Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Jonathan Pollard for President of Israel

 About a month ago, five years to the day, after Jonathan Pollard was paroled (with severe restrictions) from the federal penitentiary, the US Parole Commission issued a certificate terminating parole and removing the restrictions that were imposed on him. He had served an excessive thirty years, of his injust life sentence, for transmitting classified information to Israel (convicted of Espionage, not Treason), in helping a friendly state.

Now he and his wife Esther, have come to Israel.

Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Omer Yankelevich, tweeted Tuesday night: “Jonathan, how good it is that you’ve come home.”

It’s been claimed that Pollard only turned over to the Israelis, intelligence information that the Americans were obligated to pass on to Israel, under their security and defense cooperation agreements, but were holding back. Therefore, embarrassing the Americans.

Details of his case, and the campaign to free Pollard, can be found at Justice for Johnathan Pollard.

But even with his release, the Americans and Israelis still have some Teshuva (repentance) to do, more on that later...

Many public officials and personalities expressed gratitude, the day parole termination had finally come. Some had even raised the issue of the cruel treatment, by the Americans, and betrayal by Israeli officials in the past.

The Women in Green movement, which struggled for Pollard’s release for years, welcomed the American decision not to extend Pollard’s restrictions.

Movement leaders, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, emphasized that the decision marks long years of injustice imposed on Pollard by the American legal system. “Every day that Pollard was imprisoned or confined was a day of grave injustice...The day Pollard comes to Israel will be a holiday for the entire Jewish people.”

“The entire State of Israel owes him a lot and it is doubtful whether it will be able to return to him a little of what it received from him, but it is its duty to do everything to give him all the best it has, they stated.”

That’s why I propose nominating Pollard for President of Israel. Elections by the Knesset members will be held in July 2021. What better way to celebrate his homecoming.

Katsover and Matar also said, “The State of Israel accepts Jonathan with great love...this slightly reduces the moral flaw, that clung to it, when it abandoned him and closed its gates to him.”

Former Defense Minister and Yamina Party Chairman Naftali Bennett welcomed the removal of restrictions on Jonathan Pollard at the time saying, “V’Shavu Banim L’gvulam, ‘and the sons return to their borders.’ The State of Israel owes a deep debt to Jonathan Pollard who gave us over 30 years of his life, and we are waiting to welcome him and embrace him here, in the land of Israel which is his home, as soon as possible.”

So, now that pollard has landed in Israel, I assume that Bennett would back a movement to draft Pollard for President of Israel.

Yamina Knesset Faction Chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked also spoke out when Pollard’s parole was terminated, “In the 19th Knesset, I served as Chairwoman of the lobby for the return of Pollard and as Justice Minister, I continued my activities until his release and thereafter. I sincerely hope that in the near future he and Esther will establish their home in Israel.”

Petach Tikva’s mayor, Rami Greenberg, quickly promised last month, to name a square in the city center, “Jonathan Pollard Square.” Greenberg also expressed gratitude to the Trump administration, for terminating the limitations of Pollard’s parole.

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who visited Jonathan Pollard in prison in the United States over the years, told Kan Moreshet last month, “I think that American Jewry should perhaps ask him for forgiveness. In an attempt to be considered kosher Americans, they simply ignored him. They forget that we are each other’s guardians and it’s not possible that they would turn their backs on someone who gave so much of himself for the people of Israel, what a waste.”

It’s true, organized American Jewry, fearful of the duel-loyalty accusation, pretty much hid their heads in the sand, while Pollard rotted in prison.

Rabbi Eliyahu then added, “If it were not for the people in Israel who sold him to the Americans, he would not have sat in prison. All the evidence that indicted him and put him in prison for so many years, was given by people in Israel. I heard these things directly from him when I was with him...There are people who were ministers in the government, two of them, who committed this crime, which is why Pollard was in prison. He did everything he did for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel. We should have lain on the fence for him but people preferred to save their skin and sell him out, which is a very serious matter...I did not name names, we are now in a happy time, but there were two people who could have saved him and they did not,” he added.

I’m sure that Shaked and Rabbi Eliyahu would support a movement to make Jonathan Pollard, President of Israel. That would be the real Teshuva, the State of Israel could do for him.

