Poll: Israelis Support Pollard

James Wensits - South Bend Tribune - November 22, 1991


- A new poll indicates a majority of Israelis think their government should work harder to get the United States to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard his father said Thursday.

Morris Pollard, a retired University of Notre Dame professor, said the survey, released by the Gallop Israel Institute, shows strong grassroots support for his son, who graduated in 1972 from Riley High School.

On Wednesday, Jonathan Pollard began the seventh year of his prison term after admitting he was an Israeli spy while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy.

Since pleading guilty to the espionage charge, he has been held in solitary confinement at the federal maximum security prison at Marion, Ill.

Jonathan Pollard also has pursued a legal effort to withdraw his guilty plea so that he can stand trial on the charges against him.

Sentenced to life imprisonment, he said the U.S. government's decision to seek the maximum penalty violated the terms of his plea-bargain agreement.

His lawyers have argued the life sentence is far sterner than normal in espionage cases involving a nation friendly to the United States.

The poll results were released in the United States on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's meeting with President Bush.

Morris Pollard said he cannot guess whether Shamir will be affected by the survey. "I don't know the man," he said.

The poll found 81 percent of those surveyed believe Shamir should ask Bush for Jonathan Pollard's release.

It also found only 18 percent of Israelis questioned believe Shamir has done enough to seek Pollard's freedom.

In response to a related question, 26 percent of the respondents said they thought such an appeal would harm U.S. relations with Israel; 54 percent thought it would do no damage.

Amnon Dror, who headed the committee sponsoring the poll, hoped his government would take steps "to put an end to this sad affair."

Dror said an Israeli Knesset caucus wanted the full parliament to request Shamir ask Bush to release Pollard.

Morris Pollard said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has been considering his son's request to withdraw his guilty plea since Sept. 10.

As an alternative to granting a trial, Pollard's attorney, Theodore Olson, has asked the panel to remand the case to a lower court for resentencing.

Olson, who has served as former President Reagan's personal attorney, asked to represent Jonathan Pollard after reading court records and taking an interest in the case, Morris Pollard said.

Asked if he is optimistic about securing his son's release, Morris Pollard said: "I have to be optimistic. There's no alternative."

J4JP Note

: (added December 2001) Amnon Dror is not a private individual nor a volunteer advocate. He is a secret service representative of the Government of Israel. Dror's real task is at odds with seeking Jonathan's release. He is charged by the government with "managing" the Pollard case to keep it quiet and low profile. The Public Committee that Dror claims to head is just a cover for his operation.