ZOA Critical Of Reappointment Of Anti-Israel Adviser Samantha Power To Obama Foreign Policy Team
December 2, 2008


S. Rice, UN Ambassador Choice

Promoted Baker & Carter



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized and expressed concern at the news that Samantha Power, the deeply anti-Israel former adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, has been reappointed to his foreign policy team. Power has argued that the US should stop financially supporting Israel‘s military and instead invest in a Palestinian state, with US forces on the ground to protect it from genocide by Israel. She has also expressed annoyance that the New York Times had admitted there had been no 2002 massacre of Palestinians by Israel in Jenin and condemned Israel for allegedly committing human rights abuses. Power was later fired by the Obama campaign, not for making anti-Israel statements, but for calling Hillary Clinton a “monster.”


Sampling of disturbing, anti-Israel statements by Samantha Power:


·         April 2002: In an interview with Harry Kreisler, Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Power was asked the following: Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine – Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide? Power replied: “I don’t think that in any of the cases, a shortage of information is the problem. I actually think in the PalestineIsrael situation, there’s an abundance of information. What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line. Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Freidman has called “Sharafat.” I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention, which, very much like the Rwanda scenario, that thought experiment, if we had intervened early… Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.” (‘Genocide and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Conversation with Samantha Power,’ April 29, 2002, Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley).


This led Commentary magazine blogger Noah Pollak to observe, “Just so we’re clear here: Power said that her advice to the President would be to 1) “Alienate” the American Jewish community, and indeed all Americans, such as evangelical Christians, who support the state of Israel, because 2) Israeli leaders are “destroying the lives of their own people.” 3) Pour billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money into “the new state of Palestine”; 4) Stage an American ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories — what else can she mean by a “mammoth protection force” and a “military presence” that will be “imposed” by “external intervention”? — in order to do the exact same thing that she considers the height of arrogance and foolishness in Iraq: an American campaign to remake an Arab society. Note that this wasn’t her response to a question about her personal views of the conflict, or about what she envisions might be a utopian solution to the conflict; it was a response to a question about what she would tell the President of the United States if she was his adviser. (‘Obama and Israel – It Gets Worse,’ Contentions blog, Commentary, January 27, 2008).


·         2003: Power said, “I have a question for David [Rohde, a reporter who covered the intifada for the New York Times 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?” (Power, Ethnic Violence and Justice (2003) (Quoted in Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky, ‘Samantha Power and Obama’s Foreign Policy Team,’ American Thinker, February 19, 2008).


·         “Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued….  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.” (Quoted in Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky, ‘Samantha Power and Obama’s Foreign Policy Team,’ American Thinker, February 19, 2008).


·         2008: In a new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira De Mello and the Fight to Save the World, Power recently wrote, “Israeli forces refused to comply with the spirit of international demands to withdraw [from Lebanon in 2006] 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 … 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 … [the Israeli authorities] threatened the peacekeepers and regularly denigrated them.” (Quoted in Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky, ‘Samantha Power and Obama’s Foreign Policy Team,’ American Thinker, February 19, 2008).


The ZOA has also expressed concern at the presence on the Obama team of Susan E. Rice, who has now been nominated by President-elect Obama for the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a Cabinet-rank position (Peter Baker, ‘Appointments begin new phase for Obama,’ New York Times, December 2, 2008). Susan Rice served as John Kerry’s senior foreign policy advisor in his 2004 presidential campaign, during which she persuaded him to promise to appoint former Secretary of State James Baker and former president Jimmy Carter, both hostile as envoys on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Senator Kerry later rejected this advice as “unbalanced” (Marc Zell, ‘Obama and the Jews,’ Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2008). Rice was also an Assistant Secretary of State working for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who considered Yasser Arafat to be a genuine peace partner and transformed him into the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House during the Clinton years.


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We look with deep misgivings on the nomination of two profoundly anti-Israel advisers to senior foreign policy positions in the incoming Administration. We are very concerned that the appointment of either or both Power and Rice will have a deleterious effect on the U.S.-Israel relationship, to the detriment of both countries. Someone who believes that Israel carries out genocide, or that a Palestinian state should be founded by force of U.S. arms against Israel, or that the most hostile anti-Israel American public officials should be placed in key positions regarding Middle East policy, should not be appointed to high office. We believe these nominations will be detrimental to President-elect Obama’s campaign commitment to uphold and strengthen the American-Israeli relationship. We also believe that the policies these two nominees have promoted can only lead to greater Arab hostility towards Israel and make the attainment of peace even less likely.”


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