Who's Afraid of Jonathan Pollard?

Why Isn't Israel Doing More to Bring Jonathan Home?

Exclusive OpEd by Jonathan Pollard
New Jersey Jewish News - August 14, 1997


Jonathan Pollard worked for the State of Israel. Why then have Israel's efforts to secure his release been so half-hearted? In recent years Jonathan has had to give up any illusion that the Government of Israel is making a credible attempt to secure his release. Even ordinary people now understand that the betrayal that began 13 years ago when Israel threw her own agent out of the Embassy and into the waiting arms of the FBI, and then turned over all the documents necessary to indict him -- never really ended, but just changed its public mask.

We are constantly being asked, "But why doesn't Israel want Jonathan home?" "Does he know something?" "Why are they so afraid of him?" Jonathan and I have agonized over these same questions. We can state with certainty that there is no security issue and no deep dark secret that Jonathan possesses. We have been able to deduce that those elements in Israel who sabotage and undermine the effort to secure Jonathan's release have their own personal and self-serving reasons for doing so.

In discussion, Jonathan described the mindset of those individuals that seem to be at work to prevent his release. Here are Jonathan's descriptions as they were told to me.

Esther Pollard

There are essentially three categories or groups of individuals who are playing a role in determining why the State of Israel has not been willing or able to secure my release. The first group fall into what I call the "Servile" category. This group includes individuals who are either so in awe of the United States, or so in need of identifying with the US in some way, that they are afraid to rock the boat over my case. They put maintenance of the US-Israel relationship ahead of the security and welfare of any individual including those who served the State.

The case of Ron Arad illustrates how this category of thinkers has no qualms about sacrificing the life of an individual on the altar of their own political agenda. In other words, why did the Government of Israel agree to attend the Madrid Conference in 1992, without first securing the release of Ron Arad and the rest of our MIAs? There have always been simple clear-cut solutions to resolve the tragic plight of our MIAs. They are not acted upon for fear of ruffling the sensibilities of the American "Empire".

The second category of individuals who are active in undermining the effort to secure my release are a group that I refer to as the "Lavonites". The name is derived from the Lavon Affair of the 1950's when the Government of Israel completely abandoned a group of Israeli agents to their fate in an Egyptian prison after a failed operation in that country. The agents were Egyptian Jewish volunteers. All of them were tortured in Egyptian captivity; some died. The ones that survived were left in Egypt to endure cruel punishment for 13 long years while the Government of Israel turned its back and disclaimed all responsibility. Sound familiar? These hapless souls were not rescued until after the Six Day War when Israel negotiated the release of its pilots, and the pilots refused to leave without the Lavon Affair victims!

The "Lavonites" in my case, are those individuals who have dirty hands and dirty consciences because of direct involvement. They are fearful of protecting their reputations and careers. Most of these individuals can be found in the political arena and in the Ministry of Defense, which ran my operation. These are the types who had no qualms about selling me out. More will be known about their deeds once our hearing in the Israeli High Court of Justice gets underway. In the meantime, they are working actively behind the scenes to undermine any serious attempt to secure my release, afraid that any reopening of the case will reposition the "roaming spotlight" on them.

The third group of individuals opposed to my repatriation are the "Yossi Amit" group. IDF Major Yossi Amit was arrested in Israel in 1986 and sentenced in a secret hearing to 12 years in prison for espionage on behalf of the United States. So much for the outrage that the Americans expressed about allies spying on each other. The "Servile" types saw to it that the arrest and sentencing of Amit was a private affair so as not to cause the American "Empire" any discomfort.

Not much was seen or heard of this case until Amit was suddenly mysteriously released in 1993 after serving only a few years of his sentence. The "Amit types", for my purposes, are that group of individuals who in spite of their Israeli citizenship and credentials have sold their Jewish souls to work as spies for the US in Israel. This group is only "doing their job" when they work to prevent my release.

