Spy Caper Damaged Israel's Security - Klingberg Was No Pollard

Uri Dan & Dennis Eisenberg - The Jewish Press - February 16, 1996

At least twice Israel has faced the danger of gas attacks by belligerent Arab neighbors. The first time was when Gamal Abdel Nasser massed his Egyptian divisions in Sinai in 1967. Syrians were posed to sweep down from the Golan Heights in a pincer movement.

Israeli generals were aware that Nasser had used poison gas on civilian and military targets when he invaded Yemen a few years previously. There had been not even a whisper of protest from the selective world conscience.

Nasser's resort to gas was one more reason why Israeli pilots had to ensure that the Egyptian planes were crippled in the opening minutes of the war. This would deprive Nasser of the means of bombing Israeli cities with gas

In 1973, one of the writers of this column was near the Suez Canal when warning came that a gas attack was imminent. The same day rubbery gas masks arrived. Because of the desert dust, the soldiers were choking within seconds of trying them out. It was impossible to breathe. The common belief was that in the event of a gas attack, the troops would die either from the gas, or from lack of oxygen. Neither seemed a happy choice.

Fear of a gas attack was justified. Although it was kept secret, black barrels on Egyptian airfields contained toxic poison gas made for Anwar Sadat by German scientists. Intelligence sources believed it was only the fear of massive retaliation that held Sadat back from ordering the gas to be employed against the Israeli forces sweeping across the canal into Egypt.

We raise the matter of Israel's foes being only too ready to use illegal ultimate weapons of war because of the massive "Free Marcus Klingberg" campaign orchestrated by Hebrew newspapers, in which the voices of leftist personalities are strident.

True, Klingberg is today an old, sick man in wretched physical condition after serving 12 years in prison. But why was he put behind bars in the first place?

Klingberg was a major figure at Israel's top-secret Ness Ziona institute, where biological and chemical research was carried out. It was research aimed at protecting Israelis from its enemies in the event of war.

Among Israel's bleeding hearts, Klingberg has now become an "ideological spy," which has made him politically kosher, despite the fact that he passed on Israel's most sensitive secrets to the Kremlin.

Just how much data he transmitted is unknown. He was certainly well rewarded. It is generally supposed that a fortune awaits him in a bank somewhere, plus a KGB pension.

This is of no consequence. What is important is what happened five years ago during the Gulf War.

Glossed over today is UN observers' reports of the huge stocks of chemical and bacteriological material Saddam has tucked away. To deliver it, he has rockets armed with warheads containing the deadly material.

It isn't just Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that lie within range of the Iraqi gunners. So does Israel.

One doesn't have to be an obsessive warmonger to believe that Saddam is ready to use his chemical and bacteriological weapons. There are U.S. soldiers still suffering from a mysterious virus which struck them during Operation Desert Storm. Experts on Iraq are convinced that if an ailing Saddam Hussein felt cornered and with nothing to lose, he would not hesitate to unleash his murderous armory.

The argument used to demand Klingberg's freedom is that he is no longer a danger to Israel. "There is no KGB to whom he can pass on information still in his head," say his champions. This is hotly refuted by Israeli security officials. Klingberg's champions also overlook the fact that a newly revised Russian successor is today being created.

"With peace nobody is going to attack Israel," retort the blinkered optimists. Like Shimon Peres, they seem to believe that the best defense against Syria is a line of hotels on the eastern shore of the Kinneret!

Before we buy this soothing opiate, we would do well to consider one harsh reality: the mindset of our neighbors. Let it be recalled that in 1988 thousands of Iraqi Kurds were slaughtered by Iraqi aerial gas attacks and shelling on their villages. Has Saddam's threat to "incinerate half of Israel" been forgotten? Visitors to Peres's hotels and the good folk of Tel Aviv alike will be vulnerable.

Nor should it be forgotten that both Syria and Egypt today possess more biological and chemical weapons than ever before. The raw material and know-how needed to turn this material into weaponry has been supplied for a small extra fee by kindly European businessmen.

What do Syria or Egypt need these vast arsenal for? Neither country has any known enemies threatening them in the region. Yet Egypt's armed forces are the largest of any Arab nation in the Middle East. And it is equipped with state-of-the-art U.S. weapons, including missiles and planes.

What has this to do [with] the frail 77-year old Klingberg?

Klingberg is still in possession of the knowledge he acquired while working at Ness Ziona. If he is released he will certainly depart our shores. No doubt his former masters at the Kremlin, who still pull the strings of power, will send their lackeys over to have a chat with him, wherever he is. And what Klingberg says will be of immense use if the new Russia changes policy and becomes an Arab ally once more.

Every Arab intelligence service will come politely knocking at Klingberg's door. Will this "idealist" who spied against the Jews be able to resist the temptation to impart a few more tidbits of knowledge about Israel's capability in the biological field especially if his visitors bear suitcases brimming with dollars or Swiss francs, or gold bars, today on the rise in world markets?

There is a facile argument that says if Klingberg isn't freed, Israel has no right to ask the U.S. to release Jonathan Pollard.

Klingberg spied for a major enemy of Israel and Jews everywhere. Pollard was a Jew who spied for a friendly U.S. ally. He did it to warn Israel of the danger of biological and chemical preparations by Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria. He passed on information the U.S. had withheld from Jerusalem, despite its obligation to share it by mutual agreement.

None are so blind as those who will not see! To those who refuse to see the difference between Pollard and Klingberg, we would like to suggest a holiday in a Sea of Galilee Peres hotel, should the prime minister get his way and hand back the entire Golan Heights to Syria.

The writers are authors of The Mossad: Secrets of the Israeli Secret Service and other books on the Middle East.

Reprinted from the Jerusalem Post.