Jonathan Pollard - The Spy Left Out in the Cold
Dr. Arno HaCohen - B'tzedek Magazine: Fall/Winter 1997/1998
As a point of clarification, the words of Jonathan Pollard contained in this article come from three different sources.
Other works of importance cited in this article are: Crazy Rhythm & All That Jazz (Random House, 1997) by Leonard Garment; "Why Jonathan Pollard Got Life," (Middle East Quarterly, June 13, 1997) by David Zwiebel; "Pollard's Weinberger Problem," (The Forward, October 30, 1997) by Kenneth R. Timmerman; "80 Minutes With Prisoner Number 09185-016," (Ma'ariv, November 28, 1997) by Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption.
- Jonathan Pollard via his wife Esther.
- Written material by Jonathan Pollard and Esther Pollard.
- Quotations taken from an interview conducted by Ben Caspit of the Israeli daily Ma'ariv on March 21, 1997. Ben Caspit's interview, entitled "Face to Face With Jonathan Pollard," appeared in Ma'ariv's Sof HaShavu'a in three segments on May 9, May 22, and June 5,1997.
The Pollard Affair encompasses far more than the U.S. prosecution of Jonathan Pollard as a spy for the State of Israel. Unlike most tales of espionage, the Pollard Affair becomes a story of importance following the discovery of Pollard's activities. The reason for this is that the Pollard Affair is not a simple case of espionage in which an Israeli agent was caught compromising the security of the United States. In fact, there is no evidence that Jonathan Pollard ever released to Israel any data related to the security of the United States or any information pertaining to the activities or names of U.S. intelligence agents. The Pollard Affair is a dramatically ironic story in that it has more to do with Israeli denial and American Jewish fear than U.S. security interests. What makes the Pollard Affair so difficult to understand is that Jonathan Pollard did not commit the heinous and unforgivable acts against the United States that his life prison sentence would indicate. Jonathan Pollard was betrayed, and the intrigue of the Pollard Affair is not found in the espionage committed by Pollard but by the actions taken by both the Israeli and American governments during and following his arrest.
The facts of the case clearly indicate that the Pollard Affair was singled out for special treatment by U.S. officials from among the many cases of espionage committed against the United States. The question is: Why? Jonathan Pollard did not damage the security of the United States. He was not charged with treason. The single indictment against Jonathan Pollard contained one count of passing classified information to an American ally. For this crime, Jonathan Pollard received a sentence of life imprisonment with a recommendation that he never be eligible for parole. To date, Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated for 13 years.
The average American, be he Jew or Gentile, might say, "O.K., he did the crime, now let him do the time." However, this opinion would be arrived at through ignorance of the American judicial system and the punishment meted out to those convicted of espionage. In the history of the United States, no other spy convicted for passing intelligence to an ally has received a life sentence. In fact, the maximum sentence for such an offense today is 10 years while the median sentence has always been 2 to 4 years. (See Appendix A for a comparison of sentences and time served for those convicted of spying for U.S. allies.)
Additionally, agents spying for countries categorized as enemies of the United States have received less severe punishments than Jonathan Pollard and many have been released prior to the expiration of their sentences. (See Appendix B for a list of sentences and time served for those convicted of spying for U.S. enemies.) As an example of how out of the ordinary Pollard's sentence is can be seen when viewing the case of Aldrich Ames. Ames spied for the Soviet Union, a country categorized as an "enemy" of the United States, committed treason, and was responsible for the deaths of at least 11 American agents. Yet, Aldrich Ames received the same sentence as Jonathan Pollard. And while Jonathan Pollard spent seven years in solitary confinement, in the harshest prison of the Federal system -- FCI Marion, Aldrich Ames did not. Ames, aside from the time he spent during interrogation by U.S. authorities, was not forced to do any solitary time nor was he housed in an institution containing the most desperate and violent criminals found in the American federal prison system.
It is for this reason, at least at the outset, that the Pollard Affair should be of great concern to those who seek justice. There is, however, far more at stake than justice. The Jewish community in the United States must ask themselves about their own leadership and how deafening the silence has been these past thirteen years concerning Jonathan Pollard. Lastly, every Israeli citizen should demand an explanation from the political leadership as to why they behaved as they did. From every perspective, the Pollard Affair just doesn't make any sense. Is there something that we are not being told or is it simply that no one cares?
What did Jonathan Pollard have to offer the Israeli security services and why did he illegally transfer classified intelligence material to them? That's the first question. Then we need to know, who was involved and how did it all work? And finally, how did what appears to be a grand injustice happen to Jonathan Pollard?
"I grew up on Exodus, on the new Zionism, on the new sense of national pride. On the new Jew, who is re-vitalized, who isn't afraid. I detest Diaspora mentality, I detest defeatism, and Jews who are motivated by materialism to live in America," Jonathan Pollard told journalist Ben Caspit from his North Carolina prison cell in 1997.
Jonathan Jay Pollard grew up in the way most self-identifying Jews did in mid-twentieth century America, with both a love of the United States and a deep commitment to the fledgling Jewish State. For some American Jews, the concept of Israel took root and although they chose to live and work in America, there was always something that left a deep and abiding connection to Israel. Not religious, but not un-religious, many young post-Holocaust Jews felt an awakening of memories and commitments that generations had sought to bury. Israel, seen as a nation of proud and independent Jews, was responsible for fostering this new Jewish awareness; a reorientation of commitments and beliefs.
"You know what makes me really sad?" Pollard said to Caspit. "Everything that happened didn't ever have to happen at all. I had decided to move to Israel after college. To make aliyah, to go into the army and to do reserve duty. To be an Israeli. But my family was very opposed. 'After all we invested in you,' they said, 'all the best schools -- how could you do such a thing to us?' And I like a fool, put my plans off. And now I'm here. It simply did not have to happen."
Jonathan Pollard did as he was expected. He married and secured a good job in America. Highly educated, he went to work as a civilian analyst for United States Naval Intelligence in September of 1979. Little out of the ordinary would characterize Jonathan's life during the early 1980s. He did not make trips to Israel, there were no signs that he sought a new life, nor were there any hints that Jonathan was unhappy with the lifestyle he had chosen.
It wasn't until 1984 that Jonathan Pollard understood that something was terribly wrong. The problem had to do with his work and his belief that American interests and Israeli interests, in the areas of security and defense, ran along parallel lines. However, something had changed, the sharing of intelligence material between the United States and Israel had stopped. As part of his job, Jonathan regularly was privy to data concerning military and terrorist activity in the Middle-East. He was aware that Israel and the United States had signed a Letter of Agreement in 1983 which confirmed that vital security information pertaining to the defense and well-being of either country was to be shared. Jonathan discovered that this was no longer happening.
It became clear to Pollard that data vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld from Israel by the U.S. Administration. The information no longer being shared with Israel was not the run-of-the-mill intelligence on troop movement or military exercises conducted by Arab armies. It was information related to Syrian and Iraqi poison gas production and the development of nuclear capabilities, as well as planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets.
According to Pollard, when he discovered the suppression of this information he went to his superiors to question the propriety of holding back from Israel what appeared to be vital security intelligence. The response to his inquiries included, "mind your own business" and "Jews get nervous talking about poison gas; they don't need to know." Pollard insists that he did everything within his power to stop what had become an "illegal embargo" of security intelligence against Israel. He failed. Disgusted, disheartened and with a fear that the lack of this intelligence put Israeli lives in danger, Jonathan Pollard in October of 1984, directly approached the Israelis. All agree that Pollard went to the Israelis not to hurt America, but to save Israel.
The Israelis agreed and Pollard went to work supplying Israel with classified material relating to Israel's security needs. His main contact was Colonel Aviem Sela, head of Israeli Air Force Operations and chief pilot on the operation to bomb Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor. Pollard was "handled" through LAKAM, a special intelligence unit run out of the United States headed by Rafi Eitan, Israel's legendary intelligence officer. Among Eitan's many renown operations was the capture and delivery of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann to justice in Jerusalem.
According to Pollard, "Rafi [Eitan] took care to pay me, but he did it in a strange way. He would send me different places, on errands and he would ask me to pay for things with my credit card; he would give me back the money in cash. I told him that it was crazy, that my credit card could incriminate me, and he just said that that is the way it has to be done.
"By the way, he tried to convince me to bring him information on American agents in Israel. He said he was willing to pay any price for this. I absolutely refused. I had my red line. It was very clear to me that I would never do anything to endanger America or American lives. That's not for me. I didn't work for money; I wasn't willing to do any such thing. I never had anything against America. I only wanted to save Israel."
Pollard was high enough on the list of important Israel agents working in America that he was issued an Israeli passport in the code-name-alias of Danny Cohen. The passport was to be used in case he needed to make a run for it before his term of service came to an end. The Israelis realized that Pollard could not be "run" indefinitely, therefore, included in their deal with him was a decommission date and the promise of a future in Israel. Jonathan Pollard, however, was never to use his "spy" passport or was he able to reach his decommission date as a free man. In 1985 U.S. law enforcement pinpointed the source of suspected security leaks. Pollard was targeted and he knew it.
How or why Jonathan Pollard knew he was about to be arrested is not clear. What is clear is that he shared this information with his Israeli contacts and was told to seek refuge in the Israeli embassy in Washington. Before Jonathan made his way to the Israeli embassy, his Israeli handler, Aviem Sela, who had by that time become Pollard's close friend, was able to escape. Pollard told Ben Caspit,
Avi [Aviem Sela] promised me all along that if something should happen, he would protect Anne [Jonathan's wife at the time] and get her out. We had an agreement that if something would happen, he would take Anne with him. Even if she didn't want to go, he would put a gun to her head and take her with him, whether she wanted to or not.
As far as I was concerned, I was prepared to do whatever I had to do in order to protect him, and I did. I did not turn him in; I made it possible for him to escape. I knew he didn't have diplomatic immunity and that he would be lost if they got to him before he could get out of the country. I knew he was a thousand times more important to Israel than I was. I had already done what I could, he still had lots to offer. He was an outstanding officer and a distinguished pilot -- the air force needed him.
So I was astonished when Anne returned home the day that Avi fled the country. I asked her if he had asked her to go with him. She said that he had mentioned some sort of possibility of that kind but that she had said she wasn't interested and he backed down. I was very disappointed. Hey, Avi, haven't you forgotten something? You promised me you would get Anne out!
Realizing that time had run out Jonathan and Anne Pollard went to the Israeli embassy in Washington with the full confidence that they would be given refuge. The following is excerpted from Ben Caspit's "Face to Face With Jonathan Pollard" in which Jonathan Pollard relates the incredible events that took place at the Israeli embassy as he attempted to elude agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Anne and I drove into the Israeli Embassy compound through the electronic gate. I was identified at the entrance, and they opened the gate for me. The F.B.I. were following, but they did not enter; they remained outside. I had specific instructions from Avi [Aviem Sela] and Rafi [Rafi Eitan] on how to behave in such a situation, and that is how I acted. When the electronic gate closed after me, I knew I was home. On safe ground. That I could stop worrying. It was over.
