Don’t Parole Pollard: Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015— Last week, screaming headlines were generated worldwide by breaking news in The Wall Street Journal that the US was preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years in prison.
Israel’s Choice: Conventional War Now, or Nuclear War Later: Norman Podhoretz, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2015 — Almost everyone who opposes the deal President Obama has struck with Iran hotly contests his relentless insistence that the only alternative to it is war. No, they claim, there is another alternative, and that is “a better deal.”
It’s Time for the Netherlands to Apologize: Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld, Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015 — A remarkable event took place recently at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Syrian Christians and the English Jew: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 30, 2015 — Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East.
Satirical Interview About America Lifting the Sanctions on Iran: Youtube, July 21, 2015
Jonathan Pollard’s Release Shouldn’t Placate Iran Deal Critics: Max Boot, Commentary, July 28, 2015
The Troubling Question in the French Jewish Community: Is It Time to Leave?: Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, August 2015
The Real Feminism Exists in Israel: CIJ News, 2015
Fleeing Nazism, Settling In Ecuador: Film Tells Jewish Families' Story: Kristina Puga, NBC News, June 19, 2015
Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015
Last week, screaming headlines were generated worldwide by breaking news in The Wall Street Journal that the US was preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years in prison. This announcement, predictably, unleashed a tidal wave of media coverage. A subsequent announcement a few days later officially confirming imminent parole for Pollard added to the deluge of reports, which continue unabated.
There is something suspect in the timing of these news stories. Jerusalem’s rejection of Pollard’s release as intended to mitigate Israel’s displeasure with the disastrous Iranian nuclear pact was predictable. However, denials by US officials, claiming that Pollard’s release is unrelated to the Iranian deal were less predictable. There were simply too many denials, at too high a level and employing too strident a tone to be credible.
Clearly, the media frenzy about Pollard occurs precisely when the Obama administration needs headlines diverted away from the Iranian deal. The public’s attention instead has become focused on a subject that many love to hate: Israel. No one loves a spy. Everyone hates an Israeli spy. Pollard, who has been viciously bashed in the media for nearly three decades, is hated more than most. News of his impending release on parole has revived the vilification of Pollard to levels which have not been seen since his arrest 30 years ago, and along with him, the vilification of Israel.
This, despite the now-documented record, bolstered by newly declassified materials and testimony by ranking American officials which show that Pollard’s life sentence was “excessive” and “unjust.” Considering the injustice, one has to wonder why Pollard is being paroled after 30 years instead of being set free. Parole is not freedom. It is, by definition, conditional release, which can be revoked at any time, for any number of very complex and often inscrutable reasons, including thinly veiled political motives.
The Jerusalem Post was the first to report that the life sentence that Pollard received after his arrest in 1985 is a 45-year sentence, not 30 years, as a life sentence is defined today. That means that under the terms of his parole, Pollard will have the balance of a 45-year sentence hanging over his head. He can be rearrested and sent back to prison for another 15 years – with all the accompanying screaming headlines, at any time for the next decade and a half.
It would be naïve not to suspect that in a case so politically charged as this one, that the conditions of his parole may be set up to be so restrictive and so complex as to invite or even guarantee failure. Given that the announcements of Pollard’s impending release on parole have generated such a media backlash, replete with Israel-bashing and Pollard-bashing, just imagine what a field day his return to prison would be for the world media. No reason would have to be given for his rearrest. It could be done on any pretext for any number of undeclared and unsubstantiated reasons, at any time that the US decides to exert pressure on Israel. As the US has repeatedly demonstrated, Pollard is an easy means to foment world opinion against Israel.
Pollard is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. In a recent interview, former CIA Chief James Woolsey again confirmed the excessiveness of Pollard’s punishment: “Spies from friendly countries, like the Philippines and Greece, normally stay in prison in the US for just a few years. Under 10 years. Keeping Pollard for 30 years was excessive.”
Woolsey said that Pollard should be free to return home to Israel, because he no longer poses any threat to the US. “The reason one would keep a convicted spy in the United States is because [of] the information he had….” Woolsey stated unequivocally that Pollard’s 30-year-old knowledge poses no risk and that Israel is a friend of America.
