Thursday, May 24th | 10 Sivan 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

November 19, 2013 11:24 am

Samantha Power and the Iranian ‘Problem From Hell’

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

Email a copy of "Samantha Power and the Iranian ‘Problem From Hell’" to a friend

Samantha Power. Photo: Eric Bridiers

No Jewish leader came out more strongly in support of Samantha Power’s nomination as Ambassador to the UN than I did, and no one came out as early. No one paid a bigger price in the pro-Israel community, given Samantha’s critics, and few, therefore, have a more vested interest in seeing Samantha succeed than I do.

I supported Samantha not because she is a friend, although friendship has its place. And I did so not because I believed that Samantha is a genuine supporter of Israel, although she has proven since taking office that her support is real.

Rather, I supported Samantha because she is the world’s foremost voice against genocide. And if the Torah can claim credit for establishing, at the very beginning of Genesis, the infinite value of every human life, then the Jewish community must be at the vanguard of promoting those oppose mass murder.

But the same values that motivated my support for Samantha now warrant my public questioning of recent actions and statements that are disconcerting.

My confusion began with the Administration’s inaction on Syria following evidence of Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own civilian population. If MSNBC can punish Alec Baldwin with the suspension of two episodes of his TV show for using an anti-gay slur, then surely the United Nations can enact a fitting punishment for Assad gassing-to-death hundreds of children. Yet, to date, he has paid no price.

If Samantha were still a journalist, she would have been at the forefront of condemning an administration that allows a mass murderer of children to go unpunished. And make no mistake. Taking away Assad’s chemical arsenal does not constitute a personal penalty in the slightest, just as confiscating the guns of Nidal Hasan would not have removed his death sentence for the mass murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Leavenworth in 2009. To take away Assad’s weapons without any further prosecution would be as absurd as the United States shutting down death camps in Germany without conducting the Nuremberg Trials.

But Samantha’s interview with the CBS Early Show last Friday, where she said that Iran “had to be tested,” is more puzzling still. She further told Charlie Rose that reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran at this stage is “not realistic.”


Samantha Power wrote the book on genocide and the history of American inaction. “No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence,” she wrote in the preface. “It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.” Given Samantha’s own adamant view on genocide, one would think that the only moral way to proceed with Iran would be based on four, non-negotiable conditions:

  1. For Iran to cease and repudiate all genocidal incitement against the Jewish state. Not only the statements of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also the statements of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is the real person in charge.
  2. For Iran to end the financing of any and all international terrorism, particularly its funding of groups that target Jews for murder, like Hezbollah and Hamas. For over three decades, Iran has acted as a central banker for Middle East terrorism, perpetuating instability in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan by providing monetary and logistical support to terrorist organizations. The State Department’s own website says that Iran “arms militants, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and continues to play a disruptive role in sustaining violence in the region, particularly Syria.”
  3. The cessation by Iran of any kind of military involvement in the war to keep mass-murderer Bashar Assad in power in Syria. Although Iran continues to deny any participation in Assad’s two and a half year crackdown on dissent, CBS News recently aired video footage of Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers fighting alongside Assad’s forces.
  4. The cessation by Iran of any and all enrichment of uranium, stopping the heavy water reactor used for creating plutonium, and the dismantling of its entire nuclear program. Period. Iran is an oil superpower and holds roughly 10 percent of the world’s total proven petroleum reserves. Its insistence on a need for nuclear energy is fraudulent and laughable.

It’s bad enough that John Kerry has been reduced to America’s supplicant-in-chief, begging the Iranians, French, Saudis and Israelis to agree to a weak deal that would allow Iran to merely dilute its stock of highly enriched uranium. One can only hope that a moral voice like Samantha’s will not join Kerry’s misguided appeal.

There are those personalities who are created by their office. Though no doubt they were devoted public servants, few today remember the names of Samantha’s predecessors as UN Ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad or John Danforth. Others, however, are not created by their office but enhance it, like Adlai Stevenson, who as US Ambassador at the UN during the Cuban missile crisis famously demanded of the Soviet Ambassador, “You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now and you can answer yes or no. … I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over.”

Samantha is firmly in the latter tradition, having arrived as a Pulitzer-Prize winner who sounded the clarion call on American inaction in the genocides that took place in Turkey, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Kosovo. Should she become part of a government that continues that shameful tradition of inaction she risks being diminished by her office and part of the “problem from hell” that she has so valiantly derided.

Iran, whose Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini has called for the extermination of Tel Aviv and Haifa as recently as this March, and for the removal of Israel as a “scab on the world” as recently as last November, remains a leader with self-declared genocidal intent.

Will Samantha follow the Administration’s line that negotiating with Iran before they have repudiated their goal to exterminate Israel is acceptable, or will she stick to her message that genocide can only be remedied by courageous governments who act forcefully against murderers?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom Newsweek and The Washington Post call “the most famous rabbi in America,” has just published “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging G-d in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • A Rabbi of any stature who yet allows himself to be labeled “America’s Rabbi’ is not so much a Rabbi but an embarrassment, a self aggrandizing show man with a smooth tongue, lots of ‘important’ connections and a beard. It’s a mockery, a Chilull Hashem.
    Arrogance is the antithesis of Holiness. A little humility might do him good.

