Monday, December 26, 2005

Pollard's missing pardon

I was struck in reading the list of Bush pardons, a motley crew of criminals (including one pardon obviously paid for by political donations), that it was again missing one key name. Jonathan Pollard. If Israel had set out to intentionally queer Pollard's chances of ever getting a pardon it couldn't have done a better job. The Israeli line on Pollard has gone from denying that anything occurred, to denying that Israel had anything to do with it, to claiming that Pollard was only in it for the money, to the current position, that Pollard was some kind of Israeli patriot who should be released for his good intentions towards an American ally. Israel can usually play American politicians like Yehudi Menuhin played the violin, so this uncharacteristic clumsiness and lack of success betrays a bigger truth.

Pollard out of jail is a big pain in the ass for Israel. They'll have to pay him a big pile of money and support him for the rest of his life, a fact that will particularly hurt since they know he was just in it for the money anyway. He'll no doubt sell his story for more money over the years, saying a lot of things Israel would prefer were left unsaid. Finally, his freedom will serve as a constant source of irritation to those American intelligence and military officials still mad at all the lives of their colleagues lost due to Israeli government perfidy.

On the other hand, Pollard in jail is great for Israel. Focusing on Pollard means that people are misdirected from the far greater crime against the United States, which was the Israeli government's selling secrets obtained by Pollard to the Soviets. More importantly, while Pollard out of jail just costs Israel money, Pollard in jail is a constant bargaining chip to grab more cash from American taxpayers. If an American official objects to the amount of the Israeli requests, the Israelis can simply promise to remove the pressure by not squawking about Pollard for a few months, and get another $100 million or so. Pollard in jail has probably netted Israel billions of dollars over the years. He truly is an Israeli patriot, albeit unwillingly.