Israel collects intelligence on American foreign policy related to Israel and the Middle East, as well as on scientific and technological developments, including those from the private sector. The gathering of intelligence from a foreign ally is neither an unusual nor new practice. Moreover, the United States reciprocates the favor and likewise gathers intelligence on Israel. The Untied States certainly cannot expect Israel or any other nation to refrain from using surveillance, while at the same time gathering intelligence against those very same nations. For Israel, areas of general interest for Israeli intelligence collectors include military and economic policy and of course, intelligence services themselves such as the CIA (Caramela, 2014). Intelligence is used to bolster Israel's own national security, military, and technological capabilities. The methods Israel uses to gather intelligence are varied and range from computer hacking to communications surveillance. Reasons for gathering intelligence on an ally are generally straightforward, such as specific desires for additional or supplemental information not easily or directly attainable through standard diplomatic means. Although critics of the Israeli intelligence gathering against the United States claim the act represents serious threats to national security, Israel remains one of the lowest threat nations to the United States as well as one of its strategic foreign allies. Therefore, the United States can and already does accept Israeli efforts, so long as those efforts do not directly infringe upon the goals of American domestic and foreign policies.
During the Cold War, Israel engaged in several spurious intelligence gathering campaigns against the United States. Some of those campaigns failed utterly, and were potentially dangerous, such as the Zalman Shapiro project, in which a Manhattan Project engineer funneled enriched uranium to Israel for several years (Caramela, 2014). Other high profile efforts include the use of American citizen Jonathan Pollard, who provided the Israeli government with satellite imagery specifically depicting Arab and Soviet states. Given the direct threats to Israeli national security posed by both Arab and Soviet states during the Cold War, it is understandable that Israel would be hungry for the most robust, detailed, accurate, and thorough intelligence possible. Yet because of his collecting and disseminating "tens of thousands of secrets" for Israel, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1986, a move that polarized both Americans and Israelis (Stein, 2014).
There has been recent talk about potentially releasing Pollard from prison early. The Pollard case represents somewhat of a turning point in American-Israeli relations because it highlighted the ongoing issue of mutual espionage. According to Giraldi (2008), the Pollard case led to a "gentleman's agreement" between the United States and Israel to stop mutual intelligence gathering; the agreement has been largely deemed a "farce," as neither nation has stopped. Since being accused of spying on its allies like Germany in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, the Obama administration has made a point to acknowledge and defend its policy of spying on its allies (Nakamura & DeYoung, 2013). Obama points out that allies are "seeking additional insight beyond what's available through open sources…And if that weren't the case, then there would be no use for an intelligence service," (Nakamura & DeYoung, 2013). A more honest and open approach such as that suggested by President Obama would be a better approach than to attempt to artificially or hypocritically curtail espionage efforts.
Both the United States and Israel have needs for more robust intelligence. Given this, it is no small wonder why the United…
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