We went inside. The security officer received us. "Do you know who I am ?" I asked him. "Yes," he answered. I was glad. I felt relieved. For me and for Anne the tension of the last few days had been overwhelming, and it had exploded all at once. Now Israel was giving me refuge. Now Israel would protect me.
About five minutes later the security officer went into some room, and he came out a few minutes later. Meanwhile, outside in the courtyard of the compound, there was a big uproar. Israeli security officers were all over the place with guns drawn in their hands. Outside the compound it was possible to make out all the F.B.I. vehicles. Anne and I started to become apprehensive.
The security officer called to me, "You will have to go outside and enter again through the main gate." I could not believe my ears. "Go outside? What for?! Do you know what is waiting for me outside?! Who is waiting for me outside?!"
"I am sorry. Those are the instructions."
"Are you crazy? Have you gone out of your minds?!" I asked him. "You know very well that they are waiting for me outside!" He lowered his face, and did not answer. I knew I was finished. I knew I was fighting for my life.
"Listen!" I said to him, " I'm Danny Cohen!" (Pollard's code name under which he was run, and the name under which he was given an official Israeli passport in the course of the operation.) "I know," he answered.
"It's me, Danny Cohen! Jonathan Pollard!" I told him.
He did not answer me. Tears ran down the cheeks of the security officer, and he didn't answer.
"Check it again!" I begged him. "Don't take a decision like this upon yourself! You'll have it on your conscience for the rest of your life!"
"The decision has already been made," he said, "And not by me. I'm sorry."
I looked at Anne. She was devastated. I knew what awaited her. I knew what awaited me. I was less worried about my own fate than I was about hers. I knew she was innocent, that she was not involved, that she didn't know. And I knew what suffering lay ahead for her.
We went out. I stopped the car outside of the Embassy compound. The F.B.I. agents were upon us at once. They behaved appropriately. They had me bend over the hood of the car and they handcuffed me. I knew it was the end.
I looked back at the Embassy, and I saw my flag, blue and white, proudly flapping in the breeze. I felt the world was collapsing upon me. I raised my eyes to the windows of the Embassy. Many pairs of eyes were staring back at me. At least two of the people that were watching me from the window were people I knew very well. People who had been involved in running me. And now that they saw me, the curtains were starting to close. The window blinds were drawn, one by one. Within moments the entire Embassy was shrouded and locked up tight. I felt as if a large eye that had been watching over me the whole time had just closed. And I remained totally alone.
Suddenly they all abandoned me. Suddenly they don't recognize me any more. Look, everyone knew about my activities -- everyone from the bottom right up to the top. So what happened all of a sudden? The Preetz (landlord) was angry? They were overcome by fear? Why didn't they think about that beforehand?
Jonathan Pollard was taken into U.S. custody by the F.B.I. in front of the Israeli embassy on November 21, 1985. It remains a mystery exactly who made the decision to lock out Pollard. Among the many with the power to carry out the order against Pollard was Deputy Chief of the Israeli Mission, Elyakim Rubinstein, who was subsequently to become the Attorney General of the State of Israel. However, it appears that the actual decision was not made on the spot nor was it issued from personnel outside the privy councils of Israel's political elite.
The Israeli government in 1985 was made up of a National Unity coalition of Labor and Likud. The central decision makers were: Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir, alternating Prime Ministers under the national unity agreement; Moshe Arens, Cabinet Minister Without Portfolio and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.; Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister; and Rafi Eitan, head of LAKAM.
The Indictment and Sentencing
In June 1986 Jonathan Pollard was criminally indicted. The charge was violating 18 U.S.C. 794 (c); criminally delivering defense information to a foreign government "with intent or reason to believe" that the material was to be used either: "to the injury of the United States," or, "to the advantage of a foreign nation." The U.S. government did not cite the first alternative of the statute. Jonathan Pollard was formally charge with transferring classified data that "would be used to the advantage of Israel."
Jonathan Pollard never went to trial. Due, in part, to the specific wording of the indictment and at the express desire of U.S. officials, Jonathan relinquished his right to be heard in court and entered into a plea-bargain agreement with the government in May 1986. More importantly, Jonathan Pollard entered into his plea agreement with the U.S. after he came to understand that the Israeli government had not only thoroughly abandoned him, but was aiding in his prosecution. According to Caspit, "It was Israel that helped to incriminate him. The confusion that gripped the political and intelligence leadership in Israel following the exposure of Pollard resulted in their complete loss of composure. A sharp team of Americans that was sent to Israel to investigate succeeded in pressuring the Israeli cabinet and in taking from Israel all the proof and documents necessary to indict Pollard."
Pollard told Caspit:
The incriminating evidence against me were the documents that I had given to Israel. After I was arrested, the Americans didn't have any real way to prove anything. Via my attorney at the time I sent a message to Israel and offered to make a deal. I asked that Israel not turn over any documents or papers to the Americans, and in return I would remain completely silent and never ever say a single word from now until eternity. As if I didn't even exist. Believe me, I would have kept this promise.
Then suddenly, I'm sitting in the interrogation room and they are laying out in front of me all of the documents I gave to Israel with my fingerprints still fresh upon them. I was in complete shock. I was prepared for almost anything, but not for this. I don't think that there is a precedent in history where one country helps another country to incriminate its own agent.
Israel thought that by behaving this way it could save itself. It pacified the Americans. And what happened? Nothing. It is hard for me to understand this kind of behavior. After all, the offer I had made to Israel was excellent all around. I didn't ask them to free me; I didn't ask them to do anything on my behalf. Just to be quiet, and I would be quiet too, as is accepted practice in these situations.
Israel did not remain quiet, to the contrary, they made every effort to remove blame from themselves and place it squarely and exclusively upon the shoulders of Jonathan Pollard. Leonard Garment in his book Crazy Rhythm & All That Jazz (Random House, 1997) gives a unique insight into the inner-workings of the Israeli betrayal of Jonathan Pollard. Pages 369 through 374 of Crazy Rhythm present a startling view of Israeli duplicity and, according to Garment, their falsification of facts. Garment writes that sometime toward the end of 1985 several Israeli officials visited his law office in Washington, D.C. The Israeli group included: Meir Rosenne, Elyakim Rubinstein, Moshe Arens, Hanan Bar-On, Ram Caspi and Avraham Shalom. It didn't take long for Garment to learn that Jonathan Pollard was the reason for this uninvited gathering.
Jonathan had been arrested only weeks before and it was apparent that the Israelis were scrambling to get all their ducks in a row. Moshe Arens opened the dialogue with Garment, "We need some off the record advice." Garment writes, "the whole contingent was headed for an emergency meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz. What guidance would I give? How bad was the U.S. government atmosphere? The American Jewish atmosphere? What tack should they take with Shultz?"
With the little information he had, Garment told them that the general reaction to the Pollard situation was bad and he advised them not to hide anything. "Don't try to bamboozle Shultz," Garment said. "He'll find out, and he will be unforgiving."
In an attempt to be of service, Garment introduced the Israelis to Abe Sofaer, Shultz' "trusted private counsel." As a Washington insider with a talent for picking up political nuances, Garment understood that all would be well and the Pollard situation would work itself out quietly and cleanly. Garment incorrectly thought that what could be a potentially embarrassing situation for both Israel and the United States was closed.
Meanwhile, Jonathan had broken his silence and was cooperating with the U.S. prosecutors. In exchange for his testimony the United States authorities promised not to seek the maximum sentence against him. Additionally, Pollard wanted to spare the U.S. and Israel a long, difficult and very probably diplomatic threatening trial. There was little alternative, he knew that the Israeli authorities had already decided to collaborate with the U.S. prosecutors, after all, he had seen the evidence with his own eyes.
Indeed, the Israelis were playing ball with the Americans, but on their terms. Terms, as it was to turn out, that were wholly unacceptable to U.S. officials and in complete opposition to Pollard's interests. By May of 1986, the time of Pollard's plea agreement, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Pollard had disclosed the name and role of Aviem Sela. The Israelis had foolishly calculated that even after locking Pollard out of the embassy and providing the Americans with incriminating evidence against him, Pollard would remain silent. Therefore, from the outset, they whitewashed the entire episode denying any high-level Israeli involvement in the affair. Once Pollard opened his mouth it became clear that the Israelis were lying. Rather than come clean, the Israelis further entrenched themselves.
Leonard Garment re-enters the picture. He writes,
Sela, as it turned out, had been in the United States taking an advanced computer course at New York University when a mutual friend had introduced him to Pollard. Pollard said he wanted to supply classified information to Israel. Sela passed Pollard's proposal to Rafi Eitan, head of Israel's scientific intelligence unit, who authorized the transfer of documents.
It later became clear why the Israelis had tried to keep Sela's name out of the investigation: U.S. intelligence experts would have known that if an officer of his importance was involved in the operation, it would never have taken place without high-level approval.
The United States threatened to indict Sela but offered to await a formal proffer of evidence from him. The Israelis decided that Sela needed American counsel. His Israeli counsel, Haim Zadok, a former minister of justice who was also Sela's father-in-law, retained me. I flew to Tel Aviv.
While in Israel, Garment visited first with Haim Zadok, Aviem Sela and Menahem Sela, Aviem's brother and co-counsel of the case with Zadok. During the discussions that were to ensue Garment claims that Haim Zadok put forward Aviem Sela's story, or at least the story cleared by the Israeli government. Garment writes, "Zadok conceded Pollard's initial contacts with Sela and Sela's transmitting Pollard's offer to Eitan, but insisted that all of Sela's other contacts with Pollard were casual, social and coincidental." With his eye on convincing the U.S. Justice Department to stop their investigation of Sela, Zadok suggested that the four men find a way of fashioning a formal proffer that reflected this version of the events.
Later, Garment attended a large gathering at the Tel Aviv Hilton directed by one of Shimon Peres' political advisers. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Sela's case, however, Garment did not speak Hebrew and the security officials present weren't interested in speaking in English. Garment left the meeting and returned to his hotel room where he went over, once again, the U.S. Justice Department's version of events. The document Garment studied was "detailed, logical, and accompanied by corroboration." It was, after all, Jonathan Pollard's own account of his activities documented by the American government. Garment solidified in his mind the obvious fact that the Justice Department's version had conflicts that he described as "stark" with the story offered to him by Zadok earlier in the day.
Garment feared that if he learned too much of the story, representing the Israeli version of the Pollard case could open him up to charges of obstructing justice. "So I settled on a course that made sense to me as an American [and] a friend of Israel," Garment concluded. He would learn all that he could, but rather than take the legal route of disposing of the case, he would seek a political solution. Garment reasoned that his past working association with the players on both sides, viz., Edwin Meese, George Shultz, Abraham Sofaer, Thomas Pickering and most of the Israeli leadership would afford him this ability. He bounced the idea off of Zadok and got the go-ahead.
