As Richard Straus noted in his column, "When Israel Spies on Its Friend, Everyone in Washington Responds," (Opinion, June 8), the "Pollard affair" was both stupid and illegal. What Straus and others fail to tell us, however, is the nature of the damage. What did Israel, a democracy, do with the secrets it received? It did not give them to the Soviets, or the Libyans or Syrians. Rather, it would appear that Israel acted, however mistakenly, to preserve its own national security and insure survival. It is not difficult to understand the Israeli desire to learn more about the weapons the U.S. and Europeans supply to the Arab states.
In contrast to the Pelton, Whitworth and Miller cases, in which the security of the U.S. was seriously damaged, here, no major harm resulted. In addition, it must be recalled that Israel, unlike other countries, did not set up this operation. Rather, it was Pollard who approached an individual from outside the Israeli intelligence service. This offer should have been spurned, and should not be repeated. At the same time, however, the results should not be deliberately blown out of proportion. It would seem that those who attempt to portray the incident as a form of "betrayal" and high crime are motivated by ideology and propagandistic goals.
GERALD M. STEINBERG
Department of Political Science,
and Visiting Assistant Professor
University of California at San Diego