Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Appointee, Has History of Controversial Statements on Israel

June 6, 2013 8:44 am 0 comments

Samantha Power, the new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Photo: Eric Bridiers.

JNS.org – Samantha Power, President Barack Obama’s replacement for Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has a history of controversial comments about Israel, reigniting concerns regarding the Obama administration’s support for the Jewish state that were raised after the nomination of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), told JNS.org on Wednesday that a look at the list of Obama’s nominees and appointments to positions that impact Israel—including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John O. Brennan, and now Power—”makes very clear that President Obama is no friend of Israel, and that he is insensitive to the interests of American Jews and the pro-Israel community, because all of those important posts have been filled with people who have been very hostile to Israel.”

Power from January 2009 to March 2013 held positions including special assistant to the president, senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the National Security Council, and member of the Atrocities Prevention Board.

During a 2002 interview at the University of California, Berkeley Institute of International Studies, when asked what she would advise a U.S. president to do if either party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “moving towards genocide,” Power referenced the pro-Israel lobby by saying the situation might mean America “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” before seemingly vouching for an American invasion of Israel to protect the Palestinians from genocide.

“It may mean more crucially sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israelis’, you know, military, but actually in investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support, I think, what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old, you know, Srebrenica kind or the Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence,” said Power, who later retracted her comments in an interview with Haaretz.

In a 2007 interview posted on the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s website, Power said, “America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.”

Power has also criticized the New York Times for reporting that there was no massacre of Palestinians in Jenin in 2002, commenting in the 2003 book Ethnic Violence and Justice, “I was struck by a headline that accompanied a news story on the publication of the Human Rights Watch report. The headline was, I believe: ‘Human Rights Reports Finds Massacre Did Not Occur in Jenin.’ The second paragraph said, ‘Oh, but lots of war crimes did.’ Why wouldn’t they make the [Israeli] war crimes the headline and the non-massacre the second paragraph?”

ZOA’s Klein told JNS.org that the appointment of Power is a troubling development for the prospects of Israel at the U.N., a body whose resolutions already frequently condemn the Jewish state. Klein added that Power’s firing from Obama’s 2008 election campaign over calling Hillary Clinton “a monster” indicates that Power lacks the diplomatic tact required for the U.N. ambassador role.

Klein said ZOA plans to scrutinize Power, publicly note her past statements about Israel, and speak with other Jewish groups about the issue—just like ZOA did when it felt Obama’s nomination of Hagel for defense secretary warranted opposition. The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), another group that was vocal in its opposition of the Hagel nomination, also issued a warning about the Power appointment on Wednesday.

“Samantha Power has a record of statements that are very troubling to Americans who support Israel,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement. “We urge members of the U.S. Senate to question her closely about her past statements and writings.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), however, praised the Power appointment, with Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL national chair, and Abraham Foxman, ADL national director, saying in a statement, “We are pleased that President Obama has nominated a true champion of human rights who led the effort to make averting genocide and atrocities a core part of American policy to head the U.S. delegation at the United Nations.”

“As head of President Obama’s multilateral affairs efforts, Samantha engaged in an all-hands-on-deck U.S. campaign against Palestinian unilateral efforts in the U.N. to circumvent peace negotiations. She experienced first-hand the hostility faced by Israel and the abuse of the U.N. bodies to promote anti-Israel bias. As someone who appreciates, to the core of her being, the meaning of international human rights mechanisms, Samantha is clear eyed and understands the injustice of their abuse to target Israel’s legitimacy,” Curtiss-Lusher and Foxman added.

The ADL leaders’ statement did not reference any of Power’s past controversial comments on Israel.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a well-known author and TV host who last November was a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in New Jersey, wrote in a 2011 op-ed recounting a conversation he had with Power that she “rejected utterly the notion she had any animus toward Israel.”

“She acknowledged that she had erred significantly in offering hypothetical comments that did not reflect how she felt,” Boteach wrote, regarding Power’s 2002 comments in Berkeley. “She said that opponents of President Obama had unfairly taken her disorganized comments further and characterized them as ‘invade Israel’ talk.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Actor Zachary Levi said casting directors have denied him roles for being “too Jewish,” despite the fact that he is not a Jew, the New York Daily News‘ Confidenti@l reported on Wednesday. “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look,” he said. “My family is from f****** Indiana! Come on, I’m like dying here!” The Thor star clarified that he is Welsh, and that Levi is actually his middle name, while his real last name is Pugh. He said he […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    The secret of Chabad’s worldwide success is revealed by veteran Chabad shliach (emissary) Rabbi David Eliezrie in his new book, The Secret of Chabad. The Chabad movement was founded by Rabbi Schnur Zalman of Liadi, Belarus, in 1775. Years later it came to the US with the arrival of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1940, after his escape from Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Upon his arrival in New York, a number of his co-religionists advised him that there was no place for traditional […]

    Read more →