The Facts of the #Pollard Case- Points 1-55 | #JonathanPollard #Clinton #Israel #WMDs

March 27, 2013

  1. Jonathan Pollard was a civilian American Naval intelligence analyst. In the mid 1980’s (circa 1983-1984), Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel’s security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment.
  2. Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.
  3. The information being withheld from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities – being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets.
  4. When Pollard discovered this suppression of information and asked his superiors about it, he was told to “mind his own business”, and that “Jews get nervous talking about poison gas; they don’t need to know.”He also learned that the objective of cutting off the flow of information to Israel was to severely curtail Israel’s ability to act independently in defense of her own interests.
  5. Pollard was painfully aware that Israeli lives were being put in jeopardy as a result of this undeclared intelligence embargo. He did everything he possibly could to stop this covert policy and to have the legal flow of information to Israel restored. When his efforts met no success, he began to give the information to Israel directly.
  6. Jonathan Pollard was an ideologue, not a mercenary. The FBI concluded after nine months of polygraphing that Pollard acted for ideological reasons only, not for profit. This fact was recognized by the sentencing judge who declined to fine Pollard. (See theaddendum for further details.)Furthermore, on May 11, 1998, Israel formally acknowledged Jonathan Pollard had been a bona fide Israeli agent. This fact wiped out any remaining doubt about Jonathan Pollard’s motives. Being an official agent is, by definition, the polar opposite of being a mercenary.
  7. In 1985, his actions were discovered by the U.S. government. His instructions from Israel were to seek refuge in the Israeli embassy in Washington. When Pollard and his former wife sought refuge there, they were at first received and then summarily thrown out into the waiting arms of the FBI.
  8. Jonathan Pollard never had a trial. At the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea agreement, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial.
  9. Jonathan Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, cooperating fully with the prosecution.
  10. Nevertheless, Pollard received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled – in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
  11. Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States.
  12. Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for compromising codes, agents, or war plans.
  13. Jonathan Pollard was never charged with treason. [Legally, treason is a charge that is only applicable when one spies for an enemy state in time of war.]
  14. Jonathan Pollard was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States.
  15. Prior to sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger delivered a 46-page classified memorandum to the sentencing judge. Since then, neither Pollard nor any of his cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the memorandum to challenge the false charges it contains-a clear violation of Pollard’s constitutional rights.
    The day before sentencing, Weinberger delivered a four-page supplemental memorandum to the sentencing judge. In it, he falsely accused Pollard of treason. Also in the supplemental memorandum, Weinberger advocated a life sentence in clear violation of Pollard’s plea agreement. The implication that follows from Weinberger’s false characterization of Pollard’s offense as “treason” is that the country Pollard served, Israel, is an enemy state.
  16. Pollard was shown the supplemental Weinberger memorandum only once, just moments before sentencing – hardly adequate time to prepare an appropriate defense to rebut the false accusations in it.
  17. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally – only Jonathan Pollard. The median sentence for this offense is two to four years. Even agents who have committed far more serious offenses on behalf of hostile nations have not received such a harsh sentence.
  18. Pollard’s attorney never appealed from the life sentence. The time to file for such an appeal was within ten days of sentencing. Years later, with a different attorney, Pollard filed a habeas corpus challenge to the sentence.The Court of Appeals, in a two-to-one decision, rejected the challenge, largely on procedural grounds.
    The majority placed heavy emphasis on the failure to appeal from the life sentence in a timely manner, and on the resulting far heavier burden faced by Pollard in seeking to challenge the sentence via habeas corpus. [Note: “Habeas corpus” is a procedure by which an incarcerated person may bring a court challenge to the legality of his or her incarceration – often long after the underlying case has been concluded.]
    In a dissenting opinion, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Williams called the case “a fundamental miscarriage of justice,” and wrote that he would have ordered that Pollard’s sentence be vacated.
  19. In November 1995, Israel granted Jonathan Pollard Israeli citizenship. The official presentation took place in January of 1996. This publicly signaled to the U.S. Israel’s willingness to accept full responsibility for Pollard.
  20. U.S. government sources falsely accuse Pollard in the media of passing “rooms full of classified information” and “hundreds of thousands of documents” to Israel. This volume of information is an absurdity! Pollard would have needed to make numerous “drops” using a moving van to have transferred such a large volume of information. In actual fact, Jonathan Pollard made a grand total of eleven “drops” to the Israelis, using only a small briefcase to hold the documents.
  21. The government used an insidious formula to exaggerate the volume of information that Jonathan Pollard passed to Israel. The formula was: if only one page or a single sentence of a document was passed to the Israelis, it was counted as if the whole document had been transmitted. Even referenced documents and sources were counted as having been transmitted in toto. Using this calculation, a single page could be counted as 50 hard-bound 500 page volumes!
  22. There is no Mr. “X”.
  23. The CIA claim that another highly-placed spy in the U.S. had to exist in order to give Jonathan Pollard his highly specific tasking orders is a complete fabrication. To understand how Pollard was tasked by Israel to secure specific documents, see: Was there another U.S. spy tasking Pollard? – Mr. ‘X’ Exposed.

  24. On May 12, 1998 , in the same statement in which the Government of Israel publicly acknowledged Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli agent, it accepted full responsibility for him, and indicated its commitment to securing his release and repatriation to Israel.
  25. Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private letters to the President and others. He regrets having broken the law, and is sorry he did not find a legal means to act upon his concerns for Israel. (See Remorse Page.)
  26. Jonathan Pollard has been openly linked to the Middle East Peace Process since 1995.The Israeli government recognized long ago that Jonathan’s sentence was unjust, that the documents he delivered to Israel did not remotely cause the damage that the prosecution claimed but never proved. As a result of this recognition, various Israeli administrations have negotiated, as a matter of basic fairness, to secure Jonathan’s release.
    Since 1995, within the context of the peace process, the US has repeatedly exploited the plight of Jonathan Pollard to extract heavy concessions from Israel.
    However despite express promises made by the United States to Israel, Jonathan Pollard remains in jail.
  27. It was the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who, in 1995, first began openly to negotiate for Jonathan’s release as part of the peace process.Although President Clinton promised Prime Minister Rabin that he would release Jonathan as part of a Middle East peace settlement, the President refused to honor his promise after Rabin was assassinated.
  28. Rabin’s successor, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, continued to link Jonathan to the peace process, and even went so far as to include a spy swap proposal as part of the deal for Pollard’s release.
  29. The Wye Plantation summit is a prime example of U.S. exploitation of Jonathan Pollard.Both before and again during the Wye summit negotiations in the fall of 1998, President Clinton promised to release Jonathan Pollard. Pollard was the deal-maker at Wye which enabled the accords to be completed.
  30. At the last minute, with the eyes of the world focused on the Wye Accords signing ceremony which was about to take place in Washington, Clinton reneged on Pollard’s release, creating a storm of negative publicity for Israel.
  31. How the Wye fiasco came about:In September, 1998, just before the mid-term Congressional elections, President Clinton (who at the time was facing impeachment hearings and in need of a foreign policy PR victory) asked Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to attend a three-way summit with the Palestinians at Wye River, Maryland.
    Clinton knew that a successful summit at Wye just before the Congressional elections would be good not only for his image, but would also reap great political benefits for the Democrats in their bid to regain control of Congress. As an inducement to Netanyahu, Clinton promised to release Jonathan Pollard within the context of the summit.
    Understanding the value of Jonathan Pollard for his own re-election bid, and needing him as a sweetener to sell any kind of “peace” deal to the Israeli people, Netanyahu ignored the entreaties of Republican friends like Newt Gingrich and agreed to attend the summit. (Gingrich would later repay Netanyahu by leading the Republican charge of slander and lies against Jonathan Pollard.)
  32. Once the Wye summit was underway, Clinton quickly “forgot” his promise to free Jonathan Pollard and there was little Netanyahu could do.
  33. Talks at Wye broke down over the release of Palestinian murderers with Jewish blood on their hands and over Israel’s request for the extradition of Ghazi Jabali, the chief of Police in Gaza who was wanted for his role in planning and executing terrorist attacks in Israel.
  34. To break the stalemate, the Palestinians suggested Jonathan Pollard as the solution. They proposed that Pollard be sold to Netanyahu once again: the US would give Jonathan to Israel in return for Israel’s freeing of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists and immunity for Ghazi Jabali.
  35. The US and Israel agreed to the Palestinian plan to swap Pollard for terrorists and murderers.President Clinton personally worked out the details of the deal in a late-night private session with a Palestinian and an Israeli representative.
  36. According to the deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu was to receive a side letter from President Clinton the next morning (one of approximately 30 side letters the Americans had promised) guaranteeing Pollard’s release for November 11, 1998, one week after the US House elections.The Pollard negotiation was the deal-maker at Wye which allowed the summit to be successfully wrapped up and a signing ceremony to be planned for the next morning in Washington, on Friday October 23, 1998.
  37. Only hours before the signing ceremony, P.M. Netanyahu received all of the American side-letters that had been promised to him, except one – the one guaranteeing the release of Jonathan Pollard.Netanyahu threatened not to attend the signing ceremony unless he got the Pollard side letter. Clinton said, “Trust me.” Netanyahu, knowing he was about to be double-crossed by Clinton over Pollard for the second time, refused.
    Netanyahu demanded that in the absence of a side letter of guarantee, Pollard should be freed into his custody immediately, or no signing ceremony. Arik Sharon supported Netanyahu and they threatened to leave Wye without signing the accords.
  38. In order to take the pressure off of President Clinton, CIA chief George Tenet quickly leaked the news of Pollard’s imminent release to the media in a deliberate – and ultimately successful – attempt to torpedo the deal.He sent emissaries to Capitol Hill to hold emergency meetings with leading Senators and Congressmen to enlist their support in publicly denouncing Pollard’s release. Many lies were told by the CIA emissaries about Jonathan Pollard to convince the legislators to act swiftly and in unison. Believing the lies, the legislators complied and began an unprecedented series of public actions to prevent the release of Jonathan Pollard.
  39. Meanwhile at Wye, under heavy pressure and still fearful that Netanyahu would not back down, Clinton quickly negotiated a private fall-back position with Netanyahu: Clinton would publicly promise to do a “speedy review”of the Pollard Case and he would use that review to free Pollard a few months later, parallel to the release of the 750 Palestinian terrorists who were part of the price Israel had agreed to pay for Pollard.Under heavy public pressure and betrayed by his own Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Mordecai*, who closed ranks with Clinton, Netanyahu folded and accepted this private deal. The signing ceremony was held in Washington as scheduled. *(Mordecai himself is now on trial in Israel in 2001 for sexual assault.)
  40. Netanyahu’s capitulation at Wye, the public spectacle of his being brought to heel by the Americans, and the lopsided deal he brought home from Wye now that Pollard was no longer perceived to be a part of it, would shortly cost him his premiership.
  41. After Wye, the White House falsely accused Netanyahu of having injected Pollard into the Wye summit at the last moment.However, eye witnesses to the Pollard deal at Wye, including the Israeli and the Palestinian who had negotiated the deal with Clinton and the former Israeli Cabinet Secretary, all later contradicted the White House version of events and affirmed that President Clinton had committed himself to the release of Jonathan Pollard as an integral part of the Wye Accords.

    Note: Prime Minister Netanyahu was the first prime minster of Israel to agree to free Palestinian terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands. That is the price the Americans demanded for Pollard at Wye. To this day, this represents a keen embarrassment for Netanyahu and his party, even more so since he did not receive Pollard but the Palestinian murders were released nonetheless. That is why no official source from the Netanyahu government ever wants to publicly admit to it. They keep the details to a minimum, but all concur that Pollard’s freedom was bought and paid for by “concessions”at Wye.

