Part I: An Overview of the Scandal and The Scheme
In the middle of the month of December 2000, at a time when the Prime Minister of Israel was
facing a storm of enormous challenges dealing with the violence in the territories, trying to
achieve a last-minute agreement with Arafat to stave off political disaster in the approaching
elections - Ehud Barak found the time to become involved and to assist a private individual by
the name of Marc Rich. Five years earlier, Shimon Peres had tried to appeal to the heart of
American envoy Dennis Ross to do something for Rich. "That's a hot potato," exclaimed Ross,
shocked at the mention of the fugitive criminal's name, and he rejected Peres' request out of
Barak threw the full weight of his office into pleading for Rich at meetings, by telephone and in
letters, to convince Bill Clinton, the outgoing President of the United States, to grant a pardon to
a man who was considered one of the most-wanted criminals in the United States, but who was
also one of the largest, most important donors to organizations, officials and politicians both in
the U.S. and in Israel.
In a brilliant, secret operation which was co-ordinated by others and spearheaded by Barak, the
two clemency requests by Israel Jonathan Pollard and Marc Rich were deliberately linked to
each other. The idea was that Clinton would not free Pollard and this would pressure him to
compromise by granting a pardon to Marc Rich, instead.
It is not clear and Barak stubbornly refuses to admit if he was aware of the cynical linkage that
Rich's people had made between the two pardon requests and if he knowingly co-operated with
them; or perhaps the Prime Minister of Israel was actually the victim of a sophisticated
manipulation by Rich's people and he naively presented the two clemency requests together,
without realizing the true intent of the linkage.
But this much is clear: whether in the correspondence that Rich's people carried on among
themselves, whether according to Clinton's people or whether from Pollard, himself, there is the
same insistent assertion: the Israelis knew what they were doing when they linked the two
clemencies together for the exclusive advantage of Marc Rich.
Thus, Pollard, the devoted agent of the State of Israel, will continue to rot in prison many long
years - it will now be more difficult for an Israeli prime minister to seek clemency for him - while
the fugitive donor remains comfortably in his luxurious villa in exile, well-protected in a
millionaire's colony in Switzerland, the winner of a dubious pardon obtained during Clinton's last
days in the White House.
Last week in the United States, a criminal investigation was launched against the former
President. This is in addition to two other investigations being carried out by Congress and the
Senate. Three investigations are trying to clarify if the President abused his executive clemency
powers to pardon a criminal in return for donations made to organizations affiliated with him. If a
connection is found between the Marc Rich pardon and, say, the donation of 450 thousand
dollars by his ex-wife Denise Rich to the Clinton Library (and many other donations), the
President could be tried for accepting bribes, or even impeached. In the United States a
president can be impeached even after he leaves office and stripped of all the benefits he would
otherwise receive as a former president.
Clinton has never been known as one for whom truth lights the way. He has already paid a price
for this when he recently lost his license to practise law for 5 years because of his false
testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In that case as well, Clinton proclaimed his
innocence, of course. But, if in the Monica Lewinsky scandal the President received public
support because some claimed that the issue was personal and private; in this case the
American people have turned against him for defiling the principles of law and justice.
The obvious line of defense used by Clinton and his advisors is that the president was not
influenced by the donations that were made by organizations and people close to Rich to those
organizations affiliated with the President. As they put it, "If the President was influenced at all,
he was influenced first and foremost by the repeated and persistent appeals of Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak." Even in an interview with Geraldo Rivera at the end of last week Clinton
claimed, "Israel influenced me profoundly."
Meanwhile, as America is actively investigating the President's pardon of Rich, not a single
government office in Israel is investigating two key questions that should concern them: (l)
What motivated Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Shlomo Ben-Ami and a number of
other Israeli officials and public figures to press for the Rich pardon? (2) How, and by whom,
was the Rich pardon tied to the clemency request for Jonathan Pollard?
HOLY IN ISRAEL, A TRAITOR IN WASHINGTON
Mark Rich, whose fortune is estimated in the billions of dollars and who is among the largest
American donors to Israel, began to transfer huge sums of money, millions of dollars, to
organizations and foundations in Israel from the Diaspora Museum to hospitals and even to the
Habima Theatre and to the Movement for Quality Government only after fleeing from a series
of criminal charges in the United States 17 years ago. These were not ordinary white collar
crimes, but serious criminal offenses.
"Rich profited by trading with every possible declared enemy of the United States," said
Congressman Dan Burton, head of the congressional investigation. Until he received the pardon,
Rich was facing up to 300 years of imprisonment on federal charges, had the FBI and Interpol
succeeded in arresting him and bringing him to trial.
