29 July 2015

Jonathan Pollard: Israel's consolation prize?

It's pretty self-evident that the convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is getting paroled after nearly thirty years in prison as some sort of sop to Israelis and American Zionists offended over the nuclear deal with Iran. It's ironic, if not simply sad, that someone whom George W. Bush and his advisers, including Cheney and Rumsfeld, didn't think worthy of clemency is being let go by the Obama administration. If the President thinks this will mollify most of the critics of his diplomacy, he must not take their objections very seriously -- and if they are mollified, neither should we. There are, no doubt, many people out there who think it's not treason to spy for an ally, or a nation to whom Pollard's sympathizers believe the U.S. is morally obliged. But in this case we probably should trust the opinions of the powermongers and manipulators who know better than most of us the damage Pollard did. Yet if we're letting Pollard go to prove that we're still friends of Israel, doesn't that somewhat prove the point his sympathizers have been making all along, that the special relationship between the two settler democracies transcends the normal rules of security and secrecy? It will be argued that a parole, as opposed to a pardon or any form of clemency, doesn't count as any vindication of the prisoner, and that like any parolee Pollard won't be an entirely free man. The timing of the parole announcement tells a different story. If it doesn't concede Pollard's harmlessness, it definitely concedes something that makes the presumed humanitarian gesture look a little pathetic.

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