For Power, Israel is particularly relevant

Samantha Power slated to become US ambassador to the UN; receives luke-warm reception from pro-Israel organizations.

June 7, 2013 01:20
2 minute read.
Samantha Power has received Obama's vote to become the new US ambassador to the US.

Samantha Power with Obama 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Immediately after news broke that President Barack Obama would elevate Susan Rice to the position of national security adviser, pro- Israel organizations showered her in praise. Accolades were unanimous; she has the community’s full support.

Her possible replacement as US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, did not receive the same warm reception. Instead, an old video of Power from 2002 began recirculating, in which she seems to characterize the American Jewish lobby with disdain and proposes a “mammoth” international peacekeeping force to protect a future Palestinian state.

The former Harvard Kennedy School professor then refers to “major human rights abuses that we’re seeing” in the historic conflict.

“Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” Power says with an apparent chuckle.

Power disowned her comments from that interview in 2008. But concerned parties will likely require further explanation during her nomination process, considering the particular relevance of her comments to the job she will have in New York.

Perhaps no other US nomination has more effect on Israel’s diplomatic state than of its ambassador to the UN, where American statesman often stand alone defending Israel’s legitimacy. Part of why Susan Rice garnered so much praise – even from Obama in his Rose Garden announcement on Monday, when he specifically mentioned her efforts with distinction – is because she conducted such a robust and persistent defense.

And as Palestinian officials continue to threaten referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court, Power will be responsible for coordinating a response strategy.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization considered to be uniquely sensitive to any hints of anti-Semitism, came out with a statement calling her a champion for human rights with a purist agenda in support of liberal democratic ideals in a tumultuous Middle East.

“Samantha engaged in an all-hands- on-deck US campaign against Palestinian unilateral efforts in the UN to circumvent peace negotiations,” the ADL statement reads.

“She experienced first-hand the hostility faced by Israel and the abuse of the UN bodies to promote anti-Israel bias.”

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) also came out quickly with an endorsement of Power, calling her “well-qualified for this important position. “I hope the Senate will move forward on her nomination as soon as possible,” McCain said.

Both known as humanitarian interventionists, Power and Rice were strong voices in the White House for American involvement in Libya, causing many to question how they will advise the president as Syria begins to boil over.

But both women have been close to Obama since the start of his presidency. It is unlikely that he selected Rice and Power for fresh perspectives, probably choosing them to tighten his national security and diplomacy circle into a team of loyalists, familiar with his preferences and having the confidence in him required to follow his lead.

That makes blocking Power difficult for apprehensive pro- Israel groups, which are weighing the benefits of their opposition to the consequences of denying the president his choice. Just as in the nomination of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, these lobbies are likely to swallow their skepticism and save their political capital for bigger fights.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN

Cookie Settings