A decade-old video of Samantha Power calling for the US to shift Israeli military aid to Ramallah and to deploy forces to protect Palestinians from IDF troops may prove a hurdle in the UN envoy nominee’s confirmation process.
Power, nominated Wednesday to replace Susan Rice as the US ambassador to the UN, has been an outspoken advocate of intervention to protect human rights, and in 2002 was asked to apply that stance to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then in the throes of the second intifada.
“It may more crucially mean sacrificing or investing I think more than sacrificing literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israeli’s military, but actually in investing in the new state of Palestine,” Power said during a talk at the University of California-Berkeley. “In investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support I think what will have to be a mammoth a protection force.”
Power, then an academic at Harvard, also alluded to the fact that such a move would exact a political price from powerful Jewish voters in the US.
“Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” she said.
She disavowed the statement in 2008, noting that it “makes no sense.” That same year she was forced to resign from US President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign over comments made about Hillary Clinton.
In a possible sign of the backlash Power may face in confirmation proceedings, the right wing Zionist Organization of America urged senators Wednesday to deny her the UN post.
“The overwhelming evidence of her entire record causes us great fear and concern as to her appropriateness for this post,” the group said in a statement.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, the party’s outreach arm to the US Jewish community, was also less than enthusiastic about the appointment, suggesting her Senate approval process won’t be trouble-free.
“Samantha Power has a record of statements that are very troubling to Americans who support Israel,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks said in a statement.
However the Anti-Defamation League came out in support of Power, noting her work over the past four years against demonization of Israel in international bodies.
“As head of President Obama’s multilateral affairs efforts, Samantha engaged in an all-hands-on-deck US campaign against Palestinian unilateral efforts in the UN to circumvent peace negotiations,” the ADL said in a statement.
Earlier this year, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faced similar opposition from right-wing groups during his confirmation process over his perceived anti-Israel views, including a statement from 2006 on the power of the “Jewish lobby.”