Hard Right Zionists Try to “Freeman” Peace Activist Mary Robinson



The ceremony proceeded at the White House Wednesday without any interference.  Mary Robinson was one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Honor. The effort to “Freeman” Robinson, failed.  Read here what President Obama said about Robinson.

Wednesday Update:

Mary_RobinsonMary Robinson is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor in Washington today. So far, there is no indication that the campaign to “Freeman” (see below) the Irish-born peace activist will have any impact on the ceremony.  Watch to see how the event is covered by Main Stream Media. Thus far, MSNBC’s lineup of liberal news stars has ignored the “Freeman” attacks on Robinson.

One alert reader of this blog (see below) points out that “Freeman” attacks are not confined to the U.S. The Jerusalem Post reports that strong criticism has been been raised by German Jewish organizations against German President Horst Köhler, who presented the Federal Cross of Merit, first class – the country’s most prestigious award, to noted Israeli human rights attorney Felicia Langer. A long time critic of Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians, Langer, 79,  moved to Germany in 1990.

Before her retirement, Langer devoted her career to defending Palestinians she believed to be wrongly accused by Israeli occupation authorities. She often compared Israel’s occupation to the white apartheid rule in South Africa. Ms. Langer received her award on August 6.


by James M. Wall

During a “private” Tel Aviv conversation, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was reported to have denounced Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod as “self-hating Jews”. Israeli officials immediately denied that the prime minister threw that ugly epithet at the two officials.

Whether Bibi used the term or not is not the issue. What is important is that someone in Israel’s ruling circles wanted the “self-hating Jew” term out there. The term fits into the campaign to undercut Barack Obama’s credentials as a friend of Israel.

The strategy is obvious. Hard right Israeli Zionists, and their American neocon Zionist colleagues (HRZs, for short), spend considerable energy intimidating western civilization into believing any negative criticism of Israeli policies is, in the case of non Jews, a sign of latent or overt anti-semitism,  or in the case of Jews, a sure sign that the guilty party is a “self hating Jew”.

With even the slightest hint that an anti-semite or self-hating Jew has been sighted, the culprit must be revealed and punished. The higher profile of the offending culprit, the more vicious the attacks.

The latest sighting involves two high-ranking White House officials, Emanuel and Axelrod, neither of whom are even remotely “self-hating Jews”. The ludicrous charge against two men I have known for more than three decades, was thrown at them because they are close to Obama. The Jewish online Forward has the sordid details on how the attacks unfolded.  Getty Images

Five months ago, in Febuary, just weeks after Obama’s inauguration,  the radar screen set up by the HRZs, detected a potential threat to Israel’s security when Charles Freeman was chosen to serve as Obama’s Director of the National Intelligence Council, the high-level interagency group that prepares evaluations for the president and other senior officials.

Before the Main Stream Media (MSM)  bothered to notice, Freeman, an experienced foreign policy expert with an impeccable record was hit with a firestorm of deceptive, fraudulent and vicious attacks on his record of public service.

After Freeman withdrew his nomination he was strongly defended by Washington Post columnist David Broder, who wrote that Freeman’s withdrawal was “the country’s loss”.

I wrote a series of postings on Freeman’s ordeal at the time, two of which are available here and here. A longer version of those postings is available here.

Which brings us to Mary Robinson, the most recent target of the HRZ zeal that eliminated Freeman from the Obama team.

On July 30, President Obama named Mary Robinson as one of 16 recipients of America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The awards are scheduled to be presented at a White House ceremony Wednesday night, August 12.

Mary Robinson, is one of the Elders, the group of world leaders initially formed by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. A former president of Ireland and a former UN human rights official, Robinson now lives in New York City, where she is currently the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative.

Her full resume is available on the Elders page. The Realizing Rights web site sums up her current assignments:

Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, Vice President of the Club of Madrid, honorary President of Oxfam International, Member of the Vaccine Fund Board of Directors and member of the Leadership Council the UN Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. She is a Professor of Practice at Columbia University and member of the Advisory Board of the Earth Institute, and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria.

