What has Israel done for Jonathan Pollard lately?
New document reveals what Israel has done to free convicted spy 24 years into his imprisonment.
Even George W. Bush did not take pity on Jonathan Pollard, who has been rotting in jail for 24 years now. The end of a president's term always raises the hopes of those who wish to see Pollard free, hopes that are repeatedly dashed. Thus it was at the end of Bush senior's term, Bill Clinton's and now George W. Bush's. Israeli public opinion has ignored the matter. Even the small group of activists, most of whom are known for their vociferousness, have been quiet, as if they have given up.
But help may be on the way from State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. The comptroller is now completing a secret report, most of whose details will obviously not be released - for reasons of state security and foreign relations - about the conduct of the government and its intelligence community in the last few years of this sad affair. The report was written by the security division of the State Comptroller's Office, headed by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov "Mendi" Orr.
The probe does not involve Pollard's welfare. On that end, Pollard has been treated more than reasonably. All his legal and other expenses have been financed by the state of Israel.
The investigation focuses on actions that were done, or not done, by the government and various bodies that were aware of Pollard's activities, or enjoyed the fruit of his espionage labors, particularly the Mossad and Military Intelligence. The comptroller is looking into whether prime ministers, defense ministers and other ministers and intelligence chiefs raised the issue with their American counterparts, what exactly they told them, how frequently and how insistent they were. It also asks to what extent they made efforts to come up with original ideas that might have persuaded the administration, law enforcement authorities and the American intelligence services.
As much as can be gleaned from the sources contacted by the state comptroller's office, the conclusion is not unequivocal. It seems that the comptroller did not find evidence of serious neglect by the governments of Israel, although between the lines it may be concluded that these bodies didn't go out of their way to bring about Pollard's release either. In other words, the report gives Israel's governments a barely passing grade.
In any case, it is not at all clear whether more effort would have made any difference. The main obstacle to an early release of Pollard, who was sentenced to life imprisonment (which means at least 30 years), is the powerful and uncompromising opposition of the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department toward any such proposal. Even if presidents like Clinton and George W. Bush leaned toward granting Israel's request for a presidential pardon for Pollard, this opposition took the wind out of their sails.
Eichmann on Jaffa Street?
Another book about Adolf Eichmann? What else can possibly be said about this well-known and overly regurgitated story? The author of "Hunting Eichmann," Neal Bascomb, told Haaretz that in fact he had not discovered anything new, certainly not, he said ironically, that the Mossad did not kidnap Eichmann.
Bascomb said just wanted to tell the whole story. Indeed, this American journalist produced an interesting and readable work, which relates the drama of the life and death of the chief bureaucrat of the Nazis' final solution.
Bascomb was assisted in the telling of the story by the memoirs of Mossad agents involved in Eichmann's capture, and in conversations with them. He located CIA documents that described the route the murderer took after World War II when he fled from Europe to Argentine with his wife Vera and their three children. He also utilized the personal journal that SS Obersturmfuehrer Eichmann wrote while in hiding in Buenos Aires.
Here are some of the fascinating nuggets that Bascomb collected: In March 1958, Kurt Weiss, an operative of the German intelligence agency, the BND, met in Munich with a counterpart from the CIA. It was an ordinary meeting for an exchange of information between the representatives of two friendly agencies.
Among other things, they discussed the Nazi war criminals that their governments were obligated to locate, arrest and put on trial. However, the organizations had not really done anything about it.
"We know, the German said, "that he has been hiding since 1952 in Argentina under the alias Clement. One of the rumors is that he is now living in Jerusalem."
The only secret, apparently, which has still not come to light is who was the first source (even before the blind, half-Jewish lawyer Lothar Hermann) who transmitted the information that Eichmann was hiding in Argentina under the name Ricardo Clement.
Eichmann's journal reveals that he had considered turning himself in to the German authorities in 1959. "I am tired of living the life of an anonymous wanderer, moving between two worlds," he wrote. "The voice of the heart is always whispering to me to seek tranquility. I would even live in peace with my former enemies. Perhaps this desire is part of the German character. I would gladly surrender to the German authorities... While I have no doubt that the German court would render a just verdict, I am not at all sure of the legal status that would be given today to someone who in the past took orders and whose obligation was to be loyal to his oath and carry out the orders he was given," he wrote.
Eichmann concludes, "I was a loyal, honest, just member in good conscience of the SS, and the security staff of the Reich. My inspiration came only from idealistic feelings toward the fatherland that it was my privilege to belong to."
And yet, he had doubts about the Nazi extermination machine.
"Despite examination of my conscience, I must say to my credit that I was not a murderer and not a mass murdered, unless, if to be honest and to accuse myself of involvement in murder because I carried and passed on expulsion orders I received, and because a small number of those deported were killed, although this was done by another unit."