It is hard to exaggerate the scale of the damage caused by the Pollard affair to [Israel’s] relations with the United States. The residue will linger on for a long time in the intimate fabric of relations between the two countries. Whoever leaked the story about the new alleged spy scandal, was trying to take advantage of that residue.

The present affair appears to be groundless. Officials in Israel denied any link to the affair and this sounds credible. It is reasonable to assume that nobody in Israel, in the era after the Pollard affair, even dreamed about operating a spy in the United States.

It so happens that I met Larry Franklin at research conferences on the subject of Iran. Franklin is an analyst dealing with subjects such as Iran and Iraq. He gave the impression of being very well informed. You have to know the situation in Washington to understand the background on which academics (who previously worked in the administration), meet researchers from all over the world, with administration officials, journalists and sundry lobbyists. In contrast to the situation in Israel, where academics have little influence on the decision-making process, in Washington these conferences and meetings play a very important role in shaping policy.

Officials of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, have an important role at these conferences. They contribute and receive ideas and information. They give and take. They influence and are influenced. It is possible that Franklin broke some rule or divulged something forbidden. What is clear is that the State of Israel had no connection with the matter, and no knowledge of it. AIPAC, who are always the first suspects in every affair of this kind, never dreamed of operating agents inside the administration. Yesterday’s disclosure will be found to have been nothing more than a breach of discipline, with no connection to Israel, but the miniscule significance of the story will not reduce the major damage which it has already caused and will cause in the future. Yesterday some people in Washington remembered that about a month ago the reporter who uncovered the affair, Lesley Stahl, interviewed General Anthony Zinni, a former mediator between the US administration and Israel and the Palestinians. In that interview Zinni attacked in very blunt terms “a group of people in the Pentagon” who had dragged the United States into the war against Iraq. It was clear that Zinni was referring to a group of Jews known as the “neo-conservatives,” including Doug Feith and his boss, Paul Wolfowitz, who supported the decision to go to war.

And lo and behold, a month later the same Stahl reveals that the Israeli mole is operating in the office of one of the heads of that group. What more is needed for the reader to accept this as another layer of the Jewish conspiracy to navigate the world towards the edge of the abyss. Even when the affair itself fades out with a whimper, the sinister “Elders of Zion” impression will remain.

This appeared in Yediot Aharonot on August 27th, 2004