The next day Garment met, one-on-one, with Aviem Sela. Garment was satisfied that Sela was forthcoming and that through this interview, he had learned "most of what had actually happened." Garment makes a point of noting, "I returned to my room and wrote out, in red ink on yellow paper, everything I remembered of Aviem's account."
In pursuing the political option to resolve the case, Garment spoke with Abe Sofaer and Thomas Pickering both of whom agreed that a political solution was necessary. The one formula Garment says was entertained by all three men was that Israel would admit, without naming names, "that there had been high-level Israeli knowledge of the goings-on."
Before leaving Israel, Garment met with three other pivotal Israeli leaders: then- Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, then- Minister Without Portfolio Moshe Arens and then- Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Rabin, who Garment spoke with in his Tel Aviv apartment, understood the problem that arose from the conflicts between the Israeli and American version of events. Rabin, however, offered no solution and denied any knowledge about the Pollard case. Garment records that Rabin pleaded ignorance to "any high-level Israeli authorization to Sela to deal with Pollard." At Moshe Arens' home, Garment writes that the response was identical. The only difference in the playing out of events at Shimon Peres' home, Garment's last interview, was that he was rewarded with food rather that just coffee. Peres did tell Garment that he felt the political solution discussed by Garment, Sofaer and Pickering was not probable. Garment left the meeting with a promise to write a draft of the statement Israel should submit to the U.S. and send it to Peres.
Garment does not know what happened to the draft he studiously prepared for the Israeli government. What he does record is that in June of 1986, Haim Zadok, with a small Israeli entourage, came to Washington with a proffer that was supposed to make the entire Pollard Affair politically disappear. When Garment saw the Israeli statement, he was shocked. "It was identical to the draft I had read and rejected in Israel," Garment thought. Garment, once again, protested to Zadok that this version of events will never do. Zadok, who Garment reasoned was "bound by official instructions," was not interested in debating the matter and dismissed Garment with, "Enough. We'll be in touch with you over the weekend."
The following is Garment's account of the Israeli moves that made the Pollard case into the Pollard Affair.
The meeting with [the Department of] State and [the Department of] Justice would take place Monday and by then we had to come up with an explanation for the inexplicable. Working alone, I modified Zadok's proffer. Little was untouched.
We finally had our meeting on Sunday at my home. The Israeli contingent that grimly trooped in consisted mostly of friends: Ambassador Rosenne, Eli Rubinstein, Hanoch Bar-On. Zadok was there and Ram Caspi may have also been; if he was, he stayed in the background this time. I handed out my suggested draft of the proffer. I was overruled; the Zadok draft would stand. I said I wouldn't present it: It was demonstrably false, and the U.S. prosecutors could prove it.
The argument grew more heated. How, said the Israelis, did I know the "facts" in my version of the proffer? What made me so sure? I took out the handwritten memorandum of my dinner conversation with Sela in Tel Aviv and read it aloud. They reacted memorably:
THEM: Give us that paper.
ME: You must be kidding.
THEM: You have no right to it.
ME: These are my personal notes.
Zadok asked me to leave the room for a few minutes. When he brought me back in, they announced a solution:
THEM: You are discharged as Aviem's counsel. Now give us the paper.
ME: I have a lawyer's lien on it. I also have photocopies in my office. If you don't stop this, you're getting out of here.
After a while, peace was restored. Zadok said he would go to work on a new draft.
The "new" draft, though, was just a transparent gloss on the old one. I arranged to postpone the proffer meeting with Justice and State, saying that we just weren't ready. At a pro forma meeting, the Israelis said they had to go back to Israel to consult on specific issues of fact and get wider authority to proffer security-sensitive details.
. . . the settlement never materialized. I withdrew from the case, waving any fees. Actually, "withdrew" is not an accurate term; throughout the proceedings, I realized, I had never functioned as Sela's attorney. I was hired to be a prop in a political contest entirely directed by political players. A proffer was eventually made. Sela was indicted. Under U.S. pressure, Israel canceled his base command. He remained in Israel; his indictment is still outstanding.
Pollard soon learned of the distance the Israelis were willing to go to remove themselves from the clandestine operation. Pollard told Caspit:
Later when I was being interrogated they pulled out the testimony [proffer] Avi [Sela] had given in Israel. The interrogating agents, for some reason, allowed me five minutes to read it. They simply left it out in front of me, and went out of the room. I was in handcuffs, and the testimony was comprised of more than 100 pages. I scanned the pages, and I was floored. His words shot through my head. Bang. Bang. Bang. I had done everything I could to protect him, and he just sold me out.
There is little doubt that U.S. prosecutors wanted to totally break Pollard. U.S. authorities understood that Pollard had begun speaking to them only after being shown the material supplied to the prosecution by the Israelis. It was reasonable to think that although Jonathan was cooperating, an additional jolt, thanks to the Israelis, might bring more out. The Israelis were lying and the U.S. knew it. Maybe they were hiding something bigger, something Pollard could inadvertently reveal. Perhaps there were additional spy rings; other Americas in the employment of the Israeli government. Unfortunately for Pollard, the motivations for the Israeli behavior were as much a mystery to him as they were for U.S. officials. The U.S. stance on the Pollard case was hardening as they were about to teach the Israelis a lesson through Jonathan Pollard. (Note: Justified or not, American officials issued a memo sometime later warning subcontractors doing business with the government to be wary of Jews who might be spying for Israel.)
Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement and cooperated with the prosecution. He was completely unaware of two factors that would destroy his efforts to settle the matter quickly with minor repercussions and a moderate punishment. The first was Israel's insistence that Pollard never officially worked for them. They chose to deny any high-level knowledge of Pollard by claiming that he was a "rouge operator" whose activities were never authorized or sanctioned by the Israeli government. The second was, in part a reaction of the first, the U.S. new found position that Pollard did serious damage to the security of the United States.
Prior to Pollard's sentencing in March 1987, two documents were delivered to sentencing judge, Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr. The then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger wrote a 46 page memo, most of which remains classified today, and assistant U.S. attorneys Charles S. Leeper and David F. Geneson, on behalf of the United States, composed a Victim Impact Statement (See Appendix C). >From what is known of the Weinberger Memo, it accused Pollard of being a traitor and demanded the maximum sentence allowable by law at the time. Why did Caspar Weinberger submit a memo and why did the Victim Impact Statement reflect charges never formally brought against Pollard?
Regarding the Victim Impact Statement (VIS), David Zwiebel, "Of Counsel" on the amicus curiae brief submitted in support of Pollard's 1991 appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, wrote (Middle East Quarterly, "Why Jonathan Pollard Got Life," June 13, 1997):
The VIS asserts, in conclusory language, that the damage caused by Pollard was essentially threefold: the breadth and scope of Pollard's disclosures were great, the disclosures threatened U.S. relations with its Arab allies, and they reduced U.S. bargaining leverage over intelligence with the Israelis. As the first sentence of the VIS makes clear, this document was submitted prior to the submission of the government's classified in camera damage assessment affidavit, and was intended only to provide a summary of the more detailed submission to come.
It is unlikely, therefore, that the VIS played a critical role in Judge Robinson's eventual sentencing decision. Its historical value, though, is quite significant -- for it marks the point at which the government began to transform the charge against Pollard from the second prong of the espionage statue ("to the advantage of a foreign nation"), to which Pollard had pled guilty, to the first ("to the injury of the United States"), for which Pollard had never been charged.
David Zwiebel comments on the Weinberg Memo:
In the heavily redacted version that has been released . . . there appears the charge, for the first time, that Pollard had endangered American lives. By disclosing to the Israelis "sources and methods of information acquisition," Weinberger asserted, Pollard "jeopardized . . . the sources of that information, by placing it outside of a U.S. controlled security environment." [Weinberger Declaration, Jan. 12, 1987, at pp. 28-29] In addition, "U.S. combat forces, wherever they are deployed in this world, could be unacceptably endangered through successful exploitation of this data." [Weinberger Declaration, Jan. 12, 1987, at p. 44]
Then, on March 3, 1987 -- the day before Pollard was to be sentenced -- Secretary Weinberger submitted a supplemental declaration to the court, which included the following:
It is difficult for me, even in the so-called "year of the spy," to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in the view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel . . . I respectfully submit that any U.S. citizen, and in particular a trusted government official, who sells U.S. secrets to any foreign nation should not be punished merely as a common criminal. Rather the punishment imposed should reflect the perfidy of the individual's actions, the magnitude of the treason committed, and the needs of national security. [Weinberger Supplemental Declaration, Mar. 3, 1987, at paras. 2-3]
Weinberger here accuses Pollard of "treason" -- a legal term of art defined in both the Constitution and Federal statute as levying war against the United States or aiding America's enemies. [Constitution of the United States, Article 3, Clause 1; 18 U.S.C. 2381] The secretary's use of the term is breathtakingly inappropriate.
In making its case against Pollard, the government traveled a great distance: from choosing in its indictment not to charge Pollard with injuring the United States, to listing in the Victim Impact Statement allegations of damage to American interests, to raising in Secretary Weinberger's January declaration the specter of danger to American lives, to accusing Pollard of "treason" in Weinberger's eve-of-sentencing supplemental declaration.
In an article entitled, "Pollard's Weinberger Problem," published in The Forward on October 30, 1997 by Kenneth R. Timmerman, publisher of the monthly newsletter, "The Iran Brief" and author of The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq (Houghton Mifflin), an attempt is made to understand Weinberger's motivations. According to Timmerman:
Pollard's crime . . . boiled down to having "threatened the U.S. relations with numerous Middle East Arab allies." Those allies can now be named. They are: Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Pollard turned over documents that showed the existence of the Saad 16 ballistic missile plant in northern Iraq, prompting Israel to pressure America to cut off sales to Saad 16 and other Iraqi weapons plants. He supplied Israel with information detailing production rates at Iraqi chemical weapons facilities and naming the German companies that had helped build them. He also documented Egypt's cooperation with Iraq in acquiring technology for a long-range missile known as Condor-II, which would have given Iraq the capability of targeting Israel with chemical or even nuclear weapons.
When America arrested an Egyptian scientist, Abdel Kader Helmy, in 1988 for running a missile procurement ring for the Iraqis, Helmy was indicted on smuggling charges and received only a 46-month sentence. Helmy had a Top Secret Pentagon security clearance and could have been tried for espionage, since his ultimate boss in the operation was none other than Egyptian Defense Minister Abu Ghazala, an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
Pollard's role in exposing Egypt's connection with Iraq contributed to a life sentence -- for Pollard, not for Helmy.
A document obtained by Pollard under the Freedom of Information Act shows Saudi Arabia may have played the determining role in ensuring that Pollard's case was never heard in an open court.
In a request to the State Department seeking copies of correspondence from Arab states regarding his pending trial, Pollard recently obtained a letter, sent by Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan to Assistant Secretary of State Murphy on June 13, 1986, asking Mr. Murphy to transmit an urgent letter to Secretary of State Shultz.
Although the contents of Prince Bandar's letter remain classified, it is reasonable to suspect they covered Saudi Arabia's arguments against granting Pollard a public trial, and that primary among those was the fear Pollard would expose Saudi Arabia's negotiations with China to obtain CSS-2 long-range ballistic missiles.
In a recent telephone conversation, Pollard claimed he told the Israelis about the Saudi missile negotiations with China in 1985, "and if somebody at my level was aware of it, many others higher up the food chain were also aware of it." Despite this, when the Saudi purchase of 2,400 kilometer range CSS-2 missiles first became public in 1988, America feigned "surprise" and "outrage." If Pollard is to be believed, the Americans knew about the negotiations as early as 1985 -- more than two years before the first missiles were delivered -- and refrained from informing Israel. Prince Bandar's June 1986 letter appears to have been aimed at keeping the secret -- at least until the missiles could be delivered.
A far more sinister scenario is also possible: that America was not only aware of the Saudi-Chinese negotiations, but actually facilitated them. The Reagan administration, which by then had made a dramatic "tilt toward Iraq," may have been seeking to bolster the Arab coalition against Iran.
Clearly, if Pollard had been allowed an open trial, the risk of his exposing sensitive operations was great. The man who had the most to fear was Mr. Weinberger. So it is no accident that Mr. Weinberger delivered the statement on the damage Pollard's spying had done to American interests.
Mr. Weinberger's ire over Pollard also had personal overtones. It was Mr. Weinberger who was the strongest promoter within the Reagan administration of the intelligence exchange between America and Iraq, which began as early as 1983, when the State Department removed Iraq from the list of terrorist nations. Besides providing the Israelis with satellite photographs of Iraqi weapons sites, Pollard says he also gave them evidence of the transfer to Iraq of U.S.-manufactured weapons -- a leak that made Mr. Weinberger furious, since he was the official who would have had to approve such a covert transfer.
Clearly, significant damage to national security was caused by the Reagan-era intelligence cooperation with Iraq. Western technology went toward improving Iraq's SCUD-B missiles that helped kill American soldiers and Israeli citizens during the war. U.S. intelligence techniques helped the Iraqis preserve strategic capabilities from Allied air strikes -- and perhaps also from United Nations inspectors, who continue to accuse Iraq of hiding stockpiles of biological agents and chemical weapons production equipment.
Pollard's spying obviously did no permanent damage to American relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt or even Syria, all of whom joined the Desert Storm coalition. But a public trial of Pollard in 1987 would have endangered top politicians, including Mr. Weinberger, an architect of the failed policy toward Iraq.
Ben Caspit questioned Jonathan Pollard concerning the events surrounding the sentencing:
Ben Caspit: Speaking of your plea agreement, what was it that happened with it in the end? You were supposed to get a relatively light sentence and ended up with a life sentence. Who betrayed you?
Jonathan Pollard: It happened in court, on the day that I entered my plea. Suddenly someone came into the room with a James Bond attache case handcuffed to his wrist. He approached the judge, took a bunch of papers out of his attache case and said, "One moment." He then replaced the original plea agreement with the copy he had brought. There were interesting changes. In the place where I had been described as an
"Israeli agent" a line was drawn through it and the definition had been changed to
"rogue agent" (which means an agent who had no official authorization or who worked for officials who were not authorized). In the place where the operation had been identified as an Israeli espionage operation, an additional line had been drawn to cross it out, and the words
"rogue operation" had been penned in.
With one stroke of the pen they turned me from a foreign agent who had worked on behalf of the State on Israel into a freelancer who worked for himself -- some wild-eyed, nationalist fanatic. Hey, that's not true! Ben, you're looking at Danny Cohen! At an Israel agent who worked for the LAKAM intelligence office, who at one point received a salary, and who has an Israeli company registered in his name! Who even had a date for deactivation! December. The month after I was arrested I was supposed to have been deactivated, to leave it all and move to Israel to build a life there.
Ben Caspit: Who in fact was behind the changes in your plea agreement that ultimately resulted in a life sentence?
Jonathan Pollard: Look, I don't exactly know. It was done in the usual way. There were two signatures on the two changes. One in blue which was for the American representative, and one in red which belonged to the Israeli representative. The signature in blue were the initials "A.S." and I recognized them. It was the signature of Abe Sofaer. The Israeli signature remains a mystery. I did not figure it or the initials out. I really want to know. I want to understand who the man was who sold me out. Because I want you to know that the man who was capable of selling me out is capable of selling out anything.
In the end, the U.S. government violated every clause of the plea agreement. Jonathan Pollard was never charged with treason, his unprecedented sentence can only be attributed to the events occurring outside of the courtroom -- Weinberger's vanity and Israeli duplicity. It must be said that in all likelihood Weinberger would never have had the opportunity to have his vengeance if the Israelis settled the case as George Shultz suggested.
Pollard appealed his sentence and plea agreement, but was rejected. The court battles, however, continue in what appears to be a never ending struggle to secure Pollard's release. Currently there are two fronts to Jonathan's fight: the Israeli legal and political battle and the American diplomatic one.
Using the Courts: An Interview with
Pollard Attorney Larry Dub
B'tzedek: Why is the case of Jonathan Pollard in the courts, particularly, the Israeli court system? Wasn't Jonathan Pollard convicted and sentenced on a plea bargain agreement in United States Federal Court?
Larry Dub: The Jonathan Pollard case is in some way or another, and for completely different reasons, active in both the U.S. and the Israeli court systems. The proceedings in the American court system are basically at a standstill. A prisoner who is sentenced on a plea bargain waves certain rights, including rights to appeals, etc. Jonathan Pollard did file a 2255 motion, which is a motion of right by a prisoner who claims improprieties about his sentence. The impropriety in Jonathan's case is his receiving an unduly harsh sentence after agreeing to a plea bargain of less than life. Jonathan filed that motion and it was denied by the District Court of Appeals. He then filed an appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, which is the court above the District Court, and that was also denied by a two to one split. An interesting observation is the composition of the panel of judges in Washington. The judges were Judge Silverman, Judge Ruth Ginzberg, who is on her way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Judge Stevens, who was the only non-Jew on the panel. The response of the court was two to one denying Jonathan's motion. The dissenting opinion was by Judge Stevens. His opinion was that the Pollard case was one of the worst miscarriages of justice that he had ever witnessed. He wrote that he was appalled by the court's original decision to incarcerate Jonathan for life without the chance of parole. Finally, Jonathan Pollard filed a writ of service to the U.S. Supreme Court and that was denied. That left Mr. Pollard with no avenues to request a new hearing.
We maintain that there are grounds upon which a new hearing should be convened. On the day of Mr. Pollard's sentencing, Caspar Weinberger sent a secret memo to the sentencing judge, Albee Robinson. There were allegations in the memo that Mr. Pollard's actions caused a great and severe danger to the United States of America. The Weinberger Memo has been a classified document and we have no knowledge what information was given to Judge Robinson upon which he rendered his decision. We do know that based on that memo, Pollard was given life without parole, even though the government argued that they would not seek a maximum term. The sentence handed down was, in fact, a violation of their plea bargain agreement with Mr. Pollard.
The only way for a prisoner to re-file a motion, under the new 1996 anti-crime law that passed in the U.S. trying to do away with criminal appeals and expedite the process, requires a panel of judges to decide whether a prisoner should be allowed to re-file his motion. This is what we are now seeking. So, even if we were to find out today that the Weinberger Memo was full of falsehoods, it would still not guarantee that Mr. Pollard would have his case heard. That is the current status of the Pollard case in the U.S. court system. Therefore, short a presidential commutation, it appears that Mr. Pollard has a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Regarding the Pollard case in Israel, it has been our position all along that the Israeli government should have taken an active role in freeing Mr. Pollard. We have seen, recently, that is, the September 28th, assassination attempt in on Khaled Mashaal, in Jordan, that when the Israeli government puts its mind to getting its agents out of jail it is able to do so. Unfortunately, with Pollard, we see a case of total abandonment and betrayal. The reality of the situation is, even under the present Likud government, which promised to help Pollard, nothing is done. The lack of activity from the Israeli authorities on Mr. Pollard's behalf has been a great shock and a disappointment. And that's where we stand today.
In 1995, Mr. Pollard made a move to wake up the Israeli government on his behalf. He asked them to grant him Israeli citizenship, as they had promised they would from the outset of his work for them. The government replied that they would be happy to give him citizenship once he arrived in Israel. Mr. Pollard said that he was in prison and unable to come to Israel and was there any other way of obtaining citizenship? The government said, no. He then filed a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice. Mr. Pollard stated that promises made to him by the Israeli government were not kept. Additionally, Mr. Pollard claimed that just as the Israeli government had previously granted citizenship to people not present in the country -- as done for the Refuseniks [Jews held in the Soviet Union against their will] -- there is precedent to give citizenship to someone not in Israel. On the eve of the hearing before the Israeli High Court, after a preliminary injunction and a show-cause as to why Pollard should not be granted Israeli citizenship was delivered to the government, then they relented, and granted Pollard citizenship.
We believe that the Israeli government has asked for clemency for Mr. Pollard over the years, but at the same time, we also believe that they have not put Pollard at the head of their priorities. When they did ask, it was always on humanitarian grounds. Israel's official position, until today, was that the Pollard Affair was a rogue operation. It was not sanctioned by the Israeli government. The people in America know the real story, they are not stupid, they gave lie detector tests to Pollard and all those connected with him, they know that he was an agent of Israel. They know that he was asked to retrieve certain documents for the Israelis. From what we can see, the Americans want the Israelis to come clean with a statement to the effect that Jonathan Pollard was their agent. When the Israelis start telling the truth, the Americans will start talking about Pollard. We thought that part of the process was gaining Jonathan Israeli citizenship. However, this did not move the Israeli government.
B'tzedek: It is your belief that after the Israelis admit to running Pollard as their agent, the Americans will give him up?
Larry Dub: As a first step we believe that the Israeli government must openly admit that they used Jonathan Pollard to spy on the United States. Without that, we are not going to get to the next level with this case. The Israeli government has never denied that Pollard was their agent, other than the current Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Eliahu Ben-Elissar, who stated to the press that Pollard was a rogue operator. Since the Israeli government had indicated on more than one occasion that they were not going to take the Pollard matter seriously, we filed a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice, seeking information on Pollard from Israeli government archives. Our petition named names. Every name and piece of information we obtained came from publically accessible U.S. documents, including those of Mr. Pollard's Israeli operators. After all, if it really was a rogue operation, why hasn't Israel placed those operators on trial for conducting a rogue operation; for sedition, treason, and violating the trust of the country. Instead, all those involved with Pollard received financial and career advancements.
