Best columns: International
Let Pollard move to Israel
The Jerusalem Post
Hasn’t Jonathan Pollard suffered enough? asked The Jerusalem Post. The former American intelligence analyst pleaded guilty in 1987 to spying and passing classified documents to Israel; he was finally paroled in 2015, after serving 30 years of a life sentence. It’s far longer than any other American has served for spying for an allied nation— yet still his punishment is not over. Pollard’s parole terms confine him to his Manhattan home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day, “preventing him from attending his synagogue.” An Orthodox Jew whose faith requires him to refrain from using any technology on the Sabbath, he is forced to violate that tenet by wearing a GPS-monitoring device at all times. Pollard, 62, is also required to remain in the U.S. for the next five years. It’s too much. President Trump should commute Pollard’s parole and let him emigrate to Israel. Such a humanitarian gesture would engender much Israeli goodwill and would also give Trump “another victory over the perceived injustices of his predecessor, Barack Obama.” Contrast Obama’s refusal to relax Pollard’s parole with his extraordinary pardon of Chelsea Manning, who handed 750,000 classified documents, military and diplomatic, to WikiLeaks. Pollard can’t do the U.S. any damage now—his access to intelligence is long in the past. Let him go.
Dropping the democratic façade
So much for pretending that Russia is a democracy, said Mikhail Rostovsky. With an apparently innocent remark about Japan to reporters last week, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has “destroyed the myth, which was on its last legs anyway, that Russia will have a competitive presidential election.” Shuvalov said that President Vladimir Putin has a summit planned with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for next May. Notice anything amiss? A presidential election is scheduled for next spring, and the new president will be inaugurated in May, just after the summit. Surely Abe would see no point in meeting with a lame duck, so the implication is clear: “You can vote for whom you like, but Putin’s successor in the post of Russian president will still be Putin himself!” Of course, that’s clear to all anyway, since just a few months out, nobody serious is running against Putin—who hasn’t yet bothered to declare—and “there is no trace of any real campaign.” In this country, “where the powers of the head of state do not in fact differ much from the powers of an autocratic monarch,” a presidential election should be a massive event. Instead, Russians get “the modern equivalent of the lazy showing of hands at a solemn political event during the Brezhnev era.”