Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu upped the ante this week with regards to the “eavesdropping story.” Bibi just added a whopping sum to the pot in the middle of the table and he’s going all in. He’s looking the American player sitting across the table in the eye and praying he’ll blink first.
Even before Edward Snowden joined the National Security Agency, Netanyahu was fully aware that the Americans were listening in on his conversations and to anyone else’s they could, at every possible opportunity. They can listen to everyone, all the time. That’s how it is with the Americans. Netanyahu knew all of this, and it didn’t really ruffle his feathers. He knows to speak succinctly and when he has sensitive matters to discuss, he holds these conversations at secure locations like Mossad headquarters. He’s reacted to the Americans’ eavesdropping the same way everyone else around the world has: by doing nothing.
But now, all of a sudden, Netanyahu spotted an opportunity. He could smell the musty scent of American blood. America was caught red-handed doing something naughty from high up on their pedestal and the time has come for the wretched and the oppressed to have their 15 minutes of fame. Netanyahu wants Jonathan Pollard.
I must admit to Bibi’s credit, that of all the prime ministers, he is the one who has done the most to try to get Pollard released from jail, where he has spent the last 28 years. Bibi’s detractors will counter that he hasn’t succeeded. Once, at Wye Plantation in 1998, it almost happened, but Bill Clinton got cold feet at the last minute when CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign if Pollard was released. So Pollard remained in prison.
Netanyahu is probably thinking: It’s now or never. His case is solid.
The Americans are behaving callously, arrogantly and with unimaginable cruelty. They unquestionably deserve the harsh criticism they are now being dealt. They should have released Pollard a long time ago. Instead, they continue gritting their teeth, acting as if no such person exists and pretending that he’s not been kept imprisoned for close to 30 years for a crime (he passed on classified information to an ally) with a typical penalty in the US of a few years. They ignore the fact that they violated Pollard’s plea bargain; they made false accusations against him; they refused to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral and then later his father’s funeral. They destroyed his entire life just to teach the Israelis a lesson.
Or maybe the message goes deeper – maybe they’re trying to teach all of the Jews – those kikes! – a lesson they’ll never forget.
It’s time for the Americans to get a taste of their own medicine.
If I were Netanyahu, I would put my foot down and say, “No more Palestinian prisoners will be released without an exchange for Pollard.” It’s time to explain it to the Americans in a way they’ll understand. Some things should just not be done.
The pain has finally become intolerable.
They cannot preach to us that we should release despicable killers while Pollard is still in prison.
Another prisoner release round is about to begin (the third one), which will be followed by a fourth and last round. This last round will include the release of Israeli Arabs and will therefore set a dangerous precedent. If the Americans want the peace process to progress, they must release Pollard immediately. If they don’t want to, that’s fine.
Netanyahu has had many vehement arguments with the Americans: He gambled on Mitt Romney (Barack Obama won), wrangled with Obama and became persona non grata at the White House. And what happened? Not much. So come on, guys. Free Pollard. Not for Bibi – for yourselves.
You are the ones who look ridiculous with that hump on your back.
What you’re doing is not moral, just or humane. It’s a shame that it’s gone this far, but this is the time to put an end to this matter once and for all.
But here’s the problem: The Americans are stubborn. The ultimatum Netanyahu presented them with, the not-so-subtle hints he made at the Likud faction meeting this week, may actually frighten them up the tree even higher. They can afford to climb trees, since they’re the biggest gorilla in the big, bad forest. We should all pray, though, that this won’t lead to a duel between Bibi and Obama, because history, statistics and logic have taught us that Bibi doesn’t have much of a chance. Poor Pollard.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
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