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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