Asher Mivzari, an activist prominent in the movement to free Jonathan Pollard, also blamed the Americans, “On the one hand, there is great joy and we are thankful to God that he survived all these thirty difficult years in prison, and another five years under restrictions. On the other hand, it’s late, because he should have been released long ago, even in terms of simple justice. For what he did in the US, you usually get five years in prison, but here there was such a severe punishment, that was out of all proportion. Even American officials [including those involved with his case] have stated that he should have been released long ago in terms of American justice,” Mivzari pointed out.

That’s why I say America still has a day of reckoning to come...

Mivzari also noted, the frequent visits of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to Pollard, “The rabbi visited Pollard ten times and this is something that gave him a lot of strength to hold on and survive throughout all those years. All these years he also did not think only of himself, he was very concerned for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel, for people who were hurt, injured in terrorist attacks and other things. His thoughts were not only about himself. He knew the problems and failures that had happened, but mostly his thoughts were on how to help the people of Israel and the State of Israel and his dream was to come and join the people of Israel and contribute all he can with the rest of his strength and do everything he can.”

What a fine concerned and selfless example to young Israelis, Pollard would be, as President of Israel. But not everyone is even happy that Pollard was finally released from all restrictions.

Former PM Ehud Olmert blasted the US government’s decision to nullify Jonathan Pollard’s parole restrictions. He argued, “With all due respect, I would prefer that he not move to Israel. We don’t owe him anything. He was a spy who worked for a lot of money. He was not a Zionist volunteer who came and sacrificed his life.”

Olmert is one to talk about taking money, the jailbird.

He continued, Pollard “was an American who loved Israel and worked for a lot of money, spying for Israel. His spying was beneficial [to Israel], but when taking a full account, the damage caused to Israel’s interests, as a result of revealing his involvement, was the harshest in the history of US-Israel relations.”

“The danger of increasing this damage has not ended. If the prime minister will act like he does and have a festive welcoming ceremony for Pollard, we will pay a heavy price when there will soon be a new administration in America, worried Olmert.”

This is a non sequitur, because an incoming Biden administration already is planning a tough time for Israel. Just take a peak at the likely appointments Biden’s going to make, many of them Clinton operatives. A moderate-Left Democrat administration, will return Israel to the tone of the Obama years, with new problems. For example, the Trump Plan’s vision of a Palestinian state was encapsulated in policy for the first time, and for the first time, was formally agreed to, by the current Israeli government.

Yisrael Beitenu leader, Avigdor Liberman, has also criticized Pollard, in an interview with KAN Radio. He said that Israel should not have drafted Pollard as a spy, and that his moving to Israel should not be celebrated.

What has Lieberman ever done to promote Israeli security?

How far Lieberman has fallen, from his Hebrew University student days, as a campus activist for Rabbi Meir Kahane’s far-right pro-Jewish Kach Movement.

And, idiot, pardon my English accent, Yedioth Ahronoth columnist, Nahum Barnea, who seems to have learned nothing since the Oslo War (Second Intifada), even with losing a son in the war; wrote, “Pollard does not have the heroism of the Nili organization, not even that of Eli Cohen. Have some proportion.” He, also opposes making Pollard a “national hero.”

Well, I don’t agree with Olmert, Lieberman, and Barnea, so much so, that I believe Pollard should be elected President of Israel.

Recently in an interview with 103 Radio FM, former PM Ehud Barak commented on the possibility of Netanyahu trying to get elected as the country’s president, to avoid facing criminal charges, calling it a “black day in Israel’s democracy.” This idea has been bandied about for awhile already. Barak also accused Netanyahu of tending to his personal affairs, while the country found itself mired in the “worst crisis in its history.”

I can agree with Barak, that Netanyahu should step aside from the race. Netanyahu’s often been accused of being Machiavellian, and politically very self-serving, this is his chance to go beyond that. I suggest to Netanyahu, since he’s claimed for years, that he’s done all he could to free Jonathan Pollard, he take the bold and courageous step, to throw his weight behind Pollard for President of Israel.

The position is largely ceremonial, as head of state, Pollard would represent Israel at conferences, state festivities, etc. The most significant action the president can take, is to grant pardons to prisoners, similar to the American president. Its the perfect “non-partisan” position for him, within the Israeli political constellation.

Who could best empathize with the pain of prisoners and their families, to give them a fair shake, and possibly overturn an injustice, than someone who sat in prison unjustly for thirty years, for the security of the Jewish people, and State of Israel?

Jonathan Pollard for President of Israel!

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.

(c) 2020/5781 Pasko

Monday, December 28, 2020

Born Free, Die Free, L’Hiyot Am Chofshi

“Give me liberty, or give me death!” This emotional outburst by Patrick Henry, from a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention in 1775, swung the vote, convincing the convention, to pass a resolution to send Virginian troops, for the American Revolutionary War effort.

It seems the early Americans learned something from the ancient Jews, the value of freedom.

So much so, that the bell that has became known as the Liberty Bell, originally placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall), was inscribed with the verse, “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof,” from the Book of Leviticus (25:10).

A copy of the bell, now graces Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem.

Similarly, modern Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah, proclaims “L’Hiyot Am Chofshi B’Artzeinu,” to be free people in our land.

Themes of Dror/Liberty and Cherut/Freedom swirl around in my head, as I write this, while the Iron Curtain of Israel’s third “Seger,” CoronaVirus closure/lockdown descends on Israel.

But try what they may, the powers that be in Israel, won’t break us.

Jews have already learned from Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi (Sotah38b), that “Afilu mechitzah shel barzel einah mafseket bein Yisrael L’Avihem shebashamayim, even an iron curtain, can’t separate the people of Israel and their heavenly Father.”

We learned it again, in the late 1980s, when the Berlin Wall fell, and again in 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the massive waves of Aliyah, Jewish immigration to Israel, that came here, yearning to be free.

But, sad to say, Israel’s political class, it seems, has been working overtime to figure out how to better control people.

And, it’s not just happening in Israel. Throughout the democratic west, shades of Chinese-style societal control are emerging, just as I warned of back in June 2020. Politicians have been making power-grabs everywhere in the name of the “crisis.”

Many in Israel, have speculated that Netanyahu has used the CoronaCrisis, to distract from his corruption cases.

Yamina party leader MK Naftali Bennett recently said, “Things didn’t have to be this way. Millions of Israeli citizens are now going into a political lockdown, simply because the Netanyahu government placed political considerations above all else.”

So, we enter another deprivation period, of our basic human rights and civil liberties, in spite of the fact that over 130 doctors complained already back in July, that the government’s policy had no chance of succeeding, and actually caused an increase in morbidity and death rates.

Even the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee pushed back at the time, on some of the government’s restrictions, but recently, committee chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton (formerly of Likud), has left the ruling junta, and joined Gideon Sa’ar’s new political party, New Hope.

Who will fight against Lockdowns and other frivolous policies, from within the belly of the beast (Likud-led government) now?

Will “New Hope” take up the call? After checking out their website, there is no sign of hope, no CoronaVirus Policy is discussed.

Back in July, thousands took to the streets to protest the economic and social damage inflicted to the Israeli body politic.

Will Israelis take to the streets this time?

In September, doctors and scientists in Israel protested the High Holiday Lockdown, and questioned the accuracy of Israel’s CoronaVirus death count.

Also in September, Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, expressed his opposition to a second nationwide lockdown in the United Kingdom. He said a lockdown merely “delays the inevitable,” it would push future cases into the winter, when the danger of comorbidities with influenza and/or pneumonia could make the epidemic far more dangerous.

Is that what this third Lockdown will do to Israel?

Or, will they decide to extend the Lockdown, as some officials have already called for, beyond the two to four weeks, further into February, or beyond? While promising a panacea with vaccinations?

Meanwhile, nearly half of Israelis oppose this third Lockdown.

Then again, about 40% of Israelis say, “I don't want them injecting me with anything.”

And, in response to the news of a Health Ministry recommendation, that a mandatory vaccine law, be enacted to deal with vaccine refusers, former MK Moshe Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page, “You'll have to kill me before you stick a syringe in me with this vaccine.”

