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A Medal Not Worth AIPAC's Mettle

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By Rich Cohen
Saturday, August 8, 2009

As an American Jew, I must raise my voice in protest against a recipient of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King, who, along with Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland, and Stephen Hawking, the physicist and decoder of time, is to be honored by Barack Obama, who, according to the New York Times, was recently referred to by a Jewish settler on the West Bank as "that Arab [you] call a president." (Actually, I call that "Arab" Mr. President.) It's not just that watchdog groups believe King to be hostile to Israel. Observers have seen her shun bagels at the breakfast buffet.

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What? That's not true?

Billie Jean King is totally cool?

The fuss is all about Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland?

She did what?

Served as the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, leading a body that has condemned Israel more times than it has any other nation, even the real bad ones like Chad and Sudan? Said, according to my father, many awful things about Jews -- especially shocking when you consider the fact that the Irish Republican Army was an early supporter of a Jewish state in Palestine. Presided over the U.N. Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which the United States boycotted and which descended into an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel hate-in?


Got it.

As an American Jew, I must raise my voice in protest against a recipient of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom, Mary Robinson, who, after leaving the United Nations, worked as a professor at Columbia University, which, as we all know, has become a gathering place for Israel haters.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of Washington's most influential lobbying organizations, has called on the Obama administration to "firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state."

(Presumably, Robinson's other views, the good ones on the environment, women's rights and tolerance in general, they can continue to praise.)

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