Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
Larry Franklin, the third man in the sordid AIPAC affair, is not an entirely sympathetic figure. Although a person of sincerity and religious devotion, he agreed to testify against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in the trumped-up case forged by the FBI.
It matters, of course, that the Feds used the prospect of a nearly thirteen-year prison sentence as an inducement to get Franklin to sing the government’s fraudulent tune. The depravity of this tactic had nothing to do with the collapse of the case. Franklin was prepared to play his assigned role.
Now that the charges have been dropped and Franklin’s sentence has been reduced to brief community service, he is eager to speak out and to criticize the FBI. He has given, I believe, at least four interviews with the reluctant consent of Plato Cacheris, a veteran and highly respected Washington attorney who is representing him without charge.
In an interview with Haaretz (July 24), conducted by Yossi Melman, a noted writer on intelligence agencies, Franklin accuses the FBI of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias. In a subsequent Washington Times interview (July 29), he makes additional charges relating to FBI spying on Israeli officials.
As Franklin tells it, “FBI handlers convinced him that Rosen and Weissman were ‘bad people’ and that the agency needed his help in making a criminal case against the pro-Israel lobby officials.”
What makes this remarkable is that Franklin is still under sentence and is vulnerable to further FBI harassment and perhaps worse. What he says should be a wake-up call, triggering a strong and courageous reaction from our defense organizations, our media and the American Jewish pubic. This isn’t likely to happen.
If a lone kook mouthed anti-Semitic sentiments, at least some of us would be at the barricades. Unfortunately, like most Americans, we idolize our law enforcement agencies, certainly including the FBI, and this worshipful attitude clouds our judgment.
When asked about anti-Semitism, in the administration in general and the FBI in particular, Franklin responds, “I don’t want to go into details on this. I find it embarrassing to admit to a foreign journalist that highly passionate prejudices and biases like these still exist in an organization that is so respected and adored by the majority of Americans.”
Franklin speaks of “a malevolent anti-Semitic passion. In the intelligence community, Israelis are called ‘Izzis,’ which has an unpleasant odor to it.”
Melman is of the opinion that within the FBI there is the “constant and unwavering suspicion that Israel is a treacherous state which, unsatisfied with the generous aid it receives from its American ally, systematically and unscrupulously connives to spy and steal information and technology in the United States.”
This may have a bearing on other cases involving Jews, as does the FBI’s reliance on entrapment, a device whereby it concocts the entire scenario of a crime and then charges those who take the bait with the crime that the agency has fabricated.
Wrongdoing must not be justified – not when it is committed by a Jew or any other person and not when it is committed by the FBI. Entrapment is dirty business, yet it is accorded a major place in the handbook of the FBI and law enforcement agencies. If we look at the FBI’s dismal record over the past decade, including 9/11, the Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta, Wall Street fraud and much else, there is little reason to cheer this agency.
In Franklin’s telling, entrapment was employed in the AIPAC case. At the FBI’s initiative, he met with Rosen and Weissman in a designated restaurant where he “was wired with transmitters. Undercover agents documented the event.”
In this sting operation, the FBI had provided Franklin with a fabricated secret document and after telling Rosen and Weissman that it was secret, he placed it on the table as instructed and went to the restroom.
“The FBI agents hoped that Rosen or Weissman would take advantage of the opportunity to read the document.” If they did, they would have been charged with a crime. “However, they did not.”
Are there limits determining how far the FBI can go when it seeks to entrap via a crime it concocts? This question isn’t sufficiently asked because the FBI is a sacred cow and because we are entrapped in a mindset that justifies any tactics in the name of law enforcement.
AIPAC isn’t asking questions in the aftermath of its shameful role in this affair. Franklin says its influence on U.S. policy is exaggerated, which is surely the case, as it employs public displays aimed at convincing gullible Jews that it is a powerhouse. As Franklin puts it, “less visible but more powerful are the many instruments of Saudi Arabia’s influence over U.S. policy.”
The primary issue we should face is not AIPAC’s influence. It is the hostility of the intelligence community to Israel and Jews. The AIPAC prosecution should have evoked alarm; it did not. We now have Franklin’s interviews, with the explosive charge of anti-Semitism. Why are we Jews of silence? If a Dreyfus Affair were to occur on these shores, I fear we would be timid and mute.
About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. He has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years.
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