The elephant in the room when Netanyahu meets Obama

Sending Jonathan Pollard home with Netanyahu would serve to send a message, loud and clear, to Iran, that there is no "light" between the US and Israel.

By AARON LERNER
March 5, 2012 12:56
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Obama.

Netanyahuo Obama chilly awkward 390. (photo credit: Jim Young/ Reuters)

 
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"The United States and Israel share interests, but we also share those human values that Shimon spoke about: A commitment to human dignity. A belief that freedom is a right that is given to all of God's children...ultimately it is our common ideals that provide the true foundation for our relationship......as you examine my commitment, you don't just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds ...There is no shortage of speeches on the friendship between the United States and Israel. But I'm also mindful of the proverb, 'A man is judged by his deeds, not his words.'"

-Remarks by President Obama at AIPAC Policy Conference 4 March 2012

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Jonathan Pollard is a hostage.

Yes. Those are strong words.

But let's consider the situation today: We have virtually a wall-to-wall consensus of top American officials who have intimate knowledge of the operation stating now for the record that after serving 27 years in prison, justice requires the immediate and unconditional release of Jonathan Pollard.

On 4 January 2011 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly and formally apologized for the operation on behalf of the Jewish State and requested that President Obama free Pollard.

Contrary to protocol over fourteen (!!!) months have passed and to this day there has been no response.

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On 5 April 2011 President Shimon Peres met with President Obama at the White House and again requested, in the name of the State of Israel that President Obama free Pollard ­ hand delivering a letter from Pollard in which he expresses remorse for his actions and pleaded on compelling humanitarian grounds to be released.

Again contrary to protocol to this day there has been no response.

Senior American officials have confirmed in the past that Pollard is being held by the United States as a "chip" that could be given to Israel in compensation for Palestinian-Israeli final status concessions. In point of fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu already "paid" for Pollard's release at the 1998 Wye Summit, but then- President Clinton received the payment [the release of Palestinian terrorists] but reneged on his end of the deal, freedom for Pollard.

So here we are.

Justice requires the immediate unilateral release of Pollard, with no quid pro quo.

Pleas from both the Prime Minister and President of Israel to free Pollard have been ignored by President Obama.

And all this because America is continuing to hold Pollard until Israel pays some exorbitant, yet-to-be-stated "price."

This isn't diplomacy. It is blackmail.

And a particularly vicious form of blackmail since, as bizarre as it sounds, I understand that American officials have yet to communicate to their Israeli counterparts what they actually want Israel to "pay" to gain Pollard's release.

This isn't the behavior of a trusted ally.

It is an embarrassment which undermines the credibility of the US-­ Israel special relationship.

It is humiliating for the State of Israel as President Obama appears to show such contempt for the Jewish State, while the rest of the world looks on.

It is the anti-thesis of all that the United States of America claims to stand for. President Obama seems to have turned a blind eye to justice, and to humanitarian compassion, in what appears to be a bid to blackmail an ally.

It is not too late to rectify the situation. nor is it too late to set the record straight, and allow justice to finally prevail.

With literally the stroke of a pen, Obama can put an end to this travesty of justice and to the apparent blackmail of an ally.

All it will take is stroke of the President's pen on Pollard's clemency papers so that both countries may be reassured that Israel is dealing with President Obama the statesmen, and not Mr. Obama the blackmailer.

And there is no better time than when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with Obama.

Over the weekend, Obama surprised Peres by announcing plans to award him with a medal.

There is absolutely nothing preventing Mr. Obama from giving a favorable answer now to Netanyahu, the people of Israel and all men of good will who have joined in the call for the release of Pollard There's space on Prime Minister Netanyahu's plane for another passenger.

Sending Jonathan Pollard home with Netanyahu would serve to send a message, loud and clear, to Iran, that there is no "light" between the United States and Israel.

Again, it takes only the stroke of a pen.

The writer is director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

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