Oy vey…. I knew I wasn’t going to like this article when in the second paragraph, Orthodox Rabbi Shmuely Boteach described the Irish-born shikse married to a JINO (Jew in Name Only) as ‘one of my heroes.’ It gets worse from there. It sounds like Boteach was overly impressed with the fact that she invited him to meet with her at the White House.
The principal comments attributed to her come from an interview she granted in 2002, when she was asked to respond to a “thought experiment” regarding what she would advise an American president if it seemed that either party in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were moving toward genocide. Power, fresh on the national scene, was baited and answered that preventing such a genocide could entail being prepared to alienate a powerful constituency – by which she meant the American-Jewish community – and sending in a protective force. From these comments – putting Israel and the possibility of genocide in a single sentence – Power has been conflated with other enemies of Israel.
In our conversation, she rejected utterly the notion she had any animus toward Israel and acknowledged that she had erred in offering hypothetical comments. She said opponents of Obama had unfairly taken her disorganized comments further and characterized them as “invade Israel” talk. She said that if she really believed Israel could even be remotely accused of genocide, then the correct forum for that view would have been in the 664 pages of her book, wherein she details all the genocides of the 20th century.
They’re not the only comments – we’ll come back to the others – but although I have shown it before, let’s once again go to the videotape of that infamous 2002 interview.
Does that sound like a friend of Israel?
Rabbi Boteach goes on to cite another point in Power’s favor.
In addition, some leading members of the American Jewish establishment told me that Power was instrumental in having America decline attendance at Durban II in April 2009, otherwise known as the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, which promised to be, like Durban I in 2001, a UNsponsored Israel hate-fest.
How’s that for a vague description? Who were these ‘leading members of the American Jewish establishment’? Will they come to Power’s defense too? If not, why not?
Actually, it ‘s worse than just vague. Recall that by the time the US pulled out of Durban II, it was too late to torpedo the conference. In fact, Power did everything she could to turn the conference into something that the US would feel it could attend. She is also an admirer of Durban II Secretary General Mary Robinson, who received a President’s medal along with the Jew-hating South African Bishop Desmond Tutu – probably both on Power’s recommendation.
And then Boteach really goes off the deep end.
THERE HAVE been other comments by Power that have been interpreted as hostile to Israel, but the interpretations rely on the presumption, generated in 2002, that she is anti- Israel. Based on Power’s clarification – and much more importantly, her actions – I believe this perception to be without merit.
Huh? Let’s look at some of Power’s comments that were hostile to Israel other than that original video and see whether they stand in their own right.
In a lengthy article on President Obama’s on President Obama’s foreign policy advisers during the 2008 campaign, Ed Lasky had a lot to say about Samantha Power. Here are some highlights that have nothing to do with that 2002 video.
Power also showed her animus toward Israel in another instance, appearing to argue with the New York Times for more negative coverage of Israel in the paper. As Noah Pollak writes:
“Martin Kramer points us to an interesting quote from the 2003 book Ethnic Violence and Justice, in which Samantha Power, one of Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisers, asks a question of David Rohde, a reporter who covered the intifada for the New York Times. The quote is as follows:
Samantha Power: I have a question for David about working for the New York Times. 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 Report Finds Massacre Did Not Occur in Jenin.” The second paragraph said, “Oh, but lots of war crimes did.” Why wouldn’t they make the war crimes the headline and the non-massacre the second paragraph?
(The article to which Power refers is here, and its headline is: “MIDEAST TURMOIL: INQUIRY; Rights Group Doubts Mass Deaths in Jenin, but Sees Signs of War Crimes.” Obviously, Power has misremembered the headline.)
Here we have another window into the thinking of Power: Israel is accused in sensational press reports of a massacre in Jenin, and is subjected to severe international condemnation; Human Rights Watch finally gets out a report and says there was no massacre; the NYT reports this as its headline; and Power thinks the headline still should have been: Israel guilty of war crimes!”
Revelations regarding Power’s views of Israel can be found in her new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira De Mello and the Fight to Save the World, a biography of the UN official killed in Baghdad in a 2003 terrorist bombing. A series of terrorist attacks emanating from the mini-terror state created in Southern Lebanon by the PLO had led to an Israeli occupation of the southern portion of Lebanon. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon had been inserted to quell the conflict, but was proving ineffectual. Israeli forces remained in place.
” Israeli forces refused to comply with the spirit of international demands to withdraw and the major powers on the Security Council were not prepared to deal with the gnarly issues that had sparked the Israelis invasion in the first place: dispossessed Palestinians and Israeli insecurity”.
The “spirit of international demands” to withdraw? Aside from wondering what that means and the enforceability of such a spirit, how about that phrase “dispossessed Palestinians and Israeli insecurity”? The dispossessed Palestinians had left Palestine mostly at the behest of calls by their Arab brethren to step out of the way as armed forces invaded Israel upon its founding. They and their descendants were denied rights by Lebanon and were unable to assimilate — unlike the 600,000 Jews who were stripped of their possessions in Arab lands and whom Israel welcomed. The term “Israeli insecurity” makes it seem as if the Israelis were suffering from an emotional or psychological condition. In fact, it was not insecurity, per se, that the Israelis suffered from. It was Palestinian terrorism that the Lebanese government refused to prevent.
