The Pollard Proposal

October 3, 1995 - The Jerusalem Post

It is difficult to imagine a more harebrained idea than to link the release of Arab terrorists to a presidential pardon for Jonathan Pollard. Terrorists, whether men or women, who have deliberately killed innocent Israelis are murderers whom only the Israeli government can free. In the case of those who were tried by a court in Israel, President Ezer Weizman can grant a pardon. But to force him to make a decision which might affect Pollard is unconscionable. As he said on Sunday, "To interpose Pollard into this was neither nice nor right. Now it is as if I am preventing Pollard's release". Fortunately, he was - as he put it - "saved by President Clinton" who rejected the deal.

The government may be wrong and misguided in releasing terrorists, particularly after pledging to consider such action only in return for the extradition of Palestinian murderers of a more recent vintage. But, as the High Court of Justice has ruled, there is no disputing the government's right to release jailed murderers as part of a political deal with the PLO.

Yet Israelis have the right to hope that the deal with the PLO is not being concluded to please the US. It is, one must presume, something the government believes is good for Israel, a gamble for which Israel is being compensated one way or another, even if only with promises. Otherwise, no one in Israel would be insane enough to support the release of dangerous, fanatic murderers. (The exception may be Communications Minister Shulamit Aloni, who on Friday said that these murderers should be released because they were ideologically motivated soldiers in the cause of Palestinian independence.)

It is, then, unthinkable to ask the US to let Pollard out in "exchange" for releasing Palestinian murderers. Not only because this represents an unacceptable application of the "moral equivalence" principle, putting Pollard on equal footing with despicable killers of women and children, but because it equates the US with an enemy, something that is precisely what the US has unfairly done to Israel in the Pollard case.

The reasons for demanding Pollard's release are as plain as they are just. Pollard spied for a friendly country. Unlike traitors Mordechai Vanunu and Marcus Klingberg, whom some professional bleeding hearts compare to Pollard,

he did not betray his country


He should have been sentenced, like all spies who work for allies, to a short jail term. The charge that he had done immeasurable harm to the US has proved to be nothing but orchestrated disinformation spread by master Soviet spy Aldridge Ames, who deflected attention from his own betrayal of American agents by pointing to Pollard. The American intelligence community, which like all intelligence agencies finds nothing more difficult than to admit error, should finally recognize it has been wrong and recommend his release.

That Pollard and Ames, who has really caused the US incalculable damage, have received the same sentence, and that Pollard has spent 10 years in prison (most of them in solitary confinement) is an outrage and a lasting stain on the American justice system. Pollard should be released because the US should want to remove this stain from its record.

Every day he spends in jail is another day of American shame.

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