Rahm Emanuel takes credit for blocking early release of Jonathan Pollard

The former White House chief of staff told the president not to give in to Netanyahu’s request for Pollard’s release during peace negotiations in 1998.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took credit for convincing then-President Bill Clinton not to make Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison part of the concessions demanded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Israeli-Palestinian peace talks 21 years ago.

In a March 7th article for the Atlantic magazine, the two-term mayor of Chicago wrote about his role in the negotiations as part of his defense of American Jews’ loyalty to their country. This was in reaction to the recent anti-Semitic tweets by Ilhan Omar, a freshman Muslim congresswoman who accused Jews of dual loyalty, leading to condemnations from both sides of the Congressional aisle.

Emanuel wrote that just one day after leaving his position as senior adviser to Clinton, the president called him from the Wye House in Maryland, where Netanyahu was negotiating with then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Since Arafat was demanding many concessions that endangered Israel, Netanyahu was asking for Pollard’s release as something that he could take back to his government as a victory.

Clinton, he said, was “frantic that the summit would collapse” if he didn’t concede, and his advisers were divided over what to do.

“I told Clinton not to give in on Pollard’s release, believing that Netanyahu needed the agreement more than he did,” Emanuel said. Netanyahu signed the Wye River Memorandum without getting Pollard in return.

Emanuel also touted his dedication to American interests over Israeli ones as Barack Obama’s chief of staff in 2009-2010.

“I spoke out strongly against Netanyahu’s policy of expanding Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories,” he wrote. “For my troubles, Netanyahu labeled me [along with the presidential adviser David Axelrod] a ‘self-hating Jew.’”

Pollard, who finished serving out his life sentence at 30 years on November 20, 2015, has not been allowed to leave the United States as part of his parole conditions. Netanyahu has reportedly asked President Donald Trump and other American officials several times to let him move to Israel, but so far to no avail.