Bucking official line, ambassador says Pollard was rogue
Jonathan Pollard, an American-born Jew, passed classified, potentially nuclear-related intelligence to the Israelis in the 1980s. In 1985, he was caught; in 1986, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government; in 1987, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Though there have been widespread requests for his clemency, he remains incarcerated—in fact, in the same North Carolina facility that houses Bernard Madoff (yes, they know each other).
But earlier this week, on Washington, D.C., radio news channel WTOP, Michael Oren, the American-born Israeli ambassador, denied official Israeli involvement in the Pollard case: “We’re talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community,” he said. This statement contradicts official Israeli policy dating back to 1998, when the then-prime minister—who also happens to be the current prime minister—admitted that Israel officially sanctioned Pollard’s activity.
Among other people, the remark upset Pollard’s wife, Esther, who responded, “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.”
Netanyahu stood by the party line, and ordered Oren to state that Pollard indeed was an official Israeli espionage agent. Yesterday afternoon, Oren did so.
Spying … it’s weird!
Netanyahu: Pollard Was An Israeli Spy, Oren Must Clarify Remarks [Haaretz]
Ambassador Oren Contradicts Official Israeli Policy on Pollard [Ynet]
Related: Spies Like Us [Tablet Magazine]