Still Not True: Conservatives Revive Falsehood That Samantha Power Called For Invading Israel
Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD
Right-wing media are responding to Obama adviser Samantha Power's appointment as chair of the newly created Atrocities Prevention Board by reviving the long-debunked smear that Power once advocated for an invasion of Israel.
Echoing a post by conservative blogger and Breitbart contributor Jeff Dunetz, Jim Hoft and Weasel Zippers both ran with the false claim that Power "called for [a] military invasion of Israel." Hoft further called Power a "Jew-basher," while Weasel Zippers stated that Power's appointment to the Atrocities Prevention Board was "[u]nreal even by Obama's woeful standards."
All three posts take comments made by Power out of context in order to claim that she pushed for an invasion of Israel.
In 2002, during an undated edition of Conversations With History, a program produced by the University of California-Berkeley Institute of International Studies, Power was asked the following question:
HARRY KREISLER (host): Let me give you a thought experiment here, without asking you to address the Palestine-Israel problem: Let's say you were an adviser to the president of the United States. How would, in response to current events, would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least one party or another be looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Right-wing media have twisted her response, claiming that she advocated for a military invasion of Israel and that subsequently she is a "decided enemy" of Israel. In fact, Power, asked about what would be necessary to stop a move toward genocide by "one party or another" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it may require more investment in a future Palestinian state and a "meaningful military presence."
POWER: Well, I don't think that in any of the cases, a shortage of information is the problem, and I actually think in the Palestine-Israeli situation, there's an abundance of information, and what we don't need is some kind of early warning mechanism there. 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. It may more crucially mean sacrificing -- or investing, I think, more than sacrificing -- literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israelis', you know, military, but actually in 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 the old, you know, 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. But -- is that you have to go in as if you're serious, you have to put something on the line.
And unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. I mean, it's a terrible thing to do; it's fundamentally undemocratic. But sadly, you know -- we don't just have a democracy here either. We have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide, you know, our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. And there, it's 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, and by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called "Sharafat." I mean, I do think in that sense, there's -- that both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible, and unfortunately, it does require external intervention which, very much like the Rwanda scenario -- that thought experiment, of "if we had intervened early" -- any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism, but we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are just becoming ever more pronounced.