The Price of Amorality

Eleonora Shifrin - Yamin Yisrael News - November 1, 1998

This past July, Israeli newspapers reported that the Americans had advance knowledge of the Iranian "Shihab-3" ballistic missile tests, but failed to inform Israel.

As in the 1980's our Defense and Intelligence apparatus along with the political leadership was relying on the Americans to keep us informed of military operations of hostile nations surrounding Israel. Now as then, their political and military reliance on the US was based on a 1983 agreement between the USA and Israel binding both sides to share vital intelligence information.

Today as Israel's leaders express "indignation and alarm at the US behavior", the media attempts to dismiss the breach of a fifteen-year-old agreement with "the loss of intimacy" between Clinton and Netanyahu as a result of the stalled "peace process".

This incident shows that our political and military leadership has learned nothing from the tragedy of Jonathan Pollard, and has drawn no conclusions from it. Pollard's bitter experience teaches us that the Americans started violating the agreement concerning the sharing of intelligence information with Israel literally from the moment of its signing. It was because of these violations that Jonathan Pollard, then a civilian analyst employed by the US Navy, offered Israel his services as an agent. His allegiance to both countries, given the fact that they are close allies, made him feel that no harm to America could occur if he warned Israel of those violations and of the immediate threats to the security of Israel. Thanks to Pollard's activities, Israel was able to take steps prevent overwhelming tragedy and to equip her citizens to survive attacks employing non-conventional weapons of war. This included building of sealed rooms and the distribution of gas masks and chemical kits prior to the Iraqi attack on Israel in 1991.

Jonathan Pollard has paid a dreadful price for his self-sacrifice. On the one hand, he received an extremely harsh sentence unparalleled in the history of America, and on the other he experienced complete betrayal on the part of Israel.

Israeli leadership readily accepted Pollard's service and made him Israel's agent in America. Unfortunately the leadership failed to rid itself of the complex of being a serf in service to the overlord in its relationship with America. Therefore, when Pollard was exposed, Israel did not take a firm stand against America for withholding vital information for its survival.

Instead, the Israelis started scurrying around, and seeking ways to run and hide like naughty teenagers caught red-handed by the adults. They ducked, bobbed and wove and scattered helter-skelter, abandoning Pollard to his fate and violating all their obligations towards their agent. They lied about their involvement and gave over documents to incriminate Pollard. This not only caused the Americans to spill all their fury on defenseless Pollard, but also showed them that any agreements and obligations can be violated against Israel with impunity.

Israelis pathetically accepted the punishment and betrayal by the US and lied when caught red-handed. This absence of personal dignity on the personal, as well as on the national level inevitably resulted in Israel receiving further slaps in the face.

Last summer the Americans were once again caught violating the 1983 exchange of information agreement with Israel. This is not accidental: this clearly shows their real attitude towards Israel. This fact must be internalized and understood by those who still cling to the belief that America won't allow Israel to be destroyed,

And this should have been understood by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the recent Wye Summit. He intended to use the release of Pollard as his defense against his own infuriated supporters after signing an agreement he had domestically promised not to sign. What he failed to realize is unless it is openly and loudly stated that Pollard has done no harm whatsoever to the American security and the only harm done was to the political image of the USA as a trustworthy ally and guarantor of international agreements, the US President and his administration will have no reason to free Pollard. Moreover, the misinformed American public opinion will continue to justify their refusal to free Pollard.

Pollard's issue has become the litmus test for the American-Israeli relations. At Wye the Prime Minister demanded that Clinton immediately release Israel's agent. For the number of hours that he refused to sign the Wye Accords unless this condition was met, the demand was taken seriously. The minute he agreed to sign the Accords, and his demand was downgraded to a request, it was clear to the Americans that the demand was not serious and could be ignored.

Those who insist that morals and ethics are out of place in politics now have the opportunity to learn in practice where amorality leads. By abandoning and betraying Jonathan Pollard, we as a nation allowed ourselves to become (through the actions of our prime-minister) an ally that is willing to be betrayed, repeatedly - without protest.

Bio Note:

Eleonora Shifrin, is head of the Yamin Yisrael Party. She is also the wife of the late great Soviet refusnik Avraham Shifrin z"l, whose efforts to promote freedom for Soviet are well-known. She is the Pollard liaison with the Russian - speaking community, lectures extensively on the case in English and in Russian, and has translated numerous articles to Russian.