Meanwhile in the United States, as revelations continue to unfold, the embarrassment of the
Jewish community is growing over the participation of the Jews in the Marc Rich pardon. Rich's
people also tried to enlist Elie Wiesel to make a personal appeal to the President but without
success. Ehud Barak, who dubbed the Deri Law "a disgrace", to date has not seen fit to explain
the reason for his own supplications on behalf of Rich who has never served a day in prison.
In the 1980's, one step ahead of the law, Rich fled to the city of Zug in Switzerland and
renounced his American citizenship. Congressman Dan Burton, head of the congressional
committee investigating the pardon, told the opening session how Rich's partner, Pincus Green,
smuggled incriminating documents, for which there was a court order, out of the country in a
private plane in order to avoid the possibility of further charges against them.
In order to understand how serious the issues are, in particular from Israel's point of view and
especially as it concerns Barak, it is worth reading an excerpt of the exchange between
Christopher Shays, a member of the Senate who took part in the hearings, and Jack Quinn,
Shays: "Did Rich trade with Iran?"
Quinn: "I understand that there was trade."
Shays: "In the last 20 years, did Marc Rich or any of his companies trade with Quadaffi?"
Quinn: "I don't know."
Shays: "Does it matter to you?"
Quinn: "A pardon request deals only with legal steps. I am not a character witness."
Shays: "Did Marc Rich trade with Iran during the time that the American hostages were held
Quinn: " I don't exactly know. I believe that he traded with Iran."
Shays: "In the last 12 years did Marc Rich trade with Iraq?"
Quinn: "I don't know."
Shays: "Did you try to find the answers?"
Shays: "You didn't feel a need to tell the President that Rich traded with Iran, Iraq and Libya?
You didn't feel it was your obligation to tell him?"
Quinn: "It was my obligation as a lawyer to concentrate on the legal side. Moreover, as you
know, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak - someone that you would expect to be
concerned if such trading had occurred - was not particularly vocal about this issue when he
voiced his own support for the pardon."
A SHORT HISTORY OF RICH
Marc Rich, who was born in December 1934 in Antwerp, Belgium, settled in the United States
with his family (originally Reich), after they fled Europe in fear of the Nazis. In America the
young Rich, who never finished his academic studies, very quickly became king of the
commodities and the futures markets, and especially oil. All of his life was devoted to making
deals in which he gambled, as is the nature of this market, on tomorrow's prices. Most of his
bets paid off. He became known as a relentless trader with a lust for money, who was ready to
do business with anyone in order to amass more.
On December 4, l979, hundreds of inflamed Iranians burst into the American Embassy in
Teheran and for the next 14 months held 53 American diplomats hostage. Every night,
thousands marched around the Embassy chanting, "Death to the Americans!" American
paratroopers were killed in a failed rescue attempt when their helicopter crashed in the desert.
There was massive outrage in America and the United States imposed a total embargo on trade
One man defied the embargo Marc Rich. According to the indictment against him, in April
1980, while the hostage crisis was still at its height, he made arrangements to buy 6 million
barrels of oil from the Iranians. The payments were made via American banks without their
having any knowledge of where the money was going. According to estimates, Rich recycled
800 million dollars in world trade markets.
On December 19, 1983, Rich was indicted in absentia on more than 50 charges, including
lying, falsifying information, trading with the enemy and evading 48 million dollars in taxes the
largest tax evasion in the history of the United States. He was holed up at the time in his villa at
28 Himmerlich Street, in the City of Zug, Switzerland. He refused to turn himself in to the
Rich never did respond to the indictments that were filed against him and he did not stand trial.
Consequently, a court order for his arrest was issued and he was declared a fugitive from justice.
His people explain that he fled on account of the "lynch atmosphere" which prevailed at the time
in New York thanks to the chief prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani. According to them, Rich had zero
chance of having his claims heard or of convincing a court of law.
Giuliani enlisted all the forces at his disposal against Rich and his partner, Green. First and
foremost among them was the New York media, which fed for weeks on stories of Rich's shady
dealings with the Ayatollahs of Iran at a time when American hostages were still languishing in
Teheran. In this atmosphere there was a certain logic for Rich and his advisors to wait it out in
Swiss exile until the rage subsided.
It wasn't only Giuliani but also Rich's people who participated in the war for public opinion. In
1985 when A. Craig Copetas, a senior investigator for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a book
about Rich, all the copies mysteriously disappeared from the bookshelves. "In one of the
bookstores," Copetas recalled about two weeks ago, "I saw somebody buying up all the books in
stock. I chased after him and the parcel of books until he entered a building which housed the
offices of Marc Rich." As a result of the systematic buy-out of the book, it became a collector's
item which passed from hand to hand for $400 a copy. Next month it will be re-released with the
addition of a new chapter on recent developments.