Aviem Sela, for example, was appointed head of Tel Nof air force base. He was only later stripped of his position after the United States placed tremendous pressure on Israel to have him removed. Sela, who was one of Pollard's handlers, was the only individual other than Pollard to be indicted in the U.S., therefore his 'punishment,' so to speak, was not for running a rogue operation, but rather because his advancement so obviously demonstrated to the Americans that the opposite was true. The reason being, according to Sela's attorney Leonard Garment, in his book Crazy Rhythm, was that the Israelis were willing to appease American officials with this gesture in order to quiet the Pollard Affair. At the time, Garment, a Washington attorney insider, had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz who was interested in hushing the entire Pollard matter.
The Israelis wanted to contain the damage to their relationship with America. Garment was hired by the Israelis, who, in turn, hoped that Garment's reputation as "Nixon's attorney" and his friendly relationship with Shultz would aid in neutralizing whatever backlash Pollard's capture might create. It was Shultz who told Garment that the U.S. now wanted to put the episode to bed, quietly. Garment spoke to Aviem Sela in Israel and got a statement from him. George Shultz said to Garment and the Israelis that since Pollard gave a statement and passed the lie detector, all we want to know is what Sela knows, we want to ask him questions. If Sela submits an affidavit, we will let the case rest.
However, when the Israeli team came to Washington to present Sela's affidavit, it was very different from the statement Sela had given to Garment. Garment describes in his book the affidavit that was supposedly taken from Sela was absolutely not true. After Garment approached the Israelis with this allegation, the Israelis asked how Garment knew that the affidavit wasn't true. Garment replied that he had met with Sela and knows the truth and that he had notes from the meeting. The Israelis demanded that Garment dismiss himself from the case and hand over his notes. Garment said no. He warned the Israelis that Shultz knows the truth, and that they must be forthright. Instead, the Israelis gave Shultz the perjured testimony and Shultz hit the roof. It was on the back of this incident that the indictments against both against Pollard and Sela were issued. It is our opinion that the Americans would have never indicted Sela, had he not signed the perjured testimony.
B'tzedek: Do you think that things would have been different for Pollard had the Israelis not lied from the outset?
Larry Dub: Absolutely. I think that Pollard would not have served a day. Therefore, we feel that the Israelis had some responsibility for his incarceration. The entire affair would have been dismissed had the Israelis not lied, leading the Americans to believe that the Israelis were hiding all sorts of other information.
B'tzedek: Do you believe that the Israelis purposely used Jonathan Pollard as a scapegoat and that it was more convenient to keep him in an American prison?
Larry Dub: Throughout the years, the Israelis were told by U.S. officials that Pollard would have to serve approximately ten years in prison, before any attempt to free him would be made. The Israelis accepted that and during the course of the first ten years they sent various communications to Pollard through different proxies -- e.g., Amnon Dror, who said to Mr. Pollard that the Israelis would pay for his attorneys, pay for everything, but that he should just be a good boy and keep quiet, and soon the door would open for him. And, sure enough, the Americans did not keep their word, even though the Israelis wanted to believe that they would. After ten years and one day, Prime Minister Rabin wrote a letter to President Clinton stating the time had lapsed -- what's the story? Unfortunately for Mr. Pollard, there was a spy named Ames. Ames was the CIA Bureau Chief in Moscow. During his last few years on the job, American agents were mysteriously being discovered. When Ames was questioned by the CIA about this, the answer that Ames gave was that it was Pollard's fault. Pollard, Ames alleged, sold the names to the Israelis, who in turn, sold the names to the Russians. Pollard was being blamed for every ill that happened to the CIA. We knew only later, that this was absolutely not the case.
Ariel Sharon had warned the National Unity Government of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir that if they gave over the documents received from Pollard, that they were, in effect, putting Pollard out to dry for life. Pollard's fingerprints were all over these documents. Shamir only stated that a democracy needs to know how to sacrifice some of its own. The Americans really had no other way of proving what documents were given over to the Israelis. It was on the evidence provided by Israel, that Pollard was precluded from going to trial. This is the first time a country turned in its own agent and cooperated in the prosecution of its own agent.
We believe that like the price paid for the Mossad agents in Amman, there is a price for Pollard as well. After thirteen years of incarceration, his physical condition is poor.
We wish to force Israel to make the first payment on Pollard's release: admit that he was an Israeli agent. Admit publically and unambiguously, Pollard was our agent, he served the Government of Israel. Secondly, there were certain promises made to Mr. Pollard -- that he will be taken care of.
MANY SAW THE election of Benjamin Netanyahu as the answer to ending the tragedy of the Pollard Affair. It was hoped that the old guard of Israeli political leadership would no longer have a say in the effort to gain Pollard's freedom. However, little has changed.
Ben Caspit: What about Benjamin Netanyahu? Why is it that he promised you and Esther the sun, the moon and the stars before the elections and now he scarcely remembers how to pronounce your name on his trembling lips?
Jonathan Pollard: Don't forget, Netanyahu was the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations during my operation. And don't forget that Moshe Arens was deeply involved with my activities. He knew everything. He okayed everything. Arens' fingerprints were on all of the tasking orders I received, on all the operations, on all the directions. And Netanyahu, you mustn't forget, was Arens' 'poodle.'
Several sources have told me that Netanyahu played a part in the decision to throw me out of the Embassy. There is no proof of this; I try to be cautious and I won't make any accusations in this matter. But I don't have any doubt that Netanyahu is one of those to be counted with the group that does not approach me with clean hands, and certainly not with a clean conscience.
FEW ISRAELI LEADERS have clean consciences when it comes to the Pollard Affair. They have yet to form an "official" position concerning Pollard's status. However, their unofficial position is quite clear. Israeli authorities have preferred to categorize Pollard as a "rogue agent," who, without official sanction from the government, passed on classified documents taken from United States intelligence sources. This position is maintained in the face of two separate inquiries conducted by the State of Israel concerning the Pollard Affair which seem to indicate otherwise.
New Jersey Jewish News Editor-in-Chief David Twersky, wrote in "Pollard: Israel AG Conspired To Obstruct Justice," the following:
According to Pollard, the Eban and Rottenstreich-Tzur commissions [convened to examined the Pollard Affair] "pointed a finger at the Ministry of Defense, all the way to the top."
The Eban committee report, most of which remains classified, stated that the "decision to run Pollard and all the stages of implementation were made by officials of the state who drew their authority from the government and, more accurately, from the intelligence services of the State of Israel." Pollard, however, said those responsible for his espionage included the top political leaders. "Some tasking orders bore the stamp of the military adviser to the prime minister," he said. "It was not a 'rogue operation,'" Pollard insisted. "My material was discussed in the cabinet." In trying to limit the damage, Pollard said, the Israeli government "submitted fraudulent testimony" about Sela "designed to obscure the fact this was an official operation."
In an Op-Ed entitled, "Who's Afraid of Jonathan Pollard?," Jonathan Pollard explains why he believes Israel has denied him. He writes, in part,
There are essentially three categories or groups of individuals who are playing a role in determining why the State of Israel has not been willing, or able, to secure my release. The first group falls into what I call the "Servile" category. This group includes individuals who are either so in awe of the United States, or so in need of identifying with the US in some way, that they are afraid to rock the boat over my case. They put maintenance of the US-Israel relationship ahead of the security and welfare of any individual including those who served the State.
The second category of individuals who are active in undermining the effort to secure my release are a group that I refer to as the "Lavonites." The name is derived from the Lavon Affair of the 1950's when the Government of Israel completely abandoned a group of Israeli agents to their fate in an Egyptian prison after a failed operation in that country. The agents were Egyptian Jewish volunteers. All of them were tortured in Egyptian captivity; some died. The ones that survived were left in Egypt to endure cruel punishment for 13 long years while the Government of Israel turned its back and disclaimed all responsibility. Sound familiar? These hapless souls were not rescued until after the Six Day War when Israel negotiated the release of its pilots, and the pilots refused to leave without the Lavon Affair victims!
The "Lavonites" in my case, are those individuals who have dirty hands and dirty consciences because of direct involvement. They are fearful of protecting their reputations and careers. Most of these individuals can be found in the political arena and in the Ministry of Defense, which ran my operation. These are the types who had no qualms about selling me out. More will be known about their deeds once our hearing in the Israeli High Court of Justice gets underway. In the meantime, they are working actively behind the scenes to undermine any serious attempt to secure my release, afraid that any reopening of the case will reposition the "roaming spotlight" on them.
The third group of individuals opposed to my repatriation are the "Yossi Amit" group. IDF Major Yossi Amit was arrested in Israel in 1986 and sentenced in a secret hearing to 12 years in prison for espionage on behalf of the United States. So much for the outrage that the Americans expressed about allies spying on each other. The "Servile" types saw to it that the arrest and sentencing of Amit was a private affair so as not to cause the American "Empire" any discomfort.
Not much was seen or heard of this case until Amit was suddenly mysteriously released in 1993 after serving only a few years of his sentence. The "Amit types," for my purposes, are that group of individuals who in spite of their Israeli citizenship and credentials have sold their Jewish souls to work as spies for the US in Israel. This group is only "doing their job" when they work to prevent my release. [See Appendix D for information on the Amit spy case]
Does America really spy on Israel? During the recent Mega Spy affair, intelligence experts affirmed that the Israeli secret code "Silon," that was compromised by the Americans, could only have been broken with the help of a very high-level American mole within Israeli Intelligence. In a 1988 essay "Shredded Secrets" featured in Penthouse Magazine, Edward Jay Epstein described a degree of American penetration into the Israeli intelligence, military and political establishments that is stupendous. The documents Epstein cited were produced by a broad range of individuals occupying positions all across the spectrum within the Israeli government.
That the Epstein charges have gone unheralded, unnoticed and uninvestigated all these years is tragic in its consequences for Israel's national security. In my own work for the government of Israel, I never revealed the names of American agents even though I was sorely pressed to do so by my handlers. This is documented in "The Memorandum In Aid of Sentencing" which has been submitted, in part, as evidence for the hearing in the High Court of Justice. The document also states that I had not deleted the informant source numbers from any of the documents I passed to Israel. A source number does not reveal any information about the identity of an agent, nor can it be used to trace the identity of an agent. But depending on how high the number is, it can shed some light on just how badly a county's security has been penetrated.
My Israeli handlers were dumfounded to see the number 200 and up on documents that I gave them. This number indicated that there were at least 200 or more well-placed sources within the Israeli intelligence, defense and political ranks that were illegally feeding Israel's secret information to the Americans.
The three groups -- "the Serviles," "the Lavonites" and "the Amits" -- are not homogeneous. The lines are blurred where one group leaves off and the next one begins. Many individuals in highly-placed positions fit into more than one of the three categories. But the net effect of all of these influences has been to block efforts to seek my release.
For example: the recent case of the non-Jewish American Lt. Cdr. Michael Schwartz, who was indicted in America for spying for the Saudis, should have provided the Israeli Government with a golden opportunity to secure my release. But the opportunity has been pointedly ignored. Schwartz, who committed the same offense as I, will not spend a single day in prison. Out of America's deference to the sensitivities of her Saudi ally, his only punishment was dismissal from the American Navy.