US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said it all when she recently confirmed that Pollard has served his time in full. Parole is just too convenient a tactic for continuing to keep Israel off balance while holding Pollard hostage for another 15 years. Pollard does not deserve parole. He deserves to be set free.
Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2015
Almost everyone who opposes the deal President Obama has struck with Iran hotly contests his relentless insistence that the only alternative to it is war. No, they claim, there is another alternative, and that is “a better deal.” To which Mr. Obama responds that Iran would never agree to the terms his critics imagine could be imposed. These terms would include the toughening rather than the lifting of sanctions; “anytime, anywhere” nuclear-plant inspections instead of the easily evaded ones to which he has agreed; the elimination rather than the freezing of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure; and the corresponding elimination of the “sunset” clause that leaves Iran free after 10 years to build as many nuclear weapons as it wishes.
Since I too consider Mr. Obama’s deal a calamity, I would be happy to add my voice to the critical chorus. Indeed, I agree wholeheartedly with the critics that, far from “cutting off any pathway Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon,” as he claims, the deal actually offers Tehran not one but two paths to acquiring the bomb. Iran can either cheat or simply wait for the sunset clause to kick in, while proceeding more or less legally to prepare for that glorious day.
Unfortunately, however, I am unable to escape the conclusion that Mr. Obama is right when he dismisses as a nonstarter the kind of “better deal” his critics propose. Nor, given that the six other parties to the negotiations are eager to do business with Iran, could these stringent conditions be imposed if the U.S. were to walk away without a deal. The upshot is that if the objective remains preventing Iran from getting the bomb, the only way to do so is to bomb Iran. And there’s the rub. Once upon a time the U.S. and just about every other country on earth believed that achieving this objective was absolutely necessary to the safety of the world, and that it could be done through negotiations. Yet as the years wore on, it became increasingly clear to everyone not blinded by wishful delusions that diplomacy would never work.
Simultaneously it also became clear that the U.S. and the six other parties to the negotiations, despite their protestations that force remained “on the table,” would never resort to it (and that Mr. Obama was hellbent on stopping Israel from taking military action on its own). Hence they all set about persuading themselves that their fears of a nuclear Iran had been excessive, and that we could live with a nuclear Iran as we had lived with Russia and China during the Cold War. Out the window went the previously compelling case against that possibility made by authoritative scholars like Bernard Lewis, and with it went the assumption that the purpose of the negotiations was to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.
For our negotiating partners, the new goal was to open the way to lucrative business contracts, but for Mr. Obama it was to remove the biggest obstacle to his long-standing dream of a U.S. détente with Iran. To realize this dream, he was ready to concede just about anything the Iranians wanted—without, of course, admitting that this was tantamount to acquiescence in an Iran armed with nuclear weapons and the rockets to deliver them. To repeat, then, what cannot be stressed too often: If the purpose were still to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, no deal that Iran would conceivably agree to sign could do the trick, leaving war as the only alternative. To that extent, Mr. Obama is also right. But there is an additional wrinkle. For in allowing Iran to get the bomb, he is not averting war. What he is doing is setting the stage for a nuclear war between Iran and Israel.
The reason stems from the fact that, with hardly an exception, all of Israel believes that the Iranians are deadly serious when they proclaim that they are bound and determined to wipe the Jewish state off the map. It follows that once Iran acquires the means to make good on this genocidal commitment, each side will be faced with only two choices: either to rely on the fear of a retaliatory strike to deter the other from striking first, or to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own. Yet when even a famous Iranian “moderate” like the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said—as he did in 2001, contemplating a nuclear exchange—that “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality,” how can deterrence work?
The brutal truth is that the actual alternatives before us are not Mr. Obama’s deal or war. They are conventional war now or nuclear war later. John Kerry recently declared that Israel would be making a “huge mistake” to take military action against Iran. But Mr. Kerry, as usual, is spectacularly wrong. Israel would not be making a mistake at all, let alone a huge one. On the contrary, it would actually be sparing itself—and the rest of the world—a nuclear conflagration in the not too distant future.
Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld
Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015
A remarkable event took place recently at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. For the first time in history, a Japanese firm publicly apologized to the few surviving former American prisoners of war whom they had used as forced labor during World War II. A senior executive of Mitsubishi Materials Corp. bowed deeply to 94-year-old James Murphy, who, during the war, barely survived his ordeal as a POW. Many of his American, Australian, British and Dutch comrades did not.
