In Pursuit of Justice

The B'nai Brith Messenger - Editorial - July 17, 1992

Is it time yet for the Jews of America to raise their voices and cry for justice for Jonathan Pollard?

It is almost eight years since we were shocked to learn that Jonathan Pollard had delivered classified information to Israel. The immediate response of most Jews was embarrassment, and a silent realization that although what he did was intended to help Israel, he had seriously violated the law and it was right that he be punished.

Jonathan has admitted his offense, both officially to the prosecutors and personally to his parents... We were all agreed, until we heard some of the details of the broken promises by his prosecutors. We were confused by then Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger's unbelievable statement submitted to the court when Jonathan was to be sentenced. He said, "It is difficult for me, even in this so-called year of the spy, to conceive a greater harm to national security than that caused by (Pollard)." He argued that "only a period of incarceration commensurate with the enduring quality of the national defense information (that Pollard relayed to Israel) can yet impact." The statement implied that Jonathan's offense was more heinous than that of a series of spies who were given limited sentences, thus Jonathan deserves life imprisonment.

Now as the conditions of his incarceration come to light, it appears that beginning with his sentence, prejudices and other improprieties have plagued Jonathan Pollard throughout. It is fair to say that his basic civil rights have been denied. The latest disappointment to Jonathan's effort to improve his situation came recently when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against him on the request to vacate his guilty plea. Two Jewish judges, Lawrence Silberman and Ruth B. Ginsburg denied the request. The third member of the panel, Judge Stephen Williams, who is not Jewish, dissented and called Pollard's life sentence a "fundamental miscarriage of justice."

The description of Jonathan's outrageous treatment in the "K" unit at Marion Penitentiary in Illinois calls to fellow Jews to join the increasing number of our people and the many non-Jews who identify with his pain. They feel that the indignity, the deprivation of the years of his incarceration should be drawn to a close. His offense was serious but he has been punished enough.

The time has arrived for all of us to rally in support of an appeal to President Bush for commutation of Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time already served. Not only sympathy for him in his ordeal, but respect for the integrity of American justice prompts such a plea. We must appeal for the correction of what Judge Williams called a "fundamental miscarriage of justice."