Does this reveal a U.S.-Obama practice of using political prisoners and hostages as ‘pawns’?
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered to arrange the release of jailed spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard if Israel frees Israeli Arab prisoners in the fourth and final phase of a series of prisoner releases, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported Friday night, citing unnamed Israeli sources.
The White House and State Department declined to comment on the report.
In contrast to the TV report, Israel Radio reported Friday night that Kerry had merely promised to check into the possibility of freeing Pollard, as requested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the context of upcoming prisoner releases by Israel. [emphasis added]
Pollard has served 28 years for spying for Israel. Israeli politicians of all stripes, led by Netanyahu, have recently called on the US to let the 59-year-old former US naval intelligence analyst go free. The issue has hit the headlines again particularly in light of recent revelations that the US spied on Israeli prime ministers and other senior officials in 2008 and 2009.
According to the Channel 10 report, by the station’s veteran defense affairs correspondent Alon Ben-David, Kerry recently raised the idea of freeing Pollard as compensation for Israel releasing 26 longtime Israeli Arab prisoners in the fourth and final phase of an agreed series of prisoner releases related to the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Fifty-two Palestinian prisoners, most of them convicted of murderous acts of terrorism, have gone free in the first two phases, and another 26 are set to be released this coming Monday. (To read entire article, follow link below)
MY TAKE AS IT RELATES TO THREE IRANIAN HOSTAGES:
The Israeli TV report did not receive White House comment before airing. However, it does appear that this Administration IS prepared to play ‘hardball’ using hostages and/or political prisoners as pawns. Jonathan Pollard is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel decades ago. Now, the NSA eavesdropping revelations show that the U.S. has been spying on almost everyone, friend or foe. This includes its ‘best friend’ in the middle east, Israel. So Israel is asking once again for a pardon or release based on humanitarian grounds. This would not be extraordinary to do because Presidents have traditionally used year end or end of term Presidential pardons for extremely unsavory characters based on political favors and affiliations; e.g. Clinton and Marc Rich (Bing it).
Meanwhile, a new hardball tactic is being used by the U.S. on Israel. The latter must continue to release the full compliment of 104 murderers it promised, or was coerced into, as an inducement to the PLO to come to the table. These prisoner releases have been tearing up Israeli society after the initial two release dates were met. The third list of 26 murderers is scheduled for tonight. Families and supporters of the victims are literally camped out in front of PM Netanyahu’s house. Many of tonight’s group has committed multiple murders, with one of them killing 16 Israeli’s. The U.S. made threats, it was reported, behind the scenes when Israel talked of delaying the third and final releases due to so little progress made in peace talks. Kerry squelched that quickly. Now the pressure will build up in Israel prior to the 4th release of 26 of the worst murderers in about 2 months.
The latest report also indicates Kerry floated to Netanyahu something ‘big’ that Israel wants, i.e. Jonathan Pollard’s release, as an added incentive to carry out the release of the final 26.
If true, this shows that when dealing with tough foreign issues that prisoners and hostages are used for their bargaining value in the eyes of our government. For example, Alan Gross, who has been held in Cuba for several years, was working for USAID in Cuba when arrested and may be used in the near future when the U.S. (i.e. Obama) decides to loosen trade relations with Cuba. Of course, Obama could do this any time he wants. But tying it to a prisoner release stalemate makes it appear that U.S. had to give up something to gain something. Some in swing-state Florida, for example, find any loosening of trade ties with Cuba very distasteful even 40-60 years after they left Cuba as refugees. Or it could be done at a time when Obama needs to deflect attention off of him or his policies; e.g. ACA.
Here in the U.S. releasing Jonathan Pollard to Israel will disturb practically no one, especially in light of our previously undisclosed electronic spying on Israel. But Pollard is useful to the U.S. to get Israel to do something it doesn’t want to do…..keep negotiating, give up 26 murders and probably much more before it’s over.
I said all of the above to say this: as far as the U.S. hostages in Iran are concerned, the U.S. may be within 6-9 months of a landmark deal with Iran. Most Americans according to polls have a very low trust level with Iran’s Islamist-led government. Perhaps Obama has forgotten the 1979-81 U.S. Embassy takeover, with 52 hostages held 444 days, or he was too young then to pay attention. But ask almost anyone over 50 if it was a big deal and they will say, ‘Yes!’ That’s a 34 year old grudge that America has been holding. Something very distasteful may be coming down the path as a result of the Iran-U.S. ‘thaw’ and the so-called nuclear negotiations.
I say “so-called” because the Phase 1 agreement signed November 24 by John Kerry was actually about much more than Iran’s nuclear program. It had almost had more to do with Iran’s emergence internationally as a trading partner again and less about nuclear! Specified were release of frozen assets including cash and gold, airplane parts, oil exports, computers and training…and much more. So why couldn’t the release of three American hostages be discussed? Why was it ‘purely about nuclear’ according to Kerry and WH when it wasn’t for Iran?
My theory is that the Iranian ‘thaw’ was kept secret until the last moment in a carefully orchestrated opera culminating over the fall U.N. schedule giving opponents little time to organize and lodge protests. It worked! Obama and Kerry got what they wanted. Three American hostages in Iran, Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and their families did not!
We who support the 3 hostages and their families must not let the Final Agreement in six months go the same way. It would be very bad for three innocent men in Iran!
This is precisely why, more than ever, those who support the immediate release of these 3 U.S. Citizens who have been wrongly held in Iran – all of them held now well over 444 days – must turn up the volume and make themselves heard. The nation proved it could speak clearly, loudly and persistently for Phil Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’. Is it possible the nation could do so again over the next six months for three Americans held against their will in Iran?
The next six months are critical in my view. We must not allow the U.S. to sign a “Final Nuclear Agreement” with Iran during the next 6 months – unless there is linkage to the immediate release of these three men.
This takes me back to the original point: Obama is the decision maker….not John Kerry. Obama is listening to other close advisers like Susan Rice, Samantha Power and other intelligence officials. Kerry and the State Department are still important to contact (read ‘bother’), but they don’t tell us the truth they know and what they plan to do. When they speak publicly, they provide only pabulum (baby food) saying, “We have already raised this to the highest levels within Iran that we have we talked to.” Obama will say the same, pointing to his famous 15-minute chat, which covered a wide range of topics we were told. Assuming 7-8 minutes were used by interpreters, that left about 3-4 minutes for each man to talk and ‘raise issues.’
Just as Obama is the decision maker in America, not Kerry, in Iran the ultimate decision maker is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, not the smiling new President Hassan Rouhani. Should we continue to contact Kerry, Members of the U.S. Congress, and Rouhani? Absolutely, because they have more access to the one decision maker, and his close advisors, than most. And we have no virtually no access really to Obama or Khomeini ourselves. So, yes, keep bombarding Rouhani with Tweets and Letters, but do you think he really reads them, or even a daily count?
So regarding these Obama and Khomeini, these are the deciders. And ultimately prayer – lots of it – is recommend that their hearts would be turned and yielded to the One God.
Link to full “Times of Israel”article: http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-to-offer-the-release-of-jonathan-pollard/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=37734cf1ac-2013_12_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-37734cf1ac-54571841