The blatant disparity in the way a Saudi agent was treated versus the life sentence that was meted out to me, an Israeli agent, presented Israel with the leverage to press the Americans for equal treatment as an ally and to insist upon my release. At the same time, Israel also had a national obligation to insist that the damage assessment of Schwartz's espionage be shared with them so that Israel could take appropriate remedial action.
Strangely enough, Israel did neither. Instead, the political, military, and intelligence departments all chose to play deaf, dumb, and blind to the whole affair. As far as they were concerned, this story that was covered in every major newspaper of record from The Washington Post to The New York Times, never happened.
The "Serviles" prefer not to know what Schwartz may have compromised regarding Israel's security for fear of being compelled to confront the U.S.
The "Amit" types are just "doing their job" in preventing any serious damage assessment of Schwartz's actions by the Government of Israel. The "Lavonites" don't want to focus any attention on Schwartz or even acknowledge his existence. Because of the information I gave them, they do know exactly what information on Israel Schwartz was capable of handing over to the Saudis. But, an investigation would just refocus attention on me and what my operation was about -- something that all of the groups want to avoid more than anything else -- even at the cost of Israel's national security.
The actions of all of the individuals described above suggests that what they all fear most about my release is the fear of exposure. They betrayed not only me, but the State of Israel, when they placed their personal goals and political agendas ahead of Israeli national security and national honor. They have blinded themselves to the fact that without national honor there can be no national security.
The people of Israel want Jonathan Pollard home. They intuitively understand that this case is not about just one man, but about every Jew who in any way puts on a uniform in service of the State of Israel. If one Jew is permitted to be sacrificed to serve political ends and to protect private careers then no Jew is safe, and neither is the State of Israel. Esther and I are taking the Pollard case to the Israeli High Court of Justice not only to fight for my freedom, but also to restore national integrity and national honor to a nation that has been sorely bereft of these qualities by its leadership. Our victory will be a victory not only for us but for all of the people of Israel.
An Interview with Esther Pollard
Esther Pollard is a tireless worker for her husband's campaign to be released after 13 years of incarceration. During one of her many trips to Israel on behalf of her husband, Jonathan,
B'tzedek was afforded the opportunity to sit with Esther Pollard to discuss her husband's plight.
Esther Pollard: Jewish leadership is walking away from the massive injustice of the Pollard case. It is not an issue of whether or not they care about Jonathan, but this is very much about whether or not there is a future for the American Jewish Community. Jonathan's whole case, until now, has been, and continues to be, about equal justice. And if there is not going to be equal justice for Jonathan Pollard then there is no equal justice for anyone.
We have three prime Jewish defense organizations in America, not a single one of them during thirteen years of this ordeal has had a word to say about Jonathan. We have recently gone back to them and asked again for their support and they are totally and completely uninterested. This is shocking when you take into account that these organizations have money for full-page ads on the treatment of the Bosnians and the Kurds. They have the money and energy to get involved with or have criticism on every issue that one would be hard pressed to define as a "Jewish." When it comes down to defending Jewish interests, i.e., the Pollard case, they will have nothing to do with it.
Leon Levy, former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, finally called me during the hunger strike last year, after seven years of silence. This was on the back of a visit by Rabbi Mordecai Eliahu, who reprimanded these "Jewish leaders" for not fighting for Jonathan. Levy said to me, "Mrs. Pollard, I am calling to tell you that the Conference of Presidents is continuing its efforts on behalf of your husband." And I said to him, "My husband will be calling me in fifteen minutes. Would you like to tell me what it is that you are doing, so that I can tell my husband?" There was dead silence at the other end of the line. He simply had no words. I asked him why my husband's name wasn't on the agenda when -- I think it was either July 28th or 29th, 1996 -- when the President's Conference met with President Clinton. Why wasn't Jonathan's name on the agenda while they were in there with Clinton? During that meeting, McMurry, the spokesperson for the President was out announcing to the press, that President Clinton was turning down commutation for Jonathan Pollard. Clinton didn't even have the decency to tell the Jewish leaders, who were sitting there at the time, what was decided about Jonathan. And, of course, the Jewish leaders were shocked and outraged. I said to Mr. Levy, "Why is it that you are so shocked and so outraged?" And he said, "Because we didn't see it coming." I said, "Mr. Levy, you didn't even put my husbands name on the agenda. You made it very clear that you were not interested. Why should you be shocked?" And he said, "We should have been given the courtesy. Nothing like this has ever happened before." I said, "Oh really, in 1994 the President did the same thing to you when he slapped the entire Jewish community in the face on the night of Passover and declined commutation for Jonathan. In both cases he turned down the request for commutation using three falsehoods. Why are you surprised?" He answered, "Oh, well I wasn't the President [of the Conference of Jewish Presidents] then." I replied, "Don't you know anything of the history of your organization? Mr. Levy your own house is on fire. You don't have to do this for Jonathan Pollard. Understand, this is about the American Jewish community. This is about equal justice!" When I began to explain to him just how his own house is on fire, he said to me, "Mrs. Pollard, I want to tell you about Jewish tradition." I thought that he was going to respond with something important about the Jewish tradition and the commandment of "redeeming the captive," instead, he said to me, "According to the Jewish tradition, what you are doing is wrong." He was referring to the hunger strike. I replied that Rabbi Eliahu, as my husband's Rabbi and the only one that we accept halakhic decisions from.
The reason why I bring up this exchange is because it epitomizes the relationship that Jonathan and I have with the American Jewish leadership throughout the years. When push came to shove, and he was called on his indifference, he responded. The bottom line is that these people are acutely aware of the fact that they have no real power. These are the leaders who pose for photos with Clinton. These are the leaders who have funded this president. These are the leaders who have covered for him through every one of his shenanigans and his own questionable doings. But they can't get up the gumption to ask for equal justice.
B'tzedek: Why are the Americans so adamant about the Jonathan Pollard case? What is it that motivates them?
Esther Pollard: Jonathan is extremely useful for certain elements within the American administration. A great deal of the Pollard case remains classified because it covers up the sins of the politicians.
B'tzedek: Are you suggesting that the American government keeps your husband in prison to hide certain irregularities committed by American politicians? Or does this case have something to do with U.S.-Israel relations? Is Jonathan Pollard a silencing agent to used by the American government to keep the Israelis in line?
Esther Pollard: Recently, you must have heard of the "Mega" spy affair. America charged that Israel was, once again, spying on her. What they did was take an Israeli embassy communication which they had deciphered and then broadcast it to the world and particularly to all of Israel's enemies. They claimed that there was a reference to somebody named "Mega." They said here is a Mega, just like the Pollard case. Now, it just so happened that Dennis Ross was due in Israel that day. I think it was leaked to let Israel know what her place was and just what damage can be done to Israel and American Jewry should the U.S. decide to act in that manner. When the Mega affair was fully investigated, it was concluded that there was no "Mega," there was nothing. But, how useful Jonathan is in cases where the American administration chooses to put full pressure on Israel. The thing that Israel failed to move on was when the Americans stated that they had listened in on Israeli secret communications, spied on Israel, that they had deciphered this top-secret code, "Silon," -- a code that both American and Israeli experts agreed was only breakable through use of a mole within Israel's Intelligence services. While this was the story, Israel never went on the offensive. Israel never made a story over the fact that it is highly likely that American agents are within the Israel security apparatus, spying on Israel for U.S. intelligence. It was at that moment when the U.S. was pointing a finger at Israel that Israel should have turned the tables on America and demanded to know how they broke the code. At that time the Israelis should have asked for Jonathan. By returning Jonathan to his home in Israel, the whole story could have been hushed up and made to go away. But Israel never asked for Jonathan.
I did an interview with Arutz-7 [independent radio station in Israel] when I was on my hunger strike in which listeners were invited to call-in. The audience was very receptive to me and sympathetic to my husband's plight. However, it broke my heart over and over again hearing the same comment, "Mrs. Pollard, why are you having a hunger strike here in Israel? We can't do anything. Go to America and do it there." I was shocked. This vassal state mentality has permeated all levels of Israeli society. Again and again, I had to remind people that Jonathan is Israel's agent, not America's. America is not going to release him unless Israel demands or, in some way, negotiates his freedom.
In 1996 the Pentagon issued a memo to its agencies, to beware of Jewish subcontractors because of the close ties of the Jewish community to Israel. They defined Israel as a 'non-traditional enemy.' Again, their basis for this was the Pollard case and all the "damage" that he had caused America. When the Jewish establishment's defense organizations heard that, it should have been their cue to say, "enough." When did Israel become a non-traditional enemy? Are Jews not equal citizens? American Jewish leadership should have demanded the end of Pollard as a scapegoat. Instead the whimpered a little bit and sniveled. Abe Foxman, the present head of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations declared that it borders on anti-semitism, while doing nothing else.
I have for you a tape of my last conversation with Jonathan from prison while I've been here in Israel. The conversation bears directly on what we are discussing now. I think that you and your readers would do well to hear the words of Jonathan on this matter.
Jonathan Pollard: It's a typical day here, care of the American Jewish Establishment and my friends in Israel. I opened up a copy of the Jewish Week of New York, the October 17th  edition, there was a very interesting article inside by J. J. Goldberg, concerning a meeting that took place on October 6th, between a select group of Jewish community leaders, President Clinton, Vice President Gore and Israeli President Ezer Weizman. It was a three hour "working dinner," over salmon and tossed salad. The Secretary of State was there, national security advisers were there, diplomats, you name it. Let's forget about what it was ostensibly about, that is, whether the U.S. should put the screws on Israel a little bit more in the peace process.
The reporter, J. J. Goldberg said, "The dinner answered at least one question decisively, How seriously does the White House take the mood of American Jews? The answer is, very seriously. Consider, the President and his top aides spent three hours closeted with ten leaders of the organized Jewish community, probably the longest such chat ever. Some Washington watchers were hard pressed to recall when the nation's chief officers last spent three hours closeted with anyone, besides their lawyers."
The whole piece is about the strength and power of the Jewish establishment. It also speaks volumes about how weak and craven, and I would use the word "treasonous," President Ezer Weizman actually is, stabbing our country [Israel] in the back with a group of individuals, Jewish, so-called leaders who have no vested interest in Israel's survival, except for the fact that, if Israel were to perish, their means of sustaining their lavish lifestyles in New York and elsewhere would be seriously compromised. The bottom line on all of this is, I spend the better part of the day talking to people in Los Angeles, in Chicago, in Washington and New York and I have a very good understanding of what was said there and what wasn't. Simply put, Ezer Weizman lied when he said my name was brought up. Nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the [U.S.] President's people made it, apparently very clear, to the leaders -- the American Jewish leaders -- that the subject of my situation would not be mentioned. These people -- kaiser yuden -- simply bowed their heads and agreed. Not to say that they would have done anything or said anything for me, anyway. But their willingness and readiness to accede to a presidential dictate really calls in to question their oft repeated claim of being the proudest, most independent, leaders of the most self-respecting Jewish community in the world.
