Tenet's Jewish Doctrine
David Twersky, Editor - New Jersey Jewish News - July 1, 1999
On Thursday June 24th, George Tenet, director of the CIA, gave
members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations a tour d'horizon of global threats to and
for American national interests.Before the larger meeting, Tenet met
with a smaller group to discuss Jonathan Pollard's fate. Pollard is the
American Jew convicted of spying for Israel and serving a life sentence
in a North Carolina federal prison.
While both briefings were, of course, off the record, we have learned
several participants that Tenet displayed a broad knowledge of the scene,
but that there was no progress on the Pollard issue. Tenet's views on
matter are of extraordinary interest because it was none other than the
director who threatened to resign if Clinton freed Pollard.
Tenet's threat came during the Wye Plantation conference last fall and
Clinton's reversal almost derailed the signing of the agreement. An
avalanche of intelligence community-leaked stories followed in
newspapers, columns and magazines, purportedly explaining why Pollard
could not be released - the damage done to United States interests, it
was said, was severe. Others argued that whatever the merits (or lack
thereof) of Pollard's plea, it should not be linked to the peace
process (this from folks who had no
problem linking loan guarantees to Jewish settlements).
Now comes Benjamin Netanyahu's version. According to a book Bibi is
reported on by Shimon Shiffer in Yediot Ahronot last week, Clinton had
promised to free Pollard as an inducement to get Bibi to Wye. When the
of the deal was struck, Clinton reneged, partly, it would seem, in
to pressure from Tenet.
What accounts for the powerful anti-Pollard explosion during and after
Three years before, on Oct. 6, 1995, we reported that then prime
Yitzhak Rabin raised the Pollard issue at the White House in the context
the peace process during post-Oslo B accord talks. Rabin received
commitments from Clinton on a host of issues, but got nowhere when he
linked the release of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails to the
release of Pollard.
In a Sept. 30, 1995 interview with the editors of several Jewish
including NJJN, just weeks before his assassination, Rabin said he had
Clinton to consider, as he thought about Pollard, that Israel was
more than 2,000 Palestinian prisoners as part of its agreement with the
"I didn't link" the two issues, Rabin told the editors, but merely asked
president "to bear it in mind." But Clinton "didn't answer me," he said.
Writing in the May 11 Ha'aretz, Akiva Eldar reported that "a few weeks
before his assassination, Yitzhak Rabin told a group of close
associates that at
his last meeting with Bill Clinton in Washington, DC, the president
that when the negotiations on the final status agreement began and the
talks with the Syrians were renewed, he would grant Pollard a pardon...
One of the
people closest to Rabin at that time says that Clinton promised that he
would do everything he could to give Pollard as a present to Rabin."
So why the brouhaha in '98, but not in '95? Because Pollard's fate is
already inexorably linked to the peace process or, more correctly, to
the state of U.S.-Israel relations. Rabin didn't get Pollard, but his
request that Pollard be freed did not spark an anti-Pollard avalanche like the one
last fall, because Washington approved of his policies.