Rosenzweig Critique of AJC Report

Re: Dershowitz - diGenova Meeting, May 9, 1991
Letter by Michael Rosenzweig, Esq. - June 17, 1991

Via Regular Mail and Telecopy

From: Michael Rosenzweig, Esq.

To: Phil Baum, Associate Executive Director American Jewish Congress
and Chairman NJCRAC Ad Hoc Committee on the Pollard Case

c/o National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council
443 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

June 17, 1991

Re: Report of May 9, 1991 Meeting with Alan Dershowitz and Joseph diGenova

Dear Mr. Baum:

I have read your memorandum dated June 4, 1991, reporting on the May 9, 1991 meeting of the NJCRAC Ad Hoc Committee on the Pollard case (the "Committee") with Alan Dershowitz and Joseph diGenova. I believe that certain of the comments attributed to Mr. DiGenova and other attendees are incomplete or misleading and, if not corrected, could undermine the integrity of the Committee's process and any decision that it may reach regarding the Pollard case. Accordingly, I hope that you will consider, and pass on to the Committee, the following comments.

  1. Mr. DiGenova is quoted in paragraph 1, page 3 of your memorandum, as saying "the system works, and it should be permitted to work in this case." Similarly, in paragraph 3, pages 3-3 of your memorandum, Mr. diGenova is reported to have stated that the issue in the Pollard case is not guilt or innocence, but the manner of sentencing, which issue is in the courts.

    Both statements were intended to persuade the Committee that it should take no position on the Pollard case. What Mr. DiGenova overlooks, however, is that the "system" to which he refers includes the political as well as the judicial process. Pollard's supporters are working within the system to secure his release. There is nothing the least untoward or inappropriate about seeking through political avenues to have his sentence commuted to time served. To insinuate, as does Mr. DiGenova, that this somehow usurps the authority of the courts is simply wrong and reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the American system of government.

  2. In paragraph 2, page 3 of your memorandum, you quote Mr. diGenova as saying that the "villains" in the Pollard case are those in the Israeli Defense Ministry who were "stupid enough" to run the Pollard mission. Even accepting as true Mr. diGenova's characterization of the mission and those in Israel who may have been involved with it, his point is a non sequitur and has nothing whatever to do with the claim that Pollard has been treated unduly harshly because he is a Jew whose espionage activity was conducted on behalf of the Jewish state. Taken to its logical conclusion, Mr. DiGenova's statement suggests that a decision by the Israelis to conduct a "stupid" mission justifies the grossest unfairness in the prosecution and sentencing of Jonathan Pollard. Surely the Committee would not intend to embrace that form of argument.

  3. In paragraph 4 of your memorandum, on page 4, you report that Mr. DiGenova referred to the massive volume and quality of the information compromised by Pollard. The clear suggestion is that Pollard did great damage to the interests of the United States. What he fails to note, of course, is that Pollard was never charged with doing any injury whatsoever to the interests of this country. All the hyperbole in the world regarding the physical space that would be filled by the material compromised by Pollard does not change that fundamentally important fact.

  4. In paragraph 5, on page 4 of your memorandum, you report that Mr. DiGenova suggested that Pollard's interview with Wolf Blitzer and his wife's appearance on "60 Minutes" had an effect on the sentencing. This, of course, is quite astonishing, and profoundly disturbing, if true. One would hope that in reaching his sentencing decision, the judge would rely on the evidence submitted to him in connection with the sentencing proceeding.

  5. In paragraph 6, on page 4 of your memorandum, you report Mr. diGenova as suggesting that Pollard is asking for special treatment because Israel is an ally of the U.S. This is in ironic suggestion, since what Pollard really seeks, of course, is equality of treatment. Pollard's supporters have shown again and again that his sentence is grossly disproportionate to the sentence meted out to others who engaged in espionage activity on behalf of United States allies. In the context of these sentences, Mr. DiGenova's assertion that the Pollard sentence was fair is simply not credible.

  6. On page 4 of the memorandum, you report that Mr. DiGenova suggested that 1997, when Pollard is technically eligible for parole, would be a good time to raise the question of early release. Again, this is a non sequitur. If the sentence was unfair and Pollard was treated unjustly, why should he have to wait until 1997 to be released? There is utterly no connection between the date on which Pollard becomes eligible for parole and the appropriate time to seek his release on the ground of unfairness.

  7. On the bottom of page 4 of your memorandum, you point out that Mr. DiGenova noted that if a plea bargain is breached, the criminal is permitted a new trial. This, of course is precisely what Pollard is seeking in his appeal, currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As both the Pollard brief and the Amicus brief submitted to that court clearly demonstrate, contrary to Mr. DiGenova's assertion (page 5 of your memorandum), the government did not deliver on its part of the bargain.

  8. On page 5 of the memorandum, you report Mr. DiGenova as asserting that the Pollard case is not about anti-Semitism, but rather is about stupidity on the part of individuals in the Israeli Defense Ministry. Again, the "Pollard case" in its present form, is about allegations of unfairness in connection with Pollard's plea bargain and sentencing. Even the grossest stupidity on the part of individuals in the Israeli Defense Ministry would not justify or excuse disparate and unfair treatment of a Jew on account of his Jewishness.

  9. On page 5 of your memorandum, you say that Mr. DiGenova stated that "none of us knows the full and true length and breadth of the Pollard case." Does Mr. DiGenova mean to suggest that one can properly be sentenced for crimes other than those of which he (h)as been charged and to which he has pleaded guilty? Once again, the Committee must not lose sight of the fact that Pollard was not charged with injuring the United States. To justify his sentence and treatment on the ground that he in fact harmed United States interest is terribly unfair.

  10. On the bottom of page 5 and the top of page 6, you are quoted as suggesting that active involvement in this case would be a departure for Jewish communal organizations, "since we do not become involved in numerous other cases in which Jewish convicts have alleged injustice or unfairness in their sentencing." What you do not address, of course, is whether such involvement would be proper where that injustice or unfairness occurred because of an individual's Jewishness. That, of course, is the issue in the Pollard case.

  11. On page 6 of your memorandum, you note that, during the discussion by the Committee, it was asserted that the presence of anti-Semitism in the Pollard case has not been established. What has been established is that a Jew who committed espionage activity in aid of the Jewish state received a grossly disproportionate sentence of life imprisonment, in part because of memoranda submitted by Caspar Weinberger (whose antagonism toward Israel and ambivalence about his Jewish ancestry are well known), incorrectly accusing Pollard of treason and dramatically exaggerating the extent of the damage caused by Pollard. Moreover, Pollard himself has noted publicly that he was asked during his interrogation to select from a list of prominent American Jews the names of those who had conspired with him. What exactly does one need to do to convince doubters that anti-Semitism was in fact involved in the Pollard case? What "proof" would suffice to convince Jewish organizations that they should become active in Pollard's behalf?

The Pollard case raises issues of Jewish concern that transcend the individual circumstances of Jonathan Jay Pollard. It is peculiarly appropriate that Jewish communal organizations become involved in the case. All of us are threatened by what happened to Jonathan Pollard, and it is at our great peril that we fail to recognize that.

Very truly yours,

Michael Rosenzweig


cc: Professor Alan Dershowitz (via telecopy)