I caught up with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, who was on the road, having already started his congressional recess. I asked him about the Mary Robinson award. He replied without hesitation, “It is obviously a mistake.” He said there are “two Mary Robinsons” — one the first woman president of Ireland, and the second who did a “terrible job” and was “biased against Israel” at the UN.
He explained that “she always managed to find a moral equivalence between fighting for your freedom — Israel — and equating that fact with terrorism.” He says this is an unfortunate occurrence on “the far Left.” He added that he did not want to “blow this up” but that she “should not be given any kind of award.” He reiterated that “she epitomizes all that is wrong with the United Nations” as a one-sided and anti-Israel institution.
What should the administration do? Well, he conceded that they are “caught between a rock and a hard place” but encouraged the White House to continue making statements in the same vein as they have started to (e.g., that her statements about Israel are “troubling”). But he concluded, “I just think it was a mistake.”
Engel’s candor and refusal to make excuses for the administration’s atrocious judgment stands in stark contrast to Ira Forman of the NJDC, who seems to think this is no time to talk about Durban I, Mary Robinson, or anything other than the Obama agenda. He remarked: “With a major battle to ensure every American has access to health care, delicate negotiations to further the peace process in the Middle East and the battle to deny Iran a nuclear capacity, don’t we as a community have more critical issues to focus on?” That’s talking truth to power.
Other public figures who present themselves as friends of Israel and opponents of a blame-Israel-and-America-first foreign policy will have to make their choice: Engel or Forman? That should be a no-brainer.