Ehud Barak, Jonathan Pollard - and James Carville
The Jewish Press (New York), EDITORIAL - January 29, 1999.
Several weeks ago The Jewish Press reported that Prime Minister
Netanyahu and his chief rival, had agreed to send a joint
letter to President Clinton urging the release of Jonathan Pollard. A
draft of a letter was prepared and the matter reportedly only awaited
Mr. Barak's signature. To our dismay, we learned the other day that Mr. Barak had informed the Prime Minister, publicly, that he would not be
signing the letter, giving as his reason that he believed that a public
declaration of support at this time, not only would not help, but would
We are not aware of any change in the political atmosphere that
ordinarily would have prompted this remarkable about-face regarding an
issue that has come to symbolize to most Israelis a demand for fair
play. And we are thunderstruck that a public declaration is the problem.
Nothing about Mr. Pollard could happen out of the public eye for the
next 50 years!
It seems to us then that what is up is the stealthy hand of Mr. Barak's
head of campaign, the Clinton-dispatched James Carville. We can well
understand that the President may not want to risk antagonizing those
members of the Senate who are opposed to clemency for Pollard and must
vote at his impeachment trial. So we can also understand why Mr.
Carville would importune Mr.Barak to forbear. What eludes us, however is
why Mr. Barak would go along.
In truth the fortunes of neither the American nor the Israeli republics
depend upon what happens to Mr. Pollard. But it is clear to anyone who
has taken the time to think about the treatment meted out to him that
the whole matter reeks. From the reneging of the Justice Department on
a plea bargain to Caspar Weinberger's
"Trust-me-he-did-something-terrible" last minute secret memorandum to
the court at sentencing, to the extraordinary
life sentence, to the
continuing leaks cryptically hinting at continuing threats to America's
security, the Pollard case is unique and has been recognized as such by
Jews around the world.
At all events, Ehud Barak, the man who would be prime minister, owes an
explanation to the Israeli electorate and indeed to world Jewry, as to
why he is a willing pawn in a Clinton scenario at the expense of an
important Jewish issue.