CJV joins a large coalition in a letter opposing the nomination of Amb. Samantha Power as USAID Administrator.
“Prior to and during her term as UN Ambassador, Power showed herself to be out of touch with the values of the American people and the geopolitical threats to our nation and our allies,” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, CJV Managing Director. “She whitewashed terrorism, demonized Israel’s self-defense, and even claimed that holy Jewish cities are ‘occupied Arab land.’ Most frightening, she tried to remove the terror designations of Hamas front groups. This record leaves Power wholly unqualified for such a sensitive post.”
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Schumer,
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We write to you and the Senate chamber today to express our grave concerns regarding the nomination of Ambassador Samantha Power as USAID administrator, a position which would also give her a seat on the National Security Council.
Amb. Power has a long history of taking actions and making statements that are inimical to the U.S.-Israel relationship and both nations’ security.
In December 2016, Amb. Power enabled the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. This antisemitic resolution falsely stated that Judaism’s holiest sites, including the Western Wall, Temple Mount, Jerusalem’s Old City and its Jewish Quarter, the Mount of Olives and its 2,500-year-old Jewish cemetery, as well as Hadassah Hospital, Hebrew University, and the historic Jewish heartlands of Judea and Samaria, are all “occupied Arab land.” UNSCR 2334 also promoted BDS (anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions), and falsely claimed that Jewish homes in the above-listed historic Jewish areas “have no legal validity, and constitute a flagrant violation of international law.” UNSCR 2334 disregarded the historical roots of the region as the bedrock of Jewish civilization. By abstaining — instead of vetoing UNSCR 2334, as the United States has reliably done to block anti-Israel measures for decades, Amb. Power allowed this measure’s adoption, severely impacting Israel’s national security and standing on a global stage.
The bipartisan House Resolution 11 (2017) entitled “Objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 as an Obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” was adopted by Congress overwhelmingly. H. Res. 11 correctly declared that UNSCR 2334 “undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement,” and “contributes to the politically motivated acts of boycott, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel and represents a concerted effort to extract concessions from Israel outside of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, which must be actively rejected.”
Moreover, Power’s vote snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had strongly argued against the resolution; sabotaged Israeli sovereignty and the standing of the Jewish people as indigenous to the land of Israel; and harmed peace prospects.
We are further concerned about the bias Amb. Power frequently demonstrated against Israel in her writings and other statements. Such instances include, but are not limited to, Ms. Power’s comments during a 2002 interview at the University of California, Berkeley Institute of International Studies, where Ms. Power proclaimed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict urged the U.S. to not fund “Israel’s military,” and instead promoted investing “literally billions of dollars” in a Palestinian Arab state “to support . . . a mammoth protection force . . . a meaningful military presence” to shield the Palestinian Arabs from (non-existent) Israeli human rights abuses and a (non-existent) Israeli genocide of Palestinians. Power also called for “external intervention” to impose a solution – and compared Israel’s actions to the Rwandan genocide. Power also resorted to antisemitic comments against American Jews. Power insisted: “we need is a willingness to put something on the line in service of helping the situation and putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [i.e. American Jews].
Ms. Power also stated during a 2007 interview posted on the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s website that “America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which […] can turn out to be counter-productive.”
Ms. Power also criticized the New York Times for reporting in a headline that there was no Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Jenin in 2002, commenting in her 2003 book Ethnic Violence and Justice:
“I was struck by a headline that accompanied a news story on the publication of the Human Rights Watch report. The headline was, I believe: ‘Human Rights Reports Finds Massacre Did Not Occur in Jenin.’ The second paragraph said, ‘Oh, but lots of war crimes did.’ Why wouldn’t they make the [Israeli] war crimes the headline and the non-massacre the second paragraph?”
Moreover, while serving as U.S. Ambassador to the UN in February 2016, in her opening remarks at the UN Security Council’s open debate on the Middle East, Power equated Palestinian Arab terrorists’ stabbing murders of a Jewish mother of 6 children, another young Jewish woman, and hundreds of other innocent Jews to virtually non-existent “settler violence” – a false and despicable “moral equivalence.” Power also falsely portrayed the Palestinian Authority as “pressing for calm” when in fact the PA (as the PA still does) pays local Arabs to murder Jews, and incites violence against innocent Jews in in speeches, official newspapers, social media, textbooks, schools, clubs, government-controlled mosques, government-controlled television specials, and government-controlled ceremonies honoring terrorists. Power also blamed Israel for humanitarian conditions in Gaza – and never mentioned that the designated terrorist organization Hamas is solely responsible for these conditions. Power demanded that Israel “open Gaza border crossing points” while omitting mentioning the hundreds of truckloads of goods that Israel transports to Gaza every single day. It is also frightening that Power downplayed and denied the dangers of Iran’s nuclear in her 2008 “Rethinking Iran” op-ed in Time Magazine.
We are also alarmed by the emails obtained by Senator Chuck Grassley showing that in 2015, while Power was serving as US Ambassador to the UN, Power tried to delist (remove terror designations of) the Islamic Relief Agency (“ISRA”), a.k.a. Islamic African Relief Agency (“IARA”), a.k.a Islamic American Relief Agency terror group – which is tied to Osama Bin-Laden, Al Qaida, Hamas and related groups. Delisting ISRA/IARA would enable it to obtain U.S. taxpayer money through USAID money and international donor funds.
Power’s involvement in efforts to overturn the terrorist designation of this terrorist group raises concerns that USAID funds will be given to terrorist and terror-tied organizations, if Power is in charge of USAID.
As the USAID administrator, Amb. Power would be responsible for a budget of over $41 billion. Given Amb. Power’s documented bias and statements throughout the years, there is a strong possibility that Power will attempt to allocate hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars (or more) to the Palestinian Authority or to pay for PA budget items. There is a real concern that Power will attempt to circumvent the bipartisan Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) and the Taylor Force Act, which Congress passed to curb payments to the PA while the PA continues to pay terrorists to murder Jews. Because money is fungible, such allocations will make the U.S. complicit in the PA’s hundreds of millions of dollars of annual “pay to slay” payments rewarding Arab terrorists for murdering Jews.
There are also numerous other ways that Power could use USAID’s massive budget to the detriment of the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies. Hence, we hope that you vote against Ms. Power’s confirmation as USAID administrator.
For years, you have embraced that Schumer means “Shomer Yisrael – the Guardian of Israel.” You stood up for Israeli and American security by courageously opposing the Iran deal in 2015, placing principle over party. The nomination of Ms. Power undermines regional stability. As such, we hope you will continue to stand with Israel and protect US interests in the region by standing firmly against the confirmation of Ms. Power to the USAID administrator position.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Jewish Heritage Preservation Society – Chovevei Zion
Rabbinical Alliance of America
Coalition for Jewish Values
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
Young Jewish Conservatives
The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT)
Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI)
Education Without Indoctrination
Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana
Rhode Island Coalition for Israel
North Carolina Coalition for Israel
Conference of Jewish Affairs
New Hampshire 4 Israel
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations – PJTN
Family Research Council
World Council of Independent Christian Churches – representing 44 million congregants globally.
CC (in order of appearance):
John Neely Kennedy
Chris Van Hollen
Catherine Cortez Masto
Ben Ray Luján
Shelley Moore Capito