During a well-publicized interview in 2002, Samantha Power reflected on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. She advocated a diversion of funds committed by the US Administration to Israel—for its defense needs—to the Palestinian Authority. She called for a US military intervention aimed at imposing a solution on the Palestinian question. She appeared to portray the Palestinians as victims of Israeli oppression.
In a radio interview in 2008, she doubled down on her extreme leftist’s views, responding to a question by complaining that "So much of it is about: 'Is he going to be good for the Jews?"
In a 2011 interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, she seemed to have changed course. Boteach reported that “Samantha Power seemed genuinely and deeply pained by the perception that she was not a friend of Israel.” She rationalized her 2002 comments by explaining that she was asked to respond to a “thought experiment”, a trick question— “what she would advise an American president if it seemed that either party in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were moving toward genocide”—and that she stumbled, nose-diving into that trap. Had she had more media experience, she should not have responded. She alluded to the fact that her words were taken out of full context.
Given the multi-colored picture painted above, the question of whether or not Ms. Power’s new appointment is “good for the Jews” is not a trivial one. Still, the answer, in my opinion, is fairly obvious. Samantha Power’s earlier views concerning Israel will not be pertinent to her job in the UN.
Here is why.
The UN ambassador is merely a messenger. He or she serves at the pleasure of the president of the US. Although ambassadors write their own speeches, they follow talking points consistent with US policy determined by the president.
Regardless of their brilliance or points-made, speeches in the UN do not sway opinions. All ambassadors follow voting choices inspired and determined by their bosses, the top leaders, the true policy makers in their country. Ethics and justice are as dead as Latin. Politics and venal national interests rule the roost in the UN.
Samantha Power will follow directions, passed on to her by President Obama when it comes to voting choices and dealings with other diplomats, regardless of her personal preferences or emotional brainwaves.
And when it comes to the president, we have witnessed a dramatic evolution in his attitude toward the Jewish state in general, and concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. When President Obama took office in 2009 he believed that Israel was at fault for the unending stalemate in the “Peace Process”; he believed that the Arab countries and Iran could be won over by his show of respect and admiration to the Muslim world. By 2013, he appears to have learned a lesson. He understands the reality of the situation. He does not merely say that he is a true supporter of the Jewish state; he delivers, and he does so with unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, significant financial support, perseverance before an extensive anti-Israel lobbying consensus in the UN Security Council, while employing the US Veto power time and again to stop bullying the Jewish State.
But above all, we must remind ourselves that leaders go through a life changing reality check once they assume power. On their campaign trail, or while in the political Opposition Party, they stick to popular ideals; they advocate solutions that make their supporters and potential voters feel good. They do so with no consideration or understanding of political, economic and national security constraints. It’s easy and trendy when the buck stops somewhere else.
Samantha Power was not representing her country when she was making her unfortunate remarks. She could afford articulating “shoot from the hip” ideals as advocated repeatedly by the extreme left; she represented no one else but herself. When, all at once, her words and actions might stand for her country, her boss rather than her own naive ideologies, she would become increasingly more responsible, more self-scrutinizing, more educated about the actual realities of the Middle East.
I would not lose sleep, not even for a moment, as a consequence of Samantha Power’s elevation to the job of the next US ambassador to the UN.
Avi Perry is the author of “72 Virgins”—a popular thriller about a countdown to a terror attack on US soil. He is currently a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN). He served as an intelligence expert for the Israeli government and was a professor at Northwestern University. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories distinguished staff member and manager, and a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to UN International Standards body. He is also the author of “Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks.” For more information, visit www.aviperry.org.
_ In his latest speech at the Brookings Institute, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta offered Israel his words of wisdom. “Just get to the damn [negotiating] table, reach out and mend fences with the Palestinians, or risk facing even greater isolation. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are, and Israel’s moral standing will grow even higher.”
Echoing these words so that Mr. Panetta could benefit from his own wisdom would sound like this: “Just get to the damn [negotiating] table, Mr. Panetta, reach out and mend fences with al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea or even the Republican Party back in Washington, or risk facing even greater foreign policy failures, and further political deadlock at home...”