There is more from Ms. Power. Israel warned UNIFIL of its upcoming move into Southern Lebanon. Power talked of this move as a “ploy” and then wrote of “humiliation” that was to come as Israel ignored UN efforts to stop them. She wrote:
“Israel had thumbed its nose at the Security Council resolutions that demanded that Israel stay out of Lebanon, and in the course of invading a neighbor, its forces had trampled on the UN peacekeepers in its way”.
She quotes the subject of her book — really a hagiography — calling the Israelis “bastards”. She writes that the degradations suffered by UNIFIL before the Israeli invasion was felt far worse after the Israelis came into Lebanon. She writes that the Israeli authorities “threatened the peacekeepers and denigrated them”.
And then there’s this from another Lasky article on Power.
She sat down for an interview with England’s New Statesman magazine and what she said may surprise many Americans. During the interview, she stated that President Obama would engage with President Ahmadinejad, North Korea, and Syria. Then she is asked, “…is there anyone he wouldn’t talk to”?
She responded that there was no one among “elected heads of state. He won’t talk to Hamas, but he would talk to Abbas”. The interviewer points out that inconsistency inherent in her answer by informing the Harvard foreign policy expert that Hamas was a democratically-elected government and that Abbas’ Fatah party lost the last popular vote.
Professor Power backtracked and then said that Barack Obama would talk to “heads of state” and swiftly veered off into a discussion about how America has supported dictatorships in the past. This seems to cut both ways. Would President Obama talk to Hamas? Is Hamas a dictatorship, democratically elected?
Even the interviewer doubts Power’s sincerity at that point, titling the next section ” The Odd Fib” and indicating that he did not believe she’s convinced by what she is saying and that dissembling does not come easy to her (for confirmation of this, see her defensive interview with Shmuel Rosner and the critique of the same by Paul Mirengoff of Powerline.)
The interviewer notes (presumably because America is in the heat of the primary season)
“…it is politically impossible for Obama to talk to Hamas, even if he wants to. She can’t say that, though” because of what he depicts as internet smears. The interviewer characterizes these criticisms as allegations that she is anti-Semitic. So far as I have seen, nobody has ever made this allegation. The focus has been on her policy principles.
Then, in the money quote, Power plaintively complains:
“So much of it is about: ‘Is he going to be good for the Jews?'”
How much comfort can pro-Israel voters take in a candidate whose possible Secretary of State feels free to characterize legitimate concerns and questions as revolving around the issue of “is it good for the Jews”? Ms. Power might be unaware that support for our ally Israel is widespread across America and cuts across all religious and ethnic groups.
This is what Boteach calls a ‘friend of Israel’?
In this article from February 2010, Power was also critical of Israel’s handling of the Goldstone Report:
Heading the Israeli delegation was the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for international organizations, Eviatar Manor. The delegation met with officials including the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Michael Posner, and President Barack Obama’s adviser on human rights, Samantha Power.
The Americans were interested to hear whether Israel had decided on whether to set up a committee to investigate Operation Cast Lead. Power asked about Israeli public opinion on this issue.
Power did not hide her criticism of Israel’s handling of the Goldstone report; she asked whether Israel’s thinking on the issue was “strategic or tactical.”
“Is the correct strategy fighting Goldstone on all fronts?” she asked.
A main message of the U.S. officials was that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was directly linked to the ability of Israel’s critics to push the Goldstone report forward and the ability to block the report’s consequences.
Translation: Power to Israel: ‘You brought Goldstone on yourselves, and we’re not going to help you out of it unless you ease up on Hamas.’ A pro-Israel attitude, Shmuely?
I searched in vain for quotes from Samantha Power decrying Muslim hatred or Islamic terrorism. I didn’t find any. I did, however, find this from the New Statesman interview cited above:
All we talk about is ‘Islamic terrorism’. If the two words are associated for long enough it’s obviously going to have an effect on how people think about Muslims. But I think Obama’s going to do wonders for closing those chasms. Even just opening up a conversation is going to get us some of the way. And it’s not insignificant that he spent time in a Muslim country, that he is half Kenyan – a lot of barriers have been bust through.
She’s likely one of the architects of the Obama administration’s newspeak in which ‘Islam’ and ‘terrorism’ are never used together (and ‘terrorism’ isn’t used at all).
Rabbi Boteach seems enamored with Power. He has fallen completely for the spin that will try to present her as a fitting choice for Secretary of State if God forbid Obama should be re-elected. Whether Boteach was impressed by the visit to the White House, or by Power’s opposition to his next door neighbor, Muammar Gadhafi (which may have resulted in the US supporting al-Qaeda-backed rebels at Power’s behest), Boteach seems to have fallen for Power lock, stock and barrel. We should not make the same mistake.
think about the kind of background Samantha Power comes from. The head of Columbia University who is also the top guy at the Washington Post and chairman of the board of the NY Fed Bank is the man who gave her the Pulitzer Prize. This Samantha rubs shoulders with the scum who destroyed America… surely she can come up with a rabbi to be a friend with… oh wait… she just did.