ADL's Silence: THE LOUDEST VOICE
The Jewish Voice and Opinion - January 8, 1999
by Susan L. Rosenbluth, Editor
Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, whose case is supposed to be
reviewed by President Bill Clinton this month, believes he has not "a
snowball's chance in hell" of being freed unless he has the support of
the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the
Why he feels he needs these three groups when he has received
overwhelming support from the major organizations to which Jews actually
belong-including all religious branches of Judaism-is a mystery.
"If people want to do something to help me, they have to
understand that the President only listens to a select few in the Jewish
community-those three groups. This is not going to turn out well unless
there is a massive intervention by the American-Jewish establishment to
demand that I get a fair chance to defend myself," he said.
Bosnians, Not Pollard
In fact, the AJCommittee has reaffirmed its 1993 position "that
the White House review the appropriateness of Mr. Pollard's life
sentence." AJCongress is on record saying it would be "appropriate for
[Pollard] to be paroled."
ADL, however, maintains that it takes no position on the Pollard
case because several reviews during the
13 years of his incarceration
have found "no evidence of any anti-Semitism."
"A need for anti-Semitism has never been evident in the ADL
advocacy on behalf of numerous other groups, such as the Kurds or the
Bosnian Muslims. Only in my case," said Mr. Pollard.
In fact, no one has even confirmed ADL's basic assessment of
Pollard's case. A document drawn up by Mr. Pollard's lawyers was given
the ADL in 1993, but Mr. Pollard believes it was quickly "buried."
"Hardly anybody in the ADL to this day even knows of its
existence," he said.
The document is a plea to the National Executive Committee of
ADL to support Mr. Pollard's petition to Mr. Clinton for commutation of
his sentence to time served.
Some time before the document was introduced, the ADL evidently
composed a policy background report (PBR) which it, too, submitted to
executive committee. One of the options suggested in the PBR is that ADL
write a letter to Mr. Clinton urging prompt review of the case "without
Mr. Pollard's document found that "puzzling." "It is public
knowledge that Mr. Clinton has told the President's Conference he would
personally review the case. Why then an 'option' gratuitously reminding
the President that ADL is carefully not suggesting commutation? What is
ADL suggesting: That the President review the matter and deny
commutation?" asked the document.
The very first paragraph of the ADL's PBR declared that the
organization had previously decided it "would be inappropriate" for it
speak out in behalf of commutation for Mr. Pollard "in the absence of
convincing evidence that Pollard's case was tainted by anti-Semitism or
an anti-Israel bias."
Mr. Pollard's document points out that ADL's chartered purpose
goes beyond fighting anti-Semitism. It explicitly undertakes to oppose
"human injustice." Causes championed by ADL have included the unjust
imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and civil rights
for every down-trodden group.
"Why is it that in order to justify an ADL effort in behalf of a
Jew denied justice, anti-Semitism or anti-Israelism must be shown to be
present? Certainly neither anti-Semitism nor bigotry toward Israel is
present with respect to the Haitians, Somalians, Bosnians,
Japanese-Americans, and other minority groups who suffer 'human
injustice'-yet ADL is in there punching," said the document.
In the same opening statement, the ADL's PBR noted that, over
years, Jewish groups, such as B'nai B'rith, AJCommittee, and "several
other organizations" had begun to support Mr. Pollard. In the ADL's
words, the groups had moved away from "non-involvement" in the Pollard
Mr. Pollard's document pointed out that, rather than a mere
"several organizations," he was supported by a virtual "groundswell of
Jewish organizations" who had become involved in his case. By 1993,
was a statement signed on his behalf by 560 rabbis and 176 national and
local rabbinic, Christian, and Jewish lay organizations, all asking for
commutation of his excessive sentence. In Israel, the two chief rabbis,
vast majority of Members of Knesset, and virtually every mayor of every
major city has asked for mercy for him.
The ADL's PBR discounts the outpouring of support with the
statement: "There is no question that Jonathan Pollard's supporters have
done a very effective job in arousing sympathy for him and applying
pressure on ADL and other Jewish organizations to act on his behalf."