Bear in mind that Robinson is being honored with the Presidential Medal. She is not being nominated to hold a position in the Obama Administration.  It would be inconceivable for the White House to withdraw Robinson’s name from the list of Medal of Freedom winners. But this has not stopped the HRZ attacks.

The HRZs are not likely to pull a Freeman on Mary Robinson, but they are determined to smear her and her supporters. Time is short, but already they have secured some friendly U.S. media attention for their smear attacks. The Chicago Tribune, for example, marching, as usual, to the beat of AIPAC’s spin, runs a story which begins:

Jewish congressional members and lobbying groups are protesting President Obama’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Irish leader Mary Robinson, who they say has a long record of harshly criticizing Israel.

The award pronouncement prompted the first criticism of Obama by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a group he courted during last year’s campaign. Jewish groups in the U.S. have been largely supportive of the president. But the Robinson award is the latest in a series of recent disagreements with Obama, and some Jewish leaders are growing skeptical of his commitment to Israel.

The attack machine used against Charles Freeman was not the same as the one now pursuing Mary Robinson. AIPAC pretended to stay out of the Freeman affair. But now the “all powerful” lobby group smears Robinson for her role as the UN Human Rights Commission chair and her “criticism” of Israel’s actions against Palestinians.

It is hard to escape the feeling that AIPAC  hauled out some of its congressional minions just to darken Robinson’s big day.  What AIPAC really did, however, was reveal the decline of fire power in its paranoia arsenal by attacking a woman with a distinguished record who fully deserves to be one of the honorees this Wednesday.

The White House announcement of the awards puts them into perspective:

The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The awardees were chosen for their work as agents of change.  Among their many accomplishments in fields ranging from sports and art to science and medicine to politics and public policy, these men and women have changed the world for the better.  They have blazed trails and broken down barriers.  They have discovered new theories, launched new initiatives, and opened minds to new possibilities.

Joining Robinson among the honorees, presuming the AIPAC “protests” fail, are 15 other luminaries:

Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor who led an early movement for gay rights in public life and was assassinated; the late Republican congressman Jack Kemp, a onetime pro football standout; ailing Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts; the Rev. Joseph Lowery, American civil rights activist; Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop and Nobel laureate; tennis star Billie Jean King; first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; actor Sidney Poitier,singer Chita Rivera; British cosmologist Stephen Hawking; Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer grass-roots organization; Dr. Pedro Jose Greer Jr., founder of an agency that provides medical care to more than 10,000 homeless patients a year in Miami; Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief and author of major works in Native American history and culture; Dr. Janet Davison Rowley, an American human geneticist internationally renowned for her work on leukemia and lymphoma; and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner who has provided loans to help millions of people fight poverty by starting businesses.

A sample of the blog attacks against Mary Robinson is ugly to behold, but instructive as to the level of discourse to which the HRZ has descended. Here is Ed Lasky, writing for The American Thinker, evoking Nazi Germany in his tirade:

President Barack Obama’s decision to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Mary Robinson, who headed a United Nation Commission that condoned suicide bombing against Israelis and who also was in charge of the Durban Conference Against Racism that became an anti-Semitic hate-fest reminiscent of Nazi Germany (and that the United States and Israel boycotted, to Robinson’s consternation), has elicited some measure of controversy.

Michael Rubin weighs in on the American Enterprise Institute blog:

Robinson is a poor choice to receive the President (cq) Medal of Freedom. She may have dedicated her career to human rights, but she is also responsible for accelerating the politicization of that field and the growth of moral equivalency. She was a headline-seeker, rather than a sincere devotee of causes. Her stewardship of the Durban conference was atrocious and single-handedly blessed the resurgence of anti-Semitism. . .

Abraham Foxman, one of the HRZs best known generals, is quoted on Powerline, a conservative website which features U.S. and Israeli flags on its home page.

[Robinson] issued distorted and detrimental reports on the conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and blamed Israel for the outbreak of Palestinian violence – the Second Intifada. As the convener of the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, she allowed the process to be hijacked to promote the delegitimizing of Israel and pronouncements of hateful anti-Jewish canards, such as “Zionism is racism.” She failed miserably in her leadership role, opting to join the anti-Israel forces rather than temper them. . .

