The education of Samantha Power

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My favorite theme. Why do neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Rob’t Kagan get a meeting with DefSec Gates, whose policies they then trash? Yes and why does Shmuley Boteach of the Jewish Journal, who has been fighting Israel’s critics all his life, get a meeting with Samantha Power at the White House? Here’s Rabbi Boteach (who seems to think he was granted the audience because he’s such a moral leader, sort of like George H.W. Bush thinking he hit a triple) telling about the meeting:

[I]t was with profound sadness that in praising her in recent lectures to the Jewish communities of Australia, South Africa, and New York that audience members approached me with alleged negative comments she had made against Israel. I responded with a column last week quoting the comments and calling on Ms. Power to clarify them lest she be seen as insensitive to a nation who has an army solely for self defense without which it would likely be subject to yet another genocide.

To her credit Ms. Power got in touch with me and invited me to meet her in her White House office this past Thursday. The meeting was substantive and directly addressed the comments I quoted. She was personable, accessible, and exhibited a humility uncommon to those in positions of high authority and power. She seemed genuinely and deeply pained by the perception that she was not a friend of Israel.

The principal comments attributed to her come from an interview she granted in 2002 in Berkeley, California while she was on her book tour…

I will save you from the rest of this sad saga. Thanks to Ibn Tufayl. Oh I can’t help myself, I just read more of the article. Check it out:

In our conversation she rejected utterly the notion she had any animus toward Israel. She acknowledged that she had erred significantly in offering hypothetical comments that did not reflect how she felt. She said that opponents of President Obama had unfairly taken her disorganized comments further and characterized them as ‘invade Israel’ talk. She said that if she really believed that Israel could even be remotely accused of practicing genocide against the Palestinians then the correct forum for her to express that view would have been somewhere in the 664 pages of her book wherein she details all the genocides of the twentieth century. She never even hints at Israel being guilty of any such atrocity. She explained that the only time she has written about Israel was in a later book on slain UN Diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello. There she described his time in UNIFIL and included a discussion of the Government of Israel’s own findings on Sabra and Shatila.

To bolster her argument she mentioned that her former Professor at Harvard Alan Dershowitz – whom I consider to be Israel’s most eloquent global champion – called her after A Problem from Hell was published to applaud her for not remotely associating Israel with genocide, the way so many academic enemies had. I checked with my old friend Professor Dershowitz and he confirmed that he has warm feelings toward his former student and considers her a moderate on Israel.

Listening to Power face-to-face and hearing her clarification set amidst the visible hurt of being grouped together with Israel’s detractors, I found her argument convincing.

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