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Some Jews Actually Like Mary Robinson

In defense of her Presidential Medal of Freedom

Michael Weiss
August 12, 2009

There’s a small furor in Jewish circles over the White House’s decision to award Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and the former U.N. commissioner for human rights, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But now comes a JTA report citing those prominent American Jews who think that the coordinator of the notorious “Durban” conference on racism—which many saw as little more than an excuse for the Organization of the Islamic Conference to pelt Israel with anti-Semitic stones—is actually someone befitting of the highest honor bestowed by our government on a civilian. Ruth Messenger, the president of the American Jewish World Service, calls Robinson “a true agent of global change” and cites her condemnation of anti-Semitism, her activism on behalf of the Rwandan genocide, and a host of other do-gooder plaudits. Other defenders include Nancy Rubin, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission during the Clinton administration, and James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank.