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.
Mary 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.
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”.
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.
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. . .
[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.
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