Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Haaretz - Benjamin Netanyahu Attempted to Blackmail Bill Clinton at Wye River Peace talks

Haaretz - Israel News - Article: "The way to free Pollard

By Haaretz Editorial

Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew once employed by U.S. naval intelligence who then spied for pay on behalf of Israeli intelligence, lost his freedom nearly 20 years ago.

He was arrested at the entrance to the Israel Embassy in Washington, where he tried to escape, was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The Israeli government tried to trick the American government and hide from it facts concerning the operation of Pollard and the information he supplied.

When that was exposed, Israel surrendered to American demands, dismantled the "Bureau for Scientific Liaison" in the Defense Ministry and watched helplessly as Pollard was punished with all the severity of the law.

Pollard has never expressed regret for his actions, but justified them on the grounds that the U.S. administration betrayed its commitments to provide Israel with intelligence. The strict punishment was both meant to teach a lesson and to create a deterrence - both toward potential spies and toward Israel, lest it play with the idea of employing more Pollards.

In the initial years after Pollard's imprisonment, Israeli governments kept up the pretense of denial of the chain of command that led from the prime ministers and defense ministers, through Pollard's operators, to the spy himself. Under political pressure, that attitude changed and turned from a chilling cold to a searing heat. Jonathan retroactively became Yonatan, made into an Israeli held captive by goyim; he was granted Israeli citizenship; ministers and Israeli diplomatic envoys visited him - yesterday it was Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon who visited - and often ask that his sentence be commuted. President Bill Clinton even gave into the pleas and was going to announce clemency for Pollard in partial exchange for concessions by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon to Yasser Arafat at the Wye River Plantation summit, but the president was deterred by resignation threats by the heads of American intelligence, who said they would portray Clinton as harming national security.

There are various elements responsible for Pollard's suffering. First, there is Pollard himself, who risked the delicate relationship Israel (and the Jewish communities in his country) have with the defense establishment and the administration in Washington, with an adventurism that included elements of cynicism and greed.

A braggart, Pollard refused to express regret. If he had behaved differently in the first half of the 1980s, the entire affair never would have taken place. When it did, if he had behaved differently, he might have already been free by now.

Next in line of responsibility for Pollard's pain is the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment, which suffered a wave of humiliations the year of Pollard's arrest in 1985, as spies were uncovered in the intelligence agencies. That establishment was influenced by the personal hostility from then-defense secretary Casper Weinberger toward Israel, and objected to the special, preferential treatment given Israel.

Those two elements were outside Israel's control, but Israeli governments - the third element responsible for Pollard's plight - should have behaved more wisely: not to provoke the Pentagon with periodic scandals, and not to make Pollard into a national hero, whose freedom would be trumpeted here as if he were a redeemed prisoners. The way to free Pollard is paved with restraint and modesty, his and that of the state he wants to reach."

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