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Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson

On Wednesday, President Obama will drape the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of former Irish president Mary Robinson. The White House says Robinson deserves it because she was the first female president of Ireland and is a “prominent crusader for women’s rights.” I think honoring Robinson will dilute an already somewhat overextended award.

I agree with those who say Robinson showed a prosecutorial attitude toward Israel when she was United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights between 1997 and 2002 -- and since then. That record includes her supervision of the U.N.’s Durban anti-racism conference in 2001, which was badly marred by “Zionism-is-racism” agitation.

But the White House is right that eligibility for the Medal of Freedom need not be defined by a recipient’s politics, even if those clash with American policy. Pablo Casals’ brilliant cello playing trumped his long condemnation of U.S. recognition of Francisco Franco. And if Israel-bashing disqualifies Robinson, then what about such past recipients as Jesse Jackson, Zbigniew Brzezinski and, yes, Jimmy Carter?

My objection to Robinson is a bit different. By law, the medal is supposed to go to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” I just don’t think Robinson, though an accomplished civil rights lawyer in her youth, a skilled self-promoter and a fixture at global confabs, has done anything especially meritorious in those areas, much less meritorious enough to outweigh the troubling part of her record.

Of the 588 Presidential Medals of Freedom given out since 1963, only 28 have gone to non-U.S. citizens -- less than 5 percent of the total. The bar is, and should be, a little higher for foreigners. Minor figures have slipped through (former NATO secretary-general Manlio Giovanni Brosio, for example). But for the most part, foreign recipients have been substantial people: Mother Teresa, Jacques Cousteau, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The number of current or former heads of state or government who’ve gotten the medal is even smaller -- 12. Only a few have inspired sufficient good feeling across the American spectrum. This ultra-select group includes two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, Anwar Sadat, Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Nelson Mandela.

President George W. Bush pushed the limits of consensus a bit by including Tony Blair and Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, both disliked on the left. But neither was as polarizing as Robinson will be. Like the other foreign leaders on the list, they stood by the United States in perilous times.

Robinson, by contrast, got elected to Ireland’s ceremonial presidency in 1990. This breakthrough came long after Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher had already proved that women can wield real political power. And she has consistently criticized U.S. foreign policy, often when U.S. troops were in the field.

She condemned Bush’s war on terror and recently implied that an independent war crimes inquiry might be appropriate for him. This is perhaps predictable, but in 1999 she also spoke up about potential illegality in President Bill Clinton’s air campaign to rescue the mostly Muslim population of Kosovo from Serbian-led genocide. She condemned atrocities against the Kosovars, but she also thought the U.N. Security Council -- on which Serbia’s ally Russia exercised a veto -- should “have a say in whether a prolonged bombing campaign in which the bombers choose their target at will is consistent with the principle of legality under the Charter of the United Nations.”

After the Irish presidency, she took the U.N. human rights post. One of her functions in that job -- other than wringing her hands about NATO’s defense of the Kosovars’ human rights -- was to supervise the U.N. Human Rights Commission, a body so badly discredited by its inclusion of countries such as China and Cuba that it has since been disbanded. The Bush administration helped push her out, but even a former Clintonite, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (now in the Obama administration), said she had “overly politicized the job.”

Plenty has been said already about Robinson’s supervision of the notorious U.N. World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The atmosphere was so tinged with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric, especially that emanating from a simultaneous conference of non-governmental organizations, that Colin Powell, then secretary of state, led a walkout by the U.S. and European countries.

Robinson’s detractors, including the late Tom Lantos, a U.S. Congressman and Holocaust survivor, blamed her for this flop. Robinson argues that she helped purge the worst anti-Israel rhetoric from the conference’s final document -- which she later pronounced “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

What I’m struck by is Robinson’s zeal for this gabfest in the first place. Even on the most benign view, the conference was an exercise in outrage-by-committee whose real-world impact on racism was bound to be minimal.

The final report, which Robinson found “remarkably good,” is 62 pages of unreadable cant: “Guided by the principles set out in the Millennium Declaration and the recognition that we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity and to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people, the international community commits itself to working for the beneficial integration of the developing countries into the global economy, resisting their marginalization, determined to achieve accelerated economic growth and sustainable development and to eradicate poverty, inequality and deprivation.”

And so on. Not exactly “I have a dream.”

Today Robinson keeps busy as honorary president of Oxfam and president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, which she founded “to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.” What does it do? Under “Action Update,” the organization’s Website displays a bunch of pictures of Robinson at various international conferences.

