The Betrayal of Jonathan Pollard

Our Community has let injustice happen

Professor Sol Modell - Heritage Southwest Jewish Press - February 28, 1992

Even at this late date, with Jonathan Pollard starting his seventh year in brutal solitary confinement, a number of American Jewish organizations have refused to become involved in his case. Among them are reported to be the American Jewish Committee, The Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith International and NJCRAC, the umbrella organization of the Jewish community relations committees of the United States.

The reason, according to their spokesmen, is that it has not been demonstrated that any "institutional anti-Semitism" has been involved in the Pollard case.

This assertion, foolish though it may be, makes it necessary for us to clarify the meaning, or succeed in the recognition, of this type of anti-Semitism. As with pornography, about which one member of the U.S. Supreme Court once said, "I may not be able to precisely define it, but I sure know it when I see it," so it is with institutional anti-Semitism.

It is not limited to a bill against Jews being passed by Congress and signed by the President, or a decision against Jews being handed down by the Supreme Court. Such anti-Semitism exists when those in power in government, and even in many private institutions, use that power to discriminate against Jews, deprive Jews of their rights as citizens of this country, and punish Jews more brutally than non-Jews for violations of the law.

During World War II, the time of the Holocaust, there was nothing to prevent President Roosevelt from attempting to save Europe's Jews. Hundreds of thousands could have been rescued. But Roosevelt was indifferent to their fate, and those in control of the state and war departments strenuously opposed every effort to save Jewish - even Jewish children's - lives. This was a horrible example of institutional anti-Semitism, and still, America's Jewish leadership at the time, in the main, refused to intervene.

And, in the early 1950s, the Rosenbergs became the only American civilians ever executed in peace time for the crime of espionage. The fact that the attorneys who prosecuted them and the judge who condemned them to die were Jews did not lessen this as an example of institutional anti-Semitism.

Which brings us to the Pollard case, every iota of which gives the lie to those who have denied the existence of that type of anti-Semitism in this bitter story.

In 1983, the United States and Israel entered into an official agreement for the exchange of intelligence information relating to each other's security interest. This was the equivalent of a treaty, which is the law in the United States. Yet, by order of a vicious Jew-hating part Jew, Caspar Weinberger, then-secretary of defense, much extremely vital information regarding grave dangers to Israel stemming from Syria, Libya, Iraq and the PLO was withheld from the Jewish state. This was institutional anti-Semitism.

It was this classified information that came to Jonathan Pollard's attention in the course of his work, and it was this information that he transmitted to Israel, believing that the Jewish state, by right, should have been made aware of it.

Incidentally, the part-Jewish Weinberger, who hates Israel with a passion (it keeps reminding him that he is not a 100 per cent Gentile), would have ended up in one of Hitler's gas chambers if he had lived in Europe.

The Pollards were betrayed by U.S. government agents throughout every phase of the proceedings that led first to the acceptance of a plea-bargaining agreement by Jonathan and Anne Pollard and then to the double cross that was perpetrated against them. They were duped with false promises and commitments by officials of the U.S. government in a manner never before employed against any non-Jew accused of a federal crime in the United States. This was institutional anti-Semitism.

Before Judge Aubrey Robinson, who is black, sentenced the Pollard, he received from Caspar Weinberger a sworn statement containing numerous falsehoods, including a patently false claim that never before in our history had a spy done as great a harm to the United States. (The material given Israel by Pollard contained only information concerning Arab threats to the security of the Jewish state.) Weinberger, an incredibly stupid, ignorant man, also falsely declared that Pollard was guilty of treason and should be hanged, even though our Constitution clearly defined treason. According to that definition, treason can be committed only on behalf of an enemy. Israel is not only a friend, but is supposed to be an ally.

Judge Robinson, who also happens to hate Israel, received false information, which he never bothered to check but was happy to believe, that Pollard had provided Israel with information about American satellite monitoring of Israel-South African missile tests. Contrary to all American judicial principles, this anti-Israel slander played a part in his violation of the government's pleas-bargaining agreement with the Pollards. He committed Anne Pollard to a sentence of five years in a federal penitentiary and Jonathan to a life term without the possibility of parole. This was surely an example of institutional anti-Semitism.

A few additional facts. A CIA agent stationed in Southern California, who sent much classified information to the Soviet Union, an enemy country at the time, did not receive a life sentence without parole. John Walker, who also worked for the U.S. government, sent the most vital pieces of classified information to the Soviet Union over a 20 year period, but was not given a life sentence without parole.

Abdelkader Helmy, an American citizen of Egyptian background sent some important military equipment to Egypt, from where it was transferred to Iraq, which used it against our troops during the Persian Gulf War, but he was sentenced to only four years in prison and was released after two years. Egypt, for its role in this betrayal, was rewarded by President Bush with a gift of billions of dollars.

Mrs. Walker, who helped her husband for most of the 20 years, never spent a night in jail, but Anne Pollard, whose role in her husband's activities was minimal, received a five-year sentence.

Such are the facts that prove institutional anti-Semitism against the Pollards.

Anne Pollard was sent to a prison in which she was denied desperately-needed medical care. During the period of her incarceration, she lost almost half of her normal body weight. Jonathan was sent to a prison for the criminally insane, where for almost a year he was surrounded by raving lunatics, and deprived of his clothes and his glasses for all of the time he was incarcerated.

Thereafter, Pollard was sent to Marion, Ill., where is located the most maximum-security prison in the United States. There in a 6 by 10 foot cell, three floors underground, utterly isolated from other human life, he has spent 23 hours of every day for the past six years.

No non-Jewish federal prisoner has ever been treated in this barbaric fashion, a treatment that completely violates the rights of Americans under the Eighth Amendment to our Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of 'cruel and unusual punishment' on prisoners.

Pollard made a mistake; he broke the law, for which he has paid dearly. But, in this sad situation, we have been presented with a terrible problem: abdication of their responsibility by major segments of the so-called American Jewish establishment. It is they who have trembled at the thought that standing up for Pollard would be a "shanda fur de goyim." They have shivered and trembled over the fear that they might be accused of "dual loyalty."

By this time, a united American Jewish community, under proper leadership, could most likely have achieved the commutation of Jonathan Pollard's sentence. Every additional day he remains in prison is a reflection not on him but on the anti-Semitic institutional practices of the United States government, on the cowardice of much of America's Jewish leadership, and on its desire to ingratiate itself with the country's non-Jewish power establishment.

Jews could learn a great deal from the strategy and tactics adopted in recent years by America's blacks and leadership of their organizations.