Susan Rice Wins Over Israel Supporters

Jewish Groups Would Welcome Appointment at State Dept.

Standing Up: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has won over supporters of Israel with her firm support at the world body.
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Standing Up: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has won over supporters of Israel with her firm support at the world body.

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 28, 2012, issue of December 07, 2012.
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“She is a new personality when it comes to the Middle East and she holds a position that has traditionally been considered problematic for Israel, and still she remarkably managed to turn the liabilities around,” said an administration official on Rice’s work relating to Israel.

With liabilities turned around, Rice enjoyed a warm embrace from the Jewish community. She received the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations National Service Award, met with leaders of the [American Jewish Committee](http://usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/182371.htm and even travelled to Florida to speak at a Boca Raton synagogue.

“She has been willing to take difficult positions on Israel time and again and when Jewish leaders see that it builds a relationship of trust,” Schonfeld said.

Not all in the community, however, were convinced. Rice’s strong words against Israel’s settlement activity, in which she made clear that the United States “rejects in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” and views them as threatening the prospects for peace in the region, were seen by critics as unnecessarily harsh. Administration officials noted, in response, that Rice’s language reflected the policies of the Obama administration and of previous presidents as well.

Rice also came under fire for leading America’s rejoining the U.N. Human Rights Commission, a body boycotted by the Bush administration in part due to its strong anti-Israel spirit. Rice, backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, expressed her wish to reform the council and to refocus its work on human rights abuses around the world. Supporters point to the commission’s resolutions regarding the civil war in Syria as a sign of positive change. But critics state that much of the commission’s work is still focused on bashing Israel.

“This is a point of disagreement. I believe she is still wrong,” said Foxman, while adding that Rice’s motivation for joining the Commission was not to criticize Israel but rather to defend it from within.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com


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