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Free in Israel, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard calls for more Americans to betray their country

Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel, leaves a New York court house following his release from prison early on Friday after 30 years on November 20, 2015 in New York, New York [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel, leaves a New York court house following his release from prison early on Friday after 30 years on November 20, 2015 in New York, New York [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Israel Hayom published an extremely long, fawning interview on Friday with convicted American traitor and Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. It made for startling reading.

The newspaper is owned by Miriam Adelson, Israel's richest person and the widow of the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The couple were leading funders of the pro-Israel lobby in the US.

Adelson's paper is little more than a pro-Netanyahu propaganda sheet, given away for free to influence Israeli elections in an increasingly right-wing, anti-Palestinian direction. In her vanity column in the paper earlier this year, Miriam Adelson went on record praising Pollard as a "hero" who deserves to be honoured by Israel. Pollard had just spent 30 years in a US prison and on parole for treason, after being convicted of spying on the US for Israel.

READ: Israeli spy narrates arrest conditions in US

The former US naval intelligence analyst sold hundreds of top-secret US documents to Israel and other countries, in exchange for wads of cash stuffed into brown paper envelopes. Today, following his release, he lives in Israel and is trying to rewrite history.

In his interview with Israel Hayom – whose journalists have plumbed to new depths in the history of hagiographic puff pieces with this simpering effort – Pollard claimed, unchallenged, that: "I made it very clear I didn't want any money. Very clear, right off the bat, that this was not about money. I didn't want any gifts."

This is simply untrue.

US investigators found that Pollard had been paid $1,500 a month, rising to $2,500 a month, by the Israeli spy agency, Mossad. In today's money, that would be about $6,000 a month, on top of his normal salary from US Naval Intelligence.

Later in the interview, Pollard conceded that he was in fact paid for selling the secrets he stole to Israel. At the insistence of his Mossad handlers, he said. Even more incredibly, he claimed, "that the money he received went to cover expenses incurred by the mission."

This is another lie.

In fact, as Territory of Lies, Wolf Blitzer's 1989 book about Pollard, relates, one of the things that tipped US counter-intelligence officers off to Pollard's treachery was the lavish new lifestyle he was suddenly leading, buying expensive gifts and eating out at fancy restaurants. On one occasion, he was even rewarded by Israel with a $10,000 diamond and sapphire engagement ring for his first wife. He later dumped her for Esther, the woman who ran the "Free Jonathan Pollard" campaign in Israel.

However, Pollard's chutzpah and bare-faced lying was not the most alarming aspect of the turgid Israel Hayom interview. He also agitated openly against American Jews, promoting anti-Semitic myths in the process.

The fact that someone spying for Israel can also be anti-Semitic is not as unusual as it may sound to those not familiar with the true history of Israeli intelligence agencies. Calling for Jews to leave their native countries and move to Israel, Pollard told the interviewers, "We're Jews, and if we're Jews, we will always have dual loyalty."

READ: Trump pardons Israeli officer who recruited spy Pollard

Pollard was promoting the anti-Semitic lie that all Jews are secretly loyal to Israel — with the implication that they are disloyal to their countries of birth — no matter where they were born or live. Or at least they should be, he claimed. This is a sickening, dangerous, and false charge which plays straight into the hands and propaganda of the anti-Semites of this world.

Cartoon - Criticisms of Israel labelled as antisemitism

Criticisms of Israel labelled as antisemitism – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/Twitter]

The irony, of course, is that journalists like myself who expose the activities of Israel's real agents, partisans, lobbyists, and anti-Palestinian campaigners in the West are accused of "anti-Semitism", even as we go out of our way to make clear the important distinctions between Jews with distinct religious, ethnic or cultural identities on one hand, and Zionism as a violent, racist, political ideology on the other.

Yet here was Jonathan Pollard – a convicted American traitor, spy for Israel and national hero to many Israelis – blatantly inciting against American Jews as having a "major problem – they consider themselves more American than they do Jews."

There was one more part of Pollard's interview that was perhaps of most concern; or at least it will be to the US counter-intelligence officers who have, no doubt, read it closely.

Asked by the interviewers what his advice would be for any young American who was recruited by Mossad today, Pollard was brazenly unapologetic. Despite a thinly veiled attempt to be cryptic, he clearly seemed to be encouraging more US intelligence officers — and perhaps others — to betray their country and switch allegiance to Israel.

READ: Netanyahu promises 'the best medical treatment in the world' to Pollard's wife

"I'd tell him, not doing anything is unacceptable," he said. He claimed that simply moving to Israel is "not acceptable" and that he should do more, seemingly by staying in the US to spy for Israel.

"You have to make a decision whether your concern for Israel… is more important than your life," said Pollard.

"So you recommend that he should do what you did, and pay the price?" asked the interviewer.

"I need him to go in with his eyes open," was Pollard's reply.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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