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The list for the presidential Medal of Freedom is out.  But:

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday slammed the Obama administration for its decision to give a former Irish president the presidential Medal of Freedom, saying they were "deeply disappointed" by the move.


Is Mary Robinson deserving of this honor?

AIPAC usually refrains from public confrontation with sitting administrations, they have been fairly silent, publicly, on the "settlement freeze" issue.  

What does this mean?

From the WH house press release:
Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early.  Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President.  She continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Chairs the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance).  Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York, which is an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.

WH Press Office

The ADL seems to be the first to pick up the issue (other than Free Republic, which I shall ignore):

New York, NY, August 3, 2009 ... Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, today issued the following statement regarding the awarding of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson:

The awarding of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson as an "agent of change" was ill-advised.

While Mary Robinson may have accomplishments to her credit, she also, unfortunately, has an animus toward Israel as evidenced by her tenure as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Rather than be constructive and act objectively on Middle East issues, she became a lead cheerleader for the Palestinian narrative.

ADL Press release

The awards are to be made 12 August.  Why this hue and cry?  Why now?

Mary Robinson

Born 21 May 1944 (age 65)
Ballina, County Mayo
Political party Independent,[1]
Labour Party (1977–81)
Spouse(s) Nick Robinson
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin,
Harvard Law School
Profession Barrister, former Senator
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (Irish: Máire Mhic Róibín;[2] born 21 May 1944) served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland, serving from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish senate (1969–1989). She defeated Fianna Fáil's Brian Lenihan and Fine Gael's Austin Currie in the 1990 presidential election becoming, as an Independent candidate nominated by the Labour Party, the Workers Party of Ireland and independent senators, the first elected president in the office's history not to have the support of Fianna Fáil.[3]
She is credited by many as having revitalised and liberalised a previously conservative political office. She resigned the presidency four months ahead of the end of her term of office to take up her post in the United Nations. Robinson has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002, she is Chair of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and is also a founding member and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. Robinson is also one of the European members of the Trilateral Commission.
She serves on many boards including as chair of the GAVI Alliance. Robinson’s newest project is Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which fosters equitable trade and decent work, promotes the right to health and more humane migration policies, works to strengthen women's leadership and encourage corporate responsibility. The organisation also supports capacity building and good governance in developing countries. She is Chancellor of the University of Dublin. Since 2004, she has also been Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University, where she teaches international human rights. Robinson also visits other colleges and universities where she lectures on human rights.
In 2004, she received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights. WikI

So a lifetime of service, and public service during the Peace Process of Northern Ireland. I know her work on GAV Alliance, which makes immunizations available in developing countries.  

Is Mary Robinson a deserving Recipient of this recognition?  She had a rocky tenure as head of the UN Human Rights Commission, perhaps a bit to willing to see the perspective of the Palestinians.

But why this flap now?  Is AIPAC mobilizing in advance of Obama's long awaited peace plan, expected within the month, which may ultimately result in a Palestinian State, and Israel's relinquising territories acquired by conquest?

Originally posted to Eiron on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:28 PM PDT.


Mary Robinson

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