Does an apology, seven decades later, make a difference? It certainly did to these victims. It indicates that the successors of the persecutors agree with the persecuted on the historical interpretation of the injustice. It’s a lesson that warrants some reflection in Europe today. And if there’s one country more than any others that needs to emulate the Japanese model, to learn the value of an apology, it’s the Netherlands.
By now, almost all the European countries that were occupied by the Germans during World War II have admitted to their collaboration with the Nazi regime. Most have apologized, including, most recently, Luxembourg. The one major exception is the Netherlands, which has consistently refused to admit the failure of its wartime government, then exiled to London, to express any interest in what was happening to Jewish citizens under the German occupation.
Within Western Europe, the Netherlands was the country with the highest percentage of Jewish citizens murdered during the Holocaust. When the Germans conquered the Netherlands in 1940, there were 140,000 Jews living there; 102,000 of them would be murdered during the war. Those who were deported to the death camps in Poland were arrested by Dutch policemen, transported by the Dutch railways and guarded by the Dutch military police. Most of these Jewish deportees came from families that had lived in the Netherlands for centuries.
The Dutch government only inquired about the fate of these Jews a year and half after the deportations to extermination camps in Poland had begun. This despite both the Dutch and Polish governments in exile being located in the same building in London. In 1943, Henri Dentz, a Dutch employee of the Dutch government, was tasked to write a report on the deportations. He estimated that 90% of those deported had already been murdered. But, as he would later declare before a Dutch postwar Parliamentary commission, no one in the government was even willing to read the report.
Occasionally, the modern Dutch government’s failure to apologize to its Jewish community returns to the spotlight. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been asked twice by members of Parliament to admit to the Netherlands’ past failures and express the government’s apologies. In February he referred to a speech Queen Beatrix delivered to the Knesset in 1995, in which she said the Dutch people hadn’t been able to prevent the destruction of their Jewish fellow citizens, and in which she didn’t refer to the government in exile at all. Mr. Rutte’s answer makes it clear: The Netherlands just doesn’t want to admit its collaboration or its government’s disinterest in its Jewish citizens during the war.
This isn’t a result of some Dutch cultural resistance to apologies. In 2011, the Netherlands apologized to the Indonesian widows of the village of Rawagede, on the island of Java, where in 1947 during the country’s colonial war all the village’s male inhabitants were shot to death by Dutch soldiers, without any process of law. In 2014 the Dutch Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis apologized on behalf of the government to the families of three Bosnian Muslims who, after having been expelled from the Dutch military compound in Srebrenica in 1995, were killed by Bosnian Serbs who were occupying the town. These apologies were made public earlier this year after an agreement was reached about a payment to the three families.
The government also has apologized for murders in which it played no direct role at all. Deputy Prime Minister Els Borst was murdered in her home in 2014, and another woman was killed in January of this year. Prosecutors have apologized to the victims’ families for not having better supervised the brother of the second victim, a man allegedly suffering mental illness with violent tendencies who has admitted to killing his sister and will soon stand trial for Borst’s murder, which he denies.
All of which makes the refusal to apologize to Dutch Jews and their families more puzzling. One can only speculate why Mr. Rutte refuses to apologize, especially when other Dutch politicians have said over the years that the government should. Borst herself declared years ago that she would support such apologies. Another former deputy prime minister, Gerrit Zalm, who had been a leader of Mr. Rutte’s liberal party, has said the same. Whatever the reason for the delay, the time has come for the younger generations of Dutch people to demand a full accounting of the darkest period in the history of the Netherlands.
Manfred Gerstenfeld is a CIJR Academic Fellow, and Author of
The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Deligitimization of Israel and the Jews,
and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism (2015), Published by RVP Press
Washington Post, July 30, 2015
Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East. Egyptian Copts may have found some respite under President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but after their persecution under the previous Muslim Brotherhood government, they know how precarious their existence in 90 percent Muslim Egypt remains. Elsewhere, it’s much worse. Twenty-one Copts were beheaded by the Islamic State affiliate in Libya for the crime of being Christian. In those large swaths of Syria and Iraq where the Islamic State rules, the consequences for Christians are terrible — enslavement, exile, torture, massacre, crucifixion.