  42. When Netanyahu returned to Israel after Wye, he created a firestorm of publicity by releasing 200 Palestinian common criminals from Israeli prisons.The Palestinians were outraged, and insisted that these common criminals were not the prisoners that they had bargained for at Wye. The Americans angrily protested. Netanyahu reminded the Americans that the Wye Accords do not specify exactly which prisoners Israel must release. Critics wondered if the Prime Minister had lost his mind to antagonize the Americans this way.
    Only those close to Prime Minister Netanyahu understood that this was Netanyahu’s private, pointed reminder to Bill Clinton that if he was thinking of double-crossing him yet a third time over Pollard, he should think again. No Pollard, no release for the Palestinian murderers and terrorists.
    Unfortunately for Jonathan Pollard, Netanyahu’s government fell before he was able to act on this.
  43. In a meeting with Netanyahu right after his electoral defeat in the Spring of 1999, Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther, received assurances from the former prime minister that the new prime minister, Ehud Barak, had been fully briefed about what had been agreed to at Wye and about the fall-back position; that is to say, Israel had yet to free the 750 terrorists with blood on their hands and was still supposed to receive Pollard home in a “parallel gesture” from President Clinton.
  44. Not long after Barak took office, the 750 Palestinian murderers and terrorists walked out of prison as free men. Jonathan Pollard remained in his American jail cell.
  45. In an attempt to justify Clinton’s reneging at Wye, a story was leaked to the press that George Tenet, a Clinton appointee, had threatened to resign as head of the CIA if Pollard were released.The story, though not logical, sounded plausible and it became popular to cite the opposition of the American Intelligence community as the reason Clinton did not honor his commitment at Wye to free Pollard.
    This was soon exposed as the lame excuse it was when Clinton freed a group of unrepentant FALN terrorists in the fall of 1999, in an attempt to improve his wife’s popularity with New York State’s Hispanic community in her election bid for the Senate. (See Senate Race Page.)
    To this day, the same lame excuse continues to be used to justify the unjustifiable failure of Clinton to honor his commitment.
  46. In September of 1999, despite strenuous opposition from all of his government advisors and agencies, President Clinton freed 14 unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists, members of the FALN, charged with bank robbery and various acts of terrorism, including over 130 bombings in the US, and the deaths of American police officers.Clinton ignored a solid wall of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense departments and Congress, invoked his powers of executive clemency and set the FALN terrorists free. In doing so, he unequivocally put the lie to the notion that any government agency might tie his hands or influence his decision in matters of clemency. (See FALN Page and Clemency Page.)
  47. More than two years elapsed after Wye. President Clinton did no review. Jonathan Pollard remained in prison while the US continued to extract Israeli concessions for his release.
  48. Those who still believed the myth that it was the American Intelligence Community that was tying the hands of President Clinton, also clung to the belief he would finally honor his many promises to release Jonathan Pollard – including the commitment he had made at Wye – at the end of his term, when he could do so without fear of political reprisal.
  49. Beginning in 1991 Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Jonathan’s rabbi, offered himself to the U.S. Justice Department as Jonathan’s guarantor. The offer was ignored.Rabbi Eliyahu repeated the same offer every year after that in private letters to President Clinton.
    Every offer went unacknowledged until the fall of 2000, when Esther Pollard received a letter from the White House indicating that the President was aware of the former chief Rabbi’s offer and that it would be part of the President’s consideration in reaching a final decision on her husband’s case.
  50. President Clinton never kept his promises.When he left office in January 2001, Jonathan Pollard was not included among those that to whom Clinton granted clemency:
    • in spite of his repeated express commitments to Israel to free Pollard in return for numerous heavy concessions
    • in spite of his commitment to free Pollard as an integral part if the Wye Accords
    • in spite of the appeals of the Jewish community, and
    • in spite of the gross injustices of the Pollard case which include:
      • a grossly disproportionate sentence
      • a broken plea agreement
      • use of secret evidence
      • a false charge of treason
      • ineffective assistance of counsel
      • ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge
      • a lack of due process
      • a sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies

    On his last day in office, Clinton granted clemency to 140 people. Many who received executive clemency had been convicted of very serious offenses, including murder, robbery and drug dealing. Some of those pardoned had served no prison time at all before being pardoned. Among those pardoned were Clinton’s brother, and a former head of the CIA. (See Clemency Page.)

  51. In September of 2000, Jonathan Pollard’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, filed a motion in the US District Court of Columbia to vacate his sentence.The motion, supported by documentation, presents a compelling and very disturbing picture of serious government misconduct that went unchecked by Mr. Pollard’s then-counsel. As a result of that misconduct, and as a result of his attorney’s ineffectiveness Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison on the basis of false allegations, and under circumstances that violated his plea agreement. (See Legal Doc: Declaration of Jonathan Jay Pollard In Support of Motion for Resentencing. See also Legal Doc: Memorandum of Law in Support of Jonathan Jay Pollard’s § 2255 Motion for Resentencing.)
  52. Since he was sentenced in 1987, none of Jonathan Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys have been able to see the classified portions of the docket in order to challenge them in a court of law or to defend him in a clemency proceeding.In September of 2000, Jonathan Pollard’s attorneys filed a separate motion requesting that attorney Eliot Lauer be allowed access to the secret portions of the Pollard court docket. (See Legal Doc: Motion to Unseal the Pollard Record.)
  53. On January 12, 2001, Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson denied the attorneys’ request to allow Eliot Lauer access to the complete Pollard docket, upholding the government’s claim that Lauer’s seeing the secret portion of the record poses a risk to American national security.Both Lauer and Semmelman hold TOP SECRET level security clearances, which they obtained from the Justice Department in order to be eligible to see their client’s full record.
    A motion for reconsideration was filed January 18, 2001. (See Legal Doc: Motion for Reconsideration of Court Order.)
  54. Amicus briefs supporting Jonathan’s new legal cases have been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as by top American legal authorities. (See Amici Briefs on the Court Case Page.)
  55. Five Prime Ministers of Israel and three Presidents of Israel have requested Jonathan Pollard’s release from the United States. Israel has pledged to be responsible for its agent who has served many years in prison under harsh conditions, and who has fully and repeatedly expressed his remorse. (See Remorse Page.)Between close friends and strong allies, that ought to be enough.

  56. On November 21, 2012, Jonathan Pollard entered the 28th year of his life sentence, with no end in sight.

Pollard Betrayed

March 22, 2013
America can never be trusted as guardians as long as Pollard remains in prison.

