Shamir Says Pollard's Fate Is No Concern of Israel
Thomas L. Friedman, Special to the New York Times - March 11, 1987
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today that the fate of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the former American naval intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, was not something with which the Israeli Government has to concern itself.
Asked to comment on what Israel might do for Mr. Pollard, who was sentenced last week to life imprisonment for spying on behalf of Israel and is reported to have $200,000 in legal bills, Mr. Shamir said:
''The State of Israel has no connection with Pollard or his family. The State of Israel did not hire him and did not assign him espionage missions. Therefore, the situation of his family may be a human problem, or a moral problem, but not a problem with which the state, as such, has to concern itself.''
The Israeli Government position is that the Israeli officials and army officer who recruited and directed Mr. Pollard were acting without the knowledge of the Israeli leadership and that the state therefore has no obligations to the convicted spy.
Nonetheless, a group of apparently private Israeli citizens, calling itself Citizens for Pollard, took out a newspaper advertisement today that said: ''If the Israeli Government does not, then the citizens of Israel should give encouragemet and support to the Pollards. They need it and deserve it.''
The advertisement gave the numbers of two local bank accounts to which donations could be sent.
The 10 leading Likud and Labor ministers in the Cabinet are to meet Wednesday to consider whether to have an official inquiry into the Pollard affair. Mr. Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin oppose any formal inquiry into what has been described as a ''rogue'' operation.
Mr. Peres and Mr. Shamir have agreed, however, to a demand by the chairman of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Abba Eban, to have his committee question all of the officials involved in the Pollard affair. The questioning, which is to begin Thursday, is to be handled by the committee's top-secret intelligence subcommittee, and it will probably constitute the only independent Israeli examination of the affair. An Anti-American Strain
''There is no need for a commission of inquiry,'' Mr. Shamir said. ''The problem is not to investigate what happened. Those who need not know should continue not knowing.''
Mr. Shamir's tough remarks reflect a certain anti-American sentiment that has been brewing here in the last few days. It is directed at both American Jews and the American Government, in response to their pressures on Israel to at least show contrition for the spying operation by punishing the Israeli officials involved.
The Minister of Industry and Trade, Ariel Sharon, said Monday that Israel should not submit to any American pressures over the Pollard affair.
Today, an open ''Letter to an American Friend'' by the political theorist Shlomo Avineri was published in The Jerusalem Post.
In the article, addressed to American Jews, Mr. Avineri noted that American Jewish spokesmen have been deeply upset by the Pollard affair and were quick to denounce it because of the sensitive issue of dual loyalties that it evokes. This, Mr. Avineri said, suggests that American Jews, despite all of their ''material success and intellectual achievements, may not be seen by non-Jews as being truly American.'' Doubts About U.S. Mr. Avineri, who is a member of the mainstream of the Labor Party, went on to say to American Jews: ''You always told us Israelis that America was different. Of course it is. But you still feel now as vulnerable as Soviet or Iranian Jews.''
''One Jewish spy and look how deeply you find yourself in 'galut,' '' he wrote, using a term for an insecure Diaspora mentality. ''You too have to be emancipated. For all its achievements and promise, America, it now evidently appears, may not be your Promised Land.''
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