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Activist: Obama, Biden Playing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' on Pollard

US VP Biden's insistence in keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison is just part of a cynical election ploy, says Republican activist Mark Zell.
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/5/2011, 12:00 PM

US Vice President Joe Biden
US Vice President Joe Biden
Flash 90

Although he's known for “slips of the tongue,” Vice-President Joe Biden's weekend comments about keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison for life “over my dead body” were no error; instead, says Mark Zell, Director of the Republicans Abroad in Israel, it was part of a grand strategy by both Biden and President Barack H. Obama to try and hold onto Jewish votes – or at least election contributions from wealthy Jews.

According to the New York Times, Biden told a group of Florida rabbis that Obama told him he was considering releasing Pollard, who in 1987 was sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying for Israel. When Obama shared his plans with the Vice-President, the Times quoted Biden as saying, “I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.” Biden's declaration last week was at odds with comments he made in 2007, in which he said that he could understand “the rationale behind the requests for Pollard's release.”

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Zell says that Biden's apparent shift – and the fact that Biden, according to the Times story, was speaking to the rabbinical group as part of the administration's efforts to garner support in the Jewish community – makes him “very cynical about this whole story. It just doesn't make sense. Biden made the comments in what was supposed to be a closed session - but the next day the story shows up on the front page of the New York Times.” That in and of itself is a hint that the White House planned Biden's performance, since the Times has evolved into a “mouthpiece” for the Obama administration, says Zell.

“Then, we have Obama saying that he was considering clemency for Pollard, but that he was 'overruled' by Biden – which makes so sense at all. Connect the dots and you realize that there are too many disparate elements for Biden's comments to have been off the cuff,” says Zell.

But there's a method to the administration's madness. “It's actually just a game of 'good cop, bad cop,' with Biden taking the bad guy role, setting up Obama to be the hero,” says Zell. “I believe that Obama plans to release Pollard before the 2012 election in order to shore up his support in the Jewish community, and having Biden make those comments will make Obama the 'hero' who fought the Washington establishment to release Pollard.”

The administration hopes that the gambit will help stem the apparent rising tide of frustration among American Jews with Obama's Israel policies – and the slow but steady leaching of Jewish financial support for the President's reelection. “It's a ploy to make Obama look good,” says Zell, adding that the events in New York's District 9 indicate that when it comes to the Jewish vote, the 2012 election may – finally – be the one where substantial numbers of Jews migrate their votes to the Republican candidate.

“We know that Jews have, for decades, traditionally voted Democratic, but the results in the recent special election in New York's 9th Congressional District – in which a Republican challenger was able to, for the first time in 90 years, take a Congressional seat in what has been a solidly Democratic district, is a clear indication that American Jews are ready to make their voices heard – on Obama's Israel policies, as well as his handling of the economy, which most Americans are upset about as well,” says Zell. “The general turnout in the election was 17% - but the turnout of the Jewish vote was over 60%, indicating that Jewish voters were very passionate about this election.”

Results like that were certain to alert the White House that it had a problem – leading Obama to hatch, along with Biden, a “Pollard strategy” to get American Jewish voters, and donors, back on his side, Zell adds. “But Jewish voters have spoken, and while I believe we have a lot of work ahead of us, the results of the District 9 election prove that Jews do not automatically vote Democratic. I believe that, if we work as hard around the country as we did in District 9 in reaching out to Jewish voters, we have a real chance of changing historical Jewish voting trends.”

Not that Pollard is going to be released next week. “It appears to me and others that, because of coalition and other issues, elections will take place in Israel in the next six months or so. Obama has seen those analyses as well, so it's unlikely that he will release Pollard before Israelis vote, in order not to give Netanyahu a 'gift.' But after that,” says Zell, “I think we can expect Jonathan Pollard to finally come home to Israel.”