Over the decades, many Middle Eastern Christians, seeing the rise of political Islam and the intensification of savage sectarian wars, have simply left. Lebanon’s Christians, once more than half the population, are now estimated at about a third. The number of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank has dwindled — in Bethlehem, for example, dropping by half. (The exception, of course, is Israel, where Christians, Arab and non-Arab, enjoy not just protection but civil rights. Their numbers are increasing. But that’s another story.)
Most endangered are the Christians of Syria. Four years ago they numbered about 1.1 million. By now 700,000 have fled. Many of those remaining in country are caught either under radical Islamist rule or in the crossfire between factions. As the larger Christian world looks on passively, their future, like the future of Middle Eastern Christianity writ large, will be determined by Iran, Hezbollah, the Assad dynasty, the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, various other local factions and by regional powers seeking advantage.
Meanwhile, on a more limited scale, there are things that can be done. Three weeks ago, for example, 150 Syrian Christians were airlifted to refuge and safety in Poland. That’s the work of the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund. It provided the flight and will support the refugees for as long as 18 months as they try to remake their lives.
The person behind all this is Lord George Weidenfeld: life peer, philanthropist, publisher (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, established 1949), Europeanist (founder of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to promote classically liberal European values), proud public Jew (honorary vice president of the World Jewish Congress), lifelong Zionist (he once served as the chief of cabinet to Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann) and, as he will delightedly tell you, the last person to fight a duel at the University of Vienna — with sabers, against a Nazi. (No one died.)
Weidenfeld, now 95, once invoked Torschlusspanik , “a German phrase which roughly translates as the ‘panic before the closing of the doors,’ ” to explain why “I’m a man in a hurry.” Remarkably healthy and stunningly energetic (as distant cousins, we are often in touch), he appears nowhere near any exit doors. But he is aware of and deeply troubled by the doors closing in on a community in Syria largely abandoned by the world.
In context, the scale of the initial rescue is tragically small. The objective is to rescue 2,000 families. Compared to the carnage in Syria wrought by the pitiless combatants — 230,000 dead, half the 22 million population driven from their homes — it’s a paltry sum. But these are real people who will be saved. And for Weidenfeld, that counts.
Yet he has been criticized for rescuing just Christians. In fact, the U.S. government will not participate because the rescue doesn’t extend to Yazidis, Druze or Shiites. This comes under the heading of no good deed going unpunished. It’s a rather odd view that because he cannot do everything, he should be admonished for trying to do something. If Weidenfeld were a man of infinite means, the criticism might be valid. As it is, he says rather sensibly, “I can’t save the world.” The Arab states, particularly the Gulf monarchies, are surely not without resources. With so few doing so little for so many, he’s doing what he can.
And for him, it’s personal. In 1938, still a teenager, he was brought from Vienna to London where the Plymouth Brethren took him in and provided for him. He never forgot. He is trying to return the kindness, he explains, to repay the good that Christians did for him 77 years ago. In doing so, he is not just giving hope and a new life to 150 souls, soon to be thousands. He has struck a blow for something exceedingly rare: simple, willful righteousness.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Satirical Interview About America Lifting the Sanctions on Iran: Youtube, July 21, 2015
Jonathan Pollard’s Release Shouldn’t Placate Iran Deal Critics: Max Boot, Commentary, July 28, 2015—Unlike many Israelis and American Jews, I have never found myself in the Jonathan Pollard rooting section.
The Troubling Question in the French Jewish Community: Is It Time to Leave?: Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, August 2015 —How can anyone be allowed to paint a swastika on the statue of Marianne, the goddess of French liberty, in the very center of the Place de la République?”
The Real Feminism Exists in Israel: CIJ News, 2015—There was a time when America was at the cutting edge of change for women. Not anymore. Women are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton-not because of her accomplishments or her platform, but because she is a woman.
Fleeing Nazism, Settling In Ecuador: Film Tells Jewish Families' Story: Kristina Puga, NBC News, June 19, 2015— Eva Zelig is an Emmy-award winning producer who loves shedding light on various topics from health to global warming.