ZOA Urges UC Berkeley To Cancel Honoring Israel-Basher Mary Robinson
September 7, 2011

New York, NY  (September 7, 2011) – In a letter sent last Friday to officials at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly urged the School to rescind its decision to honor Israel-basher Mary Robinson as a “2012 Public Health Hero” next March.  Robinson is a past president of Ireland and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Detailing Robinson’s long record of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel extremism, the ZOA stated that the honor is supposed to recognize individuals for “‘their significant contribution and exceptional commitment to promoting and protecting the health of the human population.’  But Mary Robinson has failed to show that contribution to and commitment to the health of the human population who are Jewish, particularly Jews living in Israel – over 10,000 of whom have been maimed and disfigured, and almost 2000 of whom have been murdered over the past decade as the result of Palestinian Arab suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.”


The ZOA cited many examples of Mary Robinson’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel record, including:


·         When Robinson was the president of Ireland (from 1990 to 1997), she played a key role in pushing the European Union (EU) to provide massive support to the terrorist Yasser Arafat, then the leader of the Palestinian Arabs.  “While European officials like Robinson looked the other way, the Palestinian Authority regularly converted millions of dollars of EU aid money into shekels at rates about 20 percent below normal, allowing  the Palestinian chairman [Arafat] to divert millions of dollars’ worth of aid into his personal slush fund. . . . European funds enabled Arafat to purchase $50 million worth of sophisticated Iranian weaponry for use against civilians.”  (Michael Rubin, “Mary Robinson:  War Criminal?” National Review Online, May 20, 2002) 


·         During the so-called Nakba riots in May 1998, when Jews were assaulted at prayer by rioting Palestinians, Mary Robinson – then the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – spoke only of the Arab rioters who were killed and injured by Israeli police – who were acting in their own defense and in defense of the worshippers – as victims, and called on Israel to “respect the right of peaceful assembly, to avoid the excessive use of force.”  UN Watch, an independent Geneva-based group whose mandate is to monitor the UN’s performance by the yardstick of the UN’s own charter, wrote in May 1998 that “Mary Robinson fans the flames of Middle East conflict when she describes Palestinian demonstrators hurling bricks, rocks and Molotov cocktails as a ‘peaceful assembly.’”  (http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2009/08/04/something-about-mary/)


·         In September 2000, UN Watch accused Mary Robinson of ignoring impartiality and integrity when she named Mona Rishmawi – who has compared Israel’s policies to those of the Nazis – as her senior advisor.  According to UN Watch, Rishmawi expressed this “scandalous” view in writing and Robinson was aware of it when she appointed Rishmawi.  (http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2009/08/04/something-about-mary/)


·         Robinson was the driving force behind the 2001 “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” (Durban I), which has been described as “little more than an intellectual pogrom against Jews and Israel.  She failed to speak out when, on the grounds of the U.N. conference itself, the Arab Lawyers Union distributed pamphlets depicting hook-nosed Jews as Nazis spearing Palestinian children.  In the same tent where nongovernmental organizations depicted Israel as a ‘racist, apartheid state,’ were distributed fliers entitled, ‘What if Hitler had won?’ The answer: ‘There would be no Israel, and no Palestinian bloodshed.’”  (Michael Rubin, “Mary Robinson:  War Criminal?” National Review Online, May 20, 2002)  


·         The late U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Durban I conference.  (The delegation eventually withdrew when the U.S. boycotted the conference because of its hateful bias.)  In an article for a Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy publication at Tufts University, Congressman Lantos wrote:  “To many of us present at the events at Durban, it is clear that much of the responsibility for the debacle rests on the shoulders of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who, in her role as secretary-general of the conference, failed to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track. . . . [S]he refused to reject the twisted notion that the wrong done to the Jews in the Holocaust was equivalent to the pain suffered by the Palestinians in the Middle East.”  (http://www.eyeontheun.org/assets/attachments/articles/568_durban_debacle.pdf)


