Voice of the White House
May 9, 2018
Washington, D.C.: In the history of Israeli espionage in and against the United States, the case of Jonathan Pollard was certainly the most heinous. Stanford graduate Pollard, a civilian U.S. naval intelligence analyst, provided Israeli intelligence with an estimated 800,000 pages of highly classified top secret U.S. intelligence information. An FBI report indicates that Pollard stole more secret documents than any other American traitor in history. Among other things, Pollard stole a 10 volume guide to the means by which the NSA intercepted foreign intelligence messages and a thick computer file of U.S. agent reports from foreign countries that easily pin-pointed the agent and their locale. Pollard also supplied his handlers many highly classified U.S. codes. The Israelis in turn immediately passed this stolen information to the Soviets, thereby compromising American intelligence (CIA and U.S. Military) agents in the field – a significant number of whom were captured and killed as a result.
Israel at first denied, and then, faced with overwhelming evidence, admitted, (after he was arrested in 1985, convicted and sentenced to life in prison) that they were well aware of Pollard's connections to the Mossad and an Israeli Air Force intelligence unit working out of the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.
The case created severe strains in American-Israeli relations and is a source of ongoing rage for many American Jews who believe that since Pollard was spying for Israel, he had an imperative obligation to do this and that his life sentence was unduly harsh.
Many Jewish groups in the United States, acting in concert with high level Israeli officials have constantly importuned American Presidents to pardon Pollard and permit him to emigrate to Israel where he has been promised a large sum of cash and a seat in the Israeli Knesset.
Pollard also offered top secret U.S. government documents to other countries besides Israel according to The New York Times on January 16, 1999.
Any attempt to understand the official U.S. response to any accusations of Israeli espionage in the United States as well as to comprehend the media response must take into account both the smoke screen that states blow over incidents that could jeopardize their strategic alliances, and America's unique and complex relationship with Israel. The Jewish state is a close if problematic ally with whom the United States enjoys a 'special relationship' unlike that maintained with any other nation in the world.
But U.S. and Israeli interests do not always coincide, and spying has always been deemed to cross a line, to represent a fundamental violation of trust. According to intelligence sources, the United States might perhaps secretly tolerate some Israeli spying on U.S. soil if the American government decided that it was in our interest, such as observation and infiltration of pro-Palestine Arab groups legally resident in the United States (although it could never be acknowledged), but certain types of spying will simply not be accepted by the United States, whether the spying is carried out by Israel or anyone else.
The powerful pro-Israel political constituencies in Congress; pro-Israel lobbies; the Bush administration’s strong support for Israel, and its strategic and political interest in maintaining close ties with the Jewish state as a partner in the “war against terror”; the devastating consequences for U.S.-Israeli relations if it was suspected that Israeli agents might have known about the Sept. 11 attack — all these factors explain why the U.S. government might publicly downplay any public accusation of Israeli espionage against the United States and forcefully conceal any investigation that might be expected to produce results unacceptable to the Israel lobby and the American Jewish community that firmly supports it.
The pro-Israel lobby is an enormous and very powerful force in American politics. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is the No. 1 foreign-policy lobby in Washington DC and the fourth most powerful lobby in Washington DC, according to Fortune Magazine. Other powerful and influential pro-Israel groups include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).