Israeli human rights organizations back Mary Robinson

By editor on
This week, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Irish president and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson (together with 15 other honorees).

Although a number of American Jewish organizations, including AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, sharply criticized Obama's decision - accusing Robinson of "hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state," for example - a coalition of Israeli human rights organizations has publicly backed Robinson.

In a letter to President Obama (or click here), the group of seven, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and B'Tselem, defends Robinson's human rights record and rejects the AIPAC and ADL criticism as erroneous, misleading and unwarranted.

Background: Most of the controversy centers around Robinson's involvement, as UN Commissioner, with the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, held alongside a more virulent "NGO Forum" on racism. Although Robinson slammed the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism prevalent in Durban, declaring "I am a Jew" as an expression of solidarity, she has been criticized for not doing enough, and for giving an international stage to anti-Semites and Israel-bashers.

For a lengthy CBS TV interview with Robinson, who defends her record, click here (Durban is addressed at about the 4-minute mark).