On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times published my letter in response to an editorial entitled, “Jonathan Pollard, bargaining chip?“:
To The Editor:
You argue that releasing Jonathan Pollard, the former intelligence worker who passed along secret information to Israel and was sentenced to life in prison, is a poor decision because it would set an “unseemly precedent.” You go on to argue that releasing Pollard would not have any real impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.Both claims fail to see the urgency of the situation.
That Pollard’s incarceration only benefits the extreme Israeli right, who view him as a sort of martyr, is even more reason he should be released and deported to Israel. Without concrete benefits for difficult concessions, the Israeli government will not budge. The alternative is aggressive settlement growth and more conflict.Releasing Pollard would actually provide concrete incentives to Israel’s very right-wing government by rewarding it for concessions. Israel has arguably never had a government less willing to give up territory to the Palestinians; it sees such an exchange not as land for peace but as land for uncertainty.Nathan HershNew York CityThe writer is acting executive director of Partners for Progressive Israel.
Read it on their website
Additionally, I had a letter published in today’s Chicago Sun-Times responding to a column by Steve Huntley, who was quick to blame the Palestinians for the breakdown of negotiations:
Columnist Steve Huntley (“Kerry’s delusions won’t bring peace,” April 4) writes that Secretary of State John Kerry’s delusions will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He goes on to claim that while Israelis were asked to make concessions, “the Palestinians were asked only not to escalate tensions and undermine the fragile process.” But blaming the Palestinian Authority for the breakdown in negotiations is misguided and unhelpful.The reason the Palestinians were not asked for anything concrete in return for Israeli concessions is that they have nothing concrete to offer. They are the occupied, and Israel is the occupier. Kerry’s “act of desperation” — the release of Jonathan Pollard — was an attempt to provide something of substance in return for Israeli concessions because the Palestinians cannot.One could argue that Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel is more to blame for the failure of these talks than P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. After all, Ariel issued 700 housing tenders in East Jerusalem on the morning of April 1, hours before Abbas signed his 15 U.N. applications. But blaming either side does not bring them closer together; suggesting tangible incentives in return for difficult concessions will.Nathan Hersh
Acting executive director of Partners for Progressive Israel