FLASHBACK: UN nominee says US must impose peace on ‘Palestine-Israel’ even if alienates rich pro-Israel Jews

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
Font Size:

In 2002, President Barack Obama’s new nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, proposed imposing a peace deal on Israelis and Palestinians militarily, even if such a policy alienated wealthy pro-Israel American Jews.

“I actually think in the Palestine-Israeli situation there is an abundance of information, and what we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there,” Power said in an interview.

“What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line in sort of helping the situation. And putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” she added laughing, clearly referring to American Jews and suggesting they were a great obstacle to moving toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Power also supported building up the “new state of Palestine” at the expense of American aid to Israel’s military.

“It may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israelis, you now, military but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support I think what will have to be a mammoth protection force — not of, you know, the old Srebrenica kind or the Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence — because it seems to me at this stage — and this is true of actual genocides as well and not just, you know, major human rights abuses which we’re seeing there — that is that you have to go in as if you’re serious,” she said.

Referencing New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Power also compared then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s actions defending the state of Israel from terrorist attacks to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s stewardship of the Palestinian territories, which included instigating a terror war against Israel starting in 2000.

“You have to put something on the line and unfortunately [the] imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful — I mean it is a terrible thing to do; it is fundamentally undemocratic — but sadly, you know, we just don’t have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy,” she continued.

“There are certain sets of principles that guide, you know, our policy — or that are meant to anyway — and there it is essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark rather than a deference to people who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people,” she said. “And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called ‘Shararafat. I mean, I do think in that sense that both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible and unfortunately it does require external intervention.”

UPDATE: In 2008, Power tried to distance herself from some of the views she expressed in the 2002 interview, saying she no longer believes the international community should impose a peace settlement on Israelis and Palestinians.

Follow Jamie on Twitter