(Giulio Meotti ) via (Nobel Appease Prize) I stand ashamed that my friends betrayed Pollard” Bret Stephens is one of the best columnists the Wall Street Journal has ever had. He is also one of the most brave Jewish journalists in the United States and in general. I also consider him a friend. But Stephens’ latest column, titled “Don’t free Jonathan Pollard”, left me with no words, simply speechless. I stand ashamed that even my friends forsake and slander Pollard in this way. Bret Stephens’ attack on the Israeli spy, who for a good part of that time has been held in conditions worse than those in which Gilad Schalit was held, is based on two blood libels: that Pollard was a “wacko” and that he was a “mercenary” who betrayed the United States for money. Stephens also implies that Pollard’s character, not his deeds, are on trial. It is very hard to understand why so many US Jews work on themselves to hate Jonathan Pollard. The French essayst René Girard used to call it “the scapeagot”. Pollard reminds one of the Chinese dissidente who, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, were publicly indicted with a sign calling them “traitor”. Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker has been putting forward the idea that Pollard was a“cocaine addict” and an “alcoholic”, deep in debt and that is why he succumbed to the Israeli offer of money for passing along secret documents (I happen to know real drug-addicted journalists who don’t deserve to sit in the same jail as Jonathan Pollard). Bret Stephens embraced this version, while the truth is somewhere else entirely: Pollard sought out the Israelis and volunteered to give, not sell, secrets to Israel about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons under construction by Iraq and other Arab states for use against the Jewish people. Pollard worked for six months without receiving any payment from the Israelis, and never did ask for any money in exchange for his services. The lies against Pollard have been purposely disseminated to undermine his credibility, to demonize him, to defame him, as a witness to the undeclared Intelligence embargo instituted against Israel by Caspar Weinberger. Otherwise, Bret, how can you explain that Shimon Peres and the late Yitzhak Rabin approved Pollard’s work? Pollard’s ideological bona fides have been proven many times. Even the sentencing judge, Aubrey Robinson, acknowledged that Pollard was an ideologue and not a mercenary. And yet, in spite of this, virtually all of the most influential Jewish voices in America remain silent. How long is the list of respected writers, opinion makers and journalists who routinely have a great deal to say about Jewish issues, but nothing about Jonathan Pollard, or worse, ask Barack Obama not to grant him clemency? It would be easier to list those who fought and wrote for Pollard’s liberation. They are very few. Incredibly, the Jewish spokesmen claim to be “pro-Israel”, but their actions and words betray their claim. Pollard is the latest of a long list of Jews and their helpers betrayed by the so called “Jewish establishment”, including the ghetto fighters, Yair Stern, the lost Yemenite children, the Lebanese Christians, Gush Katif’s pioneers. For years, only brave Arutz Sheva fought for the safety and liberation of Jonathan Pollard, while the Israeli media establishment demolished any chance of his liberation. Jonathan was put away for life not because he endangered the US, but because he irritated US Arab allies who felt that Israel had been too much strengthened; and second, because he made Israel impervious to American pressure. What Pollard endangered was the US administration’s pro-Arab political agenda, not the intelligence community. The recently released CIA documents clearly show that Pollard focused on “Arab (and Pakistani) nuclear intelligence; Arab weaponry, including chemical weapons; Soviet aircraft; Soviet air defences; Soviet air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles; and Arab order-of-battle, deployments, readiness”. Pollard passed Israel photos of the PLO headquarters in Tunis, secret information about Libya’s air defenses, Syrian chemical weapons, Egyptian ballistic missile capabilities, and the Pakistani atomic program. Is that a crime worthy of a life sentence, Bret? Not being allowed to attend your father’s funeral? Pollard obtained the most exact U.S.-gathered information about Iraqi chemical warfare capabilities, including satellite pictures and maps showing the location of factories and storage facilities. The United States did not want to make such specific information available to Israel, fearing a preemptive strike. Why did Israel stockpile several million gas masks for the protection of the entire population in 1991 and 2003? Because of Pollard. And the United States, which didn’t bomb Auschwitz, is now letting Pollard die in jail. “It would have been an outright betrayal of my heritage, my personal integrity and an entire family lost in the ovens of the Holocaust if I had simply taken the safe route and closed my eyes to what had to be done”, once declared Pollard. Is this the “wacko Jew” whom many wealthy, “in” US Jews desperately want to keep behind bars? I stand ashamed that even my friends betrayed Pollard, who should be not only freed but also rehabilitated as a savior of the Israeli people. If they don’t consider his liberation a cause worth of fighting for, it means that all the rambling speeches of these Jewish commentators, with their expensive houses in Chevy Chase and on Park Avenue, are good for nothing but wrapping fish in the market .


The new face of Likud

January 8, 2013

Until now, Danny Danon was a marginal character from the extremist back benches. In the next Knesset, he will be at the heart of Israel’s ruling party

(Times Of Israel) One of the most important events in Danny Danon’s life happened in 1969, two years before he was born.
That was the year Joseph Danon, a 29-year-old army reservist, was pursuing a Palestinian guerrilla cell in the Jordan Valley. When battle was joined, one of the Palestinians threw a grenade and Danon was hit by shrapnel. He emerged from a coma after several months, having suffered a serious head wound. He was rendered permanently deaf.
Many of Danny Danon’s childhood memories are of serving as his father’s interpreter at banks and government offices and of going on hikes across the country and then reporting back to their home in Ramat Gan, describing the routes and the landscapes to his father, once an avid hiker himself but now too infirm to come along.
“We would re-enact the hike at home,” Danon said in a recent interview. “Despite his injury, he managed to get across the message of knowing the country and loving the country.”
Danon began reading books about the underground groups that fought the British in pre-state Palestine, and learned the sites of battles from David and Goliath to the Yom Kippur War. That, he says, gave him a strong connection to the geography of Israel. Interpreting for his father, he said, “gave me the confidence to speak and argue and say what I think.”
In 4th grade, he remembered, he once argued with a teacher about the event that still serves as a dividing line in Israeli politics — the sinking of the Irgun weapons ship “Altalena” off the coast of Tel Aviv in 1948 on the orders of David Ben-Gurion, who feared a rightist putsch. Menachem Begin, the Irgun leader and future Likud prime minister, was on board. Ben-Gurion’s commander on the scene was Yitzhak Rabin, the future Labor prime minister.
“She said Begin was to blame,” Danon recalled. “I said Rabin was to blame.”
Danon’s mother was born in pre-state Israel — “a Palestinian from Palestine,” Danon says. His father came from Egypt as part of the mass exodus of Jews from Arab lands; Joseph Danon died of complications linked to his combat injury when Danny was 22.
Anyone paying attention to the stream of hardline rhetoric and legislation emanating from the Israeli right in the last four years will have noticed Danon’s name attached to much of it — attempts to disqualify certain Arab lawmakers, or to make getting an ID card contingent on a loyalty oath, or to hem in leftist groups by outlawing contributions to nonprofits from foreign governments. Last May, he declared at a rally that illegal African migrants — “infiltrators,” in the lingo of the right — had set up an “enemy state” in south Tel Aviv. After the rally, some Israelis attacked Africans who happened to pass by.

Danon is not a joke. He is not crazy. And he is no longer a back-bencher

Danon has mostly been described as a fringe character from Likud’s rabid back benches. Recently, the country’s most popular satire show, Eretz Nehederet — “Wonderful Country” — began mocking him as a lonely and weird teenager with acne scars.
But Danon is not a joke. He is not crazy. And he is no longer a back-bencher. Years of smart maneuvering inside the Likud catapulted Danon to the ninth spot on the joint Likud-Beytenu list for the upcoming election, putting him ahead of veteran politicians like Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and security figures like Moshe Ya’alon, the former army chief of staff. The same primary vote banished Dan Meridor, a prominent moderate, and Benny Begin, a principled hardliner of the old school and Menachem Begin’s son, to unrealistic slots at the bottom of the list and ensured they would no longer be members of Knesset.
Along with Danon, the Likud vote strengthened other candidates who believe in building settlements and in eternal Israeli control over the West Bank, dismissing what that would mean for Israel’s Jewish majority or its democracy, and who have acted to constrain state agencies or civil organizations which might impede their goals.
It further brought in Moshe Feiglin at number 22 on the list. Feiglin supports building the Third Temple in Jerusalem, has suggested that Arabs not be allowed to vote in national elections, and once told a reporter, “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic.” Feiglin’s inclusion has accomplished the admirable feat of making Danon appear moderately right-leaning and Netanyahu a staunch liberal.
The Likud primary vote put Danon and his vision at the center of power in the party and within reach of a post in the cabinet. Netanyahu, outmaneuvered, is outnumbered in his own party. Menachem Begin is long dead, and his son is in the political wilderness. Anyone following Israeli politics after this election will have to get used to the fact that today Danny Danon is Likud.

