The Jewish state faces criticism for being vindictive towards Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli cold-war whistleblower, while celebrating the return of Jonathan Pollard, who sold American military secrets to Tel Aviv in the 1980s.
Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, received a hero’s welcome from the Israeli state, as he landed in the capital city of Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Pollard spent 30 years in US prison for selling American military secrets to Israel, while he worked at the Pentagon in the 1980s.
Pollard triumphantly kissed the ground at the Ben Gurion International Airport after he disembarked from a private plane provided by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire supporter of both Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.
The Jewish premier was waiting for Pollard and his wife Esther at the airport. He jubilantly presented them Israeli ID cards. “Welcome home,” he told the couple, “now, you can start a new life with freedom and happiness. Now, you are at home.”
Moments after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter “Welcome home”.
On Thursday, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen from Netanyahu’s Likud party said Israel would give Pollard a pension, or stipend like ex-Mossad and Shin Bet agents.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 30, 2020
התרגשתי לקבל היום את פניהם של יונתן ואסתר פולארד עם הגעתם לישראל ולהעניק ליונתן תעודת זהות ישראלית.
עכשיו הם בבית. pic.twitter.com/qGApNuZq8a
When Pollard was working at the Pentagon, he gave more than 1000 unredacted messages and cables, 800 unredacted reports and publications to his Israeli handlers. He photocopied for Israel the massive 10-volume Radio and Signal Intelligence, RASIN, the precious manual is known as the “Bible”.
He was given a life sentence in 1987 after pleading guilty. He was released in 2015, and placed on a five-year parole period that ended in November. His return to Israel for sure gave Netanyahu a boost among right-wing and nationalist voters as he faces a substantial challenge for reelection in the March 23 elections. Pollard’s arrival was seen by Israeli media as “a special gift” from Trump.
The Jewish state’s embrace of cold-war spy Pollard is shocking when compared to its revengeful treatment for a cold-war critic Mordechai Vanunu, who exposed some parts of Israeli nuclear program to a UK paper in 1986.
Vanunu, 68, was working as a radiation technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, where international experts believe Israel developed nuclear weapons. He was fired from the centre in 1985 for his left-wing political views.
Following year, he gave an interview to the UK’s Sunday Times, in which he revealed details about the reactor along with some pictures he took without authorization. Following the interview, Mossad agents kidnapped him and brought back to Israel. Vanunu was jailed 18 years, eleven years of which were in solitary confinement.
He was released in 2004, however, the Jewish state made his life “hell” since. He is not allowed to leave the country, enter a foreign consulate or embassy, come within 500 meters of an international border, port or airport or enter the West Bank.
His communication is under constant scrutiny by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. He was restricted from speaking to foreign nationals, or journalists, the restriction was loosened several years ago though.
In 2014, his request to visit London for several was denied. He had got an invitation to speak before the British Parliament, which was signed by 54 members of the parliament.
Vanunu has a Twitter account, and he uses it to post his selfie on the first day of every month. He does that to remind Israeli officials of his case.
“They got their Israel spy Pollard, he is now free. So they can also give me my freedom, nothing left, no nuclear secrets left, and no one care about Israel’s nuclear secrets,” he wrote on Twitter at the beginning of December with many spelling mistakes.
Dec' 2020.I don't have any news,Not free yet,,So the waiting will continue,they got their israel spy Polard ,he is now free,so they can also give me my freedom,nothing left,no nuclear secrets left,and no one care about israel nuclear secrets,Freedom Now.Born to Be Free.Freedom. pic.twitter.com/7tNspBjQcD— Vanunu Mordechai (@vanunumordechai) December 1, 2020
In his January post, he said he hoped 2021 would be a year of “freedom" for him.
2021, New year started and we hope this is the Freedom year,I will continue to wait for my Freedom.See you in 2021.Freedom year. pic.twitter.com/A8jHeSSuvK— Vanunu Mordechai (@vanunumordechai) January 1, 2021
Vanunu has said Israel did not need the nuclear arms, “especially now when all the Middle East is free from nuclear weapons." "My message today to all the world is ‘open Dimona reactor for inspection,’" he said when he was released from the Israeli prison.
The true number of Israeli nuclear weapons still remains a big secret. But based on Vanunu's leak, nuclear experts estimated Tel Aviv possessed between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. But, unlike Pollard he did not pass information to foreign intelligence services.
It appears that for the Jewish state and Israeli right-wing, Pollard’s “aid” clears his criminality of the treason, but Vanunu still poses a threat.