Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Israel a Friend to the U.S.?

It is rarely debated in America, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Anyone, especially politicians, are immediately denounced the moment they breathe a word of criticism of the Jewish state. This spying case will be no different. It will get little press coverage, and even less public debate over our support for a "friendly" country that spies on us:

Israel was tightlipped on Wednesday over the arrest in the United States of an 84-year-old American suspected of providing it with U.S. military secrets in the 1980s, a new case that has opened old wounds.

"We received an official update from the Americans. We are following the developments," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said, a day after suspect Ben-Ami Kadish made an initial appearance in a federal court in New York.

The case, linked to the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal that has been an irritant in the U.S.-Israel alliance, raised fears in Israel it would cast a pall over President George W. Bush's visit next month to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th birthday.

But Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, a former senior security official, predicted that Israel's relations with the United States would not suffer.

"Our strategic relationship with the United States is stronger than this," Ezra told Israel Radio.

Officials with inside knowledge in Israel of the country's intelligence services were not denying it may have had a second spy operating in the United States in parallel with Pollard -- but they were insisting such espionage ceased long ago.

"The Americans know ... that since Pollard was exposed in 1985, Israel doesn't recruit agents or receive classified material (in) the United States," said Yuval Steinitz, a former chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

But Danny Yatom, a legislator and a former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, said the current affair had touched a nerve with Washington.

"I think what primarily bothers the Americans is the feeling that Israel didn't tell them the whole truth two decades ago, in 1985, when the Pollard affair exploded," Yatom told Israeli Army Radio.

"The Americans asked if there are additional people that Israel ran or are running in the United States. The answer, to the best of my knowledge, was always no," Yatom said.

Kadish, who was released on $300,000 bail, is a Connecticut-born U.S. citizen who worked as a mechanical engineer at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey.

He was accused of giving Israel secrets, from 1979 to 1985, about nuclear weapons, fighter jets and missiles.

According to a federal complaint, Kadish reported to the same Israeli handler who was a main contact for Pollard, a U.S. naval intelligence analyst arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment for spying for Israel.

Israel has said Pollard was recruited in a rogue operation by the since-disbanded Bureau of Scientific Relations, then headed by Rafi Eitan, now pensioners minister.

U.S. authorities did not disclose what led to their discovery of Kadish's suspected espionage.

But they said he had remained in contact with his alleged handler, who left the United States when Pollard was detained and has not returned.

Clinton "Victory Enough to Keep Destructive Campaign Going"

This columnist gets what most in the press keep missing, Hillary is still in this race regardless of what's good for the Democrats. And more importantly, Ms.Clinton wants to make sure that if she doesn't win that Obama loses so she can run in 4 years:

Here's the simple reality of this corrosive slugfest: Hillary Clinton can't win, but she's convinced Barack Obama just might lose.

So unless her cash-starved campaign can't raise or borrow enough to compete, her Pennsylvania victory keeps her in, and she will ratchet up her slash-and-burn tactics that have driven her negatives up but thrown Obama off his game.

[...]Her Keystone State margin was sufficient to keep her alive, but not nearly enough to change the trajectory of the campaign.

Barring an utter collapse by Obama, or a double-barreled win by him in Indiana and North Carolina in two weeks, this war of attrition will end June 3 with the Illinois senator ahead in contests won, popular vote and pledged convention delegates.

Against that headwind, even some of her closest confidants recognize her prospects of pulling off the upset remain minuscule.

[...]Obama's dominant position is all the more significant because he's just stumbled through the worst two months of his campaign.

[...]Meanwhile, John McCain and his handlers smile beatifically from the sideline, savoring the spectacle of Clinton writing their November attack ads for them.

"She's going to lose the nomination, and he's going to lose the election," a dispirited Hillary loyalist despaired.

Here's another column that has it right:
Hillary Clinton's final ad in Pennsylvania was the opening round of a desperate end game that won't be pretty to watch.

The ad - perhaps the source of her respectable if not overwhelming victory - was an attempt to scare voters into supporting her, complete with an image of Osama Bin Laden and an ominous question about who could be trusted to handle another terrorist attack.

The point of Clinton's ad, and her oft-stated position - that she alone is tough enough to handle the Bin Ladens of the world - would mean a lot more if she could handle the skinny kid from Illinois, who remains on track to win the nomination.

But the extraordinary ad signaled that Clinton's most plausible path to the nomination is a knockout blow that has nothing to do with winning over actual voters. She's relying on some scandal, gaffe or act of self-destruction to disqualify Barack Obama as a candidate.

And with the Bin Laden ad, Clinton made clear that she'll throw as much mud as possible to score that knockout.

"A win is a win," is what Hillary Clinton said early Tuesday, hours before the polls closed. True enough.

But as always when dealing with the Clintons, even a simple statement requires an asterisk, a footnote and careful parsing.

Despite Clinton's victory, the fact remains that Obama has won twice as many states as Clinton and racked up an all-but-insurmountable lead in delegates and popular votes. If Clinton wins every remaining state by the same margin as Pennsylvania, she loses.

[...]You would also have to ignore the fact that Obama has nearly matched her in the count of uncommitted superdelegates and currently holds more than four times as much campaign cash.

This unconvincing "my wins good, your wins bad" argument is what Team Clinton has been reduced to, barely 90 days after Hillary predicted she would lock up the nomination by early March.

The 200 or so remaining superdelegates who haven't pledged to either candidate probably won't buy it.

According to exit polls, two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters believe Clinton waged unfair attacks during the primary campaign, far more than said Obama had taken the low road.