What could shock you, perhaps, is that our good friend, Ezer Weizman, the President of our country [Israel], didn't even bother to bring my name up. He too, apparently acceded to the presidential dictate. According to two people who had advised participants there, Weizman and a few of the participants discussed the need to keep my name out of the picture. They didn't want to muddy the water with something, according to Weizman, that was of no real concern to Israel and certainly should be of no concern to the American Jewish community. So, it's not just that Weizman lies, it's not just that he is essentially in complicity with my continuing incarceration, it is that he dishonors our country. This article really . . . for a man like Weizman to consort with these petty Jewish leaders and to trim his own sails to cut their weakened breeze . . . it's like the tail wagging the dog. These Jewish leaders exist, as far as I am concerned, to help Israel, to safeguard her interests. Not the other way around. [Pollard is referring to the Weizman-Clinton meeting on October 12, 1997 in which Weizman carried a petition signed by members of the Israeli Knesset asking President Clinton for the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard. Subsequent verification indicated that President Clinton did not receive the petition from the Israeli President. Weizman admitted that he had not brought up the Pollard case with President Clinton (The Jerusalem Post, October 7, 1997); and then two days later (The Jerusalem Post, October 9, 1997) he inexplicably declared that he had.]
Esther Pollard: Can I tell you something? In everyone agreeing not to bring up your case and not to mention you, there is second message that they have missed. By everyone agreeing, they had all tacitly agreed to how terribly important this is. There was no other subject. . . .
Jonathan Pollard: . . . declared off limits.
Esther Pollard: Yes.
Jonathan Pollard: . . . except this one. The fact that our people are being blown to shreds in the Middle East. Oh no, this was fair game. There were a whole host of issues, but this was centered around, mind you, how to put the screws to Israel.
Esther Pollard: And you are the consummate symbol.
Jonathan Pollard: Unfortunately, what they couldn't do to Israel, they did to me. By simply not mentioning me. It's a job well done by the President of Israel. They did it to themselves. But they are not thinking about this any more than the Jewish establishment leaders during the thirties, who consciously, both here [in the U.S.A.] and in Israel, abandoned the European Jewish community, ultimately did it to themselves, also. It's all on record.
The other thing that just devastated me today, two inmates -- these people don't know anything about Israel at all -- came, ran and got me to come see the news. "Your President is on TV." [I said,] "Oh really, what Arab terrorist is he releasing, now?" And I walked in, and there he [Weizman] was at a gala hosted by Shimon Peres for peace with the Egyptians and the Palestinians. Everybody was there. And there he was, shmoozing it up with Shimon Peres, a man who immediately after his defeat in the last elections, hand wrote you a letter promising to "continue" his efforts. Well, I guess he kept his word, since he did nothing before, he simply did nothing after. I guess he is honest in that regard! But here is a man who has the chutzpa to shmooze with the President while the blood of our people is still wet on the pavement.
Jonathan Pollard's freedom will only be found through a political agreement between Israel and America. Israel must act. In a courageous move that may signal the break in the dam, the first senior official in any Israeli government has visited Jonathan in prison. Perhaps the efforts made by Esther Pollard and Larry Dub in the Israeli courts will push the government toward justice for Jonathan Pollard.
"Every single day I get ready all over again waiting to Be released," Jonathan Pollard told Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption, Yuli Edelstein. The Israeli Minister told Yediot Ahronot (November 25, 1997) reporter Orly Azulay Katz, "He told me something interesting: 'If the Americans see that the Israeli government, which I served, does not go out of its way to help me, why should the Americans lift a finger to resolve this case?' And he is right in his thinking." Edelstein said, "While he did not come out and say that he feels that the Government of Israel abandoned him, it is easy to understand how hard it must be for him, the fact that the Government of Israel has not done enough for him."
Edelstein has apparently taken the Pollard case seriously. He wrote an article for the Israeli daily, Ma'ariv, on November 28, 1997 entitled, "80 Minutes With Prisoner Number 09185-016," concerning his visit with Pollard. The following are excerpts from Minister Edelstein's article:
"I am no longer a young man. I am realistic," said Pollard. "I want to realize very specific goals. First and foremost I want to come home to Israel. I want to have time to have a family of my own," (he shows me that he is not even allowed to wear a wedding band, something that hurts him very much) "and to give over to my children the richness of our tradition." And he punctuated words here by tightly squeezing the hand of his wife, Esther.
"I ask that the State of Israel officially recognize me as an agent and that the State take responsibility for its actions. I ask that political differences be set aside and that a joint appeal by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak [opposition Labor leader] go out to all of the Jewish communal leaders in the United States which will make it clear that the issue of my release is a matter of national consensus in Israel. They should ask the American Jewish community to make its voice heard on the matter in order to create momentum."
"Of course, I expect the Government of Israel to make a direct approach to the American government and to make it clear that they see my release as a matter of national priority, and that I have already served a very harsh sentence."
Pollard suggested a number of initiatives to me which he believes would promote his release. I promised him that I would look into his suggestions one by one, with the appropriate authorities upon my return to Israel.
I wondered to myself, if I would have the privilege during my term in office to personally hand Jonathan Pollard the Israeli immigration certificate he so badly wants and so richly deserves.
On December 8, the Israeli Knesset made a public appeal for Jonathan's release. Deputy Defense Minister Silvan Shalom said that it was time to change Israel's policy on the Pollard Affair. Stating that behind the scenes efforts did not bear any fruit over the last 12 years of Pollard's incarceration, M.K. Silvan insisted that it was now the time to speak openly and call for U.S. authorities to issue a pardon to Pollard.
Israeli Minister of Communications Limor Livnat will meet with Jonathan Pollard on December 17, as part of a new campaign to win his release. Minster Livnat will carry a letter from Israeli Labor and Social Affairs Minister Eli Yishai praising Jonathan Pollard for working with "divine devotion" for Israel's security. Yishai writes, "You deserve to be pardoned, to immigrate to Israel, the beloved land whose security you worked for with such divine devotion." Additionally, he said that the Israeli government should "do all that is possible so that you will see the light of the sun, feel the freedom and come to Israel."
Following the announcement of this letter in the Israeli media on December 12, Labor Member of Knesset Ophir Pines demanded the government reach an agreement for the release of Pollard and questioned why the Amit spy case was not used to get Pollard out long ago. He said that former prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres "have questions to answer and explanations to make concerning their strange behavior in this case." Pines added that the present government can make up for past injustices and "insist on the principle of reciprocity in its relationship with the U.S. It must demand Pollard be released immediately. The U.S. cannot continue to relate to Pollard as a dangerous criminal who cannot be released, when today everybody knows that at the same time that Pollard operated and was caught, the U.S. was not averse to dealing in espionage on Israel."
Although not officially released from the Office of the Prime Minister it is reported that Minister Livnat will carry a message from the prime minister, in which Mr. Netanyahu states, "The entire nation is concerned about your continuing ordeal. I sincerely hope that our efforts to seek a solution to your case will be successful and you will be a free man again in the near future."
We are left with some very frightening questions. Namely, that at one and the same time the Pollard Affair suggests that the United States wanted to "get" Israel and found Pollard to be an excellent vehicle. However, there was a time in which the U.S. was willing to hush up the entire episode in the manner followed by most friendly nations who spy on each other. The United States may have used the Pollard affair to whip the Israelis, but only after the Israelis failed to come clean. Is Jonathan Pollard being held as ransom for far greater matters? That is to say, that the Israelis were willing to sacrifice Pollard and lie to the Americans in order to prevent the exposure of something else. Could Israel be so weak as to allow the Mega episode to go unchallenged if other things would not be compromised by making a stink? Why wouldn't the Israelis allow Sela's affidavit correspond with his statement taken by the Israeli hired lawyer, Leonard Garment? Were there elements in Sela's statement that would have led US officials to bigger things? What does America believe Israel was hiding and whose crime is Jonathan Pollard paying for? What is Israel hiding that would allow them to continue to leave Jonathan Pollard out in the cold?
The Pollard Affair is symptomatic of the position thrust upon Israel by the world community. The nations of the world perceive Israel's existence as a gift they have bestowed upon the Jewish people. Regardless of how well the Jewish people attempt to integrate themselves within the body of mankind, they will always be considered anomalous. It is not difficult to understand how the greatest power on earth, the United States, views a nation whose pre-modern history harkens back to a time when choseness had significance. American Jewish leadership is diseased with the malady of giving lip-service of an allegiance to Israel, while always fearing their precarious hold on an ever dwindling constituency. Power is their god and America gives them the illusion that they possess it. But what is most unforgivable is the plague upon the sovereign State of Israel. Israel has most ashamedly accepted the idea that her life-force is at the whim of global charity. Israel has accepted the perverted notion that she is not to act as other nations with solemn obligations to all Jews. Israel is not to hold on to territory won in defensive wars. Israel is not to spy on allies even when doing so is a matter of life and death. The illness is carried by the nations of the world, but its infestation within Israel is a burden she has taken on willingly.
Jonathan Pollard is now an Israeli citizen, who wishes only to lead a quiet, private life in his homeland. Its time to bring him in from the cold. "What scares me the most," said Pollard to Ben Caspit, "is that we won't have time -- Esther and I -- to have a family. I want so badly to have children. I want to be a father. Time is running out. Nothing else matters. I want a family. I want a home. I want to be an ordinary person. I want to live among my people in Israel. To share in what happens to Israel -- the hardships, the tragedies, the explosions. To be an Israeli. That's all."
Victim Impact Statement
This is a copy of the Victim Impact Statement quoted verbatim from Jonathan Pollard's pre-sentencing interview:
The specific instances of damage to the national security caused by Mr. Pollard's offense will be described in a classified damage session affidavit to be submitted to the Court in camera. Generally, it can be said that the breadth and scope of the classified information compromised by Mr. Pollard is among the greatest of any espionage operation uncovered by Federal authorities.
Thousands of pages of Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information were sold to the Israelis by Mr. Pollard. As explained in detail in the government's in camera affidavit, Mr. Pollard's unauthorized disclosures have threatened the U.S. relations with numerous Middle East Arab allies, many of whom question the extent to which Mr. Pollard's disclosures of classified information have skewed the balance of power in the Middle East.
Moreover, because Mr. Pollard provided the Israelis virtually any classified document requested by Mr. Pollard's coconspirators, the U.S. has been deprived of the quid pro quo routinely received during authorized and official intelligence exchanges with Israel, and Israel has received information classified at a level far in excess of that ever contemplated by the National Security Council. The obvious result of Mr. Pollard's largess is that U.S. bargaining leverage with the Israeli government in any such further intelligence exchanges has been undermined.
The Amit Spy Case
by Yosi Melman, Ha'aretz, December 12, 1997
"No, I don't remember the incident," former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said in response to questions about whether Israel, under his leadership in the later half of the 1980s, missed a rare opportunity to mitigate Jonathan Pollard's punishment. "Maybe Shimon Peres remembers more," he suggested. Peres, who was deputy prime minister and foreign minister at the time, did not respond to questions posed to him.
