Friday, June 21, 2013

The crocodile tears of Samantha Power

Finding an ancestral link to Ireland seems to be mandatory for ambitious American politicians. John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama all successfully dug for genealogical gold.

Newt Gingrich -- who famously branded Palestinians an "invented people" -- has been less lucky in inventing a Hibernian past. There is a hilarious passage in Lawrence Donegan's book No News At Throat Lake about Gingrich visiting County Donegal in search of his antecedents, only to be told there was no record of them in local archives.

Samantha Power is unmistakably Irish: she was born in Dublin. If she is ever tempted to explore the full reach of her family tree, I hope to God that she doesn't claim me as a relative. Power is my mother's maiden name.


Like most Irish-Americans who have climbed the political ladder, Samantha Power is an opportunist and a hypocrite. She has built a profitable career out of posing as a human rights activist, while being happy to court human rights abusers whenever it was expedient to do so.

Back in 2002, Power apparently upset those sensitive souls in the Zionist lobby when she dared to suggest that the US should impose a "solution" in Palestine. It was an offensive remark as it inferred that America wanted peace, when it had provided Israel with many of the arms being used to butcher Palestinians. But that wasn't why the lobby got offended: it felt that she had committed the mortal sin of criticizing Israel.

Writing in The Huffington Post, Shmuley Boteach -- apparently the "most famous rabbi in America" -- recently bragged of how he convinced the Zionist lobby to trust Power. Boteach arranged for Power to meet 40 top lobbyists. During the encounter, "tears streamed down her cheeks," he wrote, as Power insisted that her comments had been misconstrued.


As if that wasn't nauseating enough, I've also read an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz about Power's recent job in the White House. In 2009, she played a "central role", the paper says, in coordinating contacts between the US and Israel on managing the political fall-out of Israel's attack on Gaza at the beginning of that year. Power helped Israel to minimize the damage caused by the Goldstone report, the findings of a UN mission that Israel had perpetrated war crimes.

This, let us remember, was the same Samantha Power who advocates "atrocity prevention" and the "responsibility to protect." Palestinians attacked by Israeli and American weapons, however, are not deemed worthy of protection.

Arguably more disgusting again is the fact that Power has edited a hagiography of Richard Holbrooke.

According to Suzanne Nossel -- an understudy to Hillary Clinton who went on to head Amnesty International's office in the US -- Power and Holbrooke are kindred spirits. Nossel is probably right, albeit not for the reasons she cited in her contribution to the journal Foreign Affairs.

Just as Power has shielded Israel from criticism, Holbrooke (as an assistant secretary of state in the 1970s) helped cover up atrocities carried out by Indonesia in East Timor. Holbrooke has been fĂȘted as a campaigner against genocide, when he actually facilitated one of the twentieth century's worst acts of genocide: about one-third of East Timor's population was wiped out.

Samantha Power is no friend of those who sincerely champion human rights: they have an obligation to call her out as a fraud. She is adept at crying tears over atrocities undertaken by America's enemies How many tears has she shed for the victims of US drone strikes or Israel's siege on Gaza? Precisely none.

•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 18 June 2013.

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