She hasn’t helped her cause by lashing out at Jews opposed to her medal. “There’s a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community,” she has said. “They bully people who try to address the severe situation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

But when she tones down her defense, she bolsters the impression that she’s sort of an empty suit. Was Durban a bad scene? Well, she told the Irish Times, “The conference was run by the member states, particularly by South Africa as the chair. So all key meetings and all decisions at the official level were made by governments and I wasn’t present when they were arguing about whether anti-Semitic language which was in brackets should be included. I just wasn’t there.”

Mandela and Aun San Suu Kyi suffered in prison for their beliefs. Helmut Kohl served as Chancellor of Germany longer than Bismarck and engineered its peaceful unification. Anwar Sadat gave his life for Arab-Israeli peace. Mary Robinson has talked the talk -- and talked and talked.

When Wednesday comes, I wish she “just wasn’t there,” again.

By Charles Lane  | August 11, 2009; 6:08 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Mary Robinson as high commissioner for human rights has criticized the human rights abuses of Israel. This in itself is a contribution to the security and national interests of the United States,and world peace. If the government of the US has reacted properly to her criticism, I think 9/11 would not have hapened.

Posted by: mansour112 | August 11, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The article states.....

"She hasn’t helped her cause by lashing out at Jews opposed to her medal. “There’s a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community,” she has said. “They bully people who try to address the severe situation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Is the truth a problem? It seems to me that those words are one of the reasons she deserves the award. And the tone of this article and countless others like it proves her point about bullying.

In America we have far more to fear from our "special relationship" with Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israel first crowd than we do from honoring a fine human being in person of Mary Robinson.

The tide is turning though, and America is figuring out Israel is no friend, and the ZOA,AIPAC, ADL and their minions know it. Whats why they have become even strident and obnoxious than usual anytime anyone expresses an opinion that isn't theirs.

It is pretty entertaining though.

Posted by: real_democrat | August 11, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Great column. Mary Robinson's lack of substantive accomplishment has many scratching their heads. What qualification has she for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, aside from having been a reliable basher of the Bush administration?

Posted by: coastofutopia | August 11, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Chuck Lane apparently has never left the dreadful, anti-arab racist New Republic
and is recycling old neocon bilge.
It's too late to whitewash the 1948 Zionist expulsion of 750,000 to one million
Palestinians or the half-million expelled since 1967. Or the thoroughly documented record of Israeli oppression, tortures and
ethnic cleansing continuing to the present
day. This isn't TNR or Commentary, Chuck,
your nonsense will get refuted here.
Apparently she not only properly bashed the
Bush gang but also Clinton's. Good for her.
There was no Serb genocide in Kosovo, not
even close. In fact the Serb population was
ethnically cleansed by the terrorist KLA.
It was nowhere comparable to Bosnia and even in that three way war, the largest atrocity was committed against Serbs by Croatia.
See Diana Johnstone's book on the whole US
and NATO misadventure in the former Yugoslavia.

Posted by: mike_hardesty7 | August 11, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Ireland was neutral during WW2. Does that mean that they are anti-US as well? Hardly. They just left it for individuals to decide, with the exception of the Northern Irish regiments.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | August 11, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Lane was brilliant including Robinsons "Final Durban Report". It was the typical drivel self-promoting loud-mouthed activists spew.
There is a place for NGOs, most actually do something.
But we have seen a new breed of them emerge since the 70s, typically led by American Jewish progressive lawyers and Euroweenie Left lawyers.
They rarely help a soul. Their main job is fundraising that is not passed to any in need, but fuel plush lawyer paychecks and lifestyles and their "international presige"
Mary Robinson and Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch are quite typical.
They seek media attention avidly, generally blame the West and particularly America for anything.
Their main product, as lawyer activists, is resolutions and declarations that this group or that nation "fails" to honor perfectly this or that part of "UN law" or "agreed-upon principles". Since most Muslim nations, despot nations like Cuba, Burma, and N KOrea ignore them - they direct most hostility towards the West.

And Robinson and others add another counterproductive facet - demanding "the world must do something!!" about some bad crisis...then deciding to act as criminal prosecution advocates of any nation that does act, but acts imperfectly.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | August 11, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Historically, Ireland has not been an 'empire building' nation. They have been over-run by various invaders over the centuries and have managed to maintain their core national identity in spite of this. To someone like me this indicates a naturally occuring 'underdog' sympathy that is now deeply ingrained in their national psyche. ... Is this a 'crime'? I think not.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | August 11, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

This ridiculous trinket has been given to Paul Bremer, George Tenet and Tommy Franks ... and you think MARY ROBINSON devalues the award?!?!

Posted by: bourassa1 | August 11, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

what an utterly wretched piece of drivel. i hope you spend your shekels wisely.

Posted by: praxitas | August 11, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"...Robinson showed a prosecutorial attitude toward Israel when she was United Nations High Commissioner..."

Well then give her two medals!

