US vice-president, on his disastrous visit to Israel in March.
 
Last week, as America's top Mideast envoy (and former Democratic Senator, one might add) was on his way to Tel Aviv, Senator Schumer quite literally aired his contempt not only for Mitchell but the entire Obama Middle East policy. 
 
In a radio interview with a conservative Jewish radio talk show, Schumer offered these ramblings:  
 
When Biden was in Israel and there was this kerfuffle over settlements which is in Israeli Jerusalem five minutes from downtown and should never have been an issue to begin with...
 
Schumer went on to boast:    
 
I told the President. I told Rahm Emanuel and others in the administration that I thought the policy they took to try to bring about negotiations is counter-productive, because when you give the Palestinians hope that the United States will do its negotiating for them, they are not going to sit down and talk. Palestinians don’t really believe in a state of Israel. They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.
 
I should start by noting this is exactly the kind of proxy battle Prime Minister Netanyahu likes to fight, as former Clinton-era negotiators told me last year. 
 
Sowing instability in Obama's backyard makes it ever more complicated to pursue any meaningful changes to the decades of status quo that tilt in Israel's favour.  
 
Its further unclear to me just how Senator Schumer, himself a Jew, thinks the Palestinians should be "pushed to get there".
 
One wonders if he had today's events in Silwan in mind.
 
It's one of just many provocations going on in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem that could spark into a wider, if not regional, Third Intifada.  
 
Its a gathering threat that the US's Central Commander and senior Middle East general flagged in recent senate testimony.  Schumer must have tuned out when General Petreus described the danger to US troops caused by Israel's ongoing occupation
 
That, or Schumer is among those who refuse the evidence, accepted by the US's other close foreign allies, that the denial of those inalienable rights so strongly revered by Americans, including life, liberty, and property, are corralary to Al Qaeda's ability to draw fresh recruits.
 
Those reputational costs seem lost on Schumer. Perhaps that's because he has something in common with former President George Bush, "the God connection," as this New York Magazine blogger flagged in Schumer's parting comments: 

You know, my name .... comes from the word shomer, guardian, watcher. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov. And I believe Hashem [Orthodox Jewish term for "God"] actually gave me that name. One of my roles, very important in the United States senate, is to be a shomer - to be a or the shomer Yisrael. And I will continue to be that with every bone in my body ...

One can sense that Schumer genuinely believes this stuff and is not pandering.
 
Political logic suggests he would be playing nice with fellow party members at this moment in time, keeping his disagreements less public, if at all.
 
As uber-Washington insider Steve Clemmons points out, trashing his own team mates on national security items hardly help his bid to become the US's next senate majority leader.
 
Which is why I'm inclined to believe "dual loyalty" should instead be characterised as "single" loyalty when it comes to Israel.   
 
All of this, of course, could be Schumer's savvy way of diverting attention from his own personal foibles.
 
It was revealed over the weekend that his top campaign contributor, John Paulson, is a "key figure in the Goldman Sachs fraud case".
 
The mammoth hedge funder and CEO of Paulson & Co. steered $100,000 to Schumer in the first few months of 2010 alone. The Security and Exchange Commission has not charged Schumer's top financial backer, but then again, how they spend their workday is anyone's guess.  
 
As a member of the senate's powerful Banking and Finance Committee, the body supposed to protect Americans from corporate schemes, Schumer's association with Paulson may prove as toxic as the assets so many corporations peddled off onto millions of middle class Americans, many of them Democrats.   
 
Those unscrupulous links might sound typical coming out of Israel's knesset, but one might expect the US's distinctive legislative body to be held to a higher standard, provided all its members are on the same team.