It is no secret that nations spy on each other. They always have. Just think of Moses and Joshua sending spies into Canaan. That’s what you should expect and be prepared for, both defensively and offensively if necessary. Whether it is through individual contacts, so-called diplomats, arms dealers, shady fifth men, electronic surveillance, or hacking. The benefit of internet technology is that it is less and less possible to hide what nefarious activities go on.
We have known for a long time that where there are peace treaties, in addition to the publicly available official terms, there have always been unofficial side deals, national and personal, not divulged to the public for all kinds of reasons. Some will call it diplomacy (warfare through lies); others will call it wise counsel. We have just had an example of the internet revealing such a side deal.
An American planeload of cash notes in various currencies was photographed arriving in Iran. After it had been checked by the Iranians, another plane took off in the other direction carrying released hostages. No, said Obama, it was not trading for hostages. The money was part of a previously agreed restitution of Iranian money originally intended for an arms deal that the US held back when it imposed sanctions. Yes, pull the other leg. That’s why it happened just now and in secret and within hours of releasing hostages. And why in cash? There can be no other reason than that Iran wants cash to fund terrorism in such a way that it cannot be traced.
Of course the Government will tell you the deal with Iran was a success. He won’t tell you what other side deals were made. I guess it all depends on how you define success. To me it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, and yet the duck is dead. But in truth he’s only doing what state representatives and senators do all the time. You scratch my back, I’ll fund your pet project and pass it through Congress without anyone knowing about it.
What do you do when you realize that a supposed ally is spying on you? What do you do when you discover that your allies are really helping your enemies? This happens all the time and always has. It stands to reason when you are dealing with bodies like the American State Department or the British Foreign Office, well known for their antipathy towards Israel. After all, it makes sense in one way. There are only 14 million Jews.
If you want to read about all the examples of proven dishonesty, corruption, and repeated attempts either to blame Israel or pull the rug out from underneath it, not to mention actual attempts to get it destroyed, you have only to read one book: The Secret War against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed The Jewish People, by John Loftus and Mark Aarons.
As the title proclaims, it deals with the diplomatic battle to attack Jews over a hundred years. We are no longer surprised at the antipathy and hatred towards Jews in Europe. But it is sad to read how far the poison has spread. The book’s frontispiece includes the famous 1992 quote from the Honorable James Baker, US secretary of State, “Fuck the Jews…they won’t vote for us anyway,” as proof, if proof were needed, that the war against Israel is also a war against those Jews who fight for the preservation of their autonomous religious and cultural traditions.
But everywhere things are constantly changing. Once the Democrats were the main supporters of Israel. Now it’s the Republicans. Once 90% of American Jews voted Democrat. Now it is sliding rapidly down below 60%. Yet surprisingly, under Obama Israel has received more aid than under any previous American President. For all that, anti-Semitism erupts from the Middle East, and Olympic athletes refuse to talk, shake hands, or compete with Israelis; Israel has two peace treaties, is now on negotiating terms with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and shares their position on Iran. Turkey is renewing diplomatic ties. Russia has good relations with Israel, better certainly than under the Communists, and yet Russia is supporting Assad in cahoots with Iran. Everything is in a state of flux. Clearly, no alliance remains static. No hatred outlives self-interest. Israel must take care of itself, as it always had to. So realpolitik is the order of the day. In contrast, say, to religion, where realpolitik is a sign of its moral corruption.
Now it is a modern convention that spies, no matter how much damage they do, how many deaths they cause, are exchanged (when they are not just liquidated). Last years The Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks, was based on the real-life swap of Rudolf Abel for Gary Powers. TV series like The Americans revolve round the issue. So why is the American who spied for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, being treated vindictively, out of all proportion to his crimes? After all, he was providing proof to Israel that America was acting against it. Refusing to share information that they had agreed to. And delivering documents that caused no loss of life, endangered no system of espionage or American interests, other than American perfidy.
Yes, he was a spy. Yes, he betrayed America, and yes, he volunteered rather than being recruited. Israel itself correctly insisted that he had not been recruited as a spy, and indeed he was never employed by Mossad. Anyway, Israel thought him unreliable and had better sources of its own. Yet over the years they came round to reluctantly accepting that he had acted in order to help the state and granted him citizenship. Why did Caspar Weinberger, of Jewish origin on one side, go to such an extent to vilify him, lying about the damage he did? Why did two Jewish judges, Bader Ginsburg and Silberman, refuse an appeal, when the only non-Jewish judge argued strongly for a miscarriage of justice? What does it say about their insecurity? We Jews are our own worst enemies. Interestingly, the authors only refer in passing to Jonathan Pollard as a small incidental cog in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Why is everyone so obsessed with Israeli espionage? I suggest it’s a reaction against Mossad, which has a fearsome and often exaggerated reputation. It has as many failures to its credit as successes. But just as once the czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purported to explain the myth of how and why the Jews controlled the world, now Mossad crops up everywhere from Hollywood to Bernie Sanders as the evil force that is secretly subverting and subjugating and the rest of the world. When, in fact, it is only helping Israel survive against all the odds, including threats from its supposed allies. As the great Hillel said two thousand years ago, “If I am not for me, who will be?” But of course we should also remember that he went to say, “But if I am ONLY for me, what am I?”