By Shmuley Boteach
Word is going around diplomatic circles that the Obama administration is planning a November surprise for Israel.
Here’s what is said to be going on:
The Paris peace conference last Friday, to which Israel and the Palestinians were not even invited, will end up exerting enormous pressure on Israel to create a Palestinian state. This renewed pressure will come despite evidence that a Palestinian state in the West Bank will quickly be dominated by genocidal Hamas, which is a threat to Israel and a disaster for the Palestinians.
This will lead, in all likelihood, to a United Nations Security Council Resolution either condemning Israel for not creating that state or for not withdrawing from Judea and Samaria in the West Bank, despite the fact that it would irreversibly compromise Israel’s security.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. Israeli officials and Jewish communal leaders have told me that they expect the Obama administration will not veto the resolution at the UNSC — that Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, will not exercise the American veto. This would mean that the resolution/condemnation goes through. President Obama will not worry about how this will affect Hillary Clinton, because the UN resolution will be brought after the November election.
And that’s how the Obama administration will wrap up, with a UN vote against Israel and the United States, for almost the first time, not vetoing a harmful resolution against Israel. Israel will be powerless to stop it.
What gives credence to this speculation, first and foremost, is the Paris conference itself. If it were a serious conference about the prospects for peace, why on earth were the Israelis and Palestinians not invited? Israel has insisted on direct, bilateral talks without preconditions. The Paris talks, therefore, seem to be a complete waste of time, unless their purpose was to lead to a resolution at the UN, regardless of Israeli objections.
What further gives this credence is the fact that last June, in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Power would not commit to exercising an American veto at the UN for a resolution condemning Israel. “I really am going to resist making blanket declarations on hypothetical resolutions. Our position, again, I think has been very clear for some time. I have said, again, we would oppose anything that was designed to punish Israel or undermine Israel’s security. But I think, again, it’s perilous. There’s no resolution in front of us.”
Now, if a UN Security Council Resolution authorizing a timetable for the unilateral creation of a Palestinian state is resisted by Israel and not vetoed by the United States, there exists the possibility of economic sanctions being levied against the Jewish state, especially by the European Union.
This is far more serious than BDS, which essentially involves non-binding student-council resolutions against the Jewish state.
Don’t get me wrong. BDS, undeniably antisemitic, must be fought and resisted. It delegitimizes Israel on campus, demonizes Israel and Jews, creates a spirit of intimidation against Jewish students on campus, and often whitewashes organizations that can advocate violence and terrorism.
Still, actual economic sanctions imposed by governments are even more serious.
At her Senate confirmation hearings, which I attended at Powers’ invitation, she promised that at the United Nations, she would “stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it.”
At the AIPAC Annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC, last March, she said, “It is a false choice to tell Israel that it has to choose between peace on the one hand, and security on the other. The United Nations would not ask any other country to make that choice, and it should not ask it of Israel.”
Security is the foundation of any sustainable peace framework in the Middle East. The United States has long stood for justice and served as an essential check against overreach, antisemitism, and double standards by Arab and European nations at the UN against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority leadership has repeatedly proven itself incapable of adhering to basic democratic principles, transparency and rule of law. The PA’s history of graft, support of terrorism and lack of accountability is staggering.
Long before Power became ambassador, she was a highly regarded academic studying human rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School. It was there that she wrote the Pulitzer-winning book that launched her career into orbit — A Problem from Hell, the stirring and essential indictment of the inability of the United States to act against genocide over the past 100 years. It remains one of the most important books I have ever read.
But as her star rose in the Obama administration, many began paying attention to other early statements and writings, including specific ones that raised concerns about her attitude toward Israel and her understanding of the conflict. These might have gone unnoticed for any ordinary academic speaking loosely early in her career, but Power was no ordinary academic. Due to those earlier statements, she wasn’t implicitly trusted by members of the Jewish community when she took her role in the National Security Council. After writing an op-ed in which I encouraged her to clarify her statements, she did just that.
We met in the White House, and spoke candidly — and even quite emotionally — about Israel, the challenges in the region and the real concerns that some had about her earlier statements. Her passion and support of Israel was persuasive. I became intent on transforming the Jewish community’s opinion of her, working side-by-side to persuade others that she was someone whose judgment and understanding of the conflict could be trusted when it came to issues related to Israel.
Ultimately, when the time came for her nomination to serve as US ambassador to the UN, the Jewish American community registered strong, widespread support.
Now, with the possibility of a serious anti-Israel resolution making its way through the UN, which could do long-term harm to the Jewish state, Power will be confronted with the stark choice of standing firm and acting on her commitment to Israel and the Jewish community and her loyalty to the president and his administration in its last days.
With antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment growing worldwide, we rely on Power not only to honor her pledge of support for the Jewish state, but to stand squarely against Hamas and its genocidal pledge, stated clearly in its covenant, to annihilate the Jewish people wherever they may be found.
I am confident that the Samantha Power I know will stand with Israel. Her legacy and the security of the Jewish state depends on it.