In 1992, after Bill Clinton's electoral victory in Washington and Yitzhak Rabin's victory in Israel,
Rich began to foster relationships with political officials, particularly on the left of the political
map. In Lucerne he founded a fund for the advancement of education and social services. It
was the philanthropic arm through which Rich made contacts both in the United States and in
Israel (in Israel it works with the Doron Fund). In the 1990's Rich also became an Israeli citizen
and began to make many donations in support of the peace process, to organizations close to
the Labor Party, and to those following the political and diplomatic path set by Yitzhak Rabin, z"l.
In July of 1999 Marc Rich hired the services of Arnold and Porter, one of the most expensive
legal firms in Manhattan. Rich contracted to pay the firm a minimum of $55,000 a month plus
expenses for the services of lawyers Jack Quinn and Kathleen Bihan to advance the issue of a
presidential pardon for him and his partner, Pincus Green. Quinn had been one of the legal
advisors to Bill Clinton during the Whitewater affair and was known as a man with excellent
connections to the White House.
On the 11th of December 2000, attorney Jack Quinn officially presented his pardon request for
both Rich and Green directly to the attention of President Clinton. The main claim that was
raised in the petition spoke of an injustice for which the two had already paid close to 2 million
dollars to the American tax authorities. The petition also claimed that because of the inimical
attitude of prosecutors in general towards Rich in the U.S., and particularly in New York, there
was no chance even today, almost 20 years after the events to have a fair hearing of the
facts. Therefore the only solution, it was claimed, was a pardon
The petition included as an attachment a heartrending letter from Rich's ex-wife, Denise. Denise
Rich is known in the United States as a woman with impressive connections in the upper
echelons of Washington society. Rich enlisted her friend, Beth Dozoretz. Also known as a big
American donor, Dozoretz was appointed to head the fundraising committee of the National
Democratic Party. Dozoretz wrote a letter to the President in which she asked him to end "this
glaring injustice" against Rich.
A short time after this, when she was on a ski vacation in Aspen, Dozoretz received a telephone
call from Clinton. The President said that he was "impressed by her efforts for a pardon for
Rich". Denise Rich, by the way, has refused to answer investigators' questions about the affair,
and is insisting on her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid testifying.
On the home page of the official web site for Justice for Jonathan Pollard is a cartoon. "Look
how nave we've been," says one of the characters to another. The next frame reads, "Instead
of raising the issues, we should have been making donations."
Rich's people, attorneys Jack Quinn, Kathleen Bihan, and his full-time advisor, Gershon Kokast,
knew that his request for a pardon would never be accepted without the help of the appropriate
people in Clinton's circle. Among other things they prepared a telephone book-sized file of
written appeals to the President from many prominent personalities. Among the letters were
those of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, and the recipient of the Nobel prize and friend of the
Clintons', Elie Wiesel. The lion's share of the letters were written by Israeli VIP's.
The secret campaign, which went into effect last November, was carried out with the help of a
written document which later became an exhibit in the congressional investigation. This
document identified the media as being at the top of the list of all possible problems that might
torpedo the pardon plan. For this reason it was important to the Rich people that not a word be
The man placed in charge of mobilizing support in Israel, Avner Auzlai, is the head of the Rich
Foundation and the millionaire's representative in Israel. Azulai, a former Mossad agent, proved
to have amazing ability to coordinate the project. He enlisted ministers Shimon Peres and
Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Speaker of the Knesset, Avrum Burg, and so on. Their role and Shimon
Peres is only one example was not only to write letters but also to make direct appeals to
Clinton by telephone.
But the crowning glory of Azulai's achievements was to harness the Prime Minister, Ehud Barak,
for Project Rich. Azulai met with Barak a number of times in recent months. Azulai also had
all-ecompassing contacts with those surrounding the Prime Minister. For example, Michal
Herzog, the wife of Cabinet Secretary Yitzhak Herzog, a close associate of the Prime Minister,
was employed as an administrator of the Rich Fund in Israel which Azulai heads.
In the month of November 2000, it must be remembered, it was not yet clear whether or not
Barak would make it to the elections with an agreement with Arafat in his pocket. In Florida the
recount of votes was still dragging on and in Washington Clinton had begun to clear his desk. At
that time Barak, who was in telephone contact with Clinton, tried to clear up a number of
outstanding issues between the two governments. Some of these were secret, others were
open. The Pollard issue was in the twilight zone. The Rich issue was one of the secret ones.
