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Keep Pollard in Jail

The Wall Street Journal report that jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released on the thirtieth anniversary of his conviction – November 21 – is clearly an attempt by the Obama administration to quiet Israeli opposition to the Iran deal. And it is just as clearly not working for the simple reason that the Israelis cannot be appeased, as this New York Times story makes all too clear:

“‘If this is the motive, it’s naïve,’ said Amnon Rubinstein, a law professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, who joined the growing movement calling for Mr. Pollard’s release in recent years. ‘The two things are totally separate. One is a human consideration, and one is a strategic issue, which most Israelis, including myself, regard as existential.’

Aaron David Miller, a State Department veteran on Middle East affairs who is now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said any such move would look bad for President Obama, given that Americans remain in Iranian prisons. And he added that it would probably make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ‘fight harder’ against the Iran deal ‘so he’s not thought to have colluded.’

“‘Pollard is apples and the Iran deal is oranges,’ Mr. Miller said. ‘The Pollard card is not just of limited value, but potentially damaging.'”

On this last point, at least, Miller is on target: Pollard’s release would underscore the adversarial relationship underlying the “special relationship,” i.e. the fact that, beneath the surface, beyond the declarations of undying friendship and “no daylight,” the Israelis have treated us like an enemy. As The Intercept reported

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