White House sending Susan Rice and Samantha Power to address AIPAC conference

National Security Advisor Susan Rice meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 7, 2014. Credit: State Department.

(JNS.org) The White House will be sending National Security Advisor Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to address the March 1-3 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.

According to White House officials, Rice and Power will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and America’s commitment to Israel’s security, the Associated Press reported. But the officials will also make President Barack Obama’s case for the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers, talks that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frequently criticized.

Sending Rice and Power continues the downward trend in the stature of Obama administration representatives at the AIPAC conference in recent years. President Barack Obama spoke at the conference in 2011 and 2012, but has not appeared there ever since. Vice President Joe Biden addressed the AIPAC gathering in 2013, and last year, the highest-ranking White House representatives were Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew.

Earlier this week, in an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS, Rice called Netanyahu’s planned speech to a joint session of Congress on March 3 “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the U.S. and Israel. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress, said he “couldn’t disagree more” with Rice’s comments.

“The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel and nothing, and no one, could get in the way,” Boehner said. “What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran. That’s destructive.”

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) on Friday questioned Rice’s suitability as a speaker at AIPAC, given her recent comments.

“Should a major Jewish pro-Israel group like AIPAC ignore Rice’s vicious comments against the Jewish state of Israel and the Israeli prime minister and welcome her appearance and give her a podium? Is Susan Rice entitled to such respect from the Jewish community? … Should there be no consequences for her threats that the U.S./Israeli relations are now badly damaged, even destroyed?” ZOA said in a press release.

Posted on February 26, 2015 .