Danon lays a symbolic cornerstone for new Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, November, 2009. Settlements, Danon says, "are not an obstacle to peace" (Flash90)

Danon lays a symbolic cornerstone for new Jewish construction in East Jerusalem, November 2009. Settlements, Danon says, ‘are not an obstacle to peace’ (photo credit: Flash90)

Danon, 41, lives in Moshav Mishmeret, in central Israel. His wife is a dietitian and they have three children, the oldest 11 and the youngest 5.
For those who are used to his strident public persona, Danon’s personal demeanor can come as a surprise. He is polite and well-spoken, his answers polished and his words chosen with care. He spurns the informal dress of many Israeli politicians for a suit of a conservative congressional blue. He comes across less as a rabble-rouser than as someone who has correctly gauged the fears, frustrations and dreams of Israel’s right, shares them, and has done a canny job of riding them to power.
Danon began trying his hand at politics at his secular high school, participating in the school’s branch of Techiya, a now-dormant rightist faction. After serving in the army as an education officer with Jewish teenagers coming from abroad for a taste of Israeli military life — a distinctly noncombat position — he became active in the Zionist youth movement Beitar and spent time doing organizational work in Miami, Florida.
In 2006 he ran an upstart campaign for the leadership of Likud’s international arm, World Likud, beating out Netanyahu’s candidate, Yuval Steinitz, who is now the finance minister. He entered the Knesset in 2009, and became associated with a new bloc of young MKs in the party who made a habit of attacking Netanyahu from the right, opposing the few conciliatory moves the prime minister wanted to make toward the Palestinians — such as announcing a partial housing freeze in the West Bank in 2009 to assuage American displeasure and allow talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to go ahead.
Netanyahu made the move in order to salvage Israel’s deteriorating ties with the administration of US President Barack Obama, but Danon saw it as an unacceptable admission that the Jewish presence in the West Bank was illegitimate or temporary. His vocal opposition to his party leader’s policy brought him substantial national attention and bolstered his position among the party’s base.

Danon believes his hardline positions have helped Netanyahu in his ties with the US. Netanyahu in Jerusalem last week (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90)
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

Danon believes his hardline positions have helped Netanyahu fend off international pressure. Netanyahu in Jerusalem last week

“The settlements are not an obstacle to peace,” Danon said. “After the disengagement from Gaza, the public freed itself of the idea that this is about the settlements, and about land for peace.”
Danon believed he was both expressing a necessary truth and doing Netanyahu a tactical favor — allowing the prime minister to point to the internal political challenge mounted by Danon and others to show Israel’s allies and critics abroad why the freeze was a major concession and why it could not be extended.
“It was important to Netanyahu that my voice be heard, and I know he used it, in the US and Europe, when he talked about his domestic difficulties,” Danon said.
Netanyahu has said he supports the idea of a Palestinian state, though some in his own party doubt his sincerity, as do many outside it. Even if that is Netanyahu’s goal, he no longer has a majority inside Danon’s Likud.
Danon’s platform is virtually indistinguishable from that of the ascendant Jewish Home party, a religious pro-settlement faction that supports annexing nearly two-thirds of the West Bank and leaving Palestinians in enclaves surrounded by Israeli territory. Likud has been bleeding votes to Jewish Home despite an attempt to attack the smaller party as too extreme — an attempt that is doomed to fail, given the current makeup of Likud. Jewish Home appears to many voters from the ideological right as more pure than Netanyahu’s party, which has been tainted by the compromises necessary to govern.
Danon believes Palestinians in the West Bank should be given “autonomy” in their cities and towns, but that their state is actually Jordan and their blocs of territory should be linked politically with the Hashemite Kingdom to the east. The Palestinians of Gaza can look to Egypt. Israel will directly govern most of the territory, have security control of the rest, and continue to build settlements, somehow remaining a Jewish democracy while ruling over more than 2 million Palestinians who are denied equal rights. The Palestinians, and the world, will live with it.
Does he believe the plan is realistic?
“Nothing is realistic,” Danon said.
That rather apt take on where the prospects of peace stand has a lot to do with Danon’s own rise within the Israeli right and with why the right will win this election.
“In terms of dealing with Arab nations, many Israelis today have gone back to the warrior mentality of David Ben-Gurion,” Danon wrote in a book he published last year, “Israel: The Will to Prevail.” “We’re sick of hollow accords and grand ceremonies done for the camera’s sake.”

Politicians of the right have taken to citing Ben-Gurion as their model for ignoring international opinion, quoting his oft-repeated line, ‘The question is not what the goyim say, but what the Jews do’

Ben-Gurion, he wrote, “was willing to pay a price for the security of Israel in international opprobrium, and so it is with a new generation of Israeli leaders. We also understand the necessity of shaping our fate by our own hands. If we have to pay a price with the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, so be it.”
Politicians of the right, both from Likud and Jewish Home, have taken to citing Ben-Gurion as their model for ignoring international opinion, quoting his oft-repeated line, “The question is not what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.” That quote is featured in a Jewish Home video, for example, explaining why annexing most of the West Bank would be a good idea.
Ben-Gurion detested Likud’s ideological forebears and would almost certainly have detested their descendants. He was keenly aware of international opinion, and ensured Israel was always allied with a greater power. Some remember that he famously declared that when faced with the choice between the entire land of Israel and a Jewish state, “we chose a Jewish state.” That adage does not appear popular among candidates from Likud or Jewish Home.
While Netanyahu has been circumspect in public about his presumed affinity for the Republican party, Danon has been openly critical of the current US administration, writing in his book of the “growing irrelevance” of American influence under Obama and suggesting that “confidence in the US as a stabilizing force is eroding.”
“The Obama administration support for the Palestinian position and their engagement of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt call the strength of its support for Israel into question,” he writes. Danon is proud of his contacts with influential figures in the US; he mentioned TV host Glenn Beck and one-time Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.
But at the same time, he says ties with the US administration are “very good,” pointing, as do other politicians of the right, to security cooperation over the last four years — the point being that Israel can continue its current policies without causing undue harm to the country’s most important strategic relationship. His own plans for the permanent disenfranchisement of the Palestinians notwithstanding, Danon says he believes “Obama and Netanyahu will work together this time.”
In any case, he said, peace is off the table in the near future.
“In the short term there are two options: One is what’s happening now in Judea and Samaria, where the conflict is being managed,” he said. “The other is what’s happening in Gaza, which is chaos. I choose the one in Judea and Samaria, which is not ideal, but at least we’re in control.”
“Our area is so dynamic and dangerous that you can’t afford to make mistakes,” he said. “If I told you three years ago that Hosni Mubarak would be in a cage in Cairo, or that Assad was going to fall, you would have said I was crazy.”
In January 2013, it would be hard to find many Israelis, on the left or right, who would disagree. The electorate is currently split over whether a peace agreement and a withdrawal from the West Bank would theoretically be desirable, not about whether those things are practically possible now. Almost everyone knows they are not. After years of rocket fire from Gaza, and with the old Mideast disintegrating around Israel and morphing into something that will probably be markedly more dangerous, it is not only ideological rightists who look at a city like Jerusalem, for example, with its heterogeneous and combustible population, imagine an Israeli withdrawal, and see the specter of Aleppo.
The left has failed to present voters with a clear or credible alternative. The right has: control the West Bank forever. That vision now dominates the right and is set to dominate the next Knesset.
For guidance, Danon says, he looks to Vladimir Jabotinsky, the ideologue of Revisionist Zionism, who said Jews must build an “iron wall” of military force that would ensure their safety in Israel.
“We’re not there yet,” Danon said. “Today there are forces in the area who still think they can get rid of us with force. When we create a real iron wall, it will be possible to think about peace agreements.”
_________
This is the fifth in a series of profiles of political players leading up to Israel’s national election on January 22, 2013. Previous installments featured the renegade rabbi Haim Amsalem ;retired general Elazar Stern; Ayelet Shaked, a secular candidate in the religious party Jewish Home; and Omer Barlev, a former commando and hi-tech entrepreneur.
Find Matti Friedman on Twitter and Facebook.


