Soul Number 600,001

April 9, 1998 - Uri Dan & Dennis Eisenberg - The Jerusalem Post

As Jews around the world celebrate Pessah this weekend, we are in awe once more at the courage and leadership qualities of Moses, that giant among men of all people and all time.

His heroism, against all odds, as he led 600,000 souls out of slavery to freedom will reverberate during the seder tomorrow night.

Whether he was divinely driven or motivated by the dictum that God helps those who help themselves is irrelevant. What matters is that the joy of Jews will be tinged with remorse and regret that two Israeli citizens, one a Jew and the other a non-Jew, languish in captivity. Not for them is the sweetness of liberty to be savored in the company of dear ones tomorrow.

One of the captives is Azzam Azzam, the Druse who the Egyptians jailed and convicted on trumped-up charges of being a Mossad spy. Everyone knows he is innocent.

The Israeli government promised to do everything possible to free him. That promise is so far unfulfilled; a fact which brings credit to no one in authority in the Jewish state.

So let us now turn to the shameful case of former Mossad agent Jonathan Pollard, incarcerated for 13 years in American prisons. When he realized that then-US defense secretary Caspar Weinberger was failing to inform Israel of key information that was vital to its security, (as agreed by treaty), Pollard decided to do his duty as a Jew.

Knowing that he was risking his future and freedom, Pollard, who worked as US naval intelligence officer, volunteered to give Israel vital information that passed through his hands. So important was the data concerning the build-up of unconventional weapons of destruction by Syria and Iraq, that a four-man Mossad team let by Rafi Eitan handled the naval documents provided by Pollard.

A year later, in 1985, he was arrested. Shimon Peres was prime minister in a national unity government. Yitzhak Rabin was defense minister. Both men were in a panic. They feared that an outraged US administration would damage relations between the two countries.

A craven decision was taken to pretend that they knew nothing of the operation. Thus was spawned the myth that Pollard was part of a "rogue operation." Rafi Eitan took the fall for the government by agreeing to take full blame for the fake set-up.

Peres and Rabin were not the only government chiefs who have refused to accept responsibility for their man. Moshe Arens had been defense minister when Pollard was recruited, the previous year. All three men surely read the vast quantity of documents that Pollard gave to Eitan clearly.

They would and could have halted the entire operation if they thought it was part of a "rogue operation." That they were happy to use the information to ensure Israel's security is noble. To pretend otherwise was and is to this day ignoble.

Yitzhak Shamir's declaration that "a country must know how to sacrifice a man," underscores the immorality of the act which to this day has left Pollard rotting in a US prison. And as Shamir was part of the government which hid its complicity behind Rafi Eitan's smokescreen, his conscience will surely be reminded of his part in the affair.

The decision which Pollard has underlined to the writers of this column is the miserable smokescreen that he was part of a "rogue operation." This enables the US intelligence community to insist that Pollard was a maverick who must remain behind bars.

The moment that Pollard is seen as an official Mossad agent, pressure for his release can be applied on the White House to free him. Even the timid US Jews might issue a tiny squeek of their own.

True, Limor Livnat weeps for Pollard in his cell. True, other ministers now also visit him in captivity. But why does the government not let the word of truth ring out and say: "Pollard was our man, a Mossad agent"?

This day, of all days, when the leadership of Moses fills the hearts of every Jew everywhere, is it not time for our leaders to follow in his footsteps! To cease fooling around and embrace Jonathan Pollard as soul number 600,001. Grant him his Mossad badge, and help him take a step on his private march from captivity to freedom in the promised land.

Pollard told us yesterday, "There is no point in Netanyahu sending letters to President Clinton. I am informed that Washington will pay no attention until Israel sends an unequivocal and public message that I was a sanctioned Lakam agent working for Israel.

"All I ask is for Israel at long last to tell the truth."

  • See Also: No Rogue Operation

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