About two weeks ago, one hundred doctors signed a petition against closures and restrictions. “We, doctors in Israel,” they wrote, “strongly protest against coercive measures to prevent COVID-19 spread, which include lockdown, curfew, shutting down the education system, surveillance, and traffic restrictions. It is our job to warn of the slippery and dangerous slope of violating rights and taking away liberties that the State of Israel is galloping towards.”

They continued, “As far as CoronaVirus is concerned, coercive measures, especially enforcing movement restrictions of any kind, are destructive and dangerous, and have nothing to do with the medical profession. The basis for taking them is not medical.”

And, just about a week ago, members of the Public Emergency Council for the Coronavirus Crisis, which includes senior Israeli doctors and researchers, warned that a third Lockdown would be a “national disaster.”

During their press conference, they stated, “The Public Emergency Council for the Coronavirus Crisis was established, with no economic or political interests, in order to say no to further lockdowns, and that an immediate change in the manner in dealing with the outbreak is required. It is time for the public to know the scientific truth.”

This all follows an international effort by more than 50,000 medical & public health scientists, and medical practitioners, who have joined a movement called, “the Great Barrington Declaration,” warning that the lockdown approach, is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as on societies, as a whole.

Yet, one Israeli newspaper recently wrote in their editorial, regarding the third Lockdown, “While it is legitimate to take the handling of the CoronaVirus crisis into account when deciding how to vote on election day, it is not legitimate to violate the CoronaVirus regulations because of a particular religious or political belief.”

Say bye bye, to freedom of religion, speech and assembly in Israel. Media supported. Seems eerily similar to the mainstream and social media in America, that worked hard to suppress contrarian views and brought Biden (seemingly) to power.

Then we heard about “GreenPassports,” that vaccinated Israelis will get, waiving lockdown restrictions, allowing them access to cultural events, malls, restaurants,and the like. Creating two classes of citizens in Israel, some with less rights than others.

But in America, there’s been a massive pushback against local and state politicians, over gym, restaurant, small business, and religious services closures. Many breaking the law and remaining open. That’s why the Republicans blasted the Democrats down ballot in the recent elections.

Will Israelis, this time learn from the Americans?

So far, I only see Sheeple, not the proud, free Jews of yesteryear, who declared Israeli independence, fought major wars, and ingathered the exiles.

Will a political party arise, that declares “Diyenu – Enough!”

Enough of these politicians, and their PoliTrix!

Enough of unelected petty bureaucrats wielding so much control over our lives!

Enough of forced closures!

Enough of destroying jobs, businesses, and livelihoods!

Enough of threatening permanent restrictions, if not vaccinated!

Live Free or Die,” is the official state motto of New Hampshire, in America.

Israelis could use learning that phrase and internalizing it, before they see what civil rights they still have, eroded.

In spite of the dire warnings by politicians, about the CoronaCrisis, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri just said that political parties will be able to prepare for the elections under the nationwide CoronaVirus lockdown. “Employees, including volunteers, service providers and candidates on behalf of a party, can leave their homes, under the current legal situation, for the purpose of reaching a party headquarters for their activities,’ Nizri wrote. “Party employees are also allowed to leave their homes in order to work in the public space or anywhere else they are required to work in.”

How serious can the CoronaCrisis be, if the PoliTrix people are still allowed to wander outside, and gather indoors?

New elections are set for March 23, 2021, just days before Pesach (Passover). What an irony, just before the Festival of Freedom.

Back in September, a health communication lecturer at IDC Herzliya International School, Dr. Yaffa Shir Raz, in her Facebook post, predicted that a “commission of inquiry” would eventually be established to investigate the “peddling” of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Will justice ever be meted out to these criminal politicians?

Whether the government’s policies, the vaccines, or just a natural decline of the CoronaVirus through herd immunity will improve the situation, or not, we all should pray, that we be liberated from the political power grabs taking place these days. Elections are coming.

Maybe then we’ll be an “Am Chofshi B’Artzeinu,” free people in our land, as HaTikvah proclaims, just in time for Pesach, the Festival of Freedom.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.

(c) 2020/5781 Pasko