Samantha Power at UN evokes 'Camelot' and may be 'friend of Israel'
Samantha Power, President Obama's nominee for UN ambassador has already picked up serious pro-Israel and Jewish support, defying critics.
It may be that Samantha Power, President Obama’s unusual nominee for UN ambassador, won’t necessarily face a high-voltage confirmation hearing to decide if she is sufficiently pro-Israel to represent the US in New York.Skip to next paragraph
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Since getting the nod from Mr. Obama on Wednesday, a 2002 video interview with Ms. Power has been interpreted as "anti-Israel" in nature, something that has brought the sound of knives sharpening in Washington.
But Power has apparently already earned some pro-Israel backing that may stymie efforts to turn her Senate hearing into a searing fight. The Jewish Daily Forward says she is supported by prominent Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League and pro-Israel figures like Alan Dershowitz. Power also is supported across the aisle by mainstream Senate Republicans like John McCain of Arizona.
She also quickly picked up the endorsement of the pro-Israel, pro-peace "J-Street" movement, largely populated by younger American Jews who want far more amicable relations with Palestinians than the current Israeli government is offering.
Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," is a former Bosnia war correspondent and Harvard professor of human rights who combines enough intellect and glamor to lend a certain Camelot quality to her UN nomination and potential ambassadorship.
She is a longtime confident of Obama, and helped him edit “Dreams from My Father." A striking figure with dramatic red hair, she traveled with actor George Clooney to Darfur, and as a National Security Agency staffer strove to be the foreign policy conscience of the first-term administration.
She helped finalize Obama's Nobel acceptance speech and was an early lone voice in the push to assist the French and British in air strikes on Libya so as to avoid a bloodbath in Benghazi, but also to stop Col. Qaddafi from killing the nascent Arab Spring.
She is one voice among many on the Obama team, part of the "idealists" as distinct from the "realists" – and as a UN ambassador in New York, doesn't sit in daily proximity to the president.
Much of the anti-Power knife-sharpening centers on a YouTube video titled "Obama Advisor Samantha Power Calls for Invasion of Israel." Yet in the discussion, which starts with a hypothetical question to Power about a genocide against either Palestinians or Israelis, no use of the word "invasion" takes place.
Still, the right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) this week stated that the "overwhelming evidence of [Power's] entire record causes us great fear and concern as to her appropriateness...."
The attacks on Power, as an aide to Obama, are nothing new. Nor are the defenses of her. On Dec. 4, 2008, Martin Peretz, owner of The New Republic and who has fairly serious credentials as an ardent advocate of Israel, titled his column, "Samantha Power is a Friend of Israel." At the time, Power also got a robust pro-Israel defense from Wall Street Journal columnist Max Boot.