The espionage charges leveled against American scientist Stewart David Nozette raise more questions than they answer – and those questions should deeply trouble, if not outrage, the American Jewish community.
The affidavit of FBI agent Leslie Martell, made public with much fanfare, lays out the factual underpinning for the complaint. It seems Nozette was initially targeted because he boasted to friends that if he were threatened with jail (because of an unrelated fraud matter) he would flee to India or Israel.
The Bureau then hatched the sting operation, during which agents posed as Mossad operatives to lure the scientist into spying for Israel. The affidavit tellingly confirms what many know and have been worried about for years: certain elements in the law enforcement and counter-intelligence communities believe American Jews inherently harbor dual loyalties – some sort of genetic defect that plagues only one class of citizens.
This nasty canard – a not so subtle form of anti-Semitism – has ruined, stymied and prevented countless careers in government service.
As someone who has represented government officials who have fallen prey to the notorious mentality that Jews cannot be fully trusted, I know just how deeply such views are held. My concern was reinforced when I was interviewed by two FBI agents in connection with the ill-conceived and now dismissed “espionage” case brought against two former AIPAC employees.
Having served for many years as a Justice Department official and later as the executive director of AIPAC, I was hardly surprised when contacted by the Bureau. I was shocked, however, by how little they knew or understood about lobbying and the search for information, whether by lobbyists (they thought AIPAC was a political action committee), scholars, journalists, Congress or even members of the same executive branch. They were clueless.
Even more disturbing was what I can only describe as their obsession with the Mossad and its perceived diabolical influence over the Jewish community.
That mindset comes across loud and clear in the FBI affidavit. Consider: Nozette was given high security clearances while consulting for and providing information to an aerospace company wholly owned by the government of Israel – believed to be Israel Aerospace Industries, a highly visible entity with openly close ties to the Pentagon. That appears to be Nozette’s only tie to Israel, a connection that was above board and obviously known to the government from the outset.
But it is the ensuing sting operation that unmasks the dual loyalty bugaboo.
Once Nozette fell under suspicion – the only suggested reason was that in January 2009 he traveled to another country (not Israel) with two computer “thumb” drives but returned without them – the FBI set up the sting to see if it could lure the scientist into selling secrets.
Although there was nothing that spoke of an ideological connection to the Jewish state, FBI agents, clearly preying on his heritage, contacted and met with Nozette, pretending to be Mossad agents (yes, they actually identified themselves as working for Mossad) to see if he would be willing to provide them with classified information.
The vehicle chosen for the operation – which surely smells of entrapment – was Israel, not China, or India, where he told friends he would flee if he got into hot water. No, the Mossad was the trap of choice.
The affidavit also gratuitously includes comments by Nozette about his parents being Jewish, his presumed right of return, his desire to secure an Israeli passport, and that he had been expecting to hear from the Mossad – suggesting it is just a matter of time before Jews with sensitive information get the call from their real masters.
All of this, of course, provides ammunition to those eager to denigrate Israel and cast sinister clouds over its American supporters. Indeed, headline after headline created the false impression – yes, I know, the FBI doesn’t write headlines for the newspapers, but the editors were reflecting the emphasis put there by the FBI – that yet another disloyal Jew was caught spying for Israel, even though that was not even remotely the case.
But the damage has been done, just as the FBI and Justice Department, reeling from embarrassment in the AIPAC fiasco, knew it would be.