Kol Yisrael Radio interviewed MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp, formerly known as the Labor Party) as the news unfolded last week that Jonathan Pollard would be released from prison by November. The choice of interviewee appeared to be apt: Shai heads the Knesset Lobby for the Release of Jonathan Pollard. From the moment he opened his mouth, however, he gave cause to wonder whether he favored, or opposed, the efforts to secure Pollard’s release.
Arutz Sheva reports that radio anchorman Aryeh Golan began by asking: “Why do you think the Americans are so unwilling to release Pollard?” – to which Shai promptly replied, “For the same reason we [Israel] are so unwilling to release Mordechai Vanunu.”
Vanunu revealed details of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986, was sentenced to prison, and – because he violated the terms of his parole agreement by granting interviews to foreign journalists and the like – is still not permitted to leave Israel.
Arutz Sheva says that any comparison between Pollard and Vanunu is totally unacceptable, says famous Israeli attorney Yoram Sheftel. “Pollard gave Israel information that the United States itself was obligated to give Israel,” Sheftel told Arutz Sheva. “Today, that information has no intelligence value. It is outrageous that a Knesset Member who heads the lobby for Pollard gives justification for the decision by the White House and the Parole Commission [not to release Pollard early and to prevent him from leaving the country until the year 2020].”
In another radio interview, Shai was clearly critical of the man for whose release he is ostensibly working. “It’s clear that we don’t know the whole story,” he told Radio Kol BaRamah, “and it’s clear that we don’t know the nature of the security materials that [Pollard] stole and gave us. And in general, it’s hard for us to grasp how a man could betray his homeland… He tried to sell materials to other countries, not just Israel…”