I realize that policymakers are frustrated that it is taking so long to bring about peace between Arabs and Israelis. I understand that those who are working on the peace process must be looking for some ingenious short cut to a just and lasting peace. In many ways, I don’t blame them; were I working on bringing about peace between Arabs and Israelis, I would likely be frustrated too.
But nothing–nothing–justifies the insane idea of releasing Jonathan Pollard to the Israelis in the hopes of winning concessions from Israel relating to the peace talks. Indeed, it boggles the mind and leaves one smacked by gob to think that American policymakers might be trying to link Pollard’s fate to the peace process. To recap history: Jonathan Pollard betrayed the United States by spying for a foreign power. His actions were against the law, and he pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. He should pay the price for his crimes, and he should pay that price in full. There is no connection–and there should be no connection–between Pollard’s fate and that of the peace process and any effort to link the two should be fought by the United States.
It makes precisely no sense whatsoever for the United States to signal that espionage activities directed against America eventually pay. And it is impossible to see how Pollard’s release would convince the Israelis to compromise on any of their negotiating points in the peace talks; to the extent that either side compromises, it will likely be because it will see any compromise as necessary to the advancement of larger security interests. It will not be because a mediating superpower involved in the peace talks released a prisoner to one side, thereby inducing it to drop certain negotiating demands of greater strategic consequence.
I can only hope that any reports that Pollard might be released are greatly exaggerated. If Pollard is released to Israel, it will signal a pronounced lack of seriousness on the part of the United States in terms of punishing enemy spies, and it will not advance the peace process one iota. Can we get away from this crazy idea, please? And can the person/people who thought the idea up get fired?