Posted by: mot2win | August 11, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I can not comment knowledgeably on Mary Robinson's record on matters concerning Israel. I do, however, fault her for her cowardly failure as High Commissioner for Human Rights to deal seriously with the international trafficking of women, especially for commercial sexual exploitation. A woman in authority who plays it safe and looks the other way when many thousands of women are being enslaved is not a fit recipient of a medal celebrating human freedom.

Posted by: Amanita1 | August 11, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

WAAH!!!! Where did the Washington Post dredge up this loser? He won't be winning any awards soon. Or ever. Low standards, even for the "new" Washington Post!

Posted by: thrh | August 11, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

And PLEASE, Mr. Lane,

explain how any group in the world could talk about HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

and not uttter a word about the savage warmongering Israelis? Screaming lately that US blood and money must bomb Iran.

Another whine, another day. And the group of people hated in every century, in every place they have appeared display the same behavior and whine as history repeats.

It is beyond reason.

Posted by: kindfrazier | August 11, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

This column is eerily reminiscent of the unsigned March 12, 2009, hatchet job the Post did on Charles W. Freeman, Jr. Could Lane have been the author of that one too? Pure pro-Israel propaganda.

Posted by: DMon707 | August 12, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Many of us who are critical of Israeli Policies, are certainly not helped by your blatant antisemitism.The"group of people hated in every century" have probably done more good for the world per capita, than any other

Posted by: aussiebarry | August 12, 2009 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I know....let's all come up with a "Why ____ doesn't deserve ______" column. These are pretty easy to do. The really trick here is to make it really long and just try to sound like you know what you're talking about.

Maybe this could be a future post at the Post: "Why Charles Lane Doesn't Doesn't Deserve A Column at the Washington Post"

Posted by: wkristol | August 12, 2009 3:50 AM | Report abuse

"ireland was neutral."

that is so.
except for the fact that the irish leader signed a condolence book on the death of hitler.

Posted by: razor2 | August 12, 2009 5:32 AM | Report abuse

kindfrazier "a group of people hated in every century"

a truly shameful post.

Posted by: razor2 | August 12, 2009 5:39 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, may I suggest that in future before you write an article you actually do some research. To state: "I just don’t think Robinson, though an accomplished civil rights lawyer in her youth, a skilled self-promoter and a fixture at global confabs, has done anything especially meritorious in those areas, much less meritorious enough to outweigh the troubling part of her record" is just lazy journalism. Here's a tip: Google, Mary Robinson + Rwanda, Mary Robinson + Somalia, Mary Robinson + Women's Rights, Mary Robinson + The Elders. Pay special attention to the last one, Mr. Lane, if she is good enough for Mandela perhaps she should be good enough for you. Oh, and by the way may I also point out that striving for human rights is slightly more difficult than you make it out to be. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, I'm sure googling your subject in the name of research is far more complicated than I could possibly imagine.

Posted by: brabbit2 | August 12, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

All true but (I cannot recall the exact words or source)...90% of life is just showing up.

Just as Hollywood immerses itself in self gratification and endless awards shows --- most of whom are honored just for showing up over time --- so do bureucrats and the other hangers on who populate the international "important gathering" circuit.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | August 12, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

What, an anti-Israel European leader? How shocking!
So ingrained is European hatred for Israel and Jews (and the United States) that they gladly embrace any fascist, terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
In this respect, Robinson is in perfect alignment with most American liberals, including Obama.

Posted by: scvaughan | August 12, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

It is getting real hard to read the Washington Post. Everyone wants to be be controversial and funny. This drivel by Mr Lane is pretty much why I no longer bother to read any thing other than "straight" news on the Post. I regret clicking and reading this silly story.This coming on the heel of Mr Lane's "Obama death panels" on health reform, it is clear Mr Lane is now taking the "rile them up" route.

Posted by: RickJohnson621 | August 12, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Where were you when G. W. Bush awarded he medal to:

Right-ring kranks such as:
Irving Kristol
Norman Podhoretz

Serial incompetents such as:
Paul Bremer (former Viceroy of Iraq)

Warmongerers such as:
Donald Rumsfeld
Dick Cheney (awarded by Bush pere)
Tony Blair
Jeanne Kirkpatrick

NRA nutjobs such as:
Charlton Heston

You and fellow travellers were nowhere to be heard.

Indeed, the medal is awarded "for especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

It's hard to see how any of the above-mentioned made an especially meritorious contribution to either(1), (2), or (3) above.

But Mary Robinson? She was tough on Isreal by actually insisting that the State of Israel respect human rights (my, she MUST be an anti-semite!!!).

Therefore, who cares that HER meritorious accomplishments inclde the following:

"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."