Into the Fray: Ill-considered, inappropriate and inadequate

December 15, 2012
12/13/2012 21:40

In response to the Palestinians UN initiative for non-member statehood, Israel must impose permanent penalties, not make provocative proclamations.

You never let a serious crisis go to waste…. What I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. – Rahm Emanuel
The Palestinian leadership, abetted by many Western governments, has now torn up every agreement made with Israel… By essentially unilaterally declaring the existence of an Arab Palestine, the world has abrogated that [Oslo] agreement. – Prof. Barry Rubin
The Palestinian Authority is a fictional entity. It continues to exist only because of the IDF…. We should let it fall apart…. – Prof. Efraim Inbar
The recent decision to announce approval for construction of thousands of housing units in the E1 area east of Jerusalem in response to the Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood at the UN reflected yet another grave error of judgment by the Israeli authorities.
Relegating rights to retaliation
Of course, this is not to say that Israel should refrain from building on the 11.7-sq.km. area atop the barren hills, adjacent to the eastern fringes of the capital, joining it to the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, with its 40,000 strong Jewish population.
Of course it should not. The development of Jerusalem’s east flank should be considered no more than the natural urban growth of the city — an indisputable Zionist imperative, expressed and endorsed by virtually every government over the past four decades.
Indeed, it was none other than Israel’s current president Shimon Peres, who as minister of defense in Yitzhak Rabin’s government in 1977, urged Israel to “create a continuous stretch of new settlements; to bolster Jerusalem and the surrounding hills, from the north, from the east, and from the south and from the west, by means of the establishment of townships, suburbs and villages – Ma’aleh Adumin, Ofra, Gilo, Beit El, Givon…to ensure that the capital and its flanks are secured, and underpinned by urban and rural settlements.”
Significantly, most the locations cited by Peres in the above except are considerably farther from Jerusalem than the much maligned E1 site, which is less than 6.5 km. from the city center and the historic King David Hotel, itself some 1.5 km. from the Knesset.
But lamentably, by deciding to approve construction plans hard on the heels of UN General Assembly Resolution A/67/L.28 granting the Palestinians non-member state status, the government gave the unfortunate impression that its action was more one of retaliation, rather than an exercise of a self-evident, nonnegotiable right.
The timing and context of the E1 approval conveyed the unequivocal impression that had the Palestinians refrained from the UN bid, Israel would have refrained from authorizing the construction.
It thus reduced what should have been considered an unconditional right to a conditioned tit-for-tat response. Rather than being seen as a substantively valid initiative, an indispensable Zionist initiative was perceived as being relegated to a spiteful reaction.
An unavoidable imperative
Paradoxically – or is that perversely? – even figures on the far Left have articulated the rationale for the development of E1. For example, in a recent posting on the radical — indeed as designated by some, anti- Zionist – website +972Magazine, perennial Palestinian apologist Larry Derfner made a presumably unintentional, but compelling, case for construction in the disputed area.
In a piece titled “Israeli consensus much prefers Ma’aleh Adumim to peace,” he writes: “Ma’aleh Adumim, 4.5 kilometers east of Jerusalem, built in 1975, is…deep in the heart of the national consensus. Ma’aleh Adumim is thought of, correctly, as a suburb of Jerusalem; the people aren’t popularly regarded as settlers but as average middle-class Israelis; in past elections, a decent percentage of them voted Labor, and a few even voted Meretz.”
In what one can only assume is an attempt at disparaging sarcasm, he continues, peppering his prose with profanities, presumably permissible in progressive postings:
“It’s not one of those ‘tiny, isolated settlements,’ it’s a ‘settlement bloc,’ it’s one of the ‘Jerusalem-area’ settlements, it ‘protects Jerusalem’ by being on the high ground nearby, it gives Israel ‘defensible borders’ – it’s a Jerusalem security defensible borders settlement bloc with 40,000 people, for fuck’s sake, do you want to give that up, are you crazy?”
Then, apparently endeavoring to show that Ma’aleh Adumin and peace are incompatible, Derfner drives the following point home powerfully: “And here’s the thing – to keep Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel has to build E1, those thousands of homes connecting it to Jerusalem, because otherwise the only thing connecting it to the capital will be a thin highway with nothing but Palestine on either side. Indefensible. Not viable. Ma’aleh Adumim would be isolated. So if you want to keep it – and who doesn’t, except the left-wing fringe? – you have to build E1.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself, Larry.
Inescapable conclusions
Whatever his motivations, Derfner’s analysis is spot on and underscores dramatically why it was a serious misjudgment to allow the development of E1 to be seen as a response precipitated by the Palestinian UN initiative. For unless Ma’aleh Adumim is to be abandoned — something which no Israeli government over the last 40 years has ever contemplated – it can only be secured by “welding” it to Jerusalem — which in turn requires undertaking the construction planned in E1.
It therefore makes little sense to predicate such a national necessity on what the Palestinians may or may not do. After all, even if the Palestinians were to take the inconceivable step of rescinding their UN accomplishment, it would not diminish the need to build in the contentious area.
This brings up several interesting questions on the issue of territorial contiguity, which opponents of the E1 project have raised vociferously, wailing that it would cut Bethlehem off from Ramallah, thus dooming any possibility of a two-state solution (TSS).
These claims are demonstrably bogus, as even a cursory glance at the map would reveal.
One can only wonder whether TSS advocates realize how such claims undermine the basic rationale of their case. For if the viability of a Palestinian state can be irreparably jeopardized by a construction project on 11.7 uninhabited sq.km., if the whole notion of Palestinian independence stands or falls on whether such a project is implemented or not, surely then the entire TSS-concept is so ludicrously fragile that it is operationally untenable.
The question of contiguity
But of course the question of territorial contiguity is entirely contrived.
