A number of publications have now reported that a Jewish man who was formerly a US Army engineer has been arrested and charged with espionage. He is accused of handing over classified information to Israel about certain classified matters including the F-15, nuclear information and the Patriot Missile System.

The charged man, Ben Ami Kadish, is now 84 years old and the claims are that he was involved in handing off this information at the end of the 1970s and to the early 1980s. That was the time when Jonathan Pollard was providing Israel with classified material and it may well be that both of these men were “handled” by the same Israeli. He is identified by Israeli papers, and with caution by the NY Times, as Yossi Yagur. Yagur was apparently part of an Israeli organization whose task it was to acquire technology to support and update the Dimona reactor.

As a Jewish person living in the United States, I would like to tell Israel to inform the US now about any other skeletons that it may have in its closet. After Pollard, Israel promised the US that there will be no more spying by Israel in the US, and I sincerely hope they’ve kept that promise. This is simply the stupidest move in the history of Israeli-US relations.

Whatever benefit there was to the intelligence gathered by Pollard and allegedly Kadish, it is a drop in the ocean of problems it has caused Israel. It has damaged American confidence in Israel, distanced supporters, strengthened opponents in places like the State Department and Pentagon, provided leverage to push Israel’s politicians, given fodder to the anti-Israel crowd, etc.

This spying has also been quite harmful to American Jews and in fact to all of Jews outside of Israel. It calls into question Jews’ loyalties, raises the specter of a fifth column, damages the careers of any Jew in uniform whether it be military, homeland security, secret services or even police forces. It forces people to take sides when the two sides are actually allies. What could be stupider?!

The spying also damages diaspora Jewish relations with Israel because it forces Jews to distance themselves from Israel when it acts in this way. And these stories don’t end in the US, every country out there is watching and reading the news. You can bet that Canada, England and all the Western European countries are currently investigating whether Yossi Yagur had any direct or indirect contact with people in their country.

I have little sympathy for the spies or their handlers. This spying was not justified or necessary. It has caused much more harm than good and it is pernicious and destructive. Israel should make every effort to publicly acknowledge its mistakes, publicly and openly apologize for these mistakes and reassure everybody that it is true to its word and not spying on the US at all.

Israel can also expect to pay a steep price for this discovery. There will be severe pressure from sources in the US government to provide information about other operations, to disengage Israel from participation in defense projects, and greater influence by the corners of the government that have been pushing to distance US policy from Israel in favor of Israel’s enemies, etc.

Bush is about to visit Israel in order to push the “peace process” forward. I think it’s safe to guess that he will be bringing up this incident and it is even possible that he will use it to influence how the Israelis act with respect to the ongoing talks with the Palestinians. Some Israelis are already guessing that the timing of this publicity isn’t accidental.

They may be right or wrong, but if this story is true (and according to the prosecutor, the relevant information has already been offered up by Ben Ami Kadish), Israel’s government should stop worrying about the intentions behind the timing and worry more about healing this gaping wound that has been healing very slowly over the past 20+ years since Pollard’s conviction. What idiots!

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  • This is certainly bad news for Jonathan Pollard. It will make it far more difficult for Bush to spring him in his final months in office, if Bush was inclined to do so.

    The damaging part of this, if these allegations are true, was Israel having assured the US that Pollard was a one-off. Far from being unfinished business from a distant time, this case may implicate all subsequent Israeli governments in a cover-up, esp. those governments that pressed hard for Pollard’s release.

    It’s hard not to conclude that bespeaks an Israeli mentality not to trust anyone, including friends. Israeli ruling circles should beware self-fulfilling prophesies.

  • Doesn’t the timing of this strike you as strange? What benefit is there to “uncover” spying that took place close to 30 years ago. Is this 84 year old “spy” still at it? I would be surprised if this behavior doesn’t go on all the time between friends. How much more so between acquaintances? Is there an effort to uncover Chinese spying of 30 years ago? Russian spying?

    I am very unsettled by this story. Combine it with the shaky AIPAC prosecution, the unfair treatment of Pollard, the leak of the report on Iran’s military intentions and one feels a conspiracy growing.

    If there is a fifth column in this country, it is Arab in origin. Just look at our friend Jimmy and the funds that poor into his coffers from the gulf.

  • Is it bad that I want to beat up an 84 year old man?
    #1-I get it, everyone spies on everyone. The US spies on her allies too, but rule #1 is DON’T GET CAUGHT! If you do, well, anything that happens, you get what’s coming to you.

    #2-If you really want to help Israel, move there and use your technological skill in its nuclear weaponry program. Change your allegiance, build big bombs, woohoo! Make it really hard for ME to get a security clearance because of one-too-many Israel stamps in my passport and a really “Jewy” sounding last name? Gee, thanks….

  • This case sends two strong messages to all other alleged spies that may still be around: First, don’t get caught and secondly, make Aliyah while you still can.
    No, seriously. While I agree with themiddle that allies shouldn’t spy on each other we should also remember that the the diplomatic relationships between the U.S. and Israel have not always been amiable as they are now.

  • Sure, david– we all remember the persecution of the Jews under the Reagan Administration.

