U.S. and Israel
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
There is a third voice and perhaps the clearest and most sensitive voice among U.S. officials engaging the discussions between the U.S. and Israel; U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power. She does not sound exasperated nor despairing. Power clearly is not making policy at the top, yet it is fascinating to observe that she apparently has a grasp of more of the variables at play and wants no one to forget them than certainly does the Secretary of State. Kerry may be an effective diplomat, but it is beginning to appear that it is in suit only. In fact, probably because she does not have nearly as much on her foreign policy plate as does the President, in her comments with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, she has continued to use her own opportunities to frame a sensible and balanced picture of the current situation.
Power addresses many of the same issues that are presented by both the President and Kerry, but it is how she frames and weights them that is impressive. (It should be noted that Power clearly could be auditioning for a more significant policy slot in a forthcoming Democratic Administration beginning in 2017 or later.)
First and foremost Power understands Israel’s angst and pain when she other American leaders criticize Israel’s settlement policy or its reprisals for terrorist attacks. At the same time she consistently reiterates that regardless of any criticism forthcoming of Israel, America stands behind her. She repeatedly also makes sure to critique the failure of the Palestinians to take positive steps to reduce terrorist incidents and to engage Israel in peace negotiations. She does not thereby justify Israel’s inactions, but merely as a point of fact.
Her most important additional comments—which derive directly from her observation post in Turtle Bay—is to criticize the U.N.’s attitude which tolerates the delegitimization of Israel. Once again last week she railed out against the absurdity of the behavior of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to have a permanent item on its agenda assessing Israel’s human rights failings while ignoring the on-going massacre of innocent civilians in Syria.