Even without going into the discussion of the options of connecting these two towns, barely 15 km. miles apart, by elaborate systems of tunnels/ over-passes that traverse E1, laying down a new road bypassing Ma’aleh Adumim from the west, rather than from the east, would hardly be an insurmountable engineering feat. True, this might make Palestinians’ journey somewhat longer, but it would still probably be shorter than the drive from downtown Los Angeles to Malibu along Sunset Boulevard.
By contrast, however, if the E1 project is not implemented, Ma’aleh Adumim and its tens of thousands of Jewish residents would have a real problem of contiguity. As Derfer points out — or perhaps, hopes — it would be an isolated enclave “with nothing but Palestine on either side. Indefensible. Not viable…”
It is more than a little bewildering to hear howls of hysteria from TSS-proponents, protesting that the possible need for a detour in the route between Bethlehem and Ramallah would critically undermine the viability of a Palestinian state, yet who see no problem in including the far-more detached, and far-more distant Gaza Strip in their envisioned entity.
One can only shake one’s head in puzzlement as to why they would raise such a bogus brouhaha over an essentially nonexistent contiguity problem, yet accept with total equanimity the virtually insoluble difficulty of the geographical disconnect between the “West Bank” and Gaza, where almost 40 percent of the population of the putative Palestine state reside.
Go figure.
Ill-considered, inappropriate, inadequate
The preceding paragraphs underscore why the government’s E1 decision, while substantively valid, was, in the context that it was taken, strategically inappropriate, politically ill-considered and operationally inadequate.
It inflicted no real retribution on the Palestinians in practical terms, yet it precipitated a maelstrom of diplomatic censure and again raised evermore tangibly the threat of economic sanctions, which may, as in the past, result in the declared Israeli measures being suspended or even totally abandoned, and in effect reward rather than punish the Palestinians.
I am not suggesting that Israel balk at the unwarranted display of international ire, but that if it is going to incur the wrath of the world, it might as well be for measures that have real and lasting — indeed permanent — strategic effects.
What would such measures entail?
The required recipe is implicit in the three introductory excerpts, which lay out:
1. The principle enunciated by Rahm Emanuel (Utilizing a crisis to facilitate actions which otherwise would not be undertaken);
2. The opportunity identified by Barry Rubin (The effective abrogation of the Oslo Accords by the world); and
3. The measures prescribed by Efraim Inbar (Let the Palestinian Authority fall apart).
Punitive penalties not provocative proclamations
The policy that flows from this prescription, and constitutes the fitting Israeli response to the Palestinians’ internationally endorsed “diplomatic aggression” at the UN, should comprise penalties that are permanently punitive – not mere proclamations that are little more than politically provocative.
As I hinted at last week, the first measure is to make it clear to the Palestinians — and to their international supporters — that if it is independence they demand, then independent they will have to be.
Accordingly, Israel must convey in unequivocal terms that forthwith it will cease to provide every service and merchandise that it provides them today. In other words, no water, no electricity, no fuel, no postal services, no communications, no port facilities, no tax collection or remittances will be supplied by Israel.
If sovereignty is their goal, then sovereign they will have to be.
After all, what possible claim could be invoked to coerce one sovereign entity to provide for another purportedly sovereign entity – and an overtly adversarial one at that? When Israel declared its independence in 1948, no Arab country rushed to help it develop and evolve.
Quite the opposite. The Arab world imposed embargoes and boycotts on it — and on anyone with the temerity to conduct commerce with it.
Mitigating the humanitarian impact
This message need not be delivered in a provocative, confrontational public statement but through confidential diplomatic channels to all concerned parties.
Although discretely conveyed, there should be no doubt as to Israel’s resolve to implement its stated intent — or as to the repercussions thereof: The Palestinians will have to find alternative sources for their utility requirements and day-to-day needs.
Without Israeli support — both military and monetary — it is an open question as to whether the Palestinian Authority will implode within a matter of weeks or months.
The mendacious mantle of Palestinian nationhood must once and for all be ripped asunder. It must be underscored that the burden of maintaining this fictional fabrication will fall to those nations that endorsed it – should they care to shoulder such an onerous and expensive responsibility.
It may be surprising how rapidly international appetite for Palestinian statehood wanes if its sponsors realize that they will have to bear the financial consequences of its sustenance.
Such measures are undoubtedly likely to precipitate great socioeconomic hardships for the Palestinians, which Israel should endeavor to mitigate.
It should do so — as I have prescribed in detail in numerous columns – by offering Palestinians wishing to extricate themselves from the unenviable predicament wrought upon them by their incompetent, corrupt leadership – and by their myopic and malevolent supporters abroad — generous relocation grants that will enable them to seek happier lives in some alternative country of their choice.
Far-fetched or feasible?
Of course, there will be those who are skeptical as to the feasibility of such prescriptions. And indeed, numerous operational aspects of its implementation —which regrettably cannot be detailed in a single column — need to be fleshed out.
But the skeptical and the fainthearted should remember that with sufficient resources, Israel managed to develop and deploy unprecedented defense systems such as the Iron Dome to withstand physical attacks.
There is no reason to believe that, with a commensurate investment of ingenuity and resources, an “Iron Dome” to withstand political attacks could not be devised and deployed.
After all, in the grim days of the 1950s when the country was hanging on by a thread, engulfed by waves of immigration, with its fledgling economy teetering on collapse and surrounded by a sea of Arab aggression, who would have believed that Zionism would outlast Communism; that the nascent nano-state Israel would outlive the mega-Soviet empire; that a struggling agrarian economy would within a few decades become one of the world’s leaders in industry and technology.
As once someone said: If you will it, it is no dream.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

contiguous for you. contiguous for me. contiguous money to get the fuck out of our way and no we won’t fund our own destruction because of Oslo anymore