Once again, WaPo shows its vile biases. And in this case, they also include sexism.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | August 12, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane needs to learn that his opinions are worth less than the paper they're printed on. BTW, if you spit at the sky, the spit falls on your face. I'll be celebrating when Mary Robinson gets her award.

Posted by: August30 | August 12, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Always about Israel, isn't it? I have found another reasons I have more or less stopped reading the Washington Post (and other US newspapers). Charles Lane is just another Zionist bigot, something for which the WashPost has an affinity.

Posted by: InspectorOh | August 12, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Add Charles Lane to Bill Kristol (son of Irving Kristol), who used to be a good guy when he published The Reporter which published Meg Greenfield among others., Michael Gerson and a couple of other slime balls I can't think of right now.
I agree 2 medals for speaking out against Israel.
Am I an anti-semite? Two of my best friends are named Rosenthal and Lieberman(not the indicted vice president of Israel)
Just now shouting about bombing Iran? I think it has been going on for years.
Ann Bier

Posted by: jimsbier | August 12, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, the honoring of Robinson--for contribution to FREEDOM no less--provides a window onto the mind of the President.

Posted by: Roytex | August 12, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Zionism IS the worst form of racism, being the apartheid-tyoe variety, as Jimmy Carter has the courage to say and repeat, and as Mary Robinson, I am sure, deeply feels that it is but gracefully caused the phrase to be removed from the final communique of WCAR in Durban on August 18, 2001, about three weeks before 9/11. Had the US/Israeli and several Western delegations to the WCAR recognised the immense wisdom of Mary Robinson at that time, 9/11 would not have happened, and much of the misery that has, cince, been visited on the human fraternity would not have happened.

Oh! No doubt 9/11 had been in the preparation for months if not years before; but putting your hand on the trigger does not necessarily result in your shooting of your target. Often enough it only means, "look, I am desperate; I know that I am right, and I have reached my limit in trying to knock reason into your head, in trying to make you respect my dignity." Mary Robinson sought to calm things down and went beyond her own convictions in accommodating US/Israeli objections to a communique that the world's majority, through the leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement, has unreservedly endorsed. But, the US,Israel and certain Western nations were stubborn in their folly. Earlier, the US had ignored warnings that Iran had passed on to their intelligence services that, after Ahmad Shah Masood's assassination, a critical redline had been breached.

But AIPAC's satanic influence was even worse than that catastrophic narrative indicates. Under its influence, George Bush signified that it would block any candidacy of Mary Robinson for the position of Secretary General of the UN. The overwhelming majority of the world agree that Mary Robinson would have made the best UN Secretary General in the history of that international organisation seeking to articulate some form of world governance.

One redeeming feature is that one of the best and most respectable professional organisations in the world, Physicians for Human Rights, is standing up in strong support of Mary Robinson, thereby throwing light on the monstrously hideous face of AIPAC.

Posted by: FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER | August 12, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't tell from reading this: is it her qualifications or her politics you dispute? Most of the objections you raise have to do with her disputes over US policies. Seeing that US foreign policy for the last eight years has been despicable I cannot concur with your superficial name-calling.

I don't know much about Ms Robinson and you have raised no reliable facts only questionable opinion. Pretty lightweight.

Posted by: joebanks | August 12, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Well, the simple fact is that Zionism IS a form of racism. In fact, it is one of the more virulent forms these days.

Posted by: sammcfarland | August 12, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Here's a hint folks - you can be against Israeli policy and not be anti-semitic. And, because Ireland has had polarizing issues of a similar nature over the past several hundred years, I think they have a good perspective. I mean, since Northern Ireland has quieted down, why can't Israel be a nice guy and give the Palestinians a place to call their own?

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | August 12, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Mary Robinson is a brilliant woman who speaks the truth. She has spent her life trying to make the world better and doing so she has stepped on the toes of the power mongers and those that kill and destroy. We need more of her and less of the Bushes, the Israeli leaders, etc. I was fortunate enough to meet this gracious,intelligent woman and considered it an honour to breath in the same room she was in

Posted by: DLN1 | August 12, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

" why can't Israel be a nice guy and give the Palestinians a place to call their own?"

Why not?

I have only two questions.

Why do so many want Israel to give up all settlements before any peace treaty. it seems if they make these concessions, there will be no reason for a conference and no reason for peace. Why give up the store right now?

And what of the Arabs that want it all and who are ready to fight to the list child bomber to gain their ends. If we had a signed peace, it would be time. Not now.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | August 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It's so easy to gloss over Robinson's disdain for GWBush and his "war on terror". What Lane fails to say is that Robinson voiced this disdain in 2001 and 2002. She was an ardent non-supporter of the US, and it's desire to get Al-Queda in Afghanistan. Of course, now Obama is ramping up Afghanistan again and she is as mum as a churchmouse. This reduces her to nothing more than a partisan shill, and certainly no friend of the US.

