The White House, it is being suggested, may have failed to fully vet Mary Robinson. It isn’t that they meant to honor an Israel-basher and propaganda cheerleader for the Palestinians; it is just that they missed her, well, controversial aspects. It sounds inconceivable, and it is. After all, the White House went through much discussion about attending Durban II this year. Certainly Durban I was the topic of much study. Are we to believe they are now all agape — “It’s that Mary Robinson!?” I think not.
She was no innocent bystander at Durban, as Tom Lantos had pointed out. A friend passes on this from Elie Wiesel, written in 2001, describing Durban I as an “enterprise of disgrace.” He wrote of Robinson:
What began as an idea for a world gathering against hatred has turned into a meeting of hatred characterized by wickedness. I was supposed to have been there. Both Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson did their utmost to persuade me, particularly in light of my membership on the small board of “very important persons” that the UN established to help with the preparations. But after I read the work papers, I quit.
Anti-Semitism, the oldest form of racism against a certain group in the world, did not appear in the program. What did appear was something about “holocausts such as the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israelis.”
Mary Robinson phoned me a number of times. I had lunch with the UN secretary general, whom I have known for years. I explained to both of them why I could not take part in this event, which is so infuriatingly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish.
They said they would make changes in the phrasing, but the problem was with the content. I warned the UN secretary general that the conference and the manner in which it had been prepared would go down in history as a moral catastrophe of the political and social behavior of the world’s nations. All that because the content was wholly unadulterated hatred and cruelty, whose expressions ought to outrage any decent and cultured human being and cause them to behave as did American Secretary of State Colin Powell and his colleagues. They deserve praise and support for their courageous response. The American and Israeli delegations left; others did not. If only the European and South African delegations had learned from them. Their explanation is that they would work from within to issue another draft of the resolution. It is too late. The damage has already been done.
Hatred is like a cancer. It spreads from cell to cell, from organ to organ, from person to person, from group to group. We saw it in action in Durban. Even a man of the stature of Kofi Annan somehow lost his way and said things that were inappropriate for him.
Wiesel concludes by asking how Israel can trust the United Nations. The same should be asked of Obama and his administration. How can an administration so indifferent to history and so cavalier when it comes to Israel’s interests be trusted? The question answers itself.