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Is Former Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard Good for the Jews?

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Jonathan Pollard exits U.S. District court after a hearing with his wife Esther Pollard, New York, December 14, 2015.
Jonathan Pollard exits U.S. District court after a hearing with his wife Esther Pollard, New York, December 14, 2015.Credit: Reuters

I’m curious as to how they’ll teach the Jonathan Pollard affair in school. The affair includes several topics that warrant discussion in civics classes, such as to which does a Jew owe more allegiance, to his country of birth, whichever it may be, or to Israel (my loyalty goes to whoever pays me, Pollard might have said, collecting $60,000 in exchange)?

Is Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel in the U.S., the teacher will ask, the same as Eli Cohen, who spied for Israel in Syria? Is it fitting to welcome him here with an official ceremony? To name a street after him?

There is morality, and then there is Zionist morality. One cannot take a bribe, but one can expropriate land. The civics teacher who can discuss the contradictions between Zionism and morality has not been born yet.

If any teacher tried to, enraged parents would immediately rush to the Ministry of Education crying foul. Pollard’s espionage, they were taught to believe, was a Zionist act. What do you want, they would say? After all, all of them are spies. Zionist espionage in America is a source of pride for them; there is no shame in betraying America.

We no longer feel shame about anything. “We don’t apologize”, said (former) Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. Civics lessons no longer include a quote by Ben-Gurion, who said that history has given us a moral quality that obliges us to be a light unto the nations.

Really, you ask? No kidding! A light unto nations? That’s so Fifties it makes you want to yawn. Do us a favor, we say, now we are the neighborhood bully.

Bullies have no moral quandaries. With world Jewry behind us and the traumas of Auschwitz filling our heads, we’re confident that we are the Yair Netanyahus of this world; we’ll always have someone looking out for us. We act crazy and Jews around the world pay the price; we soil and they clean up; we perpetrate and they suffer terror attacks.

Right-wing activists holding palcards with the picture of Jonathan Pollard Credit: BAUBAU

No moral deliberation will interfere with the (muted) joyful welcome and (cold) blessing we extend to the spy Pollard. Why muted and cold? Perhaps because of the shame. Maybe there a few vestigial shreds of this emotion left. The state reception will be explained as a token of gratitude for someone who sacrificed himself for us.

The truth is, however, that more than he sacrificed himself, we pushed him into that situation. Willing or not, what difference does it make? What is important is that the civics teacher will never admit that we sacrifice the Jews of the world on the altar of our security and well-being.

In 1985, the American Jew Pollard paid with his freedom for our sake, just as in 1955 the Egyptian Jew Dr. Moshe Marzouk paid with his life for our sake.

Who knows how many Jews are right now laying their lives on the line for us? No teacher will reveal that this is the destiny we’ve foisted on them – to serve as a protective vest for us. We’ve embraced them so tightly that they can no longer differentiate between the people of Israel, the government of Israel and the state of Israel.

We’ve saddled them with the whole package. No civics teacher will mention that we’re buying their loyalty with money, or with feelings of guilt, or with the claim that thus they will prevent a second Auschwitz.

We’ve forced them to embrace a dual loyalty. It’s not a good idea to bring up dual loyalty in civics lessons – it will the turn out that we’ve imposed this on the Jews of the world. We’ve built a dual-purpose homeland for them: a national homeland for the Jews (where we live), and a refuge ahead of the next Holocaust (which we rent out to them). Every antisemitic incident increases the rent we collect. They pay in advance, in donations, in loyalty and even in betrayals.

We hoped that dual loyalty would turn the world’s Jews into wanderers whose loyalty cannot be trusted, a loyalty given only to us, but it turned out that Jews around the world are not like that. They put their birthplace before their religion, even though in our eyes religion and nationality are one and the same.

In the United States, state and church are separated. This separation was expressed in the fact that most American Jews voted against our friend Trump. Their vote was an American one, but we insisted on calling it “the Jewish vote.” We once thought that they, the Jews, were in our pocket – that is in the pocket of Israel’s government, namely, in Netanyahu’s pocket.

But “Israel’s best friend” was supported by less than 30 percent of them, and the question a civics teacher should ask is: Are America’s Jews good for the Jews?

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