Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

U.S.-Israel Partnership 'Transcends Politics,' Ambassador Power Says

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told an audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the U.S. relationship with Israel would transcend any differences.

"We believe firmly that Israel's security and the U.S.-Israel partnership transcends politics and it always will," she said.

Her talk comes at a crucial time for U.S.-Israeli relationship. Ties have been tense since the announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would address Congress about the dangers posed by Iran, which Israel views as an existential threat. The U.S. and its allies are in talks with Iran over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

Updated at 10 a.m. Power Quotes Kennedy

Power reminds the audience of a speech made by Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960. Kennedy said:

It is worth remembering, too, that Israel is a cause that stands beyond the ordinary changes and chances of American public life. In our pluralistic society, it has not been a Jewish cause - any more than Irish independence was solely the concern of Americans of Irish descent. The ideals of Zionism have, in the last half century, been repeatedly endorsed by Presidents and Members of Congress from both parties. Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter. It is a national commitment.

Power adds: "The bond between Israel and the U.S. is still a national commitment. It should never be partisan matter. Now, as then, we cannot — and we will not — lose sight of that."

Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET Quotes President Johnson

Power says combating "anti-Israel bias" at the U.N. is a bipartisan issue and can be traced back to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. She says when President Johnson was asked after the 1967 six-day war why the U.S. supported Israel, which is such a small country. His reply: "Numbers do not determine what is right."

"That was true for American support for Israel in 1967. And it is true today," she says.

Updated at 9:52 a.m. ET Support At U.N.

Power is highlighting U.S. efforts to support Israel at the U.N. She says it's a false choice to ask Israel to choose between peace and security, saying no other country would be asked to make such a choice. But she also said: "Israeli settlement activity damages the prospect for peace."

Updated at 9:44 a.m. ET Anti-Semitism A Threat To Europe

Power cites incidents of anti-Semitism across the world.

"Anti-Semitism is not only a threat to the Jewish community, but also a threat to European liberalism and pluralism," she said.

Updated at 9:44 a.m. ET U.S. Commitment To Israel's Security

"We know the stakes of a nuclear-armed Iran," Power said. "And we will not let it happen."

She added: "There will never be a sunset on American commitment to Israel's security. Never."

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET No Nuclear Weapons For Iran

"The United States will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. Period," Power says.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.