There are two traits which point to the core of the faulty doctrine utilized by the United States:
It would appear that US President Barack Obama’s administration does not seem to comprehend the meaning of extreme ideology. Their faulty logic postulates that all humans are reasonable, rational people who could be convinced once the truth is presented in a clear, transparent form, supported by facts and reinforced by historical or scientific evidence.
What Obama fails to understand is that fervent insistence on maintaining an ideology (including deep-seated religious beliefs) makes evidence, expertise or any line of reasoning irrelevant.
If some people believe that they possess the absolute truth, they view those who disagree with their point of view as fundamentally wrong and misguided (in many cases they deem those who disagree with them as criminals). Evidence contradicting their beliefs becomes irrelevant, a violation. Respectful arguments not in line with their ideology are of no use. Compromise is a bad word since it shows frailty and weakness.
Obama seems to understand this simple truth where it applies to his own situation concerning al Qaeda, yet he fails to apply the same logic when Israel enters the picture.
Both Hamas and the Palestinians provide the same threat to Israel that Iran and al Qaeda provide to the US. These Islamic extremists are trapped inside their own ideology. Peace and compromise are deemed blasphemy. The more you concede to these adversaries the bolder their actions become. It’s a war they started; they won’t end it unless Israel is destroyed, unless the US is defeated. To their minds, it’s an all-or-nothing guiding principle where no middle ground is possible. This conclusion is supported by so much evidence that to list it would require volumes upon volumes.
The second piece of faulty logic on the part of the Obama administration is the belief that compromise is always possible because both sides to a conflict or an argument always swear by a common goal like world peace or global economic growth. The president and his team believe that all people are reasonable; they all strive for the same goal of bettering the lives of their fellow citizens.
Obama fails to appreciate that many of his adversaries do not share his goals, or even view them as valid points of view. If the other side wants you dead, disappeared, or even wiped off the map—even at the cost of their own wellbeing, they will never compromise since their talk concerning peace and cooperation is designed to mask their true intentions.
Iran and North Korea see Obama’s attempts at compromising as a sign of weakness and stupidity (can’t this idiot see what we are up to? They must ponder). They will never admit failure of their policies. Instead, they will double down.
The Palestinians will never accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Instead, they continue to promote hate speech and glorification of terrorist murderers. They continue to fire rockets at Israeli civilians. They brainwash the young generation, employing Nazi style anti-Semitism, so that real peace will be prevented from taking root for the next century and beyond.
The Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world’s Islamists do not see peace with Israel as their objective. Their only aim is to see Israel wiped off the map, whereas Israel’s objective comprises a peaceful co-existence. These two ends could never intersect. Accordingly, no compromise can take root and no negotiations around the “damn table” can bear fruit.
Obama’s olive branch offer to Iran’s leaders at the commencement of his government’s rule was, and still is viewed as weakness and stupidity. Iran will not pull away from their path toward becoming a nuclear-armed superpower simply because Obama is logical and clearheaded. Their intentions collide with Obama’s. Iran does not look forward to world peace because they are lying in wait for Armageddon. It’s their crazy religious dogma and their Islamic ideology that stand in the way of any compromise or logical undertaking.
In his latest speech to the American Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. He added that as long as the Palestinian Arabs continue to perpetuate their fantasy that the Jewish state will cease to exist, there could be no peace between them and Israel.
He was right.
The conflict is not about the pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed territorial swaps. It has always been about the pre-1947 border, when there was none.
The Palestinians have been unwilling to end the conflict. Had they been interested in a two-state peaceful solution, they would have abandoned their demand for the right of return; they would have agreed to settle the refugee problem within the confines of their (would be) independent, occupation-free Palestinian state. They would have stopped educating their children to hate. They would have ceased naming public squares after terrorists; they would not have fired anti-tank missiles on Israeli school busses, rockets and mortar on civilians, or (even) on the Israeli military; they would have worked tirelessly to gain Israel’s trust.
But they have not.
And there is no peaceful logic behind the Palestinians’ great grandchildren’s insistence on “returning” to Israel — a land they have never stepped a foot on, a land as foreign to them as Guatemala. Why would any Palestinian Arab want to leave his or her newly established, democratic, free country and come to live under what they refer to as an “apartheid-practicing” Jewish government? It defies logic. Unless, of course, Israel has no Jewish government, no Jewish majority and it is no longer a Jewish state.
Palestinians perceive a peace agreement with Israel as a document formalizing their unconditional surrender. Their humiliating defeat in 1948, in which they watched the Jewish people establish a Jewish state on land they considered Islamic, is a shameful experience they are unable to shake off. That humiliation and the corresponding urge to redeem the lost honor is more commanding than the sensible strategy of calling for a peace offensive.
Some cool-headed Arab leaders have claimed that the peace process can serve as a smoke screen in pursuit of what had been defined as the Salami Principle — one slice at a time. It boils down to putting international pressure on Israel to weaken itself through a series of withdrawals to earlier borders, preceding the final assault on what’s left of the Jewish state whose indefensible borders would make it an easy prey. And in the Arab Middle East, reclaiming a lost honor overshadows straightforward logic.
Focusing on the pre-1967 borders as the main issue for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is like using sterile needles for lethal injections, or playing video ballgames on your Xbox and calling it physical exercise.
Considering the apparent irrelevance, why did Netanyahu — while gazing into president Obama’s private thoughts — make the pre-1967 border the centerpiece of his argument? Why didn’t the Israeli PM try to call the Palestinians’ bluff by agreeing to the fake notion?
“Yes Mr. President,” Netanyahu could have declared. “Let’s restart the peace process from the pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps,” trusting the other side to derail any meaningful negotiations, then be blamed for the failure once they insist on including Hamas at or behind the negotiating table?
Had Netanyahu swallowed the pill served by Obama, even though analysis had deemed it a placebo, it might have undermined his job. His coalition partners would have abandoned him, likening him to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the loser who wrongly believed that appeasing an aggressor would bring about peace.
Had Netanyahu followed Obama’s lead he might have run the risk that the Palestinians, including Hamas, would have played along by resorting to deception, by whispering a ”yes” (in English) to negotiations. They would have employed Obama’s proposal as a fresh starting point — blessed by the U.S. president and endorsed by the Israeli PM — in preparation for a full-scale implementation of the Salami Principle.
The seeming gap between Obama’s and Netanyahu’s approaches to peace with the Palestinians yanks its intensity from their knowledge of history as it relates to their personal experiences and risk assessment.
Netanyahu has plenty of reasons for placing mistrust in the Palestinians. He remembers that Israeli withdrawals from territories occupied during defensive wars have always been met by Arab deadly aggression in return. It was true in the West Bank following the Oslo accord when suicide bombing inside Israeli cities became a daily affair; it was true following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon when Hezbollah took over the territory and began shooting rockets at Israeli towns. And it was true all over again following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.
Netanyahu knows what the Palestinians’ true goals are; he knows that the peace process is a smoke screen, designed to mask their true intentions. On the other hand, President Obama — like Nixon and Kissinger before him when negotiating peace with the North Vietnamese — is looking for a short-term stress relief.
If the peace agreement turns into a fiasco, if it is proven hollow, or if the concluding handshakes around the negotiating table were intended to relax and weaken Israel’s (or U.S.’s) guards, making the final assault by the Arabs (or by the North Vietnamese in Kissinger’s case) more effective, then it’s a problem. But it’s somebody else’s problem. From an American point of view, the promise of peace is worth the risk since the true burden of facing the potential catastrophic consequences is borne by someone else, by someone far away from home.
Netanyahu was right to reject President Obama’s approach. He understood that further Israeli concessions toward peace with the Palestinians would only bring about more violence in return. He understood that the Palestinians’ talk about a peace process is unmistakably consistent with their view of the Salami Principle, while their Islamic teaching forbids treatment of Jews as worthy human beings. He understood that peace with the Palestinians or a two-state solution, living peacefully side by side is a mirage, an illusion borne by the U.S. president. He knew that Israel rather than the U.S. would be the one bearing the catastrophic consequences of making premature concessions.
Netanyahu had no other choice but to push back. The reaction delivered by the U.S. Congress proved him right.
Well done, Mr. Prime Minister!
Dr. Avi Perry, a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN), is the author of "Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks," and more recently, "72 Virgins," a thriller about the covert war on Islamic terror. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories - distinguished staff member and manager, a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to the ITU—the UN International Standards body in Geneva, a professor at Northwestern University and Intelligence expert for the Israeli Government.