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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday slammed the Obama administration for its decision to give a former Irish president the presidential Medal of Freedom, saying they were "deeply disappointed" by the move.

In a statement, the pro-Israel group cited what it called Mary Robinson's "long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state" as making her unsuitable to receive the nation's highest civilian honor.

The statement cites Robinson's role in leading the "deeply flawed" UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and for her supervision of the 2001 Durban Conference on Racism, which was boycotted by the United States and equated Zionism with racism.

The statement claims Robinson's conduct on the UNHRC was "deeply flawed" and "marred by extreme, one-sided anti-Israel sentiment", and cites a 2002 UNHRC vote that "sought to condone Palestinian suicide bombings and terrorism".

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to AIPAC's criticism by saying that Robinson was being honored as the first female president of Ireland.

"She is somebody whom we are honoring as a prominent crusader of women's rights in Ireland and throughout the world," he said.

"There are statements that obviously she has made that the president doesn't agree with and that's probably true for a number of the people that the president is recognizing for their lifetime contributions."

Robinson - the first woman to serve as president of Ireland, is an honorary president of Oxfam International and serves as the chair of the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.

She dismissed the criticism she had received from Jewish groups, saying "there's a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community".