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Samantha Power Exploits the Memory of Elie Wiesel

Sept. 14 2017

The former American ambassador to the UN, who has made a career of writing and speaking about the responsibility of the U.S. and other countries to prevent genocide, spent several years in the service of the Obama administration even as it remained impassive to Bashar al-Assad’s mass slaughter of his own citizens, instead providing millions of dollars to support Iran, Assad’s main ally, and working diplomatically to protect Iranian “equities” in Syria. Now she has written an introduction to a new edition of Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir Night. To Sohrab Ahmari, this is evidence of a “sophisticated exercise in self-absolution.”

The word “witness” and the phrase “bearing witness” appear five times in Power’s brief piece. Wiesel spoke out, she wrote, when others—publishers, journalists, even survivors—preferred to forget or remain silent.

This is an obvious, almost banal point. Of course Wiesel bore witness! But he believed by bearing witness he could help counter other mass murderers and totalitarians. Wiesel campaigned for Jewish refuseniks trapped behind the Iron Curtain. He implored Bill Clinton to act in Bosnia. And most recently, he compared the Syrian regime and its Iranian patrons with the Nazis, asking: “How is it that Assad is still in power?” Wiesel didn’t just remember historical crimes; he decried contemporary inaction.

Samantha Power, by contrast, legitimized inaction. Having built her journalistic reputation examining America’s failure to stop mass murder in the 20th century, Power ended up lending moral cover to the Obama administration’s bystander policy on Syria. At the UN, Power denounced Assad and his backers in Moscow and Tehran. But she refused to do the one honorable thing that might have jolted the Obama administration out of its moral torpor: resign. . . .

In the months and years ahead, we can expect more such efforts at altering the moral record on Syria, including by making use of the Holocaust and Jewish memory. Those who were alive between 2011 and 2016 shouldn’t let Obama-administration alumni get away with it. We should bear witness.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Elie Wiesel, Genocide, Holocaust, Politics & Current Affairs, Samantha Power, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

In Pursuing Peace with Saudi Arabia, Israel Must Demand Reciprocity and Keep the Palestinian Question off the Table

Nov. 22 2017

The recent, unprecedented interview given by the IDF chief of staff to a major Arabic news outlet has fed the growing enthusiasm in Israel about the prospects of a peace treaty and mutual recognition between Jerusalem and Riyadh. Mordechai Kedar urges level heads and caution, and puts forward ten principles that should guide any negotiations. Most importantly, he argues that the two countries normalize relations before coming to any agreements about the Palestinians. To this he adds:

The most basic rule in dealing with the Saudis and their friends is that Israel must not feel that it has to pay anything for peace. . . . If the Saudis want to live in peace with us, we will stretch out our hands to offer them peace in return. But that is all they will get. Israel [has] been a state for 70 years without peace with Saudi Arabia and can continue being a state for another 7,000 years without it. Any desire for a quick peace (as expressed in the disastrous slogan “Peace Now”) will raise the price of that peace. . . .

[As part of any agreement], Israel will recognize the House of Saud’s rule in Mecca and Medina—even though the family does not originate from the Hejaz [where the holy cities are located] but from the Najd highland—in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel’s right to Jerusalem as its historic and eternal capital city. Israel will recognize Saudi Arabia as an Islamic state in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel as the Jewish state or a state belonging to the Jewish people. . . .

Israel will not allow incitement against Saudi Arabia in its media. In return, the Saudis will not allow anti-Israel incitement in Saudi media. . . .

It is important to keep the Americans and Europeans away from the negotiating table, since they will not be party to the agreement and will not have to suffer the results of its not being honored—and since their interests are not necessarily those of Israel, especially when it comes to the speed at which the negotiations move forward. The Americans want to cut a deal, even a bad deal, and if they are allowed into the negotiation rooms, they will pressure Israel to give in, mainly on the Palestinian issue.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia