For Samantha Power, Support for Israel Is Deeply Personal & Proven

— by Jason Berger

On Saturday, The Jewish Daily Forward‘s Nathan Guttman published an article on Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee for U.N. Ambassador, and her commitment to Israel. Guttman’s piece opened with a story from 2009 in which Power is meeting with Israeli officials. In the middle of their discussion, she pulled out a picture of her son and described how her husband Cass Sustein is a descendent of the, “Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, the 18th-century Jewish sage who is considered the greatest talmudic scholar of his time.”

Guttman concluded that while this might partially explain Power’s commitment to Israel, it is not the only reason. Former Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. Dan Arbel explains that for as long as he has known Power, her strong sentiment towards Israel has always been second nature. He states, “Her starting point has always been, ‘How do we work together to overcome obstacles and to ensure that both the United States and Israel get out of these U.N. situations with the least damage?”

Guttman also discussed how Power dealt with almost every Israel-related issue at the U.N. during Ambassador Susan Rice’s tenure. According to an Administration official, “She was involved in any brush fire at the United Nations. After [U.N. Ambassador] Susan Rice, she was the most influential person on U.N. issues.”

More after the jump.
Most impressively, though, are the Israelis who are praising the Power selection. Guttman noted:

Israeli officials noted Power’s leadership role in getting the administration to pull out of the 2009 Durban II anti-racism conference because of its anti-Israel bias. They also applauded her work in defeating the P.A.’s 2011 drive to achieve recognition for Palestine as an independent state through the United Nations Security Council. Power’s strong profile on these two issues, said Jarrod Bernstein, who served until recently as liaison to the Jewish community at the White House, shows “two instances in which she distinguished herself as being on the right side of the community.”

Power also participated in discussions that sought to dissipate the difficulties that Israel faced as a result of the 2009 Goldstone Report, which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes during its military campaign in Gaza the previous year.

Power was instrumental, too, in protecting Israel following the widespread condemnation it faced in 2010 for its attack on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that sought to deliver a shipment of humanitarian goods to Gaza in violation of the blockade that Israel had imposed on the territory. Before leaving her NSC post, Power, according to an official involved in those talks, worked on strategies for preventing Israel’s adversaries in this episode from pursuing their case at the International Criminal Court in Hague.

UN Gaza Flotilla Report Vindicates Israel

Panel Commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Upholds Israeli Self-Defense as Legitimate

— by Sharon Bender

United Nations “panel of inquiry,” led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and the May 31, 2010, Israeli flotilla raid seeking to violate it were justified.  

In contrast with a separate U.N. Human Rights Council “fact finding mission” that had prejudged Israel as guilty, both Israel and Turkey participated in the Palmer panel, commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report suggested that the Turkish government had enabled the maritime provocation by the Turkish extremist group IHH.  

This report finally validates and vindicates Israel’s right to defend itself.  

More after the jump.
The Mavi Marmara was one of six so-called humanitarian ships that had attempted to break through a blockade meant to prevent weapons-smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza. The report does, however, unfairly criticize as “excessive and unreasonable” the force the Israel Defense Forces used while intercepting the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship-a vessel on which Israeli naval commandos were assaulted.  

“Whatever efforts it undertakes in self-defense, Israel is inevitably accused of employing disproportionate force,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “The fact that violence did not ensue on other ships headed for Gaza demonstrates that Israeli soldiers never sought confrontation, but were, in this instance, forced into it. The report exposes last year’s flotilla as another example of reckless political gamesmanship.”

Israel instituted its blockade of Gaza in response to the actions of Hamas: the control that terrorist group has seized in the coastal territory and its incessant rocket attacks on the Jewish state. At the same time, Israel facilitates importation of humanitarian supplies and materials vital to the area’s residents, and had offered to receive goods from the ships at a safe port and truck them into Gaza.

“Israel responded legally and professionally to the security threat to Israeli citizens that these ships posed,” said Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “This report is a positive first step in correcting the record at the United Nations that has been bent on vilifying Israel.”

Israel itself established a public commission, led by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the flotilla episode. The body found that Israel’s military acted in accordance with international laws and practices.