Posted by: kieran2001 | August 12, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Note that Mr Lane never goes after Desmond Tutu, who will also receive the award.

Here is what he had to say in regards to Israel....

"In the context of total aerial supremacy, in which one side in the conflict deploys lethal aircraft against opponents with no means of defending themselves, the bombardment bears all the hallmarks of war crimes,' Tutu said in a statement. The attacks would not contribute to the security of Israel, said the anti-apartheid icon who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984. 'It is a blight not only on the Middle East, but on the entire world - and particularly world leaders who have consistently failed the people of Palestine and Israel over the past 60 years,' Tutu added."

I guess Lane felt he could not so effectively assassinate Tutu's character as he has done with his non fact based attack on Robinson.

Do the same truths told by Tutu not bother him, or is it that he knows he can't take his cheap shots at someone like Tutu?

WAPO could do better than Lane by flagging down random passerby and handing them a keyboard

Posted by: real_democrat | August 12, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I have called and emailed the White House my shock at this undeserved honor for Mary Robinson, an enemy not only of Israel but of the United States.

Much of my concern stems from the apparently bad advice his advisers are given this newly-fledged President. Just look at the number of high-level appointments that have gone bad! And some of his unfortunate off-the-cuff remarks on various subjects.

Obama asked for and got the toughest job in the world. With this disastrous appointment, he is further alarming his supporters, ESPECIALLY on the subject of Israel! People should continue lambasting him on this; it might avert another disaster.

Posted by: higgsbosono | August 12, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

kindfrazier "a group of people hated in every century"

a truly shameful post.
Posted by: razor2
It is not shameful. It is historically accurate. In country after country, civilization after civilization...Jews are welcomed in, tolerated - then something happens over time - the Jews are considered less welcome. Populations feeling exploited, manipulated, wealth garnished, having a loss of control over their own destiny...Finally, the welcome mat is rolled up.
This pattern goes back to ancient times, and persists up to this day.
The Jews like to characterize this as a "mental disease" which afflicts all people but themselves, the "disease" of what they call anti-semitism.
Attributable to things such as intellectual inadequacy compared to that of Jews, envy, stupid Catholic & Muslim superstition, resentment of Jews superior place in past and present societies in positions of wealth and power. Or the ingratitude of the rabble and peasants as Jews being prime movers of flawed societies - into better societies, change agents. Via Jewish legal advisors to Roman proconsuls, to Islamic emirs and sultans. As as viziers, tax collectors, courtiers and financiers to European aristocracy. As key players in destroying injust old orders and replacing the with more enlightened systems like Communism in Europe, Jews running key sectors in industrialized societies in the West and in Muslim lands in certain centuries. And now a more legalistic America governed by "Rule of Law" (and lawyers & lobbyists) in nearly every aspect of life - vs. the old bad America of swift justice, majority rule and ignorant masses voting on what they wanted.

In just 60 years we have seen Jews go from having a majority of nations supporting their own State of Israel, with positive feelings towards Jews - to just one country still backing what the Jewish State has done.

In a sense, this is as remarkable, in a negative way over thousands of years of history - as Jewish accomplishments in arts and sciences over time.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | August 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Lane makes the usual linear-thinker mistake of believing that the US is always right.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 12, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse


"I guess Lane felt he could not effectively assassinate Tutu's character as he has done with his non-fact based attack on Robinson."

You credit Lane with too much discretion. Lane and his ilk, his WaPo enablers, and AIPAC would lable Mother Theresa a Nazi cat house employee if she had ever commented about Israel's inhuman rights record. To those fanatics, no one is above being slandered where Israel is concerned.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | August 12, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

higgsbosono said..
"I have called and emailed the White House my shock at this undeserved honor for Mary Robinson, an enemy not only of Israel but of the United States.

Much of my concern stems from the apparently bad advice his advisers are given this newly-fledged President. "

Or else he knows exactly what he is doing and is not shocked. It has been widely reported that his vetting process is almost too strict.

Further you state...
"...he is further alarming his supporters, ESPECIALLY on the subject of Israel! People should continue lambasting him..."

Perhaps you might consider that not everyone in the USA sees everything through the lens of what it might mean to Israel?

Posted by: real_democrat | August 12, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

What? No outrage for Medal awards to Tenet and Brownie?

Posted by: lufrank1 | August 12, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

A quick aside:

Maybe Robinson should refuse to accept the award...

I mean, co-awardee with such as
Bill Kristol and the disaster Paul Bremer?