Up to the last days of Clinton's presidency, the Rich clemency request remained known to very
few people in Washington. "It has to stay below the media's radar," Rich's people agreed among
Whose idea was it originally to link Rich to Pollard? An official in the legal department at the White
House at the time remarked with disgust, "It was an unholy union, driven by Rich."
Exhibits which have been collected by the congressional investigating committee show that
Barak raised the two clemency requests that of the agent and that of the millionaire linked
one to the other in a telephone call with President Bill Clinton. A senior official in the White
House told 7 DAYS that there were at least three such telephone calls between Clinton and
Barak in which the clemency requests for both Rich and Pollard were raised together. According
to this official the first call took place in December 2000; two other phone calls took place in
January 2001, one at the beginning of the month and the second on the 18th of the month in
other words, two days before the Rich pardon was granted.
In the first half of the month of December 2000, Clinton took a farewell trip to Ireland. He
understood that the Middle East would not yield any further accolades and sought at least to
sweeten his legacy with the fragile peace that he had achieved in Northern Ireland. On
December 12, 2000 while the President was still on his trip, the New York Times published an
article by David Johnston which was entitled "Pressure Is Again Emerging to Free Jonathan
Pollard." The article said, among other things, "The Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak,
brought up the subject with the President on Tuesday and the President again offered the same
routine response, that he would examine the request for Pollard along with the rest of the
requests for clemency."
Quinn sent photocopies of the article (which would later be seized and presented to the
congressional investigation as exhibit numbers 13 and 14) to Beth Nolan and Bruce Lindsey,
members of the legal department at the White House who were dealing with clemency requests.
Quinn wrote: "Beth, I've been told that Barak also brought up the issue of Marc Rich with the
President of the United States - J.Q. (Jack Quinn)". To Lindsey, who was thought by Rich's people
to be more supportive, Quinn wrote: "I have been told that Barak also brought up the issue of
Marc Rich with the President and so did at least one other person who told him that you and I
should talk about this. Great seeing you in Belfast."
For Quinn the article in the New York Times was perfect. Rich's name wasn't even mentioned
whereas on the issue of clemency for Pollard, the President was quoted coldly. This was exactly
what Rich's people wanted to hear.
On the 4th of January 2001 an email was sent by Avner Azulai to Jack Quinn (exhibit 91) which
summed up the situation. Among other things Azulai wrote: " At the end of this week, Mr. R. (Rich)
is scheduled to meet with PM (the Prime Minister) and SP (Shimon Peres) as well as E.W. (Elie Wiesel). If
possible, it would help a lot to ask the WH (White House) to hold off making a final decision on the
pardon until the above-mentioned have the opportunity either to make or to repeat a personal
appeal... I can also confirm the information about JP (Jonathan Pollard). The issue was dealt with in
a telephone call dealing with the President in the framework of the negotiations for an agreement
with Arafat. The release of JP (Jonathan Pollard) is being considered as a sweetener which will help
the Israeli public to swallow the more bitter pill of an agreement with Arafat. I am convinced that
the President is aware of the fact that releasing JP is going to be a big problem with the
intelligence community and Mr. R. (Rich) can be included in this since less attention will be paid to
him. On the other hand if he says no to JP (Jonathan Pollard), then this is another reason for him to
say yes to Mr. R (Rich)."
In other words, the Azulai email clearly spelled it out: if Pollard were not released then Rich's
chances for a pardon would increase.
An example of the close relationship between Barak and Rich at that time is evident in an
another email that Azulai sent to attorney Jack Quinn on January 12 ,2001 (Exhibit number 65)
after a meeting between Barak and Marc Rich himself. "The PM (Prime Minister) ...called the
President of the United States. The President said he is well aware of the case. He said he is
examining the case and looking at two very thick books (the letters of recommendation) which were
prepared by these people. The President sounded positive but made no concrete promises."
At face value it is understood from the email that the conversation between Barak and Rich and,
it appears, Azulai as well, took place in the Prime Minister's office. The way that Azulai can so
accurately quote the President and the obvious direct contact he had - with no middleman -
speaks volumes about the way that Rich's people were able to employ Barak in support of the
"The tactic of Rich's people was simple," said a former White House official. "To link Rich's
pardon to Pollard's, knowing that given the current political situation the latter would not be
released. Look, the President couldn't say no to all of Barak's requests, so they figured that this
way Rich's chances would be much better. They used Pollard as a ladder to achieve a pardon for
Rich. They knew that either way they had nothing to lose."
Rich's attorney, Jack Quinn, made a similar observation in an email that he wrote to Azulai
(exhibit 18) about a conversation that he had had with Beth Nolan, "...In the end, I told her that if
they release JP (Jonathan Pollard) that it should be easy for them to pardon Mr. R (Rich), but if they
do not release JP then they must pardon Mr. R. (Rich) ...She confirmed that they are in touch with
the GOI (Government of Israel)."