There is more out there in the blogosphere, nasty and distorted cannon fodder to inspire the MSM, like the Chicago Tribune, to treat the Robinson award as “controversial”.

It is not controversial, except in the HRZ circle of influence that thrives on hate language, distortions, and character assassinations. Fortunately, that circle is growing smaller, which could explain why its methods are even more obnoxious and ugly.

On the up side, it is an encouraging sign that, as a Jewish news agency reports, several Israeli human rights organizations wrote to President Obama to endorse his decision to award Mary Robinson the Medal of Honor.

The final word on Mary Robinson and the HRZs must come, however, from Robinson.  After reading criticisms of her career, she talked to The Irish Times:

Former President Mary Robinson has described as “unjust and unwarranted” criticism from American pro-Israel groups of President Barack Obama’s award to her of the medal of freedom, the highest civilian award in the US.

Mrs Robinson, who will receive the award with 16 others at a White House ceremony next week, told The Irish Times that she was “hurt and dismayed” by accusations that she had shown a consistent bias against Israel and failed to prevent anti-Semitic declarations at an anti-racism summit in Durban in 2001.

“I have made it absolutely clear and I’ve been totally consistent on this, that human rights is not on the side of either the Israelis or the Palestinians – it’s on the side of both,” she said.

“If you’re a human rights person, you have to be fair, you have to be unbiased when you’re addressing situations of human rights violations. That’s the pledge of my life and that’s what I live by.”

The picture above of Mary Robinson is from the Realizing Rights web site; picture of David Axelrod is by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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10 Responses to Hard Right Zionists Try to “Freeman” Peace Activist Mary Robinson

  1. On December 20, 2006, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was quoted in The Guardian:

    “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land. I have seen the humiliation at the checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about…Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice…If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land.”

    Rabbi Lerner, wrote in TIKKUN Magazine, page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007:

    “From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught…that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, ‘vomit you out’ if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]:

    “When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ but also ‘you shall love the other.'”

    On May 14, 1948, The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel proclaimed:

    “On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.”

    IMAGINE when Israel holds to THOSE words and wake up and see that only justice for Palestine can lead to a security and justice requires equal human rights for ALL people and the upholding of international law.

  2. The recent mob attacks against town hall meetings on health care reform are reminiscent of tactics used for many years by CAMERA to disrupt and derail public meetings which feature speakers opposed to the HRZ .

  3. wallwritings says:


    Perceptive point. The same ugly spirit prevails in both areas. Shut down discussion by intimidation and shouting.

    Jim Wall

  4. Cotton Fite says:


    We experienced some of the HRZ’s you describe in this article at their demonstration at the Daley Center in Chicago this afternoon. Outstanding among the signs they held up across the street as JVP, CJPIP and the Jewish-Arab Partnership witnessed for “Israelis and Palestinians: Two People/One Future” was one with a big heart on which was written “We Love the Nakba”. I have faith that when people get this ugly they will finally do themselves harm – if we continue organizing support for people like Mary Robinson and all those who courageously and consistently work for justice and peace. As this struggle intensifies, as I’m sure it must, we had best stay fully engaged.

    Thanks again for your words. Cotton

  5. Renate Hanauer says:

    There is a similar campaign raging in Germany where the courageous civil rights lawyer Felicia Langer received the Bundesverdienstkreuz. You might want to check that out.

  6. Mark says:

    for mary robinson to equate the human rights record of israel and the palestinians beggars belief. why are christians a vanishing minority in gaza— a persecuted minority? is it because human rights are so vigilantly embraced there? on the other hand be an arab in israel and your rights exceed those in all other arab nations by virtue of a court demonstrably (for decades) capable of finding for arabs over jews, for the poor over the rich, civilians over the military—a court capable of finding against former and current leaders— this, and voting rights that are irrefutably available to arabs in unrigged elections…(what arab state boasts that?) moreover, israel is one of the most self-critical of peoples and nations. this is true to a fault— and it cleans its own house thru a political system that is overly variegated—almost to a crippling degree. compare the ablility to be self critical and live in gaza as a citizen with being an israeli citizen===arab or jew. So why this penchant to equate human rights between israel and w.b. and gaza… what planet is mary robinson from????????????????????????????

