The drumbeat of criticism on the Mary Robinson selection for the Presidential Medal of Freedom just got a lot louder. AIPAC released a statement this afternoon saying it was "deeply disappointed" by the choice of Robinson, and calling on the Obama 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."
The statement is particularly significant because the pro-Israel lobby, in contrast to most other Jewish organizations, is generally sparing in its release of public statements, particularly on issues not directly related to legislation before Congress.
The full statement is after the jump: [[READMORE]]:
AIPAC is deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. AIPAC respectfully calls on 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.
Robinson is widely known for the high-profile role she played in leading the deeply flawed U.N. Human Rights Commission and for presiding over the U.N.’s Durban Conference on Racism, which the United States boycotted for its unprecedented hostility to Israel and its final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism.
In a BBC interview following the passage of the “Zionism = Racism” Durban text, Robinson described the outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”
As one of America’s greatest statesman, the late Tom Lantos – a former Congressman, Holocaust survivor, global champion of human rights and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – observed, “Much of the responsibility for the debacle [at Durban] rests on the shoulders of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.”
In his extensive report about the Durban Conference, and about the years of effort on the part of Congress and both Clinton and Bush administrations to support the Conference and its goal of promoting human rights and ending racism and intolerance, Congressman Lantos continues:
Mrs. Robinson’s conduct “left our delegation deeply shocked and saddened. In her remarks, she advocated precisely the opposite course to the one Secretary Powell and I had urged her to take. Namely, she refused to reject the twisted notion that the wrong done to the Jews in the Holocaust was equivalent to the pain suffered by the Palestinians in the Middle East…Instead of condemning the attempt to usurp the conference, she legitimized it.”
In addition to Robinson’s dishonorable role in the Durban debacle, her tenure on the UNHRC was deeply flawed, and her conduct marred by extreme, one-sided anti-Israel sentiment. Among the many outrages was a 2002 vote by the commission under her leadership that sought to condone Palestinian suicide bombings and terrorism as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood. Explaining his nation’s vote against the measure, the German ambassador to the commission noted, “The text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence [and] no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism."
One note on AIPAC’s statement: the official Durban document did not explicitly say Zionism equals racism. It did single out the Palestinian issue in the final document, which in the views of Israel supporters improperly put the Israeli-Palestinian issue in a racial context, but much of the most offensive language was actually removed from the final document before passage.