Pollard Revisited

The Baltimore Jewish News - Editorial - March 22, 1991

The case of Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel, is a complex maze of legal complexities and government duplicity laced with overtones of anti-Semitism and the gut-issue of Israel's military security.

Mr. Pollard admits he broke the law, but says he did so only out of love for Israel. To his supporters, he is an unsung hero who deserves the Jewish Community's full support, particularly now that his warnings about Iraq were largely proven right by the Persian Gulf War.

Israel, which exploited Mr. Pollard and then denied him safe haven, is by all accounts now working to gain his release.

Clearly, Mr. Pollard has been dealt a harsh legal hand. The question is why? Backers say former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, no lover of Israel, is the key. His still-secret ex-parte memo sent to sentencing Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. was reportedly so inflammatory that it persuaded the judge to throw the book at Mr. Pollard.

It is clear that Mr. Pollard has been treated with exceptional severity during his period of incarceration, one that Judge Robinson said should last the remainder of his life. He has been confined to a prison mental ward and has spent the past three years in solitary confinement.

Mr. Pollard is guilty of espionage, and even though it was for a friendly nation, that is a serious charge. But it should not be confused with treason, and the treatment he has received appears more in line with that meted out to traitors.

With Mr. Pollard's appeal trial scheduled for the fall, now is the time for the Jewish community to look seriously at whether Mr. Pollard is a victim of injustice - and worthy of support.