Editorial: 'Library spy'
The Jerusalem Post - April 23, 2008
Ben-Ami Kadish, an 84-year-old mechanical engineer, was arrested on Tuesday at his retirement home in suburban New Jersey. He was taken to a federal courthouse in Manhattan and charged with four counts of conspiracy of spying for Israel.
According to the New Jersey Jewish News, Kadish, a US citizen, grew up in pre-state Palestine and fought with the Hagana. He worked at the US Army's research arsenal in Dover, NJ, from 1963 to 1990. In the early 1980s, according to the criminal complaint filed by the FBI this week, he checked classified documents out of a library there and passed them to an Israeli official, who photographed pages related to nuclear weaponry, the F-15 fighter, and the Patriot missile defense system. According to the FBI's affidavit, Kadish told Special Agent Lance Ashworth in an interview last month that between August 1979 and July 1985, he provided his Israeli handler with 50 to 100 documents.
A federal magistrate judge in New York released Kadish Tuesday afternoon on a $300,000 bond. He was required to surrender his passport, and he will not be allowed to travel outside of New Jersey and New York. He could face life in prison or the death penalty, prosecutors said.
More details are sure to emerge, but for the time being we should insist that the Kadish case not be misused to bolster the enemies of Jonathan Pollard, the former civilian Navy intelligence analyst now serving his 23rd year of a in a federal prison for passing classified data to Israel about the weapons systems and capabilities of Iraq, Syria, and other Arab states.
There are already regrettable efforts to draw the two cases together. "It's a fascinating case of another agent in place, another sleeper, with the very same handler," said Joseph E. diGenova, the former US attorney who prosecuted Pollard. "We always suspected there were other people."
It may be that Kadish and Pollard shared a handler - identified in the criminal complaint only as "co-conspirator 1," and almost certainly Yosef Yagur (not his real name). But that's where the similarities end. Although Pollard had top secret clearance (and Kadish did not), he was never charged with passing along information on American weapons systems.
To be sure, Pollard committed a serious offense for which he deserved to be imprisoned, but he has been disproportionately punished. He is the only man ever to have received a life sentence for spying for an American ally. Abdul Kedar Helmy, an Egyptian-born American, gave classified materials to Egypt that it used in a joint weapons program with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He received a prison term of less than four years.
Pollard, who has not always been well served even by his supporters, has expressed remorse. Regardless of the outcome of the Kadish case, President George W. Bush should commute Pollard's sentence to the 22 years already served.
there is one way, however, in which the Pollard case should cast light on this latest embarrassment for Israel. This country's officials ought to draw cautionary lessons from their clumsy mishandling of the earlier case.
Israeli officials only acknowledged responsibility for Pollard a decade after his conviction. Before that, they were quite willing to cut him loose. Neither cabinet minister Rafi Eitan, then head of the Defense Ministry's secret bureau responsible for Pollard, nor Colonel (res.) Aviam Sela, who recruited Pollard, were held accountable for their involvement. And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert needs to do much more to press for Pollard's release.
So far, Israeli officials have denied any connection to Kadish. As Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said, "We know nothing about it." But if the new allegations are true, Israel must repair its relations with its most crucial ally by fully owning up to its role in espionage some two decades ago, and by pledging that such behavior will under no circumstances continue. It should remind the US of its gratitude that security cooperation between the two countries is tighter now than at any time in the past.
On the eve of Bush's visit to Jerusalem next month, Israel and the United States must exert every effort to address the latest spy scandal like allies should - responsibly.