Dreyfus-Pollard Parallel Clouds Major Differences

John Gort - The Jewish Western Bulletin (Vancouver, B.C.) - March 26, 1992

Simma Holt's analysis of the parallels between the cases of Jonathan Pollard and that of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus ("How Pollard parallels the famous Dreyfus case", JWB March 19, 1992) shows that both Dreyfus and Pollard were victims of the vicious anti-Semitism that was, and is, endemic in their societies.

Yet this parallel tends to obscure the important differences in the attitudes of these two victims toward the causes of their ordeal.

Dreyfus viewed his tribulation essentially as a "judicial error." He firmly rejected the possibility that his superiors might harbor any bias against him because of his Jewish ancestry.

On the contrary, he considered his superior officers to be incapable of such prejudices. While not wishing to hide his Jewish identity, he expressed his firm conviction, as quoted by Michael Burns in Dreyfus (New York: Harper Collins, p. 302), that "while religious beliefs are worthy of respect, they must remain in the private realm and have nothing to do with the duty of a citizen."

Moreover, Dreyfus emphatically rejected the notion of any form of Jewish nationalism. He considered the Zionist movement of his time as "an anachronism in modern society." He viewed himself not as a Jew, but rather, as a French officer of the Jewish persuasion.

While Dreyfus was indeed a passive victim of the anti-Semitism that was endemic in the society of his day, Pollard chose to sacrifice his comfortable existence in the noble cause of the safety and the freedom of the Jewish people who form the focus of his existence and the core of his identity.

  • See Also: The Dreyfus-Pollard Parallel: David Kirshenbaum Esq.