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Goodman Brinker, Milk among presidential honorees

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two American Jews are among the 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next month.

Nancy Goodman Brinker and the late Harvey Milk will be honored at the White House on Aug. 12. In memory of her sister, Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has raised more than $1.3 billion for breast cancer research and education since 1982 with events like Race for the Cure.

Milk became the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and is considered a pioneer in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement. Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by a former colleague of Milk’s on the board of supervisors.

Also among the honorees are two figures who have been criticized by supporters of Israel, Mary Robinson and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work in South Africa against apartheid. In recent years, he has likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid and backed divestment from the Jewish state.

Mary Robinson, who was the first female president of Ireland, served as United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees during the 2001 Durban conference against racism, and was seen by Jewish leaders as not taking enough action to deter the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions at the conference.  She was also seen as a tough critic of Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians during her term in office.

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