Knesset speaker blasts US hypocrisy for refusing to release Pollard

December 22, 2013

America has been spying on Israel. So why the big deal about Pollard? let him go…

(Carl) Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, a former prisoner of conscience in the Soviet Union, has blasted the United States government for its hypocrisy in refusing to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. 

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) assailed Washington for “hypocrisy,” saying that “this is a severe case and I hope this is the iceberg rather than the tip of the iceberg. Otherwise, this case is liable to do damage to our relations with the US.”

“For 28 years, the US administration has been preaching to Israel about the danger and the lack of trust that results from spying on allies and today it turns out the shoe is on the other foot,” the speaker said. “There is no other way to characterize it other than hypocrisy.”

Edelstein wasn’t the only senior Israeli politician to take a swipe at the United States.
“The secret is out,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said on Sunday. “The US is systematically spying on the defense and diplomatic leadership here in Israel. Is this how friends treat each other?”“Pollard was arrested for much less,” Katz said. “I plan on proposing in today’s cabinet meeting that Israel demand an American statement vowing to put an end to the surveillance and to immediately release Pollard in light of the most recent revelations.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked, who heads the parliamentary lobby devoted to advancing the cause of Pollard’s release, said on Sunday that “the most recent revelations about spying and surveillance by the US against its ally needs to light a red light of morality for any logical person.”
“There needs to be reciprocity in any relationship between countries,” Shaked said. “It is inconceivable that while Pollard has been rotting in an American prison for decades for spying, which was considered an unforgivable crime by the American government, we are now informed that the US has been spying against Israel, and this is just swept under the rug.”
And it wasn’t just coalition MK’s who spoke out.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Israel Radio that he hopes Snowden’s revelations will lead to new thinking by the Israeli government about how to bring about Pollard’s release in an effective manner.
“There needs to be new thinking because the time has come,” Herzog said.

Labor MK Nachman Shai, who heads the Knesset Caucus on US-Israel Relations, called for a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to discuss the American espionage.
He said that Israel has not spied on the US since Pollard was caught in 1985.
“The silence of Israeli officials following these reports is disappointing and shameful,” Shai said.
“We cannot let such revelations pass quietly. Like Germany and Brazil, we should ask the US for clarification, or at least confirmation that such spying has stopped.” 

And in case you’ve forgotten why Pollard’s sentence is so ridiculous:
Pollard has already spent 28 years of the life sentence in a federal prison for passing classified information to an ally. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense, whose median time served is two to four years. It’s time to free Pollard.


Labor MK calls on students to boycott Obama speech

March 18, 2013
Nachman Shai. (photo credit: Flash90)(Times of Israel) Labor MK Nachman Shai called on students to skip US President Barack Obama’s planned speech to the Israeli public, scheduled for Thursday night, citing the White House’s exclusion of Ariel University from a program to allow students to attend the Jerusalem address. Shai said the Student Union should protest the president’s decision to exclude the university by not attending the highly touted speech, to take place at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. “Following the decision not to invite students from Ariel to the US President’s speech in Israel, I demand that the Student Union inform President Obama that they will not attend his lecture on Thursday,” Shai wrote on his Facebook wall. The US Embassy said it was not boycotting Ariel University, located in the eponymous settlement deep inside the West Bank, but rather was only offering tickets to the speech to schools with which it has a partnership. Ariel became a university last year after a highly contested political fight. But Shai said the US was boycotting Ariel students because of where they study. “It is shocking to think that you can disqualify students just because they learn in the West Bank. I do not understand how President Obama wants to conduct a dialogue with the Israeli public when he is consciously excluding part of it,” he said. Ariel, a settlement with 20,000 residents in the northern West Bank, has historically been a sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel hopes to keep the settlement in the event of a final-status agreement, while the Palestinian Authority would like to see it evacuated. The decision to grant Ariel University full university status last year was internationally criticized. Last week, Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun berated Obama on Israel Radio for choosing to address the Israeli public at Jerusalem’s Convention Center rather than the Knesset, and for inviting students from all universities except the West Bank-based Ariel to attend. Students at Ariel have also expressed dismay at their exclusion from the speech. “We were pretty shocked about the discrimination and the way in which they are giving up on a university in Israel,” said Ariel University Student Union head Shay Shahaf, according to Ynet News. Shahaf and other Ariel students plan to protest outside the convention center during Obama’s speech.