Rally for Pollard Signals Growing Support

The Jewish Week (NY) - Week of January 31, 1992


- American Jews, Israel's leaders and the U.S. government share the guilt for Jonathan Jay Pollard's continued imprisonment, a prominent reform rabbi charged at a support rally for the former naval intelligence analyst now serving a life sentence for passing classified documents to Israel.

By not protesting Pollard's sentence, "the American Jewish community bears a collective guilt for being so timorous and afraid of [being accused of] dual loyalty," Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin of the Stephen S. Wise Temple here told some 600 persons.

The leaders of Israel are guilty for waiting six years before taking some interest in the case, Zeldin said, adding that "the most guilty is the U.S. government, from the prosecutor to the White House. The government double-crossed Jonathan and the entire Jewish community."

The pro-Pollard rally, the first of its kind in Los Angeles, gave further evidence that while large segments of American Jewry feel it improper to become involved in the case, outspoken support for Pollard is becoming more widespread and "respectable."

One indication was the caliber of speakers at the temple, headed by Seymour Reich, one of American Jewry's most prominent voices as the former president of B'nai B'rith International and former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

He was joined by senior officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and a black Los Angeles city councilman. Professor Morris Pollard, Jonathan's father, also spoke.

Reich, a New York attorney, outlined four stages in the Jewish community's attitude toward Pollard, after his guilty plea and sentencing following his arrest in November 1985.

The first stage, said Reich, was marked by outrage at Pollard's espionage and at the role of the Israeli government in "running" an American Jew as a spy against his own government.

In the second stage, the first voices of sympathy and protest were raised publicly on behalf of Pollard's wife at the time. They are now divorced.

Anne Pollard, sentenced to five years imprisonment as an accessory after the fact, was reportedly denied medical treatment during her incarceration.

The Persian Gulf War, particularly Iraq's Scud attacks on Tel Aviv, convinced a growing number of people in the third stage that Pollard had been morally, though not legally, justified in passing secret documents on Arab military strength to Israel.

Now in the fourth stage, said Reich, the American Jewish community is beginning to express itself more loudly that "Pollard got a raw deal and enough is enough."

The current status of the case, Reich said in an earlier news conference, rests on an appeal pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In his brief, Theodore Olson, Pollard's lead attorney, asked the court to vacate Pollard's guilty plea and order a new trial, and that the life sentence be reduced.

Pollard's defense contends that prosecutors promised him lenient treatment in return for his cooperation and guilty plea, but that the government subsequently reneged on its part of the deal.

Supporters also argue that the sentence is much harsher than those imposed on other Americans convicted of espionage, and that Pollard's solitary confinement in a maximum security prison is inhumane.

The three judge panel of the appellate court is expected to hand down its ruling within the next two months, but the likelihood that it will overturn the lower court decision appears to be slim.

An Amicus (friend-of-the-court) petition, signed by 78 prominent individuals and Jewish organizations, has been submitted to the court on Pollard's behalf, but Reich still believes that so far, "Jewish organizations have missed the boat; they don't hear the 'amchah' - the ordinary people, the masses."

Source: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency