To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NYT Readers In Uproar Over Possible Release of Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard. Is The 'Special Relationship' In Trouble? They Retort, You Decide

Yesterday's news from the New York Times that imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard might be released as part of a proposal to keep the Israel-Palestinian peace talks going was met with a furor by many, including NYT readers who used the "Comments" section to vent their spleen. Check out the "Readers' Picks" for the most evocative ones, which run 8-1 against the Pollard release --- and against most of the core assumptions of the US-Israel
"special relationship" in the process.

Reader beware: The talk gets a bit rough---and honest---in there. And honesty is not a virtue much appreciated by Israel's American supporters, witness the groveling apology New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has to issue in Las Vegas to Jewish mega donor Sheldon Adelson simply for calling the Israeli occupied territories "occupied territories."

Most of my political and journalistic acquaintances who are either part of, or associated with, the "Israel lobby" prefer to regard the vox populi as part of the great anti-Semitic unwashed. This holds for readers posting comments on a news article such as the one on the Pollard release or constituents calling their congressional reps on Capitol Hill to express opposition to Obama's plan for military intervention in Syria last September, for which AIPAC lobbied heavily--and lost. In conversation with a retired official with the American Jewish Committee shortly after AIPAC's lobbying effort on Syria was crushed, I mentioned that my reporting on calls to Congress showed callers running 9 to 1 against what the lobby was pushing---and that the operators I spoke with told me that the callers expressed their opposition with a generous sidecar of anti-Israel invective. To which this well-educated and much experienced Jewish American intellectual/operative jadedly sniffed: "There's a lot of anti Semitism out there."   

The Israel lobby takes refuge in public opinion polls which show that a majority of Americas have a high regard for the Jewish state. At the grassroots level though, there is a significant shift taking place. Educated Americans, readers of the Times epitomizing them, have grown tired of the imbalances in the "special relationship." Many of them are feel angry and betrayed that a very small but very influential group of Americans have used their political power to tap the US treasury and subvert the processes of American democratic governance on behalf of a relatively tiny religious ethnocracy whose core values are not exactly in sync with those of a secular democratic America. 

Pro Israel political operatives need to start listening to this new vox pop instead of demonizing it. Dismissing its frustrations as an avatar of the irredeemable gentile anti Semitism that allowed the Holocaust to happen, as my acquaintance sees it, or a reflection of Jewish self-hatred, is not a winning plan. Releasing Pollard isn’t a winning idea either. 


Here are some of the Times reader comments I found to contain a commendable degree of home truth:        

Hal Donahue Scranton, PA 9 hours ago
Rather than release an Israeli spy convicted of stealing US secrets, perhaps a better route is to withhold an ever increasing percentage of the massive US aid provided to Israel until a fair agreement is reached?
ex-pat Morocco 9 hours ago
What a travesty! Nothing will be accomplished until Israel starts negotiating in good faith. The US should not even consider a release until after Israel signs and effectively and in good faith implements the conditions of such a treaty. We are being made fools of by Netanyahu.
ken h pittsburgh 9 hours ago
Pollard is an American. Pollard spied on America. It is an American domestic issue. Pollard should be thankful that he has not shared the fate of the Rosenbergs.

Andrew San Francisco, CA 5 hours ago
How's this...Israel can have Pollard AFTER they successfully conclude a final settlement agreement with the Palestinians.

 Children should eat their vegetables before they're given dessert.
Charlie Kay 9 hours ago
Way to play it Netanyahu! You get the release of Pollard in exchange for, well in exchange for absolutely nothing. The West Bank construction continues and peace talks plod along leading nowhere, which is exactly where you want them to go.
Mark Jeffery Koch Cherry Hill, New Jersey 7 hours ago
Israel receives more aid from America than America gives to the ten poorest countries in the world combined. The average Israeli lives as comfortably as the average American yet we continue to be allow a country the size of New Jersey to dictate our foreign policy. It has influenced our politicians so much that many of them supported the war in Iraq because that's what Israel wanted, made accepting the dictatorship in Egypt by America a reality because that's what Israel wanted, and has influenced the peace talks by John Kerry so much that that America has bent over acquiescing to every single demand of the Israeli government including keeping 90% of the settlements which the rest of the world. including America, has declared illegal.

