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ISRAEL: A little spying between friends


This was already going to be a year where we heard a lot about convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard. As the Bush administration winds down, speculation has been steadily building about a potential end-of-term pardon for the former Navy analyst serving a life sentence for espionage.

President Clinton, at the end of his presidency,  considered a pardon for Pollard -- who was granted Israeli citizenship in prison. But Clinton was reportedly talked out of it by the intelligence community, which was still livid about the scope of the damage done.

Now a new Israeli spy scandal has brought up Pollard's name again. Accused spy Ben-ami Kadish, an 84-year-old retired Army engineer, reportedly had the same handler as Pollard, an allegation which revives longstanding speculation that Pollard was just part of extensive and ongoing Israeli network in America.

"This was a much larger espionage operation with sleeper cells in the United States than we understood or could have known at the time," said
Joseph E. DiGenova, the former U.S. attorney who helped prosecute Pollard.

The implications of this latest scandal are still murky. Shmuel Rosner, Washington correspondent for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, calls it "a public relations disaster," but also notes that both the accused and his crimes are very, very old. Still the potential, Rosner writes, is disturbing:

The FBI always suspected that Pollard was one of many, and has now been proven right. This will give legitimacy to future suspicions.

Critics of Israel and numerous intelligence professionals have long maintained that Pollard was the tip of the iceberg. For many out there, the infamous tale of the Israeli art student spy ring remains one of the criminally under-explored stories of recent years.

Meanwhile Israeli officials are laying low and hoping this blows over, according to the Jerusalem Post.  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office is referring all inquiries to the Foreign Ministry.

The Post's article quotes an unnamed  foreign ministry official as saying it was fortunate the Kadish arrest broke on the same day as the Pennsylvania Democratic primaries and adds:

The story was relegated to the Metro section of The New York Times, to Page 19 of The Washington Post and well down the blotter on the evening news programs, the official said with some satisfaction.

Other Israeli commentators felt that the U.S. executive branch would work to limit the public damage from the Kadish trial.

"The Bush Administration, which sympathizes with Israel, will certainly not make a big deal out of the new affair, and the next Administration will also likely prefer not to inflate its implications," columnist Ron Ben-Yishai said.

—Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem

Photo: Ben-ami Kadish is escorted from federal court Tuesday in New York. Kadish, a former U.S. Army mechanical engineer, was arrested on charges he slipped classified documents about nuclear weapons to an employee of the Israeli consulate. Credit: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the frictions between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

Comments () | Archives (9)

"The Holocaust happened over three-quarters of a century ago. Get over it!"

You are a murderer. You are a manic.

"This happened over a quarter of a century ago. Get over it."

The Holocaust happened over three-quarters of a century ago. Get over it!

Israel is our best friend in the area,Turkey and Israel protects the US interest in middle east,and Israel provides US intelligence with many vital information for years,
isreal should not spy on US US should share it's tecnology with its allies,
and there is no better aliie for US than Israel and Turkey
and US knows this.
Thank you

This is absurd. It's not enough that we are hated by a quarter of the world because of our unflagging loyalty to a corrupt and violently repressive regime. It's not enough when a celebrated peace activist like Jimmy Carter is vilified and all but ostracized by a disingenuous media smear campaign because he *dares* to speak out against the iniquities of the Israeli treatment of the Lebanese.

But now we turn the other cheek when they lie, cheat and steal from us? Again?

How much more of this open contempt from Israel can we take? Frankly, I've had enough.

Sure, it is wrong to spy, but it is hard to see what kind of damage this has caused US security. If anything, Israel has repeatedly improved US security - both in the case of the Iraqi reactor and in the case of the Syrian nuclear facility.

As for the millions in aid that Israel receives - Egypt gets the same amount and I fail to see the benefit of that money. It just makes more people hate the US. Don't forget that Egypt is the source of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ayman al Zawahiri. and several of the 9-11 perpetrators.

Besides, the US spends as much or more in South Korea. Japan and Europe yet does not have to station troops. The money Israel gets is a bargain for the US and a boon in terms of shared intelligence.

This happened over a quarter of a century ago. Get over it.

Our so-called friends are as dangerous as terrorists. This is the thanks we get for our foreign aid.

So this is the kind of treatment we get after pouring of billions of dollars year after year to help protect Israel? I say, no more. Let them fend for themselves, we've got enough problems at home to deal with

The Government was willing to let this go with a plea if Mr. Kadish had been willing to cooperate with the investigation. The reason he did not cooperate is that Israel told him not to cooperate. The reason Israel told him not to cooperate is that if he had cooperated, the investigation might lead to additional intelligence assets, some of which are still operational.

Israel is not our 'friend' and never has been, with their attack on the USS Liberty being just one example.


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