The Spy Who Would Come In From The Cold
May 22, 1998 - Noach Dear (NYC Councilman) The Jewish Press, New York
It's official. Jonathan Pollard was never part of a "rogue operation".
Yet for more than a decade Pollard has been the agent no country would
claim, even as he served an unusually severe life sentence for passing
classified information to an ally.
All that changed last week when Israel recognized him as an agent.
Israel has even said it would welcome him if he were released and chose
to live there. However, it will take renewed efforts by the American
Jewish community to see that Pollard gets a chance to regain his
Israeli Finance Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman said recognizing Pollard was a
"humanitarian act and it is within Judaism to be humane." It is also
within the American legal system to be humane. Yet there was clearly a
lack of humanity and justice in the sentence for Pollard, who has
already served more than three times the average maximum sentence for
Many of the facts in the Pollard Case are clear. He committed a crime,
confessed and was sentenced, and has since shown remorse for his
actions. Specifically Pollard gave Israel classified information
concerning the weapons systems of various Arab States, including
information that Israel arguably should have had access to under an
agreement between allies to share data.
Far less clear are the details of Pollard's case and the government's
role in it. For instance there is the question of his plea agreement.
Prosecutors had promised Pollard leniency if he agreed to forego a jury
trial and enter a guilty plea. The plea agreement was subsequently
violated due in part to a highly unusual and possibly improper ex-parte
memorandum from former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
Among other things, Weinberger's statement labeled Pollard a traitor and
blamed him for the deaths of U.S. agents in the former Soviet Union.
The memorandum weighed heavily in the sentencing phase, although it was
later revealed that former CIA operative and spy Aldrich Ames was
responsible for those deaths. Moreover, Ames passed secrets to the enemy
whereas Pollard gave information to an ally.
The announcement last week removes and important obstacle to seeing that
justice is served. As long as Israel wasn't inclined to take action on
Pollard's behalf, neither was the U.S. Israel's recognition of Pollard
could help soften the American position that he should spend the rest
of his life in prison without hope of a Presidential pardon for a crime
that usually carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Israeli Finance Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman has said that American and
Israeli Jewry have not worked hard enough to secure Pollard's release.
Last week Israel took an important step toward correcting that failure.
The time has come to renew American efforts on Pollard's behalf. It is
time for Jonathan Pollard to come in from the cold