Posted by: kindfrazier | August 12, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The usual "if they're critical of Israel they deserve only derision" drival. The Post hasn't met an apologist for Israel they don't like. And I'm talking about the Israeli government and it's policies, not the Jewish religion, so calm down.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 12, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Well done President Obama and congratulations to President Robinson. The fact that she spoke out against the vicious human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel among others is precisely why she deserves to be the recipient of the award. When will the fanatical supporters of Israel learn that there is no moral amnesty for Israel? Public support for Israel in the U.S. is rapidly evaporating and that is their own fault.

Posted by: truthdog | August 12, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

ChrisFord1 counters kindfrazier's obviously vile antisemitic comment in part with this gem...

"Attributable to things such as intellectual inadequacy compared to that of Jews, envy, stupid Catholic & Muslim superstition, resentment of Jews superior place"

Thats a great way to bridge the gap.

That will convince all the "intellectual inadequate" and "stupid" people to have a better appreciation "of Jews superior place" and "the ingratitude of the rabble and peasants" will come to an end.

Posted by: real_democrat | August 12, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The Medal of Freedom award has as much substance, merit, and general importance as the gold star I got 68 years ago on the first-grade paper I recently unearthed.

Why do supposed grownups spin their wheels and waste everybody's time with foolishness like this?

Posted by: norriehoyt | August 12, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

“There’s a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community,” she has said. “They bully people who try to address the severe situation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Absolutely. And the bullying is not confined to gentiles. Jews who cross The Israel Lobby and the established orthodoxy on Israel routinely get attacked and smeared. Numerous Jews will attest to this.

Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, is but one example. The attacks on Dr. Finkelstein were far more vicious and savage than those launched against Mrs. Robinson. His career was ruined, and he has been blacklisted because he dared publish books not agreeable to Israel and its supporters.

It is not a pre-requisite to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom that one bow2Isarel.

Posted by: Garak | August 12, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I had the opportunity to meet with Mary Robinson and her staff when she visited Israel in 2008 as head of a delegation of eminent women leaders. I saw firsthand her genuine commitment to human rights and a sustainable peace in the Middle East. During her 2008 visit, Mrs. Robinson met with a broad spectrum of Israelis including officials like Mayor of Sderot Eli Moyal, Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, as well as members of the Peace and Security Council, a group of retired senior military officials who provide expert opinions on security matters, and with human rights activitsts. It was my impression then that Mrs. Robinson’s genuine and longstanding commitment to human rights earned her the respect of Israelis across a wide range of political views.

The current wave of criticism contains factual errors and and is misleading, particularly with regard to the Durban anti-racism conference. Such rhetoric distracts attention from the real issues that need to be addressed to foster peace and security for Israel and its neighbors.

I urge those who voice this unwarranted criticism to turn their attention to finding constructive solutions to the challenges that stand in the way of peace and acknowledge Mary Robinson – who has worked diligently for the promotion of human rights and conflict resolution – as the deserving recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Posted by: ddremez | August 12, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

As usual, columns like this attract jewhaters like s**t attracts flies. Although in this case it's the attractees that are the s**t.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | August 12, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I think the posting is well reasoned. Robinson's genuine accomplishments are modest against MOF standards and her track record mixed.

Those who suggest that the medal has been devalued by the inclusion of folks like Bremer, Franks and Tenet are correct. Mary Robinson is also undeserving.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 12, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

To see the other side I'd recommend Anna Baltzer's CD "Anna in the Middle East".
Here is an American Jew with the courage to highlight the Palestinian persecution as a result of the occupation.

Posted by: bocatty | August 12, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse


But what is the joy of being a vizier of the rich, European or Roman, if those you "vizier" wouldn't let you in their house on a bet, or certainly not among your friends.

Probably the happiness comes from the ancient and very present chance to sneer
at the stupid Catholic and Muslim superstition...and all the inadequacy of the rest of us. And never learning at thing.

The reward of being able to live without real fear of your neighbors and of horrible ovens notwithstanding.

Today the NYT's resident Israeli reporter talks about ISrael being fearful of the "calm" of this summer, and in effect, casting around all their enemies looking for someone to bomb before they can make any 'potential' trouble.
THAT's superior intelligence.

Posted by: kindfrazier | August 12, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

What drivel.

This isn't just an attack on Mary Robinson. This is attack on all well-meaning people who criticize Israel for its human rights abuses(including many Israeli citizens). As always, the Israel-firsters conflate mere criticism of Israel with antisemitism. That AIPAC and the thugs allied to it are so one-sided, and so out of touch and so disconnected from reality is not so surprising when you realize they represent the interests of a foreign government, and should be recognized as such.

By attacking Robinson, what these Zionist extremist are telling everyone is: It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter what you have accomplished in life or what your reputation is. But if you dare criticize Israel, AIPAC and all the ultra-Zionist stooges in the media will vilify you and drag your name through the mud.

