In 2002, current UN Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power appeared on a public access show called Conversations with History hosted by Harold Kreisler, a UC Berkeley professor. Power at the time was a policy director for Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights. In a clip from that session that briefly became viral, Kreisler asked Power to participate in a thought experiment regarding recent uprisings in the region regarding Palestine, Israel and the Gaza Bank:
“Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following without addressing 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 if one party or another be looking like they might be moving toward genocide.”
Her answer is striking, considering that just about every pro Palestinian news outlet sympathetic to to the current conflict in Gaza believes that’s exactly what Israel is trying to accomplish:
“What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. 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 billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence.”
“It seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. 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 Freidman has called “Sharafat.” I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention.”
Power was forced to clarify this statement at her congressional confirmation hearing and in her defense. If she has changed her mind about Israel, she wouldn’t be the first Ivy League, voxplaining intellectual to do so. Nonetheless here we are 12 years later. Her answer may have just been a case of the gears grinding out but it offers more clarity into why Barack Obama chose her for the important position she has and a rare glimpse into why the Obama Administration distances itself from our solemn vow more and more each day in support of an almost unattainable, pro-Hamas, two state solution at the expense of long standing relationships.
Seemingly random quips, past sound bites and actions once shrugged off as hypotheticals by people in this administration have become strikingly relevant and the Obama preferred modus operandi of governing by forcing opponents into the corner he wants is becoming more evident as it pertains to marginalizing Benjamin Netanyahu’s influence. Suddenly brain storms about Israel returning to pre-67 borders and a missing videotape of a dinner featuring a young Barack Obama toasting Rashid Kahlidi, a preeminent head of the PLO, aren’t just clues only wacky tea party conspirators are using to energize fringe elements. They become real, genuine questions about the motives on an administration that far too many in this country question already.
The LA Times buried a tape and buried a story, deeming it irrelevant to the public’s decision making process when picking a President who might one day have to broker a deal between our ally and those inspired by Kalidi. Network media at large did very little due diligence on the forgien policy intellects candidate Obama was surrounding himself with and we are now seeing the ramifications of this.
The little things add up.
Now as a country we’re not only dealing with another foreign crisis but witnessing a similar defensive posture with web and network media take hold. Israel is the 1% bully, Hamas and Palestine are the little guys. And no one fights harder for the little guys than Barack Obama. It’s that simple. This is the ingrained media narrative for almost seven years in this country now. Why would it be any different with media and celebrities with Israel?
Individually when Huffington Post, Mashable, Gawker, NPR, Politico, Vox, CNN or MSNBC runs Hamas approved propaganda, it doesn’t amount to much but lunatics with black bandanna’s on their twitter accounts shouting accusations of death to Zionism. But together it adds up to an almost insurmountable wave of public influence especially among younger generations. It doesn’t matter if it’s “Israel is committing genocide against children” or “I can see Russia from my house!” Obama progressives have always relied on winning the soundbite war first. This is no different.
And then of course there is Hollywood.
Everyone from Tom Cruise’s ex fake girlfriend and her husband, to pop and aged grunge stars. People like Eddie Vedder and Rihanna don’t speak out on social media or on stage because they actually understand the conflict in Gaza. They speak out because the silent complicity of Barack Obama allows them to do so.
Rihanna picks sides in Middle East conflicts about as well as she picks her boyfriends.
But none of that matters. Does anyone above an 8th grade education level actually believe Rihanna understands the nuances of Middle East policy as it pertains to the Gaza Strip? If you asked Rihanna what a blood libel is, would she offer any sort of coherent response beyond a twerk induced moan? No. She tweeted out #FreePalestine because it’s the cool thing to do.
With a single tweet, she can wield more damage to Israel’s reputation with young people than any NY Times columnist. It’s easy for anyone with any remote interest on the motivations of Israel to ingest a 140 character tweet from a pop star or read a graph featuring an imaginary bridge from flash card site. Researching the brutality of Hamas, who they are and what their motivations are is much more tedious.
This is how it’s done. Progressive media pundits fueled by Ivy league classroom sentiment slowly erode away generational support for Israel and the Obama Administration sits idly by and allows the narrative to take hold.
It’s a dangerous mix of ideology colliding with ineptitude. The price of having a “Liberal democracy”
We as a country avoided the ineptitude part in 2004. When the administration needs to sacrifice a victim to the never ending news cycle, no one is off limits. Not even our allies. John Kerry has been as ineffective at brokering a ceasefire as just about everyone suspected he would be ten years ago.
Mediating an international conflict is hard. Yelling about the ocean is not.
Yet President Participation Trophy thinks we are a country that should applaud him for at least trying, going so far as to chastise the media and the citizenry for not doing more cheer leading in his annual pre-vacation press conference last week. John Kerry, who is apparently also a 12 year old soccer player, cannot be the failure here because Kerry represents Obama’s judgement. Therefore someone else has to be the problem; Netanyahu.
Even as Israeli communities are being shelled daily by enemies hiding in civilian zones, it’s just not fair that Israel is the more powerful country and therefore it becomes the job of the Obama Administration to even out the playing field.
Instead of demanding Hamas lift themselves up, this administration has decided to pull Israel down.
This is the administration that is attempting to ease sanctions on Iran, the main weapons supplier of Hamas. This is the same administration who reneged on their promise not to negotiate or fund Hamas, a group our State Department has declared a terror organization.
We as a country have witnessed this for six years now.
Barack Obama has applied his economic theories to an international conflict and naturally it has emboldened Hamas and undermined our allies. At the same time the Press Secretary reiterates Israel’s right to defend itself, the very same woman who advocated for armed intervention on behalf of Palestine sends a harshly worded letter of rebuke, in a tone she doesn’t dare use with Hamas as they use their entire population as a human shield. The civilian deaths in Gaza are the fault of the country with better means to defend itself. Not the people launching the rockets, which leads to bogus voxaching narratives about balance of casualtiy inequality and twitter memes. Barack Obama chose Samantha Power for the influential position she holds and somehow wants us to also believe both his past actions and her past words are inconsequential to current events.
Hamas’ human rights violations will be ignored by the media and passified by the administration. Celebrities will continue to tweet nonsensical musings to relate to young people who will pay to see their movies. The world will continue to grow more dangerous.
Benjamin Netanyahu is now experiencing first hand with the Obama administration what we as a country experienced with Fast & Furious, the government shutdown and most recent of all the flooding of immigrants across our southern border. That in order to get his way, Obama will bend or break any systematic structure to get the outcome he wants. His administration via Eric Holder flooded the border with weapons hoping to stir gun control legislation, just as he has done with illegal aliens and immigration. Over the course of his Presidency, Obama has has called on or and praised regime changes in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey (All countries that border or surround Israel) has failed to address the growing threat of ISIS in Iraq and is agreeing to ease sanctions on a strengthened Iran; policies that all point to backing our only democratic ally in the region into a corner.
From the time he was a popular candidate to the present where he is now a unpopular President in the twilight of his term, he is making one thing clear to Israel; they are on their own. Fortunately for them, they have leadership that already realizes this.
And they will not submit.
– SM –
Cover image credit -Amir Cohen / REUTERS