 Whenever a politician criticizes the continued expropriation of Palestinian land they are called an anti-semite and the lobby AIPAC continues to put the needs of Israel over the needs of America despite the fact that AIPAC is an American run and American member only lobby. Jonathan Pollard knew exactly what he was doing when he sold the secrets of his country to Israel. He supplied highly classified information that he stole from his own country, America. To blackmail the Obama administration into freeing Pollard so Netanyahu can continue his procastination with no hope of ever ending the Israeli-Palestinian makes me, a fervent supporter of Obama, ashamed. Does Obama stand for anything or does he cave in to every foreign leader?
Vin Manhattan 7 hours ago
Why is it again that so many American politicians continually refer to Israel as "our greatest ally"?

This "ally" continually spies on its benefactor, and then when their spy is caught, has the gall to use his release as a precondition for extending peace talks that are in the best interest of the US (and its own, but that's another story).

This "ally" was one of the few countries to vote against a UN resolution - backed by the US - to condemn Russia's annexation of Crimea. Remember that the United States constantly isolates itself in the UN to shield Israel from condemnation for its oppression and brutality toward an occupied people - and yet, our "ally" doesn't vote with us in the UN in matters important to American interests.

This "ally" has spent the last five years looking for ways to undermine and embarrass the American president currently in power.

And yet American politicians - who are supposed to represent American constituencies and American interests - continually genuflect toward a foreign state that is clearly not acting like an ally.

Wonder why?
David Colorado 5 hours ago
Israel is not an ally. Israel is a liability.
Why do we put Israel's interests above America?
jckaufmann New York, NY 7 hours ago
It's time for the US Government and the American people to tell Israel to take a hike. They are always referred to as our strongest ally in the Middle East, but in fact they are the continuing source of conflict in the Middle East and we should not support them, help them or protect them. They have become the people and the state that they sought to escape.
Eddie Madison, Wisconsin 9 hours ago
We're chumps in this game. Let's see Israel deliver and then consider parole for this traitor.
Rubout Essex Co NJ 5 hours ago
So again the Israel lobby bends US policy in its favor.
SC Erie, PA 6 hours ago
So now Israel manipulates us into bribing them to do what's good for them. This is a sick relationship.
Amy Nevada 5 hours ago
What? America is negotiating to release a spy from prison to extract a few very minor, short term concessions from Israel and Palestine? How utterly ridiculous.

Clearly Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden should convert to Judaism if they want to receive favorable treatment from the American government and their Israeli masters. Is there absolutely nothing that Israel can do that would offend Washington?
Roy Brophy Minneapolis, MN 6 hours ago
Israel will get what it wants because Israel owns the U S Congress and President.
Israel's control of U S Middle East policy is just another example of how bribe money has poisoned our Democracy. Now , thanks to the Supreme Court, secret campaign bribes will only tighten Israel's grip on the U S Government.
Netanyahu's goal is to buy an American War against Iran, and with the Republicans about to take control on the Senate, he stands a very good chance of getting it.
George Peng New York 5 hours ago
Pollard should never see anything but the inside of a US prison. If you read about what he did, how he did it, the sheer bulk of it, and the reasons why (at the time, not the reasons that have been manufactured over the years to rationalize it), and where some of the intelligence went (hint, to the Soviet Union in exchange for refuseniks), then it'll be obvious that he isn't a martyr, he isn't a guy who made a mistake, he isn't a political pawn; he's a spy and a traitor and a knucklehead.

What he isn't and what he shouldn't be is a free man.
jm Brooklyn, N.Y. 21 hours ago
Israel's request should be firmly denied. Then perhaps we can move on to more important matters like realizing that Israel's interests aren't necessarily synonymous with our own. A fair amount of our Mid East problems would dissipate, if as a matter of policy, we stopped viewing Israel as the 51st state.

Padraig Murchadha Lionville, Pennsylvania 9 hours ago   
This is an April Fool's joke, right? I mean, we're doing the Israelis a favor by brokering peace for them (and no doubt funding it too) and they want a favor in return–is this what I'm reading? Chutzpah, indeed


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