Pollard Again Knifed in Back?

Israel's ambassador to the US says Jonathan Pollard worked for a rogue intelligence agency – in contradiction of official Israeli gov't policy.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 2:54 PM

Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard
Israel news photo: Jonathanpollard.org

Esther Pollard was shocked and saddened to learn Tuesday morning that Israel's ambassador to the United States had said that her husband, Jonathan Pollard, was working for a rogue intelligence agency – implying that it was not an official Israeli intelligence operation.

The official Israeli government position has been, for over 12 years, that Pollard was an official intelligence agent of Israel.

Oren’s words are thus a direct contradiction of official Israeli policy.

Ambassador Michael Oren told a Washington radio station, in response to a query as to whether Israel spies on the U.S., that "Jonathan Pollard occurred in the mid-1980s. Now, we're talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community. That was, what, 25 years ago?"

On May 11, 1998, the government, then headed by Binyamin Netanyahu in his first term as Prime Minister, issued this statement: "Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent who was handled by high-ranking Israeli officials in an Israeli-authorized bureau - LAKAM.  In light of this fact, the State of Israel acknowledges its obligation to Mr. Pollard and is ready to accept full responsibility accordingly."

Oren’s words are thus a direct contradiction of official Israeli policy.

Mrs. Pollard said this morning, “I don’t know from where to draw strength to tell my husband that the country he so loves and for which he worked with such self-sacrifice is once again knifing him in the back.”

Danny Naveh, a former Health Minister and the man who served as Cabinet Secretary when the above declaration was made, responded today to Oren’s words. “Pollard was handled as an official agent of the State of Israel,” said Naveh, who visited Pollard in prison the week the declaration was made to present him with the official decision. “It is hard to believe that after 25 years, he is still rotting in prison. The Prime Minister received, during his previous term in office, a promise from then-President Bill Clinton that Pollard would be freed; this was not a private promise made by a private individual, but a promise from the United States to Israel.”

MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who has been outspoken on behalf of obtaining Pollard’s release, said, “The remarks by Ambassador Oren regarding Pollard are grave, and he must be taken to task for them. It is especially serious in light of the fact that he refuses to recognize his error and apologize.”

Another Oren Gaffe
Oren also added that
Israel would “welcome Pollard's release,” implying that the government was not actively seeking it.

Pollard received Israeli citizenship more than two years before the “official agent” declaration, in January 1996.

In October 1998, during the Wye Plantation talks, Clinton promised Netanyahu that he would free Pollard as part of the Wye agreement – but later reneged on his promise.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home called on Netanyahu Tuesday to quickly clarify that Pollard is, in fact, an Israeli agent, and not as Oren mis-stated. “Netanyahu should also clarify that the State of Israel backs the words of American officials and civil rights organizations that have said that Pollard’s punishment is totally disproportionate to the punishments served by others, and that the time  has come for his release.”