    Tovitim, does the old-codger exemption apply to Nazi concentration camp guards?

    The real issue isn’t what happened 30 years ago. It’s the apparent lack of candor by successive Israeli governments that’s potentially damaging.

  • Tom Morrisey,
    what a moronic comment. Totally unaccetable.
    But I don’t want to elaborate on this now while I have better things to do. Only that much: The U.S state department and Israel many times pursue quite different interests. With all due respect, but a lot the ideas concerning the near east that come out of the state department are total bullshit and miserable failures when realized. A recent example is the Philadelphi Route. Another disaster in the making is the partition of Jerusalem. Things that make you wonder if the US is an ally or is only interested in the ME for dumping overpriced munitions and crazy christians.

  • You gotta see the comments on the USA Today story – it’s a lot of the usual USS Liberty, dual allegiance crap. It’s like a hate-fest for the anti-Semites! Of course not all the comments are like that. There are many astute observations, legitimate gripes, and the revelation that the US spies on Israel as well. I have to wonder about the timing of course, but I’m not a paranoid nutbar (ahem…) who sees hidden evil forces around every corner.

  • middle, are you really that naive?

    the stupidest move?
    Isn’t it a plausible assumption that the US has not one, but multiple, and probably dozens of spies all over the IDF and other Israeli government agencies? It happens, usually the governments do a little trade and get an embarrasing slap of the hand for getting caught, but it will never stop. And frankly, either the American spies are better at not getting caught or simply the Israeli government likes to hush them up most of the time, though examples have been published in the past.

    And frankly, I’m sure the CIA just has an easier time getting info out of Israelis. Just use some blonde with a genuine US accent, maybe a ‘volunteer’ on a kibbutz and you can get many SF or intel boys to boast of there adventures.

    This spying was not justified or necessary.
    Like you really know the actual details of what was passed and if it is important or not for Israel’ defence.

    Read the most acceptable version here of why this has got you all hyped up: http://lennybendavid.com/2008/04/whats-really-behind-screaming-headlines.html

    Your entire post is actually the reason Pollard is still in jail after an unprecendented 23 years – to remind the Jew to not raise his head. And you’ve already fallen for that.

    healing this gaping wound
    If you are going to conclude with this statement, then it is obvious that you have very little understanding if geo-political relations between countries. I think you should start a refresher course by reading a few Tom Clancy books.

  • This article is right on the money. Yes, Israel does, no doubt, have reasons to spy on its allies. Still, for the reasons eloquently stated in the article, one tends to think that more harm than good will come of trying to push the “dual loyalty” thing and turning American Jews into traitors.

  • Josh is correct; with all your beard-pulling angst, your posting does not even mention the extraordinary punishment handed to Pollard for spying for an ally compared to the the much more lenient sentences given to convicted spies for various enemy countries over the years. Must make the Arabist State Department quite pleased …

  • Pollard has played his situation in a way that harms him. He seems entirely unrepentant to outsiders and appears to like pushing the buttons of whoever might be the current Israeli PM. I agree that he has been made a scapegoat of sorts and has paid too heavy a price for what he did. He is being made an example for others.

    However, he did knowingly spy against his country. It’s fair to ask why people who spy for Russia don’t get sentences this long, but that doesn’t help him any. In fact, it just upsets the people who need to release him. Think about that, Sandi. A little heartfelt repentance and recognition of the wrongs committed by a person goes a long way when seeking amnesty.

  • With most of the record of Pollard’s trial proceedings still secret, it’s hard to assess his sentence measured against the impact of his crimes. However, it’s always struck me as significant that a series of US presidents, from both parties, have steadfastly declined to give him amnesty despite having every political incentive to do so.

    If indeed Pollard “is being made an example for others”, this latest news shows us why. Indeed, we appear to need additional examples, Pollard having failed to suffice.

    Poor Middle in his misspent youth obviously failed to read enough Tom Clancy novels, Josh, and thus knows nothing of how the world works. But in the who’s-kidding-whom, realpolitik spirit of your comment, herewith a modest proposal: since we know this sort of spying is bound to occur, let’s prevent Jews from having access to secret information relating to our national security. We’ll screen for Arabs at airports, and Jews at military installations and r&d facilities. That should prevent this sort of unpleasantness going forward.

  • Well, to be fair, we don’t know whether Pollard served as sufficient example since this latest case appears to be of similar vintage to Pollard’s spying.

    Also, to be fair, we should have access to his trial proceedings at this point.

  • I assume that at least part of the reason Pollard’s still in prison is that his activities led to the death(s) of CIA personnel or CIA sources in the Soviet Union or elsewhere. There’s got to be a reason why his release has been a non-starter for many years.

  • I wonder. I think it may be both an example to allies who may want to spy or that it’s considered such a hot potato that presidents are afraid to touch it and it’s easier to let him rot in prison.

  • I’d think at this point it’d be easier to let him out. He’d probably resettle in Israel, and the prez involved would earn chits with the free Pollard crowd.

  • remember history, without spies, jews would have never made it to the promise land b.c. anything for God and country.