Commentary Magazine


Robinson: A Window into Obama’s Worldview

The Mary Robinson debacle continues. Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition has released a statement that reads, in part:

Mary Robinson, who was one of the people responsible for the 2001 Durban conference against racism descending into an anti-Israel propaganda forum, is not an appropriate recipient for one of our nation’s highest honors. In fact, awarding the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson does great dishonor to the many outstanding men and women who have received it in the past.

[. . .]

The choice of Mary Robinson for this award calls into serious question the White House vetting process, given Robinson’s well-known record, particularly with regard to the 2001 Durban conference. The U.S. boycotted the conference and it was the subject of intense public discussion. If the White House staff passed on Robinson’s name knowing how controversial and troubling the choice would be, that’s wrong in and of itself. If Robinson’s name made it onto the Medal of Freedom list because the White House staff was unaware of how controversial she was, that’s even worse.

And in the New York Post today, Tevi and Gil Troy’s op-ed makes a key point: This is not simply a slap to Israel. They explain that she is “a symbol of all that’s wrong in the human-rights community and the United Nations — of the tendency to appease dictatorships, rationalize terrorism and bash the West.” In addition to her despicable performance at and following Durban I, the Troys remind us:

Robinson has criticized US foreign policy throughout her career. Since 9/11, she has blasted the United States for losing the “moral high ground” — as if she’s more focused on trying to win the “minds and hearts” of unrepentant terrorists than on the dilemmas that democracies face in fighting terror.

She also blasted the United States for objecting to the new UN Human Rights Council in 2006 — even though America was rightly protesting the power the forum granted to human-rights-abusing dictatorships such as Libya and Sudan.

They conclude that “it seems Obama doesn’t mind celebrating a symbol of Western weakness and appeasement of anti-Semitism at a time when the world’s dictators and terrorists are deciding what to think of him.”

One is left with two options in assessing the Obama administration’s decision: either a colossal error in vetting or a deliberate effort – which meshes perfectly with his Cairo speech’s theme and his admonition that “daylight” is required between the U.S. and Israel — in order to ingratiate himself with the Palestinian cause. What better way to flaunt his disdain for Israel’s sensibilities — and for American voters who support Israel — than to pick the villain of Durban? And while he is continuing his worldwide effort to denigrate American exceptionalism and give credence to the blame-America-first crowd, there could be no more fitting honoree than Robinson.