Mossad Boss' Pardon Letter Stirs Criticism

Uri Dan - New York Post - February 5, 2001

JERUSALEM - Mossad ex-chief Shabtai Shavit has come under fire for violating the Israeli intelligence agency's rules in writing a letter to Bill Clinton recommending a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich.

The Jerusalem daily Haaretz blasted Shavit - who told the former president that Rich helped Mossad in the past - saying he should have gotten permission from the spy agency's current chief, Egrayim Halevy, before writing the letter.

The paper said that when Shavit headed Mossad - Halevy took over five years ago - he was very strict about agency secrecy. In fact, when a Mossad official was suspected of talking to a reporter, Shavit made him take a lie-detector test.

So why did Shavit make the disclosure about Rich - who has Israeli citizenship - without getting clearance from Halevy, the paper asked.

To defend himself - and make it clear that no espionage activity was involved - Shavit explained his action to the state radio, Kol Israel.

Rich, he said, helped Mossad in its activities in Yemen and the Sudan.

The ex-spy chief did not spell out the details, but most Israelis are aware that Mossad had been active in those countries in the '80s - saving thousands of Jews.

Jews in Yemen couldn't leave except through special Mossad channels.

And black Jews from Ethiopia arrived in the Sudan and, from there, were secretly transported to Israel on military aircraft or naval vessels. Shavit, himself, was involved in the operations.

As a cover for its agents in the Sudan, Mossad created a resort near the Red Sea.

Shavit stopped short of describing the assistance Rich provided in the two countries, but what he did reveal is known to have infuriated Halevy.

Still, the extent to which Shavit was willing to go to defend his pardon recommendation explains, in part, why other top Israeli officials tried to intervene on behalf of the fugitive financier. Rich's supporters include Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, whose letter to Clinton emphasized Rich's contribution to Israeli cultural affairs.

Barak's foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, said Rich contributed money to "causes cherished by the Israeli foreign minister."

Avner Azoulay, who represents the philanthropic foundation that Rich set up 15 years ago in Israel, said that the letters of support from the top Israeli officials were a sign of recognition of Rich's generous assistance to the country. In all, Azoulay said, Rich contributed $75 million to projects in Israel.

JUSTICE4JP Note: Compare and Contrast

Jonathan Pollard did not work for the Mossad but for LAKAM. LAKAM essentially competed with the Mossad. When Jonathan Pollard was arrested, LAKAM was disbanded and the MOSSAD hung Pollard out to dry. Over the last 16 years of Jonathan Pollard's incarceration in some of America's harshest prisons and circumstances, the MOSSAD has not lifted a finger to assist Pollard, and has essentially been complicit with his jailers. Compare and contrast that to the MOSSAD's inappropriate intervention on behalf of Marc Rich, as described in the article above.

Compare and contrast as well the attitude and efforts of all of the top Israeli officials who tried to intervene on behalf of the fugitive financier. Rich's supporters included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, and a host of others. If the same degree of concern had been shown for imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, and the same kind of intensive lobbying been done for him by top Israeli officials as it was for the wealthy Marc Rich, would Pollard still be sitting in prison 16 years later, with no end in sight? The answer is self-evident.

See Also:

  • Rich Was Spy For Israel

  • The Clemency Page

  • The Facts Page