Bibi & Barney: Spring Pollard for 3-month freeze extension
Rep. Barney Frank is attempting to get House members to sign a letter to President Obama which requests the release of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. In exchange for Pollard, the US would get a three-month extension on the temporary and partial Israeli freeze on settlement construction on the West Bank. This deal is the brainchild of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu according to the Hebrew language version of Ha’aretz.
Frank is peddling Netanyahu’s deal as a US gesture of good intentions toward Israel. Gee, hasn’t the Obama administration made enough such gestures already? Frank’s office released the following statement which
…notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people…. This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors…
Frank, who is supported by JStreet, the “moderate” Jewish lobby, surely knows how humiliating the terms of his proposed agreement would be for our government. A three-month extension on a freeze agreement which would only be selectively enforced is a ridiculously small price to pay for the return of a spy who many people believe did more damage to US security than any other. It is widely believed that then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir sold much of Pollard’s stolen information to the Soviet’s in the 80s.
The terms of the deal are so one-sided it is difficult to not dismiss it as anything but political grandstanding. If Frank and Netanyahu were serious about this exchange they would have used a less public forum for communicating it to the White House. But the Israelis and their supporters in the US can never get enough of seeing a powerful US politician make that “I love Israel” gesture. Frank probably owes a favor to someone at AIPAC or he is planning a big Bar Mitzvah at the Wailing Wall for his nephew and wants to make sure that he and his family get the ultimate in VIP treatment.
Frank’s House letter is not the first time the Pollard clemency issue has arisen. Israel has periodically attempted to negotiate for Pollard, who is considered to be a hero and legendary spy there. President Clinton purportedly agreed to release him during the negotiations with Netanyahu which led to the Wye Agreement. However, when CIA head George Tenet threatened to resign, Clinton nixed the deal.
For years, contrary to all evidence and logic, Israel claimed that Pollard participated in a “rogue” intelligence operation. Finally, they admitted that Pollard was part of a Mossad spying operation in the US which was government-sanctioned. Israel gives so many different fanciful explanations about so many different illegal operations it is difficult for even government officials to keep up with the most current versions. Recently, Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, contradicted the new official government line by declaring that Pollard was not an official Israeli spy. Oren went on to claim that Israel does not spy on the United States. Right….
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