Just One Great Expectation
By Moshe Feiglin
I have just one great expectation from Netanyahu’s visit to Washington. Jonathan Pollard.
I do not expect the Prime Minister to stand up against the pressure that Obama is certain to apply. If he does stand up to the pressure, that will be great. But I do not believe that he is capable of doing so.
I do not expect Netanyahu to achieve any sort of understanding with the US on Iran. Currently, the interests of the US and of Israel are mutually exclusive. The Obama administration seems to have come to terms with nuclear weapons for the ayatollahs. President Hussein (Obama) is not going to attack Iran, and Netanyahu is the last person who will convince him to do so.
In truth, I do not understand why Netanyahu made the trip to the US. Even before he left Israel, he had already been embarrassed by the administration. He will be further humiliated when he gets there and will camouflage the scorn with all sorts of diplomatic platitudes that will present his talks with US leaders as constructive and productive and that yes, certainly, the dialogue between the two nations will continue. After Histadrut union leader Ofer Eini plucked half of Bibi’s feathers before his trip to the US, Obama will be sure to pluck the other half. And that is how Bibi will look when he returns to Israel. I do not understand why he is subjecting himself to this treatment.
What? We have no choice? If Bibi doesn’t go to America, the administration will cut off all aid to Israel and we won’t have arms or even oxygen and we will all die here of hunger and thirst? Not quite. Remember that until 1967 there was a US arms embargo on our entire neighborhood. Israel got nothing from America – until we “occupied” the “West Bank” and Gaza and became a factor that was worth investing in. Today, Egypt also receives American aid similar to the aid received by Israel. For some reason, Egypt’s president does not run to the US to lobby for his aid. On the contrary – it is Obama who woos Egypt.
Be that as it may, I do not expect anything from Netanyahu’s visit to the US. Except for Jonathan Pollard.
Of all Israel’s prime ministers, Bibi is the only one who made any sort of effort on Pollard’s behalf. In his previous term as PM, he demanded and received Pollard’s release within the framework of the Wye Accords. Clinton deceived him and did not fulfill his commitment. Instead of picking up and returning to Israel, Bibi surrendered most of Hebron to the PA.
So while it is true that Bibi’s actions were far from admirable, we must give credit where credit is due. As opposed to the other prime ministers, Netanyahu at least tried. And if he will pick up now where he left off and bring Jonathan Pollard home, that will, in my opinion, justify his present term as prime minister.
A person who is not informed by Jewish, faith-based consciousness (I have purposely not used the term “religious”) cannot understand this concept. Why should a prime minister set national interests aside for one Jew who endangered himself for all of us? True, he saved us from Iraq’s diabolical plans, but the bottom line is that he was a secret agent. We all know that every time James Bond goes out on a secret mission, the flinty commander explains to him that if he is caught, nobody is going to help him. Those are the rules that secret agents play by, so why am I going on about Pollard?
First of all, Israel doesn’t play by those rules. It has done all in its power to save its agents who were caught in various missions in Europe, Jordan and the US. But Israel has rejected Pollard because he acted as a “Jew” and not an “Israeli.” When Pollard was arrested, the Americans also demanded custody of Aviem Selah, who worked with Pollard and received asylum in the Israeli embassy. But while Israel refused to relinquish the Israeli to American hands, it threw the Jew to the dogs.
But that is not the main issue. The main issue is that Judaism is about Jews being responsible for and loyal to their fellow Jews. I honestly believe that we suffer as a nation because of our terrible betrayal of Jonathan Pollard. I believe that because of Israel’s betrayal of one Jew who has spent the last 24 years buried in prison in Butner, North Carolina, we have not been able to remain loyal to the Jewish nation’s other soldiers. Not to Ron Arad, not to Gilad Shalit, not to any other Jew and not to anything at all. Everything here is crumbling – in no small part because of our betrayal of one man – Jonathan Pollard. Ethical issues cannot be quantified. One person is all it takes. James Bond ethics do not interest G-d. The Jewish nation works on a completely different values system.
I once went to a demonstration for Pollard. Israel’s Channel 1 sent a bored sports reporter to cover the event. He turned to me and said,
“You have failed.”
“Why did we fail?” I tried to understand.
“Everyone here is religious,” the reporter answered.
“In that case, you have failed,” I automatically countered.
“Why us?” the reporter asked.
“Because you did not come.” I answered.
I do not believe in the concepts of religious and secular. But I do not know how to explain mutual Jewish responsibility to somebody who was not brought up on total loyalty; from loyalty to family to loyalty to one’s nation. The shared fate and destiny that connect me to Pollard are the same glue that connects me to this Land and to this State. It is the collective strength that motivates us to stand up and triumph against whatever trouble comes our way.
In the cases of Gilad Shalit and Ron Arad, we could soothe our consciences by saying that we have done whatever possible. Not so with Pollard. We know exactly where he is. I personally have visited him four times. Our rejection of Jonathan Pollard is intentional. If we really wanted him back, he would have been here long ago. Israel’s rejection of Pollard means that we have lost our national solidarity. That solidarity – the brotherhood that testifies to our shared Jewish destiny – is our secret weapon. Without it, we are lost.
All that Netanyahu has to do is to take the one basic step that Israel has refused to take until now. He has to make an official request for the release of our brother, Jonathan. He has to stand up in front of the cameras and present the letter signed by 112 MKs requesting Pollard’s release to Obama.
That’s right, Bibi. You have another brother named Yonatan.
Don’t let him die in prison.