POLITICS: Spy Pollard back on the scene

POLITICS: Spy Pollard back on the scene
POLITICS: Spy Pollard back on the scene

For the first time ever since moving from the US to Israel (2020), Jonathan Pollard revealed his party preference ahead of the November Knesset elections. To call her off the same day. This story is an illustration of the established relations between the Israeli political elites.

A Jew born in the American diaspora. Originally a naval intelligence analyst, sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. Paroled in 2015, moved to Israel five years later. Since, according to his statements, he did not want to harm the United States, but to be useful to the State of Israel, he is perceived by a considerable part of the population and political leaders as a kind of national hero.

The current Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs (not to be confused with the post of Minister of the Interior, i.e. with the Department of Public Security, which includes the police), right-wing politician, head of the Spirit of Zionism party. During her political career, aside from an episodic stint in Likud in 2012, she was one of the faces of the Jewish Home, New Right and Yamina parties. This year, it formed the Spirit of Zionism with part of the disintegrating Yamina and the center-right Derech Eretz faction led by Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel.

In the past, she served as the Minister of Justice and in addition enjoyed a number of awards. Between them:

– 2015 … Lady Globes magazine: Israeli Woman of the Year

– 2017 and 2018 (see HERE) … Forbes Israel magazine: The most influential woman in Israel

– 2017 … Globes magazine: Israel’s most influential woman

In popular terms, Šakedová is no “sharpener”, however, she currently has a problem. Her party did not and did not swing over the electoral clause, which is 3.25% in Israel, in polls of electoral preferences. To put it plainly, a party that remains below this threshold will not head for parliament. And this necessarily causes Shakedova to have trouble sleeping. No wonder: in eleven polls organized between the fourteenth and the twenty-ninth of August, her electoral gain ranged from 1.2% to 3%.


In such a situation, the Spirit of Zionism, like a hungry infant at its mother’s breast, would need some impulse that would “catapult” the party to at least slightly over 3.25%, which would mean a gain of four seats in the Knesset. On the morning of Tuesday, August 30, such an impulse seemed to have arrived. In the form of Jonathan Pollard’s surprising statement on social media:

“Because of my unconditional love for this country and commitment to its survival and well-being, I must now support someone who I know will serve Israel in a way that protects our core interests and our honor. That person is Ayelet Shaked.’

In one breath, however, Pollard reprimanded Shakedova for “misplaced loyalty”, by which he meant participation in the outgoing government, including a spectrum of parties from the right to the center to the extreme left, as well as the Arab moderate (pragmatic) Raam party. But in a statement, the former spy expresses his belief that Šakedová is aware of the mistakes she made and will not repeat them. “We need her now, freed from the bad influences that are damaging her personal reputation and political credibility.”

Pollard believes that we all make errors in judgment. “The difference is between those of us who refuse to admit such mistakes and those who admit their mistakes and vow not to repeat them. I believe that Ayelet Shaked is just such a person and deserves to be given the opportunity to remain part of the Israeli leadership. At this difficult and dangerous time in our history, we need and deserve a proven patriot like Ayelet Šakedová.”

Pollard rightly judges that the Israeli right needs Shakedova and her party. According to a number of surveys, it is the Spirit of Zionism that, under favorable circumstances, could contribute to the formation of a coalition led by Likud (and its leader Netanyahu), even if it were a narrow supermajority. If this party does not enter the Knesset, there is a greater danger that the elections will end in a stalemate.

However, as far as Shakedová’s participation is concerned, still within the Yamina party, in the currently serving broad coalition government, it is necessary to recall the result of the last elections held in March 2021. Likud and its allies (ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionists) won a total of 52 mandates. Even if Yamina had joined the coalition with seven seats at the time, it would have been 59, i.e. still below the required supermajority (61). No one else wanted to join the coalition with Netanyahu.

On the other hand, the anti-Netanyahu parties (which do not include Yamina), i.e. Yesh Atid, Blue White, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, New Hope and Meretz had even fewer votes (51), but after the addition of Yamina and the Arab party Raam, they were able to form a majority with sixty-two mandates. This broad coalition was then also created, the then chairman of Yamina Naftali Bennett became the prime minister (he is not a candidate in the November elections), replaced by Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yes Atid party, on July 1 this year, according to the coalition agreement. This cabinet was the way out of the deadlocked dealing of cards by the Israeli voters last March (seen through the lens of realpolitik), although this model also resulted in other early elections.


The Bennett-Lapid government became the target of harsh criticism from the right-wing opposition, especially the participation of the right-wing Yamina in it. And when Jonathan Pollard endorsed Ayelet Shakeda, it was received with displeasure in the Netanyahu camp. Paradoxically, the edge of criticism did not turn against Pollard, but – because we are in the height of the bitter pre-election battle – against Šakedová herself. The Arutz Ševa portal quotes three statements by Likud politicians.

Miri Regev: “Ayelet, you managed to fool Pollard as well. You managed to draw him into your dance of lies. A cynical and cold political abuse of a rare and good man. Where else do you want to go?’

Galit Distel-Atbaryanová: “Did you have to drag this beloved man, whom the whole nation respects and appreciates, into your political dirt? Do you even understand the potential damage you have done to this hero of Israel?’

Yoav Kiš: “For those who have forgotten. The Yamina party led by Bennett and Shaked took right-wing voters to support the current Muslim Brotherhood-backed (meaning Raam – LS) government of Lapid. Šakedová still serves as a minister in this government. Zero value should be attached to her statements, they are all lies. Right-wing voters must not support those who brought this dangerous government to power. It is the anti-Zionist left in disguise.”

Harsh words, difficult to digest for political observers who prefer (naively) decency even in politics. It is futile to look for logic in the pre-election tumult. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know what all came down on the head of Pollard himself. However, we know what happened in the evening of the same day (Tuesday, August 30). Jonathan Pollard withdrew his support for Ayelet Šakedová. Arutz Ševa told the portal (in not entirely understandable words) that after what he said about Ayelet Šakedova on Tuesday morning, it was clear to him that this politician refuses to remove Yoaz Hendel from her electoral list and commit to joining only a right-wing government .“This raises real concerns that he will once again transfer the votes of right-wing voters to the left.” That is why he decided to withdraw his support for Ayelet Shakedova.

To clarify: Yoaz Hendel is among the opponents of forming a coalition led by the criminally prosecuted Netanyahu; Shakedova does not rule out joining such a coalition, but prefers a broader format of national government. Her reaction to Pollard’s double maneuver was remarkable. According to her, Pollard is “an intelligent man, perceptive and moral, who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel, and when his statement of support for (Shaked) was published, he faced a tsunami of hateful reactions, including death threats.” She added that she was pleased by the show of support, but clarified: “Looking back, I’m happy that he left the toxic Israeli political dialogue.” In her opinion, a person like him should be seen consensually by the public.

Jonathan Pollarod’s first political engagement, even if only supportive, did not go well. Hopefully they will learn from this.

The article is in Czech

Tags: POLITICS Spy Pollard scene

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