IMRA News Analysis and Commentary: SHAME!

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA - October 13, 2010

RE: Pollard: PM hasn't asked Obama to free me - Korb letter key for release

(Jerusalem Post, front page print edition, 10/13/2010)

Copy of the Jerusalem Post article follows the IMRA analysis below.

Let's walk through this painfully shocking revelation - as reinforced by the response of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office:

Jerusalem Post reporter Gil Hoffman contacts Mr. Netanyahu's official spokespeople ["officials"] and asks them what the Prime Minister is going to do in the wake of the unprecedented dramatic letter by former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb that utterly undermines the veracity of the two secret affidavits that his boss, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, submitted to the court - the very affidavits that caused the court to violate the terms of the plea bargain and sentence Jonathan Pollard to life behind bars.

In one fell swoop, the Korb letter neutralizes the line of argument ostensibly raised by opponents of Pollard's release that secret information regarding the damaging nature of Jonathan Pollard's activities justifies the life sentence and stands in the way of his release today.

But instead of responding to this dramatic and important news, the Israeli officials leave Hoffman with utterly irrelevant statements.

"Consecutive Israeli governments over more than two decades, including the current one, have raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard's release with the American authorities for humanitarian reasons, and that is our obligation."

The Korb letter has nothing to do with "humanitarian reasons".

Moral? Absolutely.

But what in the world does it have to do with "humanitarian reasons"?

Consider again: What arguments does Mr. Netanyahu's spokesperson say Israel presents to Washington to release Pollard when and if the matter is raised (more accurately, it has, at some meetings in the past, been on the laundry list of topics - not actually discussed but referred to at meetings only to the extent that someone says "please consider the list we have prepared for the meeting")? "Humanitarian reasons".

There are many reasons - even before the Korb letter - that Israel can raise for releasing Pollard that express the Government of Israel's obligation to gain the release of a man detained for his activities as an Israeli agent that go far beyond "humanitarian reasons."

But for the "official" to pull out the old "humanitarian" card when asked what the Prime Minister is going to do in the wake of the dramatic Korb letter is nothing less than for the official to say that the official expects nothing to be done.

This is not only painful news. It is embarrassing news. An embarrassment for the Government of Israel and the People of Israel.

So where do we go from here?

On the domestic front, there is nothing easier than for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pick up the ball and show that his spokespeople were mistaken and immediately move for Pollard's release on the basis of the Korb letter.

And what about in Washington - that knows full well that the release of Jonathan Pollard in exchange for an extension of the freeze is a "deal maker" because, as the Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon noted, there's "not a minister in Netanyahu's government who would oppose a two-month extension of the settlement freeze in return for Pollard's freedom."?

Mr. Obama's team has a clear message:

On the one hand, the Korb letter makes it even easier for President Obama to release Pollard.

At the same time, the White House now should understand that they cannot wait for a request from Jerusalem to initiate the deal.

Through an ongoing series of errors, President Obama has pushed Mahmoud Abbas ever higher up on the tree, causing the breakdown in the talks.

Mr. Obama made this mess.

It is now up to him to clean it up.

He doesn't need to wait for a call (that may never come) from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to force the talks back on track via a release-freeze extension trade.

He can put the ball in play himself.

Yes, in truth the Korb letter absolutely justifies the immediate unconditional release of Jonathan Pollard.

And on grounds of "morality" Mr. Obama should act.

But if he sees fit to exploit the opportunity to also solve the mess he made then so be it.

J4JP Note:

In the Jerusalem Post article analyzed above (copied below) Jonathan Pollard is very clear, that his release should be sought unconditionally, unlinked to any deals or trades - a matter of simple justice. The Korb letter makes this point very clearly.

Pollard: PM hasn't asked Obama to free me

Gil Hoffmam - The Jerusalem Post (Front page, print edition) - October 13, 2010

Israeli agent to 'Post': I have not been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between Netanyahu, American administration."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not asked US President Barack Obama to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who has served nearly 25 years of a

life sentence

for passing information to an ally, Pollard told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

There has been speculation recently that Netanyahu has been working behind the scenes on Pollard's behalf, because heads of Jewish organizations, American congressmen and a key figure in the Pollard affair have all written Obama in the past month asking him to commute his sentence. But Pollard, who was arrested on November 21, 1985, said he knew for a fact that this was not the case.

"Our American sources in Washington have confirmed that in recent weeks Prime Minister Netanyahu has not asked President Obama to release me," Pollard said in a statement delivered via his wife Esther. "Our American sources in Washington have also confirmed that I have not been been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between the Netanyahu administration and the American administration."

Pollard said this was especially lamentable now, because Lawrence Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense when Pollard was arrested, had written Obama a letter calling his sentence disproportionate. Korb blamed the severity of the sentence on the anti-Israel agenda of his former boss, the late Caspar Weinberger.

"Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard's sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger," Korb wrote Obama two weeks ago in a letter released to the press on Tuesday.

"Secretary Weinberger submitted two affidavits to the court in order to convince the judge to give Pollard a harsher sentence than the one requested by the government, despite Pollard admitting guilt, plea bargaining and cooperating with the government," he added. "The government committed to not seeking a life sentence but due to the Weinberger affidavits, the redacted version of which I have read, Mr. Pollard received a disproportionate life sentence."

Pollard called Korb's letter "an unprecedented breakthrough in my case" and "the golden key to my jail cell."

Korb gave the Pollards the green light to release the letter so the key would be put squarely in Netanyahu's hand to seek his release.

"The dramatic and irrefutable information in the letter Dr. Korb wrote to President Obama strips away every possible impediment to gaining my immediate and unconditional release," Pollard said. "Morally and legally it is incumbent upon Mr. Netanyahu as the prime minister of Israel to act immediately without any further delay or excuses."

Israeli officials declined to respond directly to Pollard or Korb, due to the sensitivity of the matter. Instead they released general statements about Pollard.

"Consecutive Israeli governments over more than two decades, including the current one, have raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard's release with the American authorities for humanitarian reasons, and that is our obligation," one official said.

Another official added that "Pollard is an issue we take seriously and we bring up with American officials time and time again, but the view of officials in the American government appears to have remained consistent."

National Union MK Uri Ariel, who heads the Pollard lobby in the Knesset, said he had seen momentum working in Pollard's favor recently, "but we have to be careful not to be too optimistic, and we have to never stop working to make sure Jonathan comes home."

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