Obama, Pollard, and Snowden: A spy for a spy

With the revelation that the Obama Administration is spying on all of its allies, including Israel, isn't it time to set Jonathan Pollard free? Photo: AP

Israel, November 4, 2013 — One of the most hotly contested issues within the American Jewish community to date is the fate of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard has been rotting in an American prison since pleading guilty to spying on America for Israel 28 years ago. Since his incarceration, Pollard’s health has continually deteriorated as he serves out an unprecedented life sentence. Just how unprecedented can be ascertained by perusing the following chart of captured spies of American allies and their punishments:

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(Photo: janathanpollard.org)

While the incongruous penalty should be compelling enough on its own to push for Pollard’s freedom, it has not been sufficient for many American Jews.

It is not easy being an American Jew. In fact, the aforementioned label itself is hardly as simple as it may appear. Every Jew living in the United States, at some point in their lives, makes the decision that he or she is either an ‘American Jew’ or a ‘Jewish American’. This conflicting duality was perhaps best expressed in the form of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who once told a friend, “I was born Jewish, but the truth is that has no significance for me. … America has given me everything.”

Who would have thought Barack Obama of all people would have made this perplexing paradox easier to bear?

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Self-appointed spokesman for the grossly misguided liberal Jewish community, Peter Beinart, has condemned calls on President Obama to free Pollard, going so far as to accuse his supporters of trying to subvert American legitimacy. Beinart wrote on his “Open Zion” blog, “What is the message of…Esther Pollard comparing her husband to Albert Dreyfus, the 19th century French Jew framed for treason by a French ultra-nationalist government? Is it not that, deep down, you just cannot trust America?”

Many Jewish Americans, including the aforementioned ever-conflicted Mr. Kissinger, former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and world renowned Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel argue clemency for Pollard is just simply because the man has served his time and deserves to be set free before he perishes in captivity.

In response to intensifying calls to release Pollard, Obama told Israeli TV earlier this year that “Mr. Pollard had “committed a very serious crime” and was “serving his time…I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately.” Vice President Biden reportedly took these sentiments one step further, saying, “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,’” Biden said. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”

Thankfully, none of this matters anymore.

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President Barack Obama, one of the the most divisive leaders America has ever seen, now has no excuse to hold Pollard and keep this acrimonious issue alive. Under his bumbling leadership, the White House has seen endless amounts of information leaks of all kinds. From domestic to foreign, US secrets to the secrets of allies, no confidential information is safe in the hands of the Obama Administration.

Thus, last week it was exposed that the Obama White House and the John Kerry State Department had green-lighted NSA surveillance of friendly foreign leaders. Even some of Obama’s favorite liberal drones in congress have begun to jump ship. “With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies — including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany — let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Obama’s cowardly denial of any knowledge of this espionage is hardly convincing. In fact, all he has managed to do is infuriate the intelligence community he had so crassly used. “People are furious,” said a senior intelligence official who would not be identified discussing classified information. “This is officially the White House cutting off the intelligence community.”

“Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers,” she said in a statement.

One of the most recent exposés, courtesy of Edward Snowden, is that the NSA has been secretly tracking Israeli military action.

According to the newly leaked papers, the NSA has tracked “high priority Israeli military targets.” According to The Times of Israel, in late October, former Mossad head Danny Yatom told the Maariv daily newspaper the US had spied on Israel in the past. “I can tell you with certain knowledge that [America] has been listening in on its allies, including Israel,” Yatom said, and “not necessarily in [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s tenure” as prime minister. This assertion has now been confirmed by Snowden’s revelation.

It is now clear as day that the United States of America under Barack Obama has been spying on foreign ally leaders. This sounds awfully similar to what Jonathan Pollard is in prison for. Hypocrisy of the highest order is now the only thing standing between Jonathan Pollard and his freedom. Where is the president of hope and change’s conscience now?

By America’s own standards, reinforced by Obama’s refusal to release Pollard thus far, a member of the NSA or Obama himself must now sit in an Israeli prison for the rest of his life.

Assuming Obama will not make this reciprocal gesture, the only way to make things right with the pro-Israel Jewish American community is to release Jonathan Pollard immediately and once and for all. It is not unreasonable to assume that the proponents of Pollard’s release would be willing to forgo the 28 years the NSA scapegoat or POTUS would owe Israel, where he would share a cell block with a sadly dwindling number of detestable Palestinian terrorists, if the 58 year old spy was returned to the Jewish State.

The United States, like Pollard, has been caught red-handed, and it is time for them to pay the price; a spy for a spy. Despite a track record that begs to differ, Obama must be intelligent enough to know that his administration is not above these basic tenants of justice.

That’s RIGHT! I Said It!

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Doni Kandel

Doni Kandel has been writing about Israel and Jewish issues since the age of 13. Originally from Los Angeles, he is now living in central Israel, studying for his M.A. in Counter-Terrorisms and Homeland Security at the IDC Herzliya. His work can also be found at BreakingIsraelNews.com, where he is the editor-in-chief, as well as on his blog for the Jerusalem Post, E-TONE


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