Recently, President Barack Obama nominated Samantha Power for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a Cabinet-rank post requiring Senate confirmation. Why should we be concerned?
Because Power has a documented record of describing both the U.S and Israel as committing war crimes and being human rights-abusers; urging the U.S. to distance itself from Israel and take the Palestinian side; complaining that U.S. support for Israel harms U.S. interests; comparing terrorist Yasser Arafat to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; and showing antipathy to those who support Israel. Moreover, in 2008, Power belittled concern at Iran’s nuclear program as having been “refuted” by (the now-discredited) 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. Shockingly, she has also argued that the U.S. should apologize for many of its foreign policy actions, just as Germany apologized for Nazi actions.
Notoriously, in April 2002, Power, advocated in an interview investing billions of dollars in a Palestinian state and providing a “mammoth” military force to shield it from Israel, whom she called guilty of “major human rights-abuses.” She also claimed that doing so would involve “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import” — nastily implying that U.S. support for Israel stems from illicit Jewish influence rather than from long-standing and broad support from an American public that sees it as in the U.S. interest.
Though Power subsequently disowned that interview as incoherent and bizarre, she clearly believes the bit about Israel being a human rights abuser. We know this because, in her 2003 book, Ethnic Violence and Justice, she criticized The New York Times for headlining a report with the admission by the anti-Israel NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) that there had been no massacre of Palestinians by Israel during the April 2002 armed clash in Jenin. Power’s complaint? The Times should have referred in its headline to HRW’s claim that it had seen “signs” of Israeli war crimes.
We also know that she continued to hold to her view of illicit American Jewish power because, in 2007, Power gave another interview in which she spoke of “special interests dictating” the definition and pursuit of U.S interests, leading the U.S. to “defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics.” In 2008, while then-Senator Obama’s foreign policy adviser, she belittled speculation as to Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides, saying “So much of it is about: ‘Is he going to be good for the Jews?’ ”
Power also wrote in a 2003 article in the Boston Phoenix that one of the many things that make U.S. talk of human rights so “hollow” was the perception of pro-Israel bias and the fact that “we don’t contest the settlements or human-rights abuses committed by Israeli soldiers.” In a March 2003 New Republic piece, she complained the U.S. “lambastes” terrorist Yasser Arafat but only “ritualistically” takes issue with Ariel Sharon. In a 2004 book review of Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival, Power wrote of the “sins of our allies in the war on terror,” lumping Israel with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.
Clearly, for Power, U.S. support for Israel is not principled support for a democratic ally fighting real terrorists, it is an objectionable backing for an abusive state.
Indeed, in her New Republic piece, Power took the U.S. itself to task as being a force for criminal oppression. “We need,” she wrote, “a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States.” She even made the obnoxious analogy that, just as Germany repented for the crimes of Nazism, the U.S. should adopt “a doctrine of the mea culpa” to “enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When [West German Chancellor] Willie Brandt went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany. Would such an approach be futile for the United States?”
Power, who has been close to President Obama many years, may well be the single most influential figure in Obama’s policy of pre-emptive apology and abasement abroad that has seen him bow and scrape before Saudi and Chinese despots. She is also a likely influence on his policy to pick fights with Israel over Jews living and building homes beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including eastern Jerusalem.
How likely is it, then, that she will work within the scorpion’s den of the U.N. to defend Israel? How likely is it that she will aggressively pursue efforts to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it more likely that she will argue aggressively for American interests, or that she will argue for American meekness?
Samantha Power’s record strongly indicates that she would be a dangerous appointment as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and prove most unlikely to defend effectively the interests of the United States and its allies, including Israel. Little wonder that the New York Post columnist Lt.-Col. Ralph Peters describes her as a “left-wing militant” with “zero qualifications to serve as our U.N. ambassador,” while the distinguished British journalist Melanie Phillips counts her among those “extreme and … dangerous to the well-being of America and the civilized world.” Unless irrefutable new evidence to the contrary emerges during her confirmation hearings, the Senate should vote down her appointment.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.