Israeli groups back medal pick

Seven Israeli human rights groups wrote to President Barack Obama this week to support the choice of Mary Robinson as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She and 15 others received the award Aug. 12.

“Mrs. Robinson deserves this honor for a lifetime of unflagging support to the cause of human rights in its many dimensions,” wrote the leaders of the groups, which included B’Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups criticized the choice of Robinson, saying she did not do enough to stop expressions of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred during the 2001 Durban conference against racism over which she presided as the United Nations high commissioner of human rights. They also charged that Robinson, the first female president of Ireland, has been an unfair critic of Israel and has an animus toward the Jewish state. — jta