  7. Mark asked:

    “why are christians a vanishing minority in gaza— a persecuted minority?”

    Because Gaza has been under occupation since 1967 and the ‘disengagement’ is just Orwellian spin on a brutal ongoing siege.

    Gaza was walled in by the late 1980’s and today less than 2,000 remain out of 1.5 million open air prisoners.

    The Christians are better educated than most Israeli’s and consistently nonviolent-the very people Israel Palestine needs to stay and build a civil society, but there is no opportunity and the Christian EXODUS has rendered their numbers from 20% of the Holy Land population to less than 1.3% since 1948.

    Mark asked:

    “So why this penchant to equate human rights between israel and w.b. and gaza… what planet is mary robinson from????????????????????????????”

    She is from planet Earth, as is Ezra Nawi- a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent, who Israel arrested for standing up for the HUMAN RIGHTS of Bedouin Palestinians in South Hebron, by standing in front of a military bulldozer that was destroying their homes.

    Nawi is a threat to the colonists and the Israeli government because he stands up for HUMAN RIGHTS!

    Watch this video of Nawi trying to stop the home demolition and his subsequent arrest:

  8. Mark says:

    dear ms. fleming,

    so good of you to respond to my comments.
    i saw the video of the house demolition and though i could not hear what was said, i read the captions. although there is much that editing and video staging may do to shape a reality—i imagine you may be aware of the falsified al- durah footage, and what’s called “pallywood” in general—if not consider going to richard landes “the second draft” website for a powerful presentation of the premise that media can and is distorted by palestinians, —- even if i watch this footage accepting its pathos and putative injustice, complete with victims and accusers and the attribution of malice on the part of the soldiers, i still know nothing of the justice or injustice of the situation. the details are missing. sorry— i’m not cold hearted either—but my antennae are up because i am asking myself why you didnt answer my email points, but rather sent something that was at best a single case of we know not what.

    is this supposed to negate my historical far more general and systematic observations about israel and palestine—- say this footage depicted a gross injustice—as i know you mean me consider—still, the history generally remains as i stated it in my reply.

    as for the “EXODUS” of christians you have described the fault as belonging soley to israel and said nothing about any contributing action on the part of gazans, palestinians, their governments or sponsors. have you then excluded all contributing action on the part of the people christians lived among and their differences—no dhimmi status—no contributing malevolence? so it’s just israel, (which, incidently, gets along with its own christian population wonderfully well?) where’s your argument, really?

  9. Mark says:

    who stands up for human rights in gaza when hamas is throwing people off buildings?

    nawi is arrested…(again with what justice, i don’t know)—he himself says he’ll be out the next day!

    let’s equate human rights? i think mary robinson is still fundamentally wrong and wrong-headed and blind to fail to see the distinction between palestinian and israeli human rights records!!

  10. Mark, you wrote:

    “but my antennae are up because i am asking myself why you didnt answer my email points, but rather sent something that was at best a single case of we know not what.”

    I do not understand that statement.

    What I do understand is that there is right and wrong and plenty of blame to go around for ALL sides; but playing the blame game leads only in circles and I am working for peace by pursuing justice.

    While we comfortable Americans discuss the untenable situation, 1.5 million human beings continue to be trapped in an open air prison denied basic human rights!

    As an American taxpayer I am culpable in their misery and the injustice’s done by Israel without USA censure.

    As a person of conscience and committed Christian who worships the NONVIOLENT Jesus it is unconscionable to attempt to justify Israel’s human rights abuses and ignorant to ignore the facts on the ground:

    The following facts are @
    123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

    1,072 Israelis and at least 6,348 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.

    8,864 Israelis and 39,019 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

    During Fiscal Year 2009, the U.S. is providing Israel with at least $7.0 million per day in military aid and $0 in military aid to the Palestinians.

    Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none.

    Chart showing that Israel is holding over 8000 Palestinians prisoner.

    1 Israeli -who is a soldier-is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.

    Israel currently has 223 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.

    0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 18,147 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967.

    In June 2009, during my visit to the ICAHD office, Jeff Halper-American Israel, Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD said the number of homes Israel has now demolished has risen to 22,000.

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