JERUSALEM (Mar. 17)
U.S. Secretary of the Army John Marsh affirmed here Tuesday that the bonds of friendship and military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel are unaffected by the Jonathan Pollard spy case.
That affair should be seen “in the right perspective.” It was “a small element compared to the overall strength of our alliance,” Marsh told reporters after a meeting with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
He said that contrary to some reports, his visit to Israel at this time had nothing to do with the Pollard affair. “It is part of the continuing interest and effort of my country toward our commitment to this country,” he said.
The main purpose of his visit, Marsh explained, is to study several matters of military interest, notably Israel’s quick mobilization process which he called “very impressive” with lessons for the National Guard and the military reserves in the U.S
Meanwhile, a visiting American Jewish leader said here Tuesday he was convinced the problems arising from the Pollard affair would “go away.” Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told reporters after meetings with Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres that he was encouraged by the appointment of two panels, one by the Cabinet and the other by the Knesset, to examine the matter.
Abram was critical of the advancement of two Israelis closely linked to Pollard’s espionage activities — Air Force Col. Aviem Sella and former Mossad operative Rafael Eitan. “I think that placing Col. Sella in command of that (Tel Nof) air base was a serious, and I might add, irresponsible, act. I also say that the Eitan act was damaging. . .It remains for the commissions to decide what ultimately should be done,” Abram said.
He was referring to the appointment of Eitan to the chairmanship of Israel Chemicals, the largest government-owned corporation. However, Abram said he was sure the government would honor its pledge to hold those responsible “accountable.” He said he was assured by Shamir that no government Minister knew of the Pollard spy operation.
Abram stressed that he was not here to tell the government what to do, nor were his remarks to be taken as a reflection of fear by the American Jewish community of fall-out from the Pollard affair. American Jewish leaders simply want to ensure that the close ties between Israel and the U.S. continue, he said.
The Pollard affair, “although a serious problem, is a blip that does not reflect the mainstream of American-Israeli relations,” Abram said.