The Israeli leadership might have been unable to help Pollard, who was exposed as an Israeli spy, even if it had tried. It did, however, have the means to take more aggressive action. And the leverage was Military Intelligence Major Yosef Amit.
Amit's story was partially covered by the press in the past, but here, for the first time, is the full story of his espionage and of the linkage that could have been made to Pollard. Jonathan Pollard, who worked at the American naval intelligence center in Maryland, was arrested on Nov. 21, 1985. Four months later, on March 24, Amit was arrested at his home in Haifa, on suspicion of spying for the United States. The fact that it was the United States he was accused of spying for was not even noted on the indictment he was served, and Israel never made that aspect of the affair public.
Yosef Amit was born in Haifa in 1945. In 1963, he enlisted in the IDF, and completed officer's course with distinction. Later, according to Foreign Report, he joined Intelligence Unit 504. The unit, according to the foreign press, is an intelligence gathering unit responsible for activating Arab agents in neighboring countries. Amit was given command of a military intelligence base on the Lebanese border. In 1978, he was arrested for drug dealing. According to Foreign Report, Unit 504 paid agents in drugs given to it by the police.
Journalist Uzi Mahanaimi, a former military intelligence officer who today writes for the London Sunday Times, wrote in 1996 that Israel also had a plan to swamp Egypt with drugs.
Amit attempted to sell some of the drugs from his base for personal profit. He was brought in to military court but was declared psychologically unfit to stand trial. He was hospitalized at the Mizra psychiatric hospital near Acre upon being discharged from the IDF.
Three years later, he was released and began to work as a private investigator. During that time, Amit befriended an American naval officer whose ship had docked at the Haifa port. They met at a pub, and Amit boasted about his experience in intelligence. The officer told his supervisors. At one point, the American officer told Amit that he wished to retire from the service, settle in Germany, and start a business. Amit hinted at his strong desire to make money and suggested that they do business together. The American agreed.
Sometime later, Amit went to Germany and met with his new friend. The American officer introduced him to some "friends," who turned out to be members of the U.S. intelligence community, officers from the CIA station at the U.S. embassy in Bonn. It is not clear whether the naval officer had been recruiting for American intelligence from the start, or whether he simply passed Amit's history on out of patriotic loyalty. The contacts, which all took place in Germany, continued for several months. The Americans called upon Tom Waltz, a Jewish officer at the CIA station of their embassy in Israel, to find out just how much Amit had to offer. Coincidentally, Waltz and Amit flew to Germany on the same plane. Waltz came to his first meeting with Amit disguised. During his interrogation, however, Amit noted that he had recognized his flight companion anyway: The CIA officer had indeed changed his clothes and his appearance, but he had forgotten to change his shoes. In any event, Waltz became Amit's direct handler. The American intelligence officer instructed Amit on the types of materials the Americans would be interested in. In particular, the Americans requested information on Israeli troop movements and intentions in Lebanon and in the occupied territories. The contacts continued until just before Amit's arrest in 1986.
It was information given to the Shin Bet general security services and the police by a friend of Amit's that aroused suspicion. The friend reported that Amit spoke of ties he had with American intelligence. Amit cooperated with his interrogators during questioning and gave complete details of his relationship with the CIA. He noted meeting places, dates, and names of individuals he had met with, including Tom Waltz. He revealed the information he had given to the Americans and admitted that he had received several thousand dollars from the CIA in exchange for his services. Classified military documents, as well as secret material belonging to the Shin Bet, were found when Amit's house was searched.It turned out that a childhood friend of Amit's had received material from the Shin Bet research department in his capacity as Shin Bet coordinator in the Galilee. Amit had convinced his friend to give him some of the material, claiming he needed it for some private investigations against Arab citizens. Copies of such material were found in Amit's house.
The Shin Bet quickly arrested the friend, who admitted his guilt, expressed remorse and claimed that he did not know Amit was using the materials for other purposes. He was dismissed from the Shin Bet, tried, and sentenced to three months in prison and a one-year suspended sentence. In April 1987, Amit was convicted on the basis of his confession and sentenced by the Haifa district court to twelve years in jail. His trial was held in closed chambers, and aside from a few brief and inexact stories that appeared in the foreign press (The Israeli emigrant newspaper Israel Shelanu in New York reported the arrest of a Military Intelligence officer for spying for Syria), the military censor prevented any mention of the incident from being reported in Israel. Even more surprising was the fact that the Israeli government did not decide to use the Amit affair with the Americans. The United States was not even asked to remove Waltz from the embassy in Tel Aviv, and about two months after Amit's arrest, Waltz even accompanied a Shin Bet and Israeli Military Intelligence delegation to a meeting in Washington. The delegation was briefed by Shin Bet official Yossi Ginosar shortly before its departure and told to refrain from even hinting at any knowledge of Waltz's activities. The delegation was also warned against discussing Pollard. At the time, Ginosar was head of the Shin Bet department in charge of counter-espionage and foreign liaison.
Members of the intelligence community were silenced when they tried to question why Israel did not use the issue to offset the Pollard affair.
The only step that was taken was a meeting between Shin Bet head Yosef Harmelin and the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv, in which the Shin Bet official presented the facts and asked for an explanation. The CIA chief informed the Shin Bet a few days later that Amit had approached the Americans on his own initiative and had been turned away.
In 1992, an opportunity to link the Pollard affair with the Amit affair once again presented itself. Amnon Dror, chairman of the Public Committee for the Release of Jonathan Pollard, learned that a former officer was serving a sentence in an Israeli jail for spying for the United States.
The committee actually served as a "front" for the Israeli government, which wished to hide its involvement in attempts to free Pollard and improve his prison conditions. It was funded by the Ministry of Finance. Dror tried to find out from his supervisors whether the Amit affair could be utilized on Pollard's behalf, but says "they told me to leave it alone."
He called the American embassy in Tel Aviv and spoke to the political attache. The attache denied that the United States had activated an Israeli in Israel. Dror later gave some of the details he knew to an Israeli journalist.
The journalist published the story in the American newspaper Newsday, and mentioned the possibility that Israel may be interested in exchanging Pollard's release for Amit's. The brief story appeared in a few papers in Israel but did not attract much attention.
Amit, however, sent a harsh letter to Rachel Sukar of the State Attorney's office, stating that he had no wish to be released as part of an exchange. Sukar replied, assuring him that neither she nor any other official party stood behind the story, and that in any event he would not be released against his will. Amit, who claimed that his confession was extracted illegally, was ultimately released in 1993. He was paroled for good behavior (even though he often violated prison regulations) and because of his psychological condition. It is highly doubtful whether a major spy like Pollard could have been released in exchange for Amit, who was considered a minor spy and was not important to the Americans.
It seems, however, that Amit could have been used to try to pressure the Americans to lighten Pollard's punishment, or to try to make a secret deal in which the Americans would at least promise to release him in the future. But nothing was done. Why?
Those familiar with the affair suggest a number of possibilities. The Israeli leadership of that period -- Peres, Shamir, and Yitzhak Rabin -- as well as the heads of the intelligence community, feared that demands for an exchange would only exacerbate the rage of the Americans, who were furious enough about the Pollard affair. The Israeli leadership wanted to placate the Americans at any cost.
They may also have feared that the issue would attract attention to the delicate operations of Unit 504.
Perhaps it was a matter of pride. In the 1980s, the intelligence community still felt that exposing the involvement of a former military intelligence officer and a Shin Bet official in espionage for the United States would embarrass them and damage their reputation.
The Israeli leadership and heads of intelligence preferred, it seems, to maintain their honor and professional pride rather than taking care of a spy that had been imprisoned because of them.
How Pollard Aided Israel Intelligence
Excerpts of "Pollard: Not A Bumbler, But Israel's Master Spy" by Wolf Blitzer
The Washington Post, February 15, 1987
The intelligence provided to Israel included specific material dealing with the following general areas:
Reconnaissance of PLO headquarters in Tunisia, including a description of all the buildings there, according to one American with first-hand knowledge of the Pollard case and confirmed by an Israeli who is familiar with what Pollard provided. This and other related data obtained by Pollard -- especially the specific capabilities of the Libyan air defense system and the movement of U.S., Soviet and French ships in the Mediterranean -- enabled the Israeli air force to evade detection and bomb those headquarters on Oct. 1, 1985. Pollard's information "made our life much easier" in the Tunis raid, one Israeli official said.
Iraqi and Syrian chemical-warfare production capabilities, including detailed satellite pictures and maps showing the location of factories and storage facilities, according to Israeli officials who were told by colleagues what Pollard had provided. An American official subsequently confirmed that Pollard had provided information about Iraqi chemical warfare.
Regular U.S. intelligence assessments of operations planned by a
PLO unit, according to an American account that was confirmed in Israel.
Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states, including the specifics on the SS-21 ground-to-ground and the SA-5 anti-aircraft missiles, according to knowledgeable American and Israeli sources. Whenever the U.S. discovered that a Soviet ship was passing through the Bosporus into the Mediterranean, Pollard passed that information to Israel, the sources said.
The U.S. intelligence community's assessment of a particular Soviet-made fighter.
Pakistan's program to build an atomic bomb, including large satellite photographs of its nuclear facility outside Islamabad, according to an American source with detailed knowledge of the Pollard case.
Despite the official Israeli claim that Pollard was part of a rogue operation. Israeli officials speak of him in terms that suggest he may prove to be
one of the most important spies in Israel's history.
Indeed, Pollard's Israeli handlers even compared him to the legendary Israeli spy in Damascus, Eli Cohen, who rose to the top echelon of the Syrian government in the mid-1960s but eventually was exposed and executed. When Pollard was given an Israeli passport containing his picture as a token of Israel's appreciation, the name on the passport was "Danny Cohen" -- the implication being that Israel once had an Eli Cohen in Damascus and now had a Danny Cohen in Washington.
In general, Pollard gave Israel the pick of U.S. intelligence about Arab and Islamic conventional and unconventional military activity, from Morocco to Pakistan and every country in between. This included both "friendly" and "unfriendly" Arab countries.
An Israeli intelligence official told me that some of the information was "so breathtaking" that it justified the risk Israel was taking in running an agent in Washington. Pollard's handlers -- including Air Force Brig. Gen. Aviem Sela, veteran intelligence agent Rafael Eitan and former science counselor at the Israeli Consulate in New York, Yosef Yagur -- told him that he was "a one-man intelligence agency" for Israel, one source said.
Israel had to set up a special unit in New York and Washington to obtain Pollard's documents. Court documents show that Irit Erb, a secretary at the Israeli embassy in Washington, was given a second apartment where she operated sophisticated photocopying equipment for the documents provided by Pollard. Typically, he would deliver a large suitcase full of papers on a Friday evening on his way home from work and retrieve them on Sunday evening in order to return them to the appropriate national defense repositories the next morning.