The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Obama administration has failed to select a new State Department Envoy for Combating and Monitoring Anti-Semitism. This important post, created during the Bush administration and filled admirably by Dr. Gregg Rickman until Obama took over, works with other countries on, as the title says, combating and monitoring anti-Semitism. But the true import of the role is in showing other countries that fighting anti-Semitism, at home and abroad, is a top U.S. priority. The Obama administration's sluggishness on this issue is sending a terrible signal that it does not take the problem of global anti-Semitism seriously. This signal is coming at a terrible time, especially in light of a recent report showing a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain over the last six months.
At the same time, the White House announced that President Obama will be granting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the Durban Queen, who was the driving force behind the infamous and anti-Semitic 2001 Durban Conference. At the Conference, which the U.S. properly boycotted, a supposed discussion of racism became a forum for all-out Israel bashing. Melanie Phillips and Jennifer Rubin have already done excellent jobs recounting Robinson's awful record, which also included a stint as president of Ireland while the European Union gave $9 million in salary support to Palestinians engaged in terror, and serving as commissioner for a U.N. High Commission for Human Rights that excused suicide bombing as a way of promoting the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Robinson's record is well known to most Jews with even a passing familiarity with the Jewish media. It cannot be a surprise that honoring Robinson in this way would be anathema to the Jewish community. In addition, I know from having worked in the White House that these selections go through extremely careful vetting of public and non-public databases to make sure that they would not embarrass the president in any way. The staff secretary's office, which clears all paperwork that goes to the president, would also make sure that all of the relevant offices sign off on important selections before they happen. The two most important sign offs on something like the Medal of Freedom would be the chief of staff's office, now headed by Rahm Emanuel, and the senior advisor's office, now run by David Axelrod. For the Obama White House to have made this selection could mean one of only two possibilities: that they did not vet and clear the candidates, which suggests a level of incompetence beyond even missing tax evasions by cabinet nominees. Uncaught tax evasion does not come up on Google; Robinson's record does. The other, more likely, possibility is that they knew and did not care.The Bush 41 White House became infamous in the Jewish community for James Baker's comment "F the Jews, they didn't vote for us anyway." The Obama administration's approach appears to be: "F the Jews, they're going to vote for us anyway."