An opinion piece aired on Arutz-7
July 31, 1996 - MK Rehavam Ze'evi (Moledet)

When Jonathan Pollard was originally convicted of spying for Israel, the Israeli government chose to distance itself from him, claiming that he had acted on his own. The State of Israel did not accept any responsibility for the actions of Pollard. Those who decided upon this policy did so in the hope that the damage to the relationship between Israel and the U.S. would be minimized. But things did not turn out that way. The Americans knew exactly who was behind Pollard, correctly assuming that a spy with such valuable information and sources was certainly familiar, if not more than that, to the leaders of the beneficiary nation. Israel's apathy to the plight of Pollard therefore angered them even more. The American intelligence departments saw themselves as the chief victim, fearing that they had been made fools of in front of the entire intelligence community. They therefore demanded that full justice be meted out to the spy - a demand which fell upon open ears in the Justice Department and in the White House.

True, the American President is constitutionally entitled to reject the various recommendations that reach him, and to pardon or not as he sees fit. But why should he do so, if he does not hear a firm demand from the other side? With all due respect to all of our past and present Prime Ministers, not one of them has banged on the table and presented an absolute demand to release Pollard. Netanyahu, according to the White House, did not even raise the issue while speaking with Clinton earlier this month. It could be that he mentioned Pollard to one of Clinton's aides, or to a Cabinet Secretary; the Americans accordingly related to it as an "aside," a fulfillment of an obligation. This past visit would have been the best opportunity to raise the issue with Clinton: Clinton was looking to get his relationship with the new Prime Minister off to a positive start, and especially so now with the American elections approaching. He almost definitely would have attempted to come towards Netanyahu if the matter had been raised to him.

Before the Prime Minister left for Washington, I wrote him a letter, suggesting that he demand Pollard's release. I saw this as an important Jewish value in general in our approach to our soldiers and secret agents. Jonathan Pollard committed a crime against his country, out of loyalty to his nation. He has paid dearly: 11 years in prison, including 7 in solitary confinement. This is more than enough according to any standard, and certainly according to the American standard, where most spies - even those who spied for enemy countries! - sit for maybe five or six years until they are released in an exchange of some sort. Pollard was not in the employ of America's enemies, but simply watched with increasing anxiety as information crucial to Israel's security was being concealed from her. He saw that Israel's existence was being jeopardized, despite all of the agreements between the two countries regarding information-exchange, and he did what he did.

Israel must never forsake Jonathan Pollard and allow him to rot alone in prison somewhere out in North Carolina. He sacrificed for us and for our very well-being, and he is worthy of our unceasing struggle on behalf of his quick release.