Pollard Pardon Due
The Jerusalem Post - December 28, 1992
When President George Bush granted a pardon to former defense secretary Caspar
Weinberger and five other former officials, many expected that Jonathan
Pollard would also be reprieved. Not just because it is time to end an ordeal
which can only be viewed as a cruel and unusual punishment; but because it was
Weinberger - pardoned after being indicted of four felonies - who fought hard
and successfully to "put Pollard away for life, so he will never see the light
of day," as he himself put it.
It is neither necessary nor wise to dabble in armchair psychoanalysis to
explain why Weinberger was indifferent to cases of Soviet spies, but made a
spy for Israel his Jean Valjean. Yet the facts in the case are puzzling
Pollard spied in America but not against America. He passed American secrets
not to an enemy but to an ally which was supposed to receive most of this
information according to a signed agreement which was not kept. He pleaded
guilty in exchange for the US government's pledge not to seek a life sentence,
only to have the trial judge reject the agreement. The judge's rejection
seemed to stem from on a letter from Weinberger.
Neither Pollard nor anyone else denies the severity of his crime. Yet no spy
in recent history, including spies for the USSR who compromised American
security, has received a punishment as harsh as Pollard's.
American-born Abdelkader Helmy was sentenced to 46 months for selling Stealth
missile secrets to Egypt; US Navy Ensign Stephen Baba got two years for
illicitly conveying electronic codes to South Africa; Army Specialist Albert
Sombolay is serving a 19-year prison term for selling information on US troop
deployment during the Gulf War.
Adding to Pollard's special hardship is that for no apparent reason he was
first sent to a mental hospital, then to solitary confinement in a basement
cell in the Marion, Illinois, federal penitentiary - the toughest prison in
Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Congress and the
Anti-Defamation League have refused to plead for him. Since the case does not
involve discrimination and antisemitism, they say, it is not within their
purview. But it is far more likely that they are staying away in fear and
trepidation because they dread the charge of dual loyalty.
To its credit, the American Jewish Committee, which was first reluctant to
tackle the case, has reversed its stand. Joining the 1.5 million people,
including 600 rabbis and over 200 organizations, that have asked for a pardon
for Pollard, the AJC's president Alfred Moses has declared that Pollard's
disproportionate sentence should be commuted.
The struggle for Pollard's release is led by his sister Carol, with Eli
Wiesel, Pollard's rabbi Avi Weiss, and former chairman of Presidents of Major
Jewish Organizations Seymour Reich. It is a fight every person of compassion
and a sense of justice should join.