  • chaim

    the author of this article purposely did not fill us in on any details of what he believes the final deal deal will be other than to note the deal he believes will be passed will “merely dilute its stock of highly enriched uranium.”. Why didn’t the author make mention of the fact that he is purposely holding back mentioning any other aspects of what Iran will be required to do? Why does the author of this article hold back mentioning anything about what is claimed to be an interim agreement that will lengthen the breakout time Iran has to make a bomb? Why did the author hold back any mention of the claims of the U.S. government about how they claim the sanctions will only be slightly reduced and at can be easily reemployed if Iran doesnt go further after the 6 months- at which point, the claim goes- there will be no advantage in breakout time compared to now? Why is the author so uncaring as to mislead the readers into thinking he knows anything at all about private assurances that have not leaked on the Iranian side that are persuasive?
    Obviously we can’t take this author seriously when he has no facts about the deal to make his argument. When you make an argument you make your best argument. If your argument intentionally leaves out any reference to the fuller story of what is happening and claims and counterclaims, then we shouldnt take the writer seriously.

    • A Real American

      Chaim, so let’s get this straight. You believe the Iranians will stick to their deal with the P5+1 even though Iran has a long track record of flaunting international law choosing to support international terrorist groups and regimes (SHOWING AN INTENT TO COMMIT MASS MURDER) just because they signed a piece of paper?

      Why does the commentator (chaim) not list all of the previous restrictions that Iran ignored? Why does the commentator (chaim) not reveal that Iran will not be required to dismantle a single Centrifuge. Why does the commentator (chaim) not reveal that Iran like North Korea before them has used stall tactics to gain more time to work on the nuclear program and that this deal does not stop Iran for doing that. Why does the commentator (chaim) not reveal that the sanctions regime took years of hard work and effort to put in place but 6 months down the line there will likely be very little resolve to re-institute the biting sanctions.

      Obviously we cannot take this commentator (chaim) seriously when he intentionally leaves out these issues.

  • Arie

    Boteach supported Powers KNOWING she had held numerous interviews and penned numerous articles calling for a “US led NATO invasion of Israel to send the Europeans back” and “return” the territory to the “indigenous Palestinians.”

    Boteach also supported the pedophile Michael Jackson. I find it morally, religiously, and personally offensive that he is allowed to promote his distorted beliefs in JEWISH journals. He is NOT the “most famous” Rabbi in America. He is the mostly widely known Jewish carpetbagger who pretends to be a Rabbi while supporting countless individuals and organizations (Powers is a good example) whose purpose and goal is the eradication of all Jews.


    • AS

      Criticize him all you want, but, he is, in fact, a rabbi.

      • Arie

        So was the “Rabbi” zolli of Rome during the Shoah as he turned over all the Jews of the Rome ghetto to the nazis and moved in with hitler’s pope for his personal protection!

        The title “Rabbi” means nothing when the intent of the bearer is our demise.

      • Arie

        Zolli was also a “Rabbi” and he gave the Jews of the Rome Ghetto to the nazis whilst he sought refuge in the arms of the vatican

      • A Rabbi of any stature who yet allows himself to be labeled “America’s Rabbi’ is not so much a Rabbi but an embarrassment, a self aggrandizing show man with a smooth tongue, lots of ‘important’ connections and a beard.
        Arrogance is the antithesis of Holiness. A little humility might do him good.

    • A Real American

      Arie, Rabbis counsel people in trouble. Counseling should not be interpreted as support for the alleged actions. You might not like what Shmuley does or says, but he has smichah.

      Please get the facts straight—Samantha Power made one single comment replying to a hypothetical question (which assumed Israel to take an aggressive position vis-a-vie the palestinians). Her response to the hypothetical was to advocate sending troops in as a response to this hypothetical action. Her big mistake was answering a hypothetical question like this. She did NOT write numerous articles advocating this position. If she did WRITE numerous articles and give numerous speeches advocating this very position, I would expect that you would find links to them and attach them in a response.

      Do we truly know where she is holding? I would guess that she has a extreme liberal view regarding the disputed territories and believes them to be occupied and thus she would believe the Israeli towns (“settlements”)are illegal. This is a position that coincides with Obama and most (if not all) of his administration. I have no respect for this position because it is based on a false presumption assuming Israel to be an occupying power, but that is different from the “numerous” interviews and articles in which you claim she advocating sending in troops to defend the “palestinians”.

      Again, I have no love for this woman or her misguided views, but at least let’s be accurate about what it is we are objecting to.

      Shmuley is self-promoting and at times naive, but his intentions are generally good. He supported Samantha Power because despite her misguided views on Israel, she is an advocate against genocide—something sickeningly missing from the immoral halls of the UN. Given the choices between one anti-Israel Obama supporter and another, I would go with the one who has a shred of moral dignity.

  • Laura

    “No Jewish leader came out more strongly in support of Samantha Power’s nomination as Ambassador to the UN than I did, and no one came out as early. No one paid a bigger price in the pro-Israel community, given Samantha’s critics, and few, therefore, have a more vested interest in seeing Samantha succeed than I do.”

    That pretty much sums up what wrong. You were a fool to support her – either that or you hadn’t taken the time to study her history on the Middle East and Israel in particular.

    As for your statement that no one has a more vested interest in seeing her succeed than you, I’d suggest that the people of Israel has a far greater vested interest…