Op-Ed: I Am Worried About Jonathan
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
Documents recently released to the National Security Archives at George Washington University provide us, for the first time, with the details of the espionage activities that have made Jonathan Pollard the most controversial and hated figure in the U.S. intelligence community.
The CIA report reveals that Pollard did not procure secrets about the United States. The intelligence Pollard provided his Israeli handlers consisted of the information that Washington had acquired concerning Arab states.
The report shows that the US government has lied to the public about key issues in the Pollard case for years. Jonathan was put away for life because he irritated US Arab allies who felt that Israel had been too much strengthened; and second because Pollard made Israel impervious to American pressure. What Pollard endangered was the US administration's pro-Arab political agenda, not the intelligence community.
Pollard spied for Israel, not against the United States.
The CIA document shows that Pollard focused on “Arab (and Pakistani) nuclear intelligence; Arab weaponry, including chemical weapons; Soviet aircraft; Soviet air defences; Soviet air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles; and Arab order-of-battle, deployments, readiness”.
Pollard passed Israel photos of the PLO headquarters in Tunis, secret information about Libya’s air defenses, Syrian chemical weapons, Egyptian ballistic missile capabilities, and the Pakistani atomic program.
"I was the eyes and the ears of Israel in a geographic region going from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean", Pollard said from his jail. In his report of the Pollard affair, entitled "Territory of Lies",
Wolf Blitzer describes the content of information provided by the spy to Israel during the years 1984-85, as follows:
"For example, he (Pollard) obtained the most exact U.S. gathered information about Iraqi ... chemical warfare production capabilities, including detailed satellite pictures and maps showing the location of factories and storage facilities. The United States did not want to make such specific information available, fearing a preemptive strike ... The first documents Pollard gave Israel, and which so impressed his handlers, involved the details of Iraq's chemical warfare factories".
Pollard was wrong, he readily confessed, to pass intelligence to Jerusalem. But he had asked colleagues why they terminated vital intelligence to Israel. And getting no answer, he felt compelled to act.
For his contribution to Israel’s security and for his long suffering in prison, Israelis should consider Pollard a national hero. He is recognized as the source of the country’s preparedness for the Iraqi missile attacks during the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein’s Scud rockets began to rain down on Tel Aviv, and Israelis wore gas masks.
Why did Israel stockpile several million gas masks for the protection of the entire population? Because of Pollard.
Twenty-two countries were transferring nuclear, chemical and biological weapons technology to Arab states – in particular Iraq. This was six years before the Gulf War, six years before Saddam Hussein would try to get himself into the history books as "the man who wiped out Israel".
Jonathan Pollard, who now lives in a place where they lock you in a room and throw away the key, warned Israel of Iraq’s bellicose intentions, and that Syria’s Assad was amassing vast quantities of chemical and other unconventional weapons. Rolf Ekeus, head of the UN team investigating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, told the German newsmagaine Der Spiegel that Iraqi bombs loaded with deadly bacteria were ready for use. Saddam didn't use them for fear of massive retaliation. Had he carried the promised chemical warheads, Israel would have been ready. Just because of Pollard.
By its own agreement with Israel, the US administration should have given this information to Jerusalem. But it was deliberately blocked by then-secretary of state Caspar Weinberger, who later said Pollard should be shot.
"It would have been an outright betrayal of my heritage, my personal integrity and an entire family lost in the ovens of the Holocaust if I had simply taken the safe route and closed my eyes to what had to be done", said Pollard.
As Pollard wrote from prison one year before the Gulf war: "The same gas which the Nazis used to murder our European brethren could just as easily be used today by the Arabs to exterminate the Jewish population of Israel. Was I really expected to just let history repeat itself without doing anything to protect our people from such a calamity? Granted, I broke the law. But, to tell you the truth, I'd rather be rotting in prison than sitting shiva for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who could have died because of my cowardice. Have the fires of the concentration camps grown so cold that people have forgotten that six million Jews were butchered while the whole world looked on in silence? I just could not walk away from the intelligence embargo and pretend that it didn't exist. I had to act."
Jonathan Pollard intentionally saved millions of human beings in the Middle East and worldwide from excruciating deaths and painful lifelong physical disabilities. To do that Pollard betrayed the trust of the U.S. Government, destroyed his family, and sacrificed his freedom.
I don't know how many people, expecially out of Israel, would dare to risk so much for the safety of their own people.
Now the question is: Why are the Jews saved by Pollard keeping shamefully silent on his fate, except for the few actively fighting for his freedom? Will they let Pollard die in prison like another hero, Raoul Wallenberg, the Jews' savior in the Holocaust?
Pollard is in the 28th year of a life sentence with no pardon in sight.
A few years after their son's imprisonment, Maurice and Molly declared: "Jonathan has been abandoned". It's hard to forget Pollard being banished from the Israeli embassy ("Anne and I feel as if we're aboard one of those cattle cars pulling up to the separation platform at Auschwitz, while all about us the Jewish community just sits like mute spectators awaiting the fall of the ax").
I think to this humble Jew who has spent 9.900 days in jail. Pollard has been abominably treated. He should be freed. Now. I am worried that he might find in jail the fate of the Swedish hero.