If anything, her criticism of Israel makes her even more deserving, not less deserving of this medal, in my opinion.

Posted by: libanios5 | August 12, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Deep Throat 21 has hit the mark. Mary Robinson's views toward Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are the direct result of the Irish people's experience. While I disagree with her views on Israel, I can understand, at least to a point, why she holds these views.

Posted by: Watersville | August 12, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane can kill himself now, because I saw the wonderful photo of Obama putting the medal on Mrs. Robinson. Brought a tear to my eye. Thank you Obama. Charles Lane, go eat dirt and die.

Posted by: August30 | August 12, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Hating Jews for their ancestry is wrong.

But reprimanding Israel for its atrocious treatment of the Gaza and West Bank Palestinians is absolutely right.

Mary Robinson did the latter, not the former. That willingness to speak truth, in the face of utterly predictable backlash from the Israel-can-do-no-wrong faction, is worth a medal.

Posted by: DupontJay | August 12, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

President of the United States Barack Obama has taken a giant step in courage as he continues to distance himself from the spinelssness and coawadice of George Bush who was a flunky for Zionism, neo-cons and Israeli Nazism.

Bush was was a supplicant who would never cross the AIPAC den of spies and unregistered foreign agents. Praise God that we now have a President who is not spooked by these AIPAC thugs and spies.

Congratulations Ms. Robinson.

Posted by: DCSage | August 12, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

All of us need constructive criticism from time to time. Every single entity. At times, all humans have been 'oversensitive' to certain key words regarding certain causes. World citizen Robinson is being awarded (positive context) FOR some things, not for what she may be against. We all suffer at times from 'generalizations' of certain issues. This does not necessarily mean we are against something. In three decades, involving five visits, totaling three months, three weeks and six days have I ever heard that Israel doesn't have a "right to exist" from any Irish national. By this same token, I have never heard the "same" with regard to the Palestinians either.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | August 12, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | August 12, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | August 12, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Well they got it done, no Chas Freeman situation this time.

I delight that their squealing nonsense resulted in little more than to illustrate what fools they are.

I look forward to more of their loopy eye rolling demonstrations of righteous indignation replete with the hurling of charges of antisemitism and character assignation.

Its an Industry.

An industry of whiners who hold forth with all the charm of a steel rake dragged across a slate chalkboard.

Posted by: real_democrat | August 12, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Lane does his side a disservice. Nobody would have cared about the medal... except now those with an axe to grind attack her. The overzealousness of some to document every slight (perceived or real) against Jews only shows the trait that rallies so many of the weak-minded against Jews. Play into that stereotype at will, I guess.

Posted by: steveboyington | August 12, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The United States of Israel doesn't now how to deal with people with moral courage and intellectual honesty.

Posted by: patrick3 | August 12, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

The nerve! The outrage! A human rights activist criticizes Israel! A award to this woman? My God, how did they let her in the country? Doesn't the Post control Israel critics any more? The voice of AIPAC and the zionists let this woman into the White House without protest - without pulling its White House correspondent in protest? This outrage cannot stand. The Post must intimate that she likes Chavez, and I am sure she has visited Cuba.

Posted by: dcpsycho | August 12, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

And, pray tell, why in the world did Blair, Tenet, and Rumsfeld deserve the medal ? ?

Bush made a complete joke out of the award.


Posted by: swanieaz | August 12, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Telling the truth. This president has his own left wing agenda based in ideology not fact. His stance on defending democracy was made fairly clear when he returned the statue of Winston Churchill to England, his praise of Chavez, the Mullah's of Iran and his full formal bow to the Saudi King who funds schools that preach hate and anti democratic values. His choice of a fellow bigot for the award is not surprising.

Posted by: djfeiger | August 12, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

now that your efforts at killing the nomination have come to naught, maybe you can begin a push for a revocation? silly man.

Posted by: praxitas | August 12, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

WaPo simply cannot lay off the personal attacks against anyone it perceives as being unfriendly to the Zionist project in Israel.

Mary Robinson is an excellent woman fully deserving of this and the other rewards she has received. Other than that other Robinson (Eugene), one would have a hard time finding anyone nearly so worthy working at WaPo.

The more I read of The Washington Post these days, the more I realize how deeply the neoconservatives have sunk their teeth into what used to be a fine newspaper.

How will it end? Being so offensive to so many of its readers, how much longer can WaPo survive without huge injections of capital from wealthy ideologues who want to convert it into a daily version of such neocon rags as The New Republic and The Weekly Standard?

Posted by: PJohnson1 | August 12, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

A few things:

1) Anti-Semitism ( or Jew hatred, a term I prefer) can be defined as special rules and conditions and perceptions imposed on Jews and on no one else.Based on Bishop Tutu and Mary Robinson's remarks and actions towards the only Jewish state in the world, they eminently qualify. It's a matter of record that the UN HRC Ms. Robinson headed and that Bishp Tutu was appointed 'chief investigative officer' for found time for no other country but Israel. Not a word on Darfur, for instance.

In my experience, scratch an 'anti-Zionist' and you almost always find a Jew hater - and normally you don't have to dig very deep.

2) This article is about Mary Robinson - bringing in Bush honorees you happen to dislike is the equivalent of a ten year old kid caught in a misdeed and trying to excuse it by saying 'he did it too'! As I've often said, to really understand the Angry Left, a knowledge of child psychology helps a lot.

3) The Israel bashers that appear to have crawled out from underneath their rocks have no clue of how vital the Israel alliance is to America, how many American lives Israel has saved ( as opposed to Hezbollah and Hamas)or how the aid to Israel, 80% of which is spent here is one of the best foreign policy bargains the US ever made. Nothing I or any other logical person said would ever convince them, but a thought towards what the casualties in the Gulf War would have been if Israel had not taken out the Osirak reactor in Iraq or how many more Americans would have been killed in Falujah if not for Israeli training is a good starting point.

On the other hand, President Obama appears not to realize this either.That's something American Jews should consider when they go to the ballot box - believe it or not, what happens to Israel affects you.

3) Israel is highly necessary, and a number of the views on display here prove why. or it ought to.

Israel stays - deal with it.


Posted by: JoshuaPundit | August 12, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Careful, thorough, well-reasoned and intelligent article. I admire your work.

Thanks for the effort...and courage, in light of some of the unfortunate comments following.

Posted by: janeb2 | August 13, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Washington Post must learn what the rest of the world knows, ZIONIST ISRAEL IS THE NEW NAZI GERMANY.

Posted by: goldhatresearch | August 13, 2009 4:44 AM | Report abuse

How is it possible that Mary Robinson got the award and Bernie Madoff did not?

Posted by: goldhatresearch | August 13, 2009 4:57 AM | Report abuse

As a liberal, and defender of America's radical revolution against King George III, I do not think Robinson deserved any award, but I must ask "scvaughan" -- When did you stop sodomizing the ghost of Hitler, patron saint of conservatives?

Posted by: matthewjblack | August 13, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

The only nazis in Israel are Palestinian, so the posts here reminds us that in America, the Ku Klux Klan still hates Jews, too.

Posted by: matthewjblack | August 13, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Obama gave Billy Jean King a medal yesterday. I had read previously that AIPAC was against her because SHE DIDN'T EAT A BAGEL! What idiocy.

Posted by: jimsbier | August 13, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The anti-Jews have oozed from the muck in force. Have any of you blockheads considered the 21 Arab states that practice true apartheid. In Israel Christians and Muslims and Jews from every possible ethnic background live and prosper. Go to Saudi Arabia, the source of the Islamic scourge, and practice anything but Wahabism and you risk your life. Hell, even try living there as a Shiite! You Israel bashers represent the underside of the pond scum - the thinly veiled anti-Semites of the 21st century.

Posted by: WilliamJB | August 13, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Joshua Pundit (smirk smirk)

Why on EARTH would you think anyone cares what "terms you perfer",

what you decide are "special rules" and
whether you think you can get away with pretending knowledge of "child psychology".

You really must think, notwithstanding your
adolescent yipping, that you are superior and can tell the rest of us a 'few things'.

Opinion is one thing, declaration of what is is silly. It looks silly.

Not quite as silly as the graph about how helpful Israel has been to the US...
practically no one would argue that Israel has been anything but a burden world wide,
a money grubber of American taxpayers and a parasite.

Who in the world thinks otherwise? Please enumerate.

And one wonders...those who constantly call everyone anti-semites must by now have concluded that most people are. Or how could everyone be?

Posted by: kindfrazier | August 13, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who expresses an opinion not worshipful of Israel are " Israel bashers that appear to have crawled out from underneath their rocks" and
are "anti-Jews have oozed from the muck in force".

Too funny.

Posted by: real_democrat | August 13, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

She is being called an anti-semite, funny when you realize the Irish decended from the Semites. Two wrongs never make a right, so excusing Israeli atrocities because of Palestinian ones is absurd. The Old Testment eye for an eye is really a finger for an arm concerning innocent casualties body counts. It will take 3 generations of public brainwashing to stop the majority on both sides from hating and destroying each other. Israel and Palestine were thought up in the 20's by the League of nations, one was created and the other side still suffers by it's own hand and Israel's. West Bank Palestinians live far better than the starving masses in Gaza.

Posted by: jameschirico | August 14, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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