·         In April 2002, Robinson’s Human Rights Commission voted on a decision that condoned suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood.  UN Watch wrote:  “Robinson endorsed Palestinian propaganda that accusations of using Palestinian ambulances to convey explosives were baseless Israeli lies.  In doing so, she chose to place greater trust in the Palestinian statement than in that of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which witnessed the unloading of an explosive ‘suicide belt’ from an ambulance and its controlled detonation.”  (http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2009/08/04/something-about-mary/) (emphasis added)


Other groups besides the ZOA have spoken out against honoring Mary Robinson.  When President Obama decided to honor her in 2009, AIPAC expressed its “deep disappointment,” noting “Robinson’s dishonorable role in the Durban debacle, her tenure on the UNHRC was deeply flawed, and her conduct marred by extreme, one-sided anti-Israel sentiment.”  (http://www.aipac.org/~/media/Publications/Policy%20and%20Politics/Press/AIPAC%20Statements/2009/08/AIPACDeeplyDisappointedOverRobinson04Aug09.pdf).  The Anti-Defamation League said that honoring Robinson was “ill-advised,” noting “an animus towards Israel as evidenced by her tenure” at the UN where “she became a lead cheerleader for the Palestinian narrative.”  http://www.adl.org/PresRele/UnitedNations_94/5575_94.htm)


Even European and international umbrella groups for Jewish organizations have opposed honoring Mary Robinson.  European Jewish Congress leader Moshe Kantor stated that the “honor will simply provide additional fodder for those who choose to hate rather than work for real tolerance and human rights.”  (http://www.ejpress.org/article/38302).  The World Jewish Congress, the international organization representing Jewish communities in 92 countries around the world, also criticized honoring Robinson, stating that her tenure at the UN “featured much anti-Israel activity, including distorted condemnatory reports and statements, an endorsement of Palestinian violence as legitimate political activity, and the outrageous equating of the Holocaust to the suffering of the Palestinians.  We believe that her performance in the UNCHR renders her unqualified to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.”  (http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=ind_focus.story&STORY=/www/story/08-06-2009/0005073472&EDATE=)


When Robinson was appointed to the faculty of Columbia University in 2004, James Tisch, then-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group for more than 50 major national Jewish groups across the religious and political spectrums, said, “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.”  (http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=14336)



Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, stated, “It is particularly appalling that UC Berkeley would choose to honor Mary Robinson when she has not seemingly learned from all the well-deserved criticism of her anti-Semitic and anti-Israel record, and publicly apologized for it.  Instead, Robinson has publicly lashed out, claiming that ‘certain elements of the Jewish community’ have engaged in bullying.  But public scrutiny and criticism of a public official’s record by the largest and most important Jewish groups around the world is legitimate and appropriate.  It is not bullying. 


“We are shocked that UC Berkeley would choose to honor Mary Robinson when the university was recently named as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit by a Jewish female student who was physically assaulted on campus, in an unprovoked attack by an anti-Israel activist well-known to university officials for intimidating and inciting violence against Jewish students.  Berkeley’s decision to honor an individual with a record of vicious animus toward Jews and Israel only helps to corroborate the lawsuit’s claims — and the public’s growing perception – that the university and other officials in the University of California system have ignored and tolerated an anti-Semitic and Israel-bashing environment at Berkeley and other UC campuses. 


“UC Berkeley’s decision to honor Mary Robinson as a ‘Public Health Hero’ is insulting and morally wrong, and should be rescinded immediately.  The decision is even more appalling in light of the fact that UC Berkeley has such a large and loyal group of Jewish and pro-Israel students and alumni; it is a slap in the face to all of them.  There are many worthy candidates who are deserving of the UC Berkeley honor.  Mary Robinson is not one of them.”



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel.  The ZOA also works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses.  Under the leadership of such illustrious presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, and current National President Morton A. Klein, the  ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism.  www.zoa.org.


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