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Ron Radosh

For the past few days, the announcement that Barack Obama would award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to former President of the Irish Republic, Mary Robinson, has created a storm of controversy that is not dying down. The main question that must be asked is whether the expose of Robinson as a long-time opponent of Israel and as the enthusiastic convener of Durban II, despite its open anti-Semitism and the withdrawal from the conference of the United States, will lead many Democrats, as well as Jewish supporters of Obama, to reconsider their once enthusiastic support.

Yesterday, AIPAC, usually non-partisan and not prone to comment on appointments—it stayed mum on the Charles Freeman affair months ago—issued a statement indicating that it was “deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a President Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson,” and called upon the administration “to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state.”

AIPAC is correct in its description of Robinson. UN Watch documented this extensively. They wrote:

Should Mary Robinson be awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom for being an “agent of change”?In March 2004, we noted that, “Whatever her accomplishments, Mary Robinson’s legacy will be forever entwined with Durban’s racism-turned-racist conference that disgraced the UN.”In the words of the late Tom Lantos, U.S. delegate to the conference and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus: “To many of us present at the events at Durban, it is clear that much of the responsibility for the debacle rests on the shoulders of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who, in her role as secretary-general of the conference, failed to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track.”Lantos thoroughly documented her counter-productive acts of omission and commission in the vital lead-up process.

To even consider Robinson “an agent of change,” supposedly what Obama is giving the recipients this year’s award for, is obscene. Again, it remains for Marty Peretz, whom we all know was once an enthusiastic supporter of Obama during the campaign, to put this nomination in stark perspective.  Despite her accomplishments as Ireland’s chief, he writes, “It has been downhill ever since, a good deal of it in the gutter of anti-Semitism.” Peretz continues:

She was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights when the commission began to specialize in the practice of supporting governmental repression and calling it freedom–as, frankly, Obama has done with the burqa, also in Cairo. But Robinson’s biggest role on the world stage was as chair of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban.  She planned it, she mostly ran it and she is responsible for that Witch’s Sabbath of hate against both Israel and America, actually the west and western values in general and in particular. Since then, she has been doing the time-consuming NGO thing, talking mostly to one another and soliciting grants from American foundations.

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