Both the World Jewish Congress and World Zionist Organization’s American Section have now criticized the selection of Mary Robinson for a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The WJC says it is "deeply troubled" by the Robinson selection and feels she is "unqualified" for the honor. And WZO-AS chairman Kalman Sultanik, who identifies himself as a longtime member of the Democratic Party, says that "at a time when the Administration is trying to encourage a peace process between Israel and its neighbors, awarding Ms. Robinson the Medal of Freedom sends the wrong message to the Jewish community in the United States and to Israel."
They join a number of other Jewish organizations and members of Congress who have called Robinson the wrong choice for the nation’s highest civilian honor. We should point out, though, that one of the most prominent Robinson critics, AIPAC, inaccurately referred to the statement which came out of the 2001 Durban conference against racism in its press release condemning the selection of Robinson earlier this week. The group said that "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 Untied States boycotted for its unprecedented hostility to Israel and its final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism." But that was actually not in the final document. Notes a post on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Web site by ministry legal adviser Alan Baker after the conference was over: "The good news – There is no equation of Zionism with racism, and that is very important. We fought against it and we won."
Israel and Jewish groups did object to the fact that the Palestinian issue was brought up and singled out in the final conference document, because it improperly put the issue in a racial context.
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times also reported on the Robinson controversy today.
The full WJC and WZO releases are after the jump:[[READMORE]]
First, the WJC:
Upon learning of the White House decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the World Jewish Congress issued the following statement:
We are deeply troubled that the White House has chosen to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. During her tenure, she presided over the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, which deteriorated from a conference intended to combat racism into a platform for demonstrations of hostility to Israel and the Jewish people unprecedented in an event convened by the international body. At that time, Ms. Robinson could have done much to prevent the debacle but instead chose to legitimize it. The United States boycotted Durban in 2001 over the events that transpired there and the final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism. Indeed, the Durban final outcome document was re-affirmed at the Durban Review Conference held in Geneva in April 2009, which was not attended by the United States precisely because of the affirmation of this document.
Ms. Robinson’s tenure at the UNCHR featured much anti-Israel activity, including distorted condemnatory reports and statements, an endorsement of Palestinian violence as legitimate political activity, and the outrageous equating of the Holocaust to the suffering of the Palestinians. We believe that her performance in the UNCHR renders her unqualified to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.
And the WZO’s American Section:
I strongly protest the decision of the White House to award Mary Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Robinson presided over the notorious anti-Semitic Durban Conference which equated Zionism with racism. This comparison is a stain on the United Nations, the Durban Conference and Ms. Robinson, as its chairman.
At a time when the Administration is trying to encourage a peace process between Israel and its neighbors, awarding Ms. Robinson the Medal of Freedom sends the wrong message to the Jewish community in the United States and to Israel.
As chairman of the World Zionist Organization – American Section and as a long-standing member of the Democratic Party, I call upon President Obama to withdraw her nomination for this award.
World Zionist Organization, American Section