Samantha Power Already Faces Knives Out From Some on Israel

U.N. Pick Has Been Outspoken on Human Rights — That's Good

New Voice at U.N.: Samantha Power is a human rights advocate. That doesn’t make her an enemy of Israel.
getty images
New Voice at U.N.: Samantha Power is a human rights advocate. That doesn’t make her an enemy of Israel.

By Leonard Fein

Published June 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The knives are already out. Samantha Power, it is alleged, is an enemy of Israel — this based on comments she made in response to a “thought experiment,” comments she subsequently disavowed.

Power was asked, back in 2002, how her support for liberal interventionism to defend human rights abroad might be applied to a situation like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her reply? “What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line in the service of helping the situation.” And, she added, “The U.S. might also have to consider imposing a solution on the parties and deploy soldiers to take part in a peace-enforcement mission.”

Let’s be clear here: We are talking about the world’s leading expert on genocide. Her Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is depressingly specific, laying out the essential indifference of the United States to the diverse genocides that have pocked out nation — indifference bordering on complicity. That a person of her accomplishment, of her expertise, of her passion, should be our nation’s representative at the United Nations is a remarkable credit to the Obama administration.

Take, for just one example, the following from her magnum opus: “Before I began exploring American’s relationship with genocide, I used to refer to U.S. policy toward Bosnia as a ‘failure.’ I have changed my mind. It is daunting to acknowledge, but this country’s consistent policy of nonintervention in the face of genocide offers sad testimony not to a broken American political system but to one that is ruthlessly effective. The system, as it stands now, is working.”

Now, one can be a stout enemy of genocide and a deprecator of Israel. The two are not mutually exclusive. But Ms. Power knows full well that a major chunk of her responsibility at the U.N. will be the protection of Israel — and, given her outspokenness, I would expect her to be as firm in Israel’s defense as Pat Moynihan was in his day.

The fact that she once called both Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon “dreadfully irresponsible” comes as no surprise, nor is it, in my view, an indication of a rush to judgment. It may have been impolitic to lump them together in one dismissive phrase, but that which is impolitic is not necessarily wrong. In the case at hand, it was, sadly, quite correct.

So what’s the problem? The problem, evidently, is exactly as she put it in her book “No U.S, president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.