Still, it would have been a refreshing change from the usual confirmation minuet if instead of humbly apologizing, Holder had tartly instructed the buffoonish Specter, his fellow senators, the press, and the public about the actual circumstances of the Rich affair. He might have started with the fact that continuous lobbying on Rich's behalf from the highest Israeli leaders and their American friends -- among whom Specter no doubt counts himself -- became even more intense in the days before Clinton left office. He could have noted that such pressures coincided with Clinton's efforts to conclude a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. And he could have explained to Specter that Rich's deals in Iran and Iraq were often related to his other role -- as an asset of the Mossad who gathered intelligence and helped to rescue endangered Jews from those regimes.
But Holder understood that there were deeper reasons why the pardon was likely to be approved, which had nothing to do with the political and charitable contributions of Rich's ex-wife, the Manhattan socialite Denise Rich. The New York Times offered just a hint in a front-page story that appeared shortly after the Holder nomination was announced. Only at the very end did the Times mention the pressure from "the Israelis" that had persuaded Holder not to oppose the pardon -- as he told Beth Nolan, then the White House counsel.
Echoing Barak's pleas on behalf of Rich were Clinton's old friend Shimon Peres, former Mossad director general Shabtai Shavit, and a host of other important figures in Israel and the American Jewish community. Winning the pardon was a top priority for Israeli officials because Rich had long been a financial and intelligence asset of the Jewish state, carrying out missions in many hostile countries where he did business. Although commentators in the mainstream and right-wing media have discounted this aspect of the controversy, they often seem as unfamiliar with critical facts as the average
Following weeks of preparation by Clinton, the last round of serious peace talks opened in Taba, Egypt, on Jan. 21, 2001, the day after he signed the Rich pardon. Those negotiations eventually failed, yet they came closer to achieving a workable settlement than any before or since.
This supposition is so ludicrous it would be laughable if it weren't so serious. We have learned in the years since the pardon that Rich was trading with Saddam Hussein in violation of UN sanctions. We've also learned that Rich traded with Iran also in violation of UN sanctions. Long ago, we knew that Rich was a bad guy. Now, I understand the world of intelligence enough to know that so called assets, like what Conason claims Rich was, often play both sides. It wouldn't be unheard of for Rich to help Israel at the same time he was working with Saddam and Iran, both Israel enemies. Yet, it would be totally out of his character.
Still, even if he was helping Israel, it's likely they knew he was playing the other side. As such, while he would have been an asset it wouldn't have been one they counted on all that much. Furthermore, even if he were their asset, they wouldn't have needed him to be pardoned. It wasn't as though Israel would have needed Rich inside the U.S. for whatever it is that Conason thinks they were doing with him.
So, why would Conason make such a ludicrous claim? Conason, and others like him, are convinced that Jews secretly run our foreign policy. Since he has no hard evidence of this supposition, he just makes up conjecture. Now, many of my friends and colleagues scoff when I say that anti Semitism continues to be rampant all over the place. Yet, what should I make of a columnist putting forth such a preposterous theory with nothing to back him up? What's more dangerous though is that Conason continues to enjoy a wide platform for his blatant anti Semitism. While he is a regular columnist at Salon, I found this particular piece at the Sun Times. Conason enjoys syndication for his anti Semitism. Much like his colleague the race baiter Mary Mitchell, Conason enjoys a platform and a nice living for his blatant bigotry.
In the world of our media, being a bigot is only a problem depending on which group you are bigoted against. If you are bigoted against religious people, for instance, that isn't merely tolerated but often celebrated. Yet, try and be bigoted against gays and suddenly you are a pariah. In fact, Jimmy the Greek lost his career for saying about blacks, what Mary Mitchell routinely says about whites.
Folks like Conason have created a cottage industry for hate, conjecture and rumor mongering. In portions of our media, the subtle anti Semitism of proclaiming that Jews run our foreign policy is celebrated. Imagine if another columnist made up similarly unsubstantiated claims about gays. Yet, not only is Conason tolerated, he is celebrated and rewarded with a fruitful career. Mitchell finds similar financial fruits in proclaiming whites are the problem for everything. Being paid to be a racist it seems, can be profitable as long as you target the right group.