Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Calling Pollard Home"

Arlene Kushner

Will it work? It depends on President Obama.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a decision to issue a formal, public and official request for the release of Jonathan Pollard, as I understand it, immediately before Christmas. This decision was made at the behest of Pollard himself, who sent a message via his wife Esther, and after Netanyahu had consulted with advisors and US administration officials.

"I intend to continue acting with determination for Pollard's release, both because of the State of Israel's moral obligation to him and so that he might live with his family and restore himself to health after his prolonged
incarceration," he said.
Two days ago, Lawrence Korb, who was assistant to Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and was on the inside during the time Pollard was arrested, came to the Knesset. He urged a more activist stance on behalf of Pollard, whom he believes was treated unfairly:

"Jonathan Pollard made a deal with the prosecutors: they agreed if he cooperates, which he did, he would not get life in prison," Korb said. "He did cooperate, but he got life in prison and the question really is why?"

Korb says that at the time of Pollard's sentencing, Weinberger gave a "victim impact statement" suggesting that information Pollard had passed ended up in the hands of the Soviet Union -- this, during the Cold War, when American agents had been compromised. Later, it turned out that information Pollard had passed had nothing to do with the death of American agents.

"We found out later that the secretary's statement was really exaggerated, and he himself, before he died in 2004, said in retrospect the Pollard affair was a comparatively minor matter, but at the time we did not know it," Korb said.


See Caroline Glick on this issue here:

"Pollard's unfair, unjustified and discriminatory sentence and treatment are a dismal symbol of Jewish vulnerability. His personal suffering is inhumane, real and unrelenting. He needs us to stand up for him.
"And so we must. And so we will. The time has come, against all odds to shout that Pollard must be freed. Now".


Pollard -- who has been in prison for 25 years and has spent much of this time in solitary confinement -- is in ill health. He will be released only if there is a presidential pardon. Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said very recently that "I am not aware... that that’s something that the president is looking at doing.”


Things have gotten a lot hotter in Gaza and it's now being asked whether we're going to see Operation Cast Lead II.

As I am reading from multiple sources, the increase in attacks emanating from Gaza is the result of unrest among the troops, both members of Hamas and other terrorist organizations, who are eager for action. Hamas, which controls the situation, is permitting limited attacks along the Israeli border with Gaza, but not deep into Israel. And it is Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari who is in charge on this.

Yesterday saw the most intensive Israeli aerial involvement in Gaza since Cast Lead. Eight targets -- including arms warehouses, smuggling tunnels and tunnels being dug towards Israel -- were hit in response to a mortar attack. In addition, a Hamas training camp was hit in response to a Kassam rocket that landed near a kindergarten outside of Ashkelon -- parents were dropping off their children when it landed, and a 16-year old girl was injured.


I confess: Every time I read that we have hit smuggling tunnels in response to a particular attack, I am left at a loss to understand why we don't hit those tunnels, since we know where they are, even if there hasn't been an attack.


While Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi calls the situation "fragile and explosive," the IDF is predicting that the violence will subside. Hamas, you see, is not ready to take us on again yet, as they are still rebuilding their tunnels and acquiring additional sophisticated weaponry.

These weapons now include long-range rockets such as the Iranian Fajr-5. Ashkenazi has revealed that a Russian-made advanced anti-tank missile, the Kornet, penetrated the hull of an Israeli Merkava tank two weeks ago. As a result of this, Battalion 9 of the 401st Armored Brigade is now deployed along the Gaza border because it deploys an anti-tank missile defense system.


Meanwhile, and predictably, PA president Abbas has said that "Israeli aggression" in Gaza threatens the "peace process."

While chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed “deep concern and fear” regarding what's happening along the border between Israel and Gaza. "Deep concern and fear"? How heartfelt is the PLO concern for what happens to Hamas.

Charged Erekat: Israel has an interest in perpetuating divisions within the Palestinian people.

It's all a bit of PR nonsense. Never mind that it's not clear how our defending ourselves again terrorists at our border with Gaza affects the relationship between Hamas and Fatah. What I believe is at base here is a recent leak that said that the PA had asked Israel to attack in Gaza before the beginning of Cast Lead -- hope being that Israel would take out Hamas and turn over Gaza to the PA. Now the PA has issued vociferous denials.


I am sooo tired of analyses of the "peace process." In spite of the several post-mortem statements that have been delivered to date, the issue simply will not go away.

We have, for example, Aaron David Miller, who served as an advisor on negotiations to previous administrations and predicts that Obama is headed towards "bridging proposals." Obama, he says, "believes that through the force of his personality he can act as a transforming agent." If this is true, in the face of everything that has occurred to date, Obama is even more narcisstic and removed from reality than is broadly thought.

Warns Miller, "before he commits" Obama must ask himself if "the two leaders [are] willing, able, and ready to make the big decisions on the...big...issues."

The fact that Miller can pose this with apparent seriousness is unreal. At the end of the day, he knows: "In failing [to get an answer to this question], he will surely fail...And far from being the architect of a negotiated two-state solution, Obama will end up being the American president whose administration presided over its demise."


"The Good News Corner"

A ministerial committee has approved 91 million shekels to renovate 16 archeological and heritage sites, as part of the National Heritage Plan. One of these is the Herodian National Park in the Gush Etzion region (Judea) and one is at Rechavam's Arches, in the Golan Heights, where there are the ruins of a Sixth Century CE synagogue. Prepare for the Arab protests.


In case I do not write again in the next two days, I express wishes now for a Merry Christmas to my Christian readers.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution

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