Leading in the outrage is Abraham H. Foxman, long past his sell-by date, who frets that awarding the distinguished Irish woman a Medal of Freedom is ill-advised. Foxman complains that "While Mary Robinson may have accomplishments to her credit, she also, unfortunately, has an animus toward Israel as evidenced by her tenure as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights." Foxman, who seems to spend many of his waking hours penning letters to the editor, complains that Robinson commits the sin of seeing of both sides to the conflict. For instance, in a radio interview, cited in the Anti-Defamation League statement signed by Foxman, Robinson is reported to have said: "On the Palestinian side, they are the victims, etc. On the Israeli side, they feel they are the victims, in some measure." "In some measure," how dare she deny Israelis full victimhood?
No doubt spoiled by the doting attentions of George Bush and Bill Clinton, some of Israel's supporters will not brook any criticism of Israel, ever the victim. One blogger opines that Ms. Robinson "was not properly vetted" by the White House. Surely, the White House should only honor guests who revere Israel unconditionally! This sort of willful aversion to painful truths has long impeded the shaping of a sensible U.S. policy.
If the hosting of Mary Robinson highlights the antics of Israel's spoiled supporters it is an instructive moment, and a reminder why a more balanced U.S. policy is welcome indeed. Finally, the award of the Medal of Freedom to Robinson, who has often been pointedly critical of conveniently selective outrage in the face of morally outrageous behavior, is itself commendable.