Does America really spy on Israel? During the recent Mega Spy affair, intelligence experts affirmed that the Israeli secret code "Silon," that was compromised by the Americans, could only have been broken with the help of a very high-level American mole within Israeli Intelligence. In a 1988 essay "Shredded Secrets" featured in Penthouse Magazine, Edward Jay Epstein described a degree of American penetration into the Israeli intelligence, military and political establishments that is stupendous. The documents Epstein cited were produced by a broad range of individuals occupying positions all across the spectrum within the Israeli government.

That the Epstein charges have gone unheralded, unnoticed and uninvestigated all these years is tragic in its consequences for Israel's national security. In my own work for the government of Israel, I never revealed the names of American agents even though I was sorely pressed to do so by my handlers. This is documented in "The Memorandum In Aid of Sentencing" which has been submitted, in part, as evidence for the hearing in the High Court of Justice. The document also states that I had not deleted the informant source numbers from any of the documents I passed to Israel. A source number does not reveal any information about the identity of an agent, nor can it be used to trace the identity of an agent. But depending on how high the number is, it can shed some light on just how badly a county's security has been penetrated.

My Israeli handlers were dumbfounded to see the number 200 and up on documents that I gave them. This number indicated that there were at least 200 or more well-placed sources within the Israeli intelligence, defense and political ranks that were illegally feeding Israel's secret information to the Americans.

The three groups -- "The Serviles", "the Lavonites" and "the Amits" -- are not homogeneous. The lines are blurred where one group leaves off and the next one begins. Many individuals in highly-placed positions fit into more than one of the three categories. But the net effect of all of these influences has been to block efforts to seek my release.

For example: the recent case of the non-Jewish American Lt. Cdr. Michael Schwartz, who was indicted in America for spying for the Saudis, should have provided the Israeli Government with a golden opportunity to secure my release. But the opportunity has been pointedly ignored. Schwartz, who committed the same offense as I, will not spend a single day in prison. Out of America's deference to the sensitivities of her Saudi ally, his only punishment was dismissal from the American Navy.

The blatant disparity in the way a Saudi agent was treated versus the life sentence that was meted out to me, an Israeli agent, presented Israel with the leverage to press the Americans for equal treatment as an ally and to insist upon my release. At the same time, Israel also had a national obligation to insist that the damage assessment of Schwartz's espionage be shared with them so that Israel could take appropriate remedial action.

Strangely enough, Israel did neither. Instead, the political, military, and intelligence departments all chose to play deaf, dumb, and blind to the whole affair. As far as they were concerned, this story that was covered in every major newspaper of record from the Washington Post to The New York Times, never happened.

The "Serviles" prefer not to know what Schwartz may have compromised regarding Israel's security for fear of being compelled to confront the US.

The "Amit" types are just "doing their job" in preventing any serious damage assessment of Schwartz's actions by the Government of Israel.

The "Lavonites" don't want to focus any attention on Schwartz or even acknowledge his existence. Because of the information I gave them, they do know exactly what information on Israel Schwartz was capable of handing over to the Saudis. But, an investigation would just refocus attention on me and what my operation was about -- something that all of the groups want to avoid more than anything else -- even at the cost of Israel's national security.

The actions of all of the individuals described above suggests that what they all fear most about my release is the fear of exposure. They betrayed not only me but the State of Israel when they placed their personal goals and political agendas ahead of Israeli national security and national honor. They have blinded themselves to the fact that without national honor there can be no national security.

The people of Israel want Jonathan Pollard home. They intuitively understand that this case is not about just one man, but about every Jew who in any way puts on a uniform in service of the State of Israel. If one Jew is permitted to be sacrificed to serve political ends and to protect private careers then no Jew is safe, and neither is the State of Israel. Esther and I are taking the Pollard case to the Israeli High Court of Justice not only to fight for my freedom, but also to restore national integrity and national honor to a nation that has been sorely bereft of these qualities by its leadership. Our victory will be a victory not only for us but for all of the people of Israel.

Jonathan Pollard

Who's Afraid of Jonathan Pollard? was published simultaneously in Hebrew, in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv.

See Also:

  • Israeli Who Spied for CIA Loses Breach of Contract Suit
  • Unexchanged Spies
  • A Clash Of Cultures In The Spy Game

  • Return to Israeli Court Case page