Abraham Foxman, associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, suggested here Wednesday that the Israeli government is treating the Jonathan Pollard affair “somewhat cavalierly” and warned that there is a serious concern in the U.S. over the long-term impact of the spy case on Israel-U.S. relations.
Foxman, who heads an ADL delegation which came here to discuss the matter with Israeli leaders, told Israel Radio it is not their intention to tell the government what to do. “But I think we have a responsibility to give them a sober analysis of what is the reality in the U.S.”
Referring to the current Congressional probes of the Reagan Administration’s sale of arms to Iran and diversion of the proceeds to the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras, Foxman stressed that “The U.S. cannot ask of its friend and ally to do less than the American people, the American media, the American institutions are asking of themselves.”
U.S.-Israel relations, Foxman said, are “based on credibility, on mutual trust and on good faith that today is under a cloud. Some of these values are being tarnished by an attitude and approach which is coming from this (Israeli) government which is treating the matter somewhat cavalierly, hoping it will go away and hoping to continue business as usual.”
Foxman said “the experience of the ‘Iran-gate’ (affair) should be a clear and realistic lesson to the State of Israel that here is a President–Ronald Reagan, possibly one of the most popular Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt–and yet the American people demand of him to set up committees of inquiry, to admit mistakes and to take the consequences of it.”
He added, “It’s not a question of double standard. It’s the same standard the American people are expecting of its friend and ally. I think that’s the reality of our relationship, which means–I don’t know what the institutions here would be the equivalent–but the truth has to be out, whether it’s a Tower type of inquiry or something similar.”
Foxman was referring to the three-man panel headed by former Sen. John Tower of Texas which Reagan established to investigate the activities of his National Security Council. Foxman also referred to Israel Air Force Col. Aviem Sella and former Mossad operative Rafael Eitan, the top Israeli officials involved in Pollard’s spying activities for Israel, both of whom had their careers advanced even while Pollard was on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment.
DRAWS AN ANALOGY
He drew an analogy between them and Vice Admiral John Poindexter, Reagan’s National Security Advisor and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a Poindexter aide, who were dismissed for their roles in the Iran-Contra scandal.
“Poindexter and North are as much American national heroes in terms of fulfilling the role of the American national interest, whether you like them or not, as Rafi Eitan and Avi Sella, and yet if the consequences of a mistake are such, there is a price to be paid,” Foxman said.
“That’s what the American people have asked for, demanded and received from their own institutions and their own elected and appointed officials. They are not going to be satisfied with less from the State of Israel.”
Reference to the Pollard case and its consequences for U.S.-Israel relations was also made Wednesday by veteran Hadassah leader Charlotte Jacobson who is chairing the Women’s Zionist Organization’s diamond jubilee celebrations in Jerusalem.
“It is a little sad to see a dent in the friendship between the U.S. and Israel because we are very proud of that friendship, and any event, even if we are confident it will pass, is of course, an unhappy situation,” Jacobson said.
RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ISRAEL
President Chaim Herzog referred indirectly to Israel and the Pollard case in his address at the opening of the Hadassah celebrations Tuesday night. He said that while Israel has a responsibility to the Jewish communities of the world for its actions and policies, those communities abroad also have a responsibility towards Israel.
“The importance of an increasing awareness of this mutual responsibility has been emphasized in a most telling manner by events which have been at the center of our public consciousness over the last few days.” the Israeli Chief of State said.
“There is no doubt that grave mistakes have been made and Israel has accepted responsibility for them. Criticism is in order, and indeed self-understood … But in an imperfect world in which no one is immune to error, I would urge all of us, both abroad and in Israel, to maintain a sense of proportion and allow the necessary process in this democratic society of ours to take its due course,” Herzog said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.