Is an Israeli cover-up keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison?

The Americans are convinced Pollard – who spied on behalf of Israel in the 1980’s – didn’t act alone, and have made it clear that if Israel gives up the other name(s), he can go free.

It’s been a mystery for many years why Jonathan Pollard is still in prison, why U.S. president after president refuses to pardon him. The reason in the minds of his hardcore right-wing supporters, those who see him as a Jewish hero, is anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic feeling high up in Washington, which is too stupid and rotten a claim to bother refuting. No, it has to be an American belief that freeing Pollard could do further damage to U.S. security, because Pollard – and Israel – have clearly been taught a harsh enough lesson for the crimes he committed. It’s absolutely true what his supporters say – spies who worked for America’s enemies have gotten off far easier than he did for spying for an American ally. He’s in the 27th year of a life sentence with no pardon in sight, the White House reportedly having turned down Peres’ request this week. (Pollard was hospitalized over the weekend with “severe pain,” hence the renewed push for a pardon, which is getting a lot of publicity here.)

But now, finally, an explanation for Pollard’s exhorbitant punishment is coming to light:  The Americans have believed all along that he wasn’t the only spy working for Israel, and until Israel comes clean, he stays behind bars.

The first mention of this came on Monday in Nahum Barnea’s Yedioth Ahronoth column, where he wrote that after Pollard’s 1985 arrest, the Americans asked the Israelis: Who gave the order to spy on the United States, who else besides Pollard was spying, and who in the political leadership (led at the time by PM Peres, FM Shamir and DM Rabin) knew what was going on?

“They chose to lie,” wrote Barnea. “Thus, the heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies are convinced to this day that Pollard was merely one screw in an Israeli spying machine.”

Then today Yedioth reported Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon saying, “Former CIA Director George Tenet once admitted to me that the U.S. is convinced that Pollard had a partner. Tenet said that until they know who that partner is, Pollard will stay in prison.”  Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador in Washington in 2002-2006, added: “I explained to Tenet that it’s not correct, and that Israel is not gathering intelligence in the United States, but I understood from him and from other senior American officials that they see Pollard as a bargaining chip that can land them this partner who they believe is still active.”

Fascinating, isn’t it? The Americans have believed all along that Israel is covering up another spy or spies, and if Israel had given up the name(s), Pollard presumably would have been freed years ago. Israel’s number one journalist, Nahum Barnea, says Israeli officials lied to the Americans about the affair. And notice that while Ayalon says he told Tenet that Israel wasn’t running any spies in the United States now, he didn’t say Pollard had acted alone back then. (Not that Ayalon would necessarily know, nor that he would necessarily tell the truth if he did).

Well, there is at least one living, mentally competent Israeli who knows for sure whether Pollard acted alone or not, and who either knows or can find out whether Israel has been running any spies in America since then, and that man is President Shimon Peres. He’s going to Washington soon to receive the U.S. Presidential Medal of Honor, so here’s my suggestion: He takes the most reliable lie detector test available in Washington, where he is asked three questions: Were there any other spies working for Israel with Pollard? Have there been any since his exposure? Are there any working now?

If Peres answers “no” to all three questions and is determined to be telling the truth, Pollard goes free. If Peres answers “no” and is determined to be lying, Pollard stays in prison until Peres gives up the names, after which Pollard goes free while the other spies are arrested and Israel lives with the consequences.

Barnea wrote that after Israeli officials lied to the Americans, “The price was paid by Israeli intelligence agencies, by American Jews who acted in good faith on Israel’s behalf, and by Pollard. Peres, Shamir and Rabin escaped unharmed.”

Everyone knows Israel destroyed Pollard’s life 30 years ago. The question now is whether Israel had the power to give him his life back but refused, and is refusing  even now. Peres, who asked Obama to free Pollard on “humanitarian” grounds,  knows the truth – and it will no doubt die with him.