Rich's people's strategy of harnessing Barak, it turns out, was a good one. George
Stephanopoulos, a Clinton White House official was interviewed on ABC last Thursday when the
story broke that a criminal investigation against the former president was being launched:
THE INTERVIEWER: "Quinn said that Barak appealed to Clinton on the matter (of a pardon for
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Several times...Barak brought the full weight of his office to bear on the
President in the Oval Office and in phone calls to the President. Remember, he presented the
two clemencies together - that of Rich and that of Jonathan Pollard, the former spy. Barak did
not expect to get Pollard. Mark Rich was a big donor to many philanthropic organizations in
Israel... so the President, who was trying to secure Barak's cooperation in the political process (in
the Middle East), felt the pressure."
In another interview that Stephanopoulos gave he said: "Barak asked for both. He asked for Rich
and he asked for Pollard. He knew that Clinton wouldn't grant clemency to Pollard. Rich gave a
huge amount of money to Israeli charities and also to the [Labor/One Israel] party."
One thing that was clear to Rich's people was the necessity of redirecting any accusing finger to
point at Barak in order to avoid possible charges of bribery against Clinton himself. A week
earlier Joseph diGenova, now Quinn's attorney, had already testified, "As you know, the Israelis,
in the person of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, very strongly supported the Rich pardon and they
supported clemency for Jonathan Pollard. They wanted both. They got the pardon for Rich...
Barak had a personal interest in the matter and he spoke directly with President Clinton... When
Israel, which is considered one of our closest allies, speaks directly with the President about a
pardon then I can tell you the President has a very clear idea of how important the issue is."
Jake Siewart, former White House spokesperson, commented: "The Government of Israel saw
Rich as an important ally and the President took that very seriously in deciding to grant the
It is important to remember that Barak has never denied his direct appeals to Clinton for Rich;
but he simply has never provided any information on the linkage that he made between the
clemency requests for Pollard and for Rich.
By the way, the only celebrity who refused to make the linkage between Rich and Pollard was
Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winner. Wiesel, who claims to have pressed the president for
Pollard repeatedly over the last few months, refused the request to link the two clemencies
together. "Pollard has sat in prison and suffered long enough. I was afraid that if I did this (linked
the two) it would have a negative effect on the request for Pollard," Wiesel explained last week.
The pressure that Barak brought to bear on the White House was influential in several ways in
getting Washington to grant the Rich pardon. In addition to personal requests Barak made to
Clinton, appeals also flowed to the professional level in the White House. From there it was
brought to the awareness of Eric Holder, the Deputy Attorney General in the Justice
At first Holder was opposed to the pardon but in the end he changed his mind and supported it.
Last week he expressed his regret for the decision: "I do not remember who it was who directed
my attention to the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Barak had invested the full weight of his office
in the pardon request, but this is what convinced me to support it. With this piece of information
in mind, I told Ms. Nolan that I am currently neutral and leaning positively towards clemency....
As far as the Pollard clemency is concerned, it is known and it is documented that I have
consistently opposed it. Perhaps if it had been proposed in a different context, such as
contributing to peace in the Middle East which would then be in America's foreign policy
interests, I would have changed my position."
In other words, Holder confirms the assertion made by attorney Jack Quinn that both Israel and
the White House regard Pollard as a bargaining chip - a hostage of the peace process - and that
both sides consider his release to be reserved as a sweetener for the Israeli people to swallow
with the bitter pill of an agreement with Arafat.
The big question is why the Prime Minister of Israel got involved in seeking clemency for Rich, a
private individual, whose case he then tied to one that was of national importance both morally
and legally, namely, the release of Pollard, an Israeli agent.
The straightest answer was supplied by Jack Quinn, Rich's attorney, when he was asked by the
Question: "Did Barak write concerning the issue of the pardon?"
Quinn: "He spoke to the President at several opportunities and he (Barak) supported it."
Question: "And Mr. Rich made a number of meaningful donations to organizations in Israel?"
Quinn: "Yes, and as I understand it, Mr. Barak understood that part of those donations would be
to support the peace process."
Avner Azulai, manager of the Rich Fund, this week refused to give details about Rich's donations
to Israel. Michal Herzog, who works with him, said in a telephone conversation, that she "only
works as a freelancer, just a few hours a week, and Avner Azulai is the only person who is
authorized to respond." The Fund, which is registered in Lucerne, Switzerland is not obliged to
register contributions made to Israeli NPOs (amuhtoht) or to give an accounting to any statutory
body in any other country.
On January 20, his last day as President of the United States, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich
and Pincus Green. When the list of pardons and clemencies was published the next day, many including some of the top officials in the Justice Department who had invested years pursuing
the two, were astonished to learn that they had been granted presidential clemency.
It now appears that the criminal investigation of the President that has been launched as a result
will be infinitely more trouble for him than the entire Monica Lewinsky affair. In that one, perjury
was the issue; in this one the issues are far more weighty, from suspicion of bribe-taking to
deception and abuse of presidential powers.
At this point Clinton is still sticking to his story that his decision was not influenced by financial
contributions but rather by personal appeals, especially those of the Prime Minister of Israel,
Ehud Barak. Clinton's version and the mounting evidence that supports it, point to the need for
an investigation into why a pardon for Marc Rich became such a priority item for the Prime
Minister's office during Barak's last months in office.
In spite of this, the following statement was made to 7DAYS by the spokesperson for the Israel
Ministry of Justice on behalf of the government's legal counsel: "The Marc Rich pardon is not a
subject that is known to the Ministry of Justice other than what has been learned from recent
news clippings after the fact. Therefore we will not comment on the issue."
"I imagine that the same questions regarding the motives of the Israeli gentlemen who worked to
advance the cause of Marc Rich, should also be asked in Israel," said John Cardarelli, a
spokesman for the congressional committee. "A subpoena to Ehud Barak and his colleagues to
testify on their involvement in the pardon is up to the U.S. Attorney, MaryJo White, who has
started a criminal investigation. She is the one who should perhaps consider issuing a
The US Attorney's office responded that the federal prosecutor will not comment during the
course of the investigation. American Justice Department officials stress that she is the one who
has the authority to subpoena "the Israeli gentlemen" to testify.
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Part II: Evasive Responses from Barak And Top Officials
Bill Clinton asserts that his decision to pardon Marc Rich was influenced principally by the
intervention of Ehud Barak and top Israeli government officials and public personalities. Israeli
politicians, however, prefer to think otherwise. 7DAYS submitted a series of specific questions to
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to Minister Shimon Peres and to Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and
others and received sketchy and evasive answers.
Barak's office stated: "The Prime Minister has worked ceaselessly and at every opportunity for
the release of Pollard and brought up the issue with President Clinton at every opportunity and
even in a special letter at the end of Clinton's term in office. By comparison, the Rich matter
was simply a marginal issue which he mentioned to the President in the course of a telephone
conversation about another matter entirely - no connection whatsoever to Pollard - which the
Prime Minister felt was the right thing to do, to speak directly to the President, because this was
a man [Rich] who had made large contributions to Israel, both in the field of social welfare and in
sensitive security matters related to 'pikuach nefesh'."
In response to the questions: "Are any of your family or close friends employed by Marc Rich,
and is the Prime Minister aware of monetary donations Rich made via his people or
organizations, to organizations involved in the policy-making or political activities of the Labor
Party, or to other organizations related to the Labor Party?" Barak's office responded: "The
Prime Minister does not deal with such matters and he has no idea about or interest in such
Minister Shimon Peres, like Barak, ducked responding to questions about his involvement in
the recent campaign to secure a pardon for Marc Rich, and of course all of the questions about
Rich's donations. Peres' response focused on his efforts to soften up the Americans towards
Rich in 1995. "When he was the Foreign Minister in 1995," his office relayed, "he approached
various international bodies in the framework of world trade, and among them Marc Rich's
company, to seek assistance in developing trade relations between Israel and other countries in
the Middle East. At that time Rich's company, which was one of the world's largest world trade
and guarantee companies, was the only company willing to extend guarantees on behalf of
Israel. In order to further respond to Peres' request, Rich asked Peres to help him secure
freedom of movement throughout the world so that he could travel wherever he needed to. It
was in this context that Peres appealed to the American ambassador on Rich's behalf."
Jonathan Pollard named Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg as an example of those Israeli politicians
who had helped Rich, a criminal fugitive, but who had never in 16 years helped him, an Israeli
agent, in any way.
Burg's spokesperson responded to 7Days that the Knesset speaker feels that there is no
comparison between the two. "Avrum Burg never had anything to do with the issue of Jonathan
Pollard. He does not believe that as Speaker of the Knesset he should involve himself personally
on behalf of Pollard, who was indicted in the United States for espionage and who hurt American
Regarding his involvement in the Marc Rich pardon, Burg's spokesperson said: "The Knesset
Speaker was not aware of the criminal record of Marc Rich or of his trade deals with Iran which
have recently been exposed. Burg simply responded to the request of Israel Singer, head of the
World Jewish Congress, that he assist in efforts to secure a pardon for Rich. The efforts in Israel
were organized by such officials as Shimon Peres, Shlomo Ben-Ami and Prime Minister Ehud
Barak. Knesset Speaker Burg was not personally acquainted with Marc Rich, but was aware of
his philanthropic activities in Israel."
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Part III: Barak Wasn't the Only One
Marc Rich's people did not satisfy themselves with the support of Ehud Barak alone. All the elite
of Israeli society from Shimon Peres to Gila Almog were enlisted to participate in the mighty
effort to convince President Clinton to sign the presidential clemency papers during his last hours
in office. An example of the way that support was solicited can be seen in exhibit 42 of the
congressional investigation. It is an email that was sent to attorney Kathleen Bihan on
December 19, 2000 by Avner Azulai. It read: "Would another personal appeal by a VIP to the
President help? I can approach the Speaker of the Knesset Avrum Burg. He was the keynote
guest speaker at the annual Marc Rich Seminar which began this evening. Among the other
speakers tonight were the President of Israel and other VIPs, ambassadors etc... I don't know
how he will respond. Burg is on good terms with Hillary and knows the President from previous
contacts. Burg, by the way did send a letter appealing to Clinton on behalf of Rich."
Minister Shimon Peres also intervened orally, in a call to President Clinton, and this is apparent
in exhibit 84, an email from Azulai to Clinton on December 25, 2000: "Shimon confirmed that he
spoke with the President on Monday, December 11, and that 'he took note of his involvement'."
The Rich people still faced a problem from Rudy Giuliani, the charismatic Mayor of New York
and former U.S. attorney who led the battle against the millionaire. They toyed with the
possibility that they might even be able to enlist him on behalf of Rich. How? Via the Mayor of
Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, who had repeatedly declared his great friendship with Giuliani. But
Avner Azulai in an email on the 27 December 2000, (exhibit 46) expressed some doubt: "As far
as Olmert is concerned, PG (Pincus Green, Rich's partner) is not so sure that this great friendship with
Giuliani that he always talks about is as close as he makes it out to be. At this stage, it is too
soon to think about how to neutralize the Giuliani hangover."
On December 30, a confused Quinn wrote in an email to his friends in Israel: "Maybe it is
possible to convince Mrs. Rabin to call the President? He had deep feelings for her husband."
The same day, Avner Azulai answered him, "The idea of contacting Leah Rabin is not bad at all.
The question is how to do it. Leah died last November."
In the end, they found another member of the Rabin family. According to an email that Azulai
sent to Quinn on 10 January 2001, "I met Rabin's daughter today. She is going to call the
President tonight or tomorrow."
Rabin-Philosof (Rabin's daughter), this week: "At this time I do not have any interest in addressing
this. I understand that Rich knew my father. I never met him. I know that they wanted to
approach my mother
but in the end did not. Beyond that I have no comment."
7DAYS indicated that the congressional committee is planning to subpoena the White House
telephone records in which the name Rich is mentioned. Rabin-Philosof: "They won't find me
there. I did not speak to Clinton about Marc Rich."
One who did appeal to the White House for Marc Rich was the former head of the MOSSAD,
Shabtai Shavit. Shavit stressed Rich's contribution to the security of Israel to the President. Was
Rich connected to or involved in the MOSSAD's activities? In a letter from Shavit to Clinton, he
wrote that Rich had assisted the MOSSAD in searching for the Israeli MIAs and for Jews in
enemy countries who had disappeared. Rich's oil deals with such nations as Iran and Iraq surely
did not escape the notice of the MOSSAD. Vincent Cannistrano, a former senior official in the
CIA claims that Rich was not a paid employee of the MOSSAD, but rather an "international
businessman who because of his contacts could easily pass along messages, information and
money for various operations. The MOSSAD found his connections in Iran useful."
Rich's people in Israel collected other letters of appreciation and thanks, among others from the
former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, and the head of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, Dr.
Yonatan HaLevy. Even the Minister of Health for the Palestinian Authority added his letter of
support to the book of recommendations. Some of those who wrote thank-you letters were
unaware that their letters would be included in the pardon request to Clinton. According to the
American media, both Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and former Minister Yaacov Ne'eman added
their own letters of support.
Avner Azulai again sums it up best in an email: "I want to add as well that the list of supporters
who have appealed to Clinton is wall to wall, politically. This should remove any possibility that
this initiative can be used to to hurt any one specifically ... You may understand from my caution
what it is that worries me. It is up to us to do everything we can to avoid having the issue
politicized or traced to the names of senior officials as, of course, the media loves to do." In
another correspondence he adds: "Please keep Barak out of the media. We have enough other
names on the list, other than his. It is important to keep the names of all the politicians out of this
business. It is election time here and this has the potential to explode."
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Part IV: Jonathan Pollard In Prison: "I was betrayed."
"I've become disillusioned," said a heartbroken Pollard. "This is the hardest thing for me... I'm a
nationalist, I admit it. My eyes well up with tears when I hear Hatikvah. But what has shaken me
to my very bones is to finally realize, after 16 years, that I made a mistake. For 16 years I have
been desperately waving the Israeli flag, crying out for help to the Israeli political establishment.
But since the Marc Rich campaign, I realize that I made a mistake. All those years I should have
waved something else to get their attention. I should have waved a dollar bill in front of them and
convinced them that I had a lot of money. That is the depths to which we have sunk as a nation,
that an agent has to bribe his own government to rescue him. That is how low we have sunk.
"Esther and I are pinching pennies in order to stay alive. Israel has never assisted us. But this
Marc Rich fellow, with all of his millions, he's the one that everyone in Israel is breaking their
backs for. You have to understand that at the same time that Israeli politicians are coming to the
US to be wined and dined and celebrated at cocktail parties in Washington, Esther and I are just
"The greatest tragedy is what this says about the treatment of all of Israel's MIA's and prisoners
of war. It proves that if you don't have money to bribe the top Israeli officials, you will be
relegated to a back burner and dismissed as a problem that can't be solved."
"If you look at how the Marc Rich pardon campaign was run," said Jonathan Pollard to 7DAYS,
"every person involved knew that if this initiative leaked, it would explode. It was done quietly, at
the last moment, in back rooms, in utter secrecy.
"What Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Israeli officials and politicians did for Marc Rich in 16
days, they have never done for me in all of the 16 years I have been rotting in prison. I feel like
the government of Ehud Barak placed a gun at the back of my head and then pulled the trigger.
"Barak, the politicians, and all those who were involved, were corrupted and debased by Marc
Rich's money. Every one of them was corrupted at some level or another. The corruption and
the respulsiveness that characterized the Rich pardon campaign is appalling.
"I feel that what was done to me was a personal betrayal which even the top levels of the
Mossad participated in. There is no room here for error. I worked for LAKAM, not the Mossad.
The Mossad takes care of its own people, and to hell with everyone else.
"The claim that Rich helped the Israeli intelligence services is a barefaced lie, calculated to
promote a self-serving deception. This whole effort to secure a pardon for such a dubious
character, an unethical tax cheat, was debased and unjust.
"Rich was living like a king; yet the whole Israeli national security and government establishment
in Israel ran to his aid.
"I have been languishing in prison for years. Marc Rich appears, and they succeed in arranging
a pardon for him in a matter of days something they've never been willing to do for me. What's
the deal, here? He, after all, was living like a king, yet suddenly they all ran to rescue him? Why
did Israel do this? Because they are corrupt - morally and legally corrupt.
"The Knesset Speaker, Avrum Burg, for example, is one of those who assisted the pardon
request for Rich; but he has never done a thing to help secure my release. I know that the last
time he came to Washington he asked that my name not even be mentioned at the cocktail
parties he attended in order not to ruin the atmosphere with "the smell of Pollard" and that's a
Jonathan Pollard hopes and prays that Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon will act differently from
his predecessor. "Sharon simply has to call George W. Bush and let him know that the issue of
my release is beyond negotiation. To make it clear to him that my release is a top priority. If
Sharon wants me home, he has to pick up the telephone to Bush. He simply has to run the
same kind of intense campaign for my release that was run by Israel to secure a pardon for
Esther Pollard, Jonathan Pollard's wife, adds, "I am disgusted. Ehud Barak took an active role in
running Jonathan as a spy when he, Barak, was the head of Israel's military intelligence. "For
the last 16 years we have watched Israeli politicians go to Washington. They always claim to be
raising the name of Jonathan Pollard there. What they neglect to tell you is that they raised
Jonathan's name as number 50 on an agenda of 50 items. Obviously, when they raise
Jonathan's name in this way, it is clear to the Americans that they are only going through the
motions. If this is how Israel treats its agents, who would ever want to serve the State?"
Esther continues, "The biggest lie that is still being perpetrated by Israel is that it was impossible
for President Clinton to let Jonathan go because of the objections of the American Intelligence
community. This is a lie of the first order. The list of commutations and pardons granted by
President Clinton includes 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists, whose release was met by a solid wall
of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense departments - the same agencies that
oppose Jonathan's release. Clinton just ignored them and freed the FALN terrorists to gain favor
with the Hispanic community for his wife's Senate campaign.
"Israel has simply never bothered to make a case in America for the release of Jonathan Pollard"
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