The scourge of clientitis

November 23, 2011
IDF clientitis - Shahak Shaath.jpg(Caroline Glick) For many years, observers of the US State Department on both sides of the American political spectrum have agreed that State Department officials suffer from a malady referred to as “clientitis.” Clientitis is generally defined as a state of mind in which representatives of an organization confuse their roles.
Rather than advance the cause of their organization to outside organizations, they represent the interests of outside organizations to their own organizations. In some cases, diplomats are simply corrupted by their host governments. For generations US diplomats to Saudi Arabia have received lucrative post-government service jobs at Saudi-owned or controlled companies, public relations firms and other institutions.
Often, the problem is myopia rather than corruption.
Diplomats who speak to foreign government officials on a daily basis often simply ignore the context in which these foreigners operate. They become friends with their interlocutors and forget that the latter are also agents of their governments tasked with promoting foreign interests in their dealings with US diplomats.
In Israel the situation is similar. Here, too, Foreign Ministry officials have a tendency to give preference to the positions of the governments or institutions to which they are assigned over the interests and positions of the Israeli government that sent them to their posts.
For instance, in September 2008, shortly after the UN allowed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to use his speech at the UN General Assembly to accuse the Jews of controlling the world in a bid to poison and destroy it, then-Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev gave an interview to Army Radio in which she said her primary duty is “correcting the UN’s image in the eyes of the people of Israel.”
Since the scourge of clientitis among diplomats is widely recognized, governments are often able to consider its impact on diplomats when they weigh the credibility or wisdom of recommendations presented by their professional diplomats.
LESS WELL recognized and therefore largely unconsidered is how clientitis has negatively impacted the positions of military commanders.
Clientitis first became prevalent in the US Armed Forces and the IDF in the 1990s. In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, the Clinton administration began transforming in earnest the US armed forces’ role from war fighting to nation building. In Israel, with the onset of the peace process with the PLO in 1993, the IDF was ordered to change its operating guidelines. From then on, peacemaking was to take priority over war fighting and defeating terrorists.
Since September 11, 2011, the US military has vastly expanded its nation building roles around the world.US military commanders are promoted more for prowess in acting as diplomats-in-uniform than for their capacity to train and employ soldiers to kill and defeat the enemy. Commanders deployed to train the al-Qaida-infested Yemeni or Afghan militaries; liaise with the Hizbullah-dominated Lebanese Armed Forces; or train the Iranian-penetrated Iraqi military have little personal incentive to warn against these missions.
So, too, in working with their local counterparts on a daily basis, like their State Department colleagues, these US military officers have a marked tendency to ignore the broader context in which their local colleagues operate. And so, like their civilian colleagues at the US embassies in these countries, military commanders have a tendency to become the representatives of their foreign counterparts to the Pentagon and to Congress.
In the case of the IDF, in 1993 the entire General Staff was encouraged to embrace clientitis. Then prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin’s decision in 1993 to appoint IDF commanders to lead negotiations with the PLO politicized the IDF to an unprecedented degree. Only generals who completely supported the peace process and forced their underlings to completely support it could expect promotion.
This political corruption of the IDF survived the destruction of the peace process in 2000. Due to successive governments’ decisions to continue negotiating with the Palestinian Authority despite its refusal to make peace with Israel and its sponsorship of terrorism, the IDF has continued to participate in negotiations with the PA and lead liaison efforts with the Palestinian security forces.
As a consequence, whether due to the political views of officers on the ground, to institutional corrosion, or to officers’ inability to view the statements of their Palestinian counterparts in the broader context of Palestinian and regional power politics, these IDF “peacemakers” act as the PA security services chief lobbyists to both the Israeli and US governments.
IN RECENT conversations with senior sources on Capitol Hill, it became apparent that American military trainers who work with the Lebanese Armed Forces were highly influential in convincing Congress to end its opposition to renewed US military assistance to the LAF.
Congress put a temporary hold on US military assistance to Lebanon in August 2010 after a Lebanese army sniper murdered IDF Lt.-Col. Dov Harari and critically wounded Capt. Ezra Lakia. Both officers were stationed on the Israeli side of the border.
In April, when Hizbullah gained control over the new Lebanese government, the Obama administration again temporarily froze military assistance to the LAF.
In September Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Hizbullah-controlled Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati that the US would renew its assistance. In October, the Pentagon hosted Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Kahwagi on an official visit.
According to Congressional sources, Congress has permitted continued military assistance to Lebanon, despite Hizbullah’s control over both the government and the armed forces, because of the outspoken support of the US military for the military assistance program.
So too, according to Congressional sources. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen’s decision to end her committee’s block on US military assistance to the PA’s security forces owed to IDF pressure to renew the assistance. That assistance was cut off in September following the PA’s bid to achieve statehood at the UN.
Following the aid cut-off Palestinian commanders warned that if the US did not renew its financial support for the US trained Palestinian security services, its soldiers would seek funding from elsewhere – including from terror sponsoring governments like Iran and Syria, and from Hamas, and Hizbullah.
Obviously these warnings were nothing more than acts of extortion. And despite outcries from the Obama administration, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen held firm.
However, according to senior Congressional sources, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen was unable to brush off entreaties by IDF commanders asking that the US renew its funding of these forces. Two weeks ago – just as the PA renewed its unity talks with Hamas – she lifted her committee’s block on military assistance to the PA.
THE IDEA that governments gain leverage over other governments by assisting them is not a new one. And it is certainly true. However, in all cases, the leverage gained by assisting foreign governments owes entirely to the other governments’ understanding that such assistance can and will be ended if they fail to meet certain benchmarks of behavior that are dictated from the outset.
Once a government’s threat of aid cut-off to another government is removed or is no longer credible, then the leverage the provision of aid afforded that government is lost. So long as the Palestinians believe that Israel will never cut off its support for Fatah and the PA security services, they will continue to sponsor terror and collaborate with Hamas and other terror groups without fear.
So long as LAF officers and soldiers believe that Hizbullah’s threat to attack the LAF is more credible than the US’s stated willingness to end its support for the Lebanese military, the LAF will continue to openly support war against Israel and collaborate with Hizbullah.
Proof that a state’s ability to leverage its foreign aid owes entirely to the credibility of a threat to cut off that aid came earlier this month in the aftermath of UNESCO’s decision to grant full state membership to “Palestine.” Due to US law, the Obama administration had no choice but to cut off all US funding to UNESCO in response to the move. As a consequence, the PLO’s bid to gain full membership in other UN institutions has floundered.
Not wishing to suffer UNESCO’s fate, no other UN institutions are willing to repeat UNESCO’s action And so the Palestinians’ great victory at UNESCO has become a Pyrrhic one.
The Obama administration never sought this outcome. As his representatives have made abundantly clear, if US President Barack Obama had the power to maintain US budgetary support for UNESCO despite its conferral of membership on “Palestine,” he would have done so.
But because the law is not subject to interpretation, US leverage over the UN actually increased in the aftermath of the UNESCO vote. Recognizing that actions have consequences, other UN agencies have buried plans of granting membership to “Palestine.”
Governments must give due consideration to the positions of their professional diplomats and military commanders as well as to those of allied countries when they weigh various policy options. But while doing so, legislators and policymakers must also take into account the built-in biases influencing the judgment of these professionals. Clientitis is a serious impediment to good judgment. And it is found wherever professionals are charged with building relationships, rather than achieving concrete goals.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.