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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →