Middle East studies in the News
Author of Durban I Gets Medal of Freedom [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Jennifer Rubin
Contentions (blog of Commentary magazine)
July 30, 2009
Mary Robinson, U.N. Commissioner and former president of Ireland, is being awarded the Medal of Freedom by Obama. Well, isn't that just dandy. Who is Mary Robinson? You may remember her role in presiding over the infamous Durban I Conference. At the time she joined Rashid Khalidi at Columbia University (no, you can't make this up), this report summarized the objections to her hiring, given her record in overseeing the infamous Israel-bashing event:
Columbia has "become a hotbed of anti-Israel haters," said the president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein. "It's especially astonishing that a school with such a large Jewish population would insult Jewish people by hiring these haters of the Jewish state of Israel."
The groups also blame Ms. Robinson for allowing the Durban conference to become a global platform for anti-Israel venting. Ms. Robinson, as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, rejected many American demands to remove anti-Israel language from final conference documents.
"Under Mary Robinson's leadership the Human Rights Commission was one-sided and extremist. In her tenure at the HRC, she lacked fairness in her approach to the Israeli/Palestinian issue," said the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, James Tisch. "I am hopeful — for the sake of her students and the reputation of Columbia — that as she enters the world of academia she will demonstrate more balance in her views."
Recently deceased congressman and human-rights champion Tom Lantos had this to say:
Mary Robinson's lack of leadership was a major contributing factor to the debacle in Durban. Her yearning to have a "dialogue among civilizations" blinded her to the reality that the noble goals of her conference had been usurped by some of the world's least tolerant and most repressive states, wielding human rights claims as a weapon in a political dispute.
But Durban was not the only blot on her record. As Michael Rubin pointed out in this 2002 column, in her capacity as president of Ireland, she also happily provided millions of dollars of support to the PLO, which were used in terror attacks:
During the last four years of Robinson's tenure, the European Union donated large sums of money to the Palestinian Authority. Ireland even held the presidency of the European Union for the second half of 1996. During this time, Arafat siphoned large amounts of European aid money away to pay for terror. Robinson can plead ignorance, but documents seized during the recent Israeli incursion into the West Bank revealed that the Palestinian Authority spent approximately $9 million of European Union aid money each month on the salaries of those organizing terror attacks against civilians. While European officials like Robinson looked the other way, the Palestinian Authority regularly converted millions of dollars of aid money into shekels at rates about 20 percent below normal, allowing the Palestinian chairman to divert millions of dollars worth of aid into his personal slush fund.
And then in her post-Durban career, she proceeded on the same Israel-bashing course that has made her infamous among supporters of Israel:
Robinson's post-Durban record is little better. On April 15, Robinson's commission voted on a decision that condoned suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood (six European Union members voted in favor including, not surprisingly, France and Belgium). The vote came after Robinson initiated a drive to become a fact finder to investigate the now-famous massacre in Jenin (also known as "the massacre that never happened").
There are no words to describe how atrocious a selection this is. But it does speak volumes about the president's sympathies. And now, will the same voices that condemned her appointment to Columbia step forward? We hope. Somewhere, Tom Lantos is weeping.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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