A sense of purpose is being felt lately in the struggle for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. But it has registered no success, as the White House statement at the beginning of the week showed, in melting the heart of President Barack Obama. And the Israeli concern, which came late and is also only that of a minority in the nation, serves as a mirror of the failures in the way we treat those who have taken steps on behalf of our security, whether as individuals or groups (for example, the South Lebanese Army ).
The Pollard affair began with the revelation of a weakness in spirit - the running of an Israeli spy in the United States. It was followed by panic, confusion, lack of wisdom and flight from responsibility by those in charge, such as Ariel Sharon, who was defense minister when Pollard was first used as a spy. But there was also apathy on the part of the Israeli public - and the impossible conflict which American Jews found themselves in until recently - which were detrimental to Israel's response. And since there was no suitable defense for the defendant, all the revenge, wickedness, hatred and settling of accounts were concentrated on one poor victim.
Contrary to all the spin we have been treated to until now, including that of the Israeli media, Pollard was merely a junior intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy. He did not spy for his country's enemies and most of the intelligence material he transferred to Israel related to its enemies, among them also the enemies of the United States.
During and after the time Pollard worked for Israel, other spies were caught in the United States working on behalf of China, the Soviet Union and Communist countries in Eastern Europe. Some of them also exposed American agents who were executed in the countries where they were posted. No memorandum was presented to the judge against any of these traitors by any American secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger did in the case of Jonathan Pollard, calling for a particularly stiff sentence. And unlike Pollard, none of those spies were held in solitary confinement for seven years. Years later, when asked why he did not mention the Pollard affair in his memoirs, Weinberger said it was a marginal case that was blown out of all proportion.
Dozens of spies were exposed in the United States and chared with spying for "friendly countries" including Britain and South Korea, allies of the first order. These spies were imprisoned for short terms, between five and ten years. In recent years, the American Jewish establishment has shed some of its understandable inhibitions and begun taking decisive action on Pollard's behalf.
Heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations have visited him in jail and published calls for his release. Even leaders of the Reform movement have added their names to many petitions on Pollard's behalf. Hundreds of respected Americans have signed a letter to Obama strongly urging him to pardon Pollard; they include former CIA Director James Woolsey and others from the U.S. security/intelligence establishment, former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Vice President Dan Quayle and scores of senators and Congress members.
All this activity has caused a certain amount of interest, though not enough, by the Israeli media, which was usually apathetic about Pollard, and part of which was hostile to his cause. (The reasons are worth a serious investigation ). No member of the Israeli intelligence community has been seen on the Israeli Committee for Pollard, while some of them, such as former Shin Bet security service head Yaakov Perry, have actively tried to obtain the release of the (pro-Soviet ) traitor and arch-spy Marcus Klingberg. For Pollard, they have not even signed a petition.
For many years, even when the Jews of America had already lost their inhibitions, official Israel acted in secret, as if it was merely a lobby, and without pride. Especially because this is a U.S. presidential election year, the time has come for a resolute call on Obama: Let Pollard go! Those with inside information say Israel's sin in running Pollard pales in comparison to the many sins of the United States in the field of spying on Israel.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now