Pro-Israel Groups Slam Former Irish President for Accusing Jews of Bullying

Mary Robinson's statement came after Obama administration awarded her nation's top civilian honor.

Cnaan Liphshiz
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Cnaan Liphshiz

Irish and British pro-Israel groups on Wednesday sharply criticized Irish former president Mary Robinson for accusing Jewish compatriots of "bullying" people who support Palestinians.

"Robinson's paranoid delusions about Jews are her problem," said Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chair of Britain and Ireland's Zionist Federation.

The ex-leader accused "certain elements" of the Jewish community of "bullying" after a number of pro-Israel groups, citing her role in the 2001 Durban conference, voiced concerns over her being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the top U.S. civilian honor.

The fact that Robinson associated herself with "the highly racist conference gave credence to that forum," said Tom Carew, chair of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League. He added Robinson "was not bullied in any way" apparent to him.

As United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robinson was involved and responsible for certain elements of the World Conference against Racism, which singled Israel out for acrimonious criticism and featured anti-Semitic materials. The U.S. did not support the continuation of her tenure after that.

Allegations of her condoning anti-Semitic behavior at Durban were "totally without foundation," she told RTE Radio One this week. "There's a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community. They bully people who try to address the severe situation in Gaza and the West Bank."

Ms Robinson said she was "very honored" to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"Perhaps Robinson could explain why - if Jews are so powerful - they were unable to stop the appalling racism seen on her watch in Durban," Hoffman said. "President Obama's decision to award her the medal seems to me therefore to send entirely the wrong message."

Carew said that "very few interventions in public debate have come from representatives of the very small Irish Jewish community [whose] representatives have occasionally privately met politicians, but always with a courteous approach."

He added that the "tiny pro-Israeli voices here" have neither funds, numbers, or premises, "nor do we use militant tactics. Robinson has no evidence to justify such a slur - it is not even an exaggeration, but totally baseless."

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