Mr. Pollard's document maintained that his supporters have
brought the facts to the public. "Is the ADL criticizing such actions as
improper 'pressure?'" asked the document, adding that Mr. Pollard's were
not seeking "sympathy." "They are seeking justice, which we are
Fair or Biased
Section four of the ADL's PBR stated that it intended to "help
foster a fair, objective, and balanced debate" within the executive
Mr. Pollard's attorneys, however, found the section replete with
For example, the ADL report maintained that the punishment
be the same whether the individual spied for an ally or an enemy.
"This is the equivalent of what Caspar Weinberger stated in his
still confidential, pre-sentencing memo submitted to Judge Aubrey
Robinson which falsely charged Pollard with the crime of 'treason'
(spying for an enemy). Pollard was never accused of treason. No one can
measure the extent to which Judge Robinson was influenced by this
outrageous charge," said Mr. Pollard's document, adding that to find Mr.
Weinberger's charge repeated in an ADL report purporting to assure an
objective, fair debate "is distressing."
Further, Mr. Pollard's document maintained it is "paranoid" to
suggest, as ADL did, that the US must operate under the assumption that
Israel passed along the intelligence to "unfriendly hands" without any
evidence to support such an assumption.
Mr. Pollard's document suggested that the ADL executive
check with then-Ambassador Meier Rosenne about Mr. Weinberger's
that "Pollard should have been shot;" with Lawrence J. Korb, director of The Brookings Institution and Under Secretary of Defense under Mr.
Weinberger at the time, for the statement that Mr. Weinberger "had an
almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in
our foreign policy. In my opinion, the severity of the sentence that
Jonathan received was out of proportion to his alleged offense;" and
Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who sat on the National Security Council
with Mr. Weinberger and was "a witness to his consistent anti-Israel
"Even a cursory examination of sentences handed down for
unlawfully turning over sensitive US documents to foreign governments
shows the vast difference between punishment meted out for treason
(sharing with an enemy) and punishment for sharing with allied nations.
Asserting the contrary, as the PBR does, is misleading," said Mr.
In 1992, even Mr. Weinberger said he had "quietly removed his
objections to executive commutation."
The ADL's PBR went on to suggest that Mr. Pollard and his
then-wife stood to gain "in excess of $500,000 over the expected life of
the conspiracy" from Israel.
Mr. Pollard's document explained that he was not a mercenary and
did not spy for the State for money. He was paid $25,000 for operational
expenses [see Facts of the Case and addendum] plus the
unsolicited gift of a ring valued at approximately $7,000, given to Mr.
Pollard as a gift for his wife.
Just this past year, five years after the document was submitted
to the ADL, Mr. Pollard was declared a regular agent for the State of
Israel, thus obviating the issue of money. [In other words the fact that
Pollard was a bona fide Israeli agent removes any question about
mercenary motives. By definition, it is impossible for an agent to also
be a mercenary at the same time.]
"Pollard spied for the state of Israel solely because he
the state required the intelligence concerning nuclear, chemical, and
biological warfare which he provided to protect Israel from enemy forces
intent on the annihilation of the state," said the document.
The tragedy of the next paragraph of Mr. Pollard's document is
that it shows how long the Jewish community has been trying to win his
freedom. The ADL's report noted that Mr. Pollard would "obtain parole
when he becomes legally eligible to apply for parole in November 1995."
Mr. Pollard's document responded that "if there were any
sincerity in this suggestion, it would include a statement that the ADL
intends to support parole at that time."
In 1993, when this interchange transpired, Mr. Pollard was
already in his eighth year of prison. He believed the ADL did not
helping him with his parole because "it would be indefensible to require
two more years of imprisonment when Pollard is already in his eighth
of incarceration, which already far exceeds the term of imprisonment of
any other person who spied for an ally, and in solitary confinement."
The document recalled the statement of Mr. Pollard's prosecuting
attorney that "this fellow would never see the light of day," meaning
parole would never be granted.
Another section of the ADL report suggested a connection between
Mr. Pollard's case and an unrelated scandal involving a former Israeli
Air Force general, based on the fact that the general's attorney also
owned the Washington apartment in which Mr. Pollard's stolen documents
were found. The ADL admitted "a connection between the two cases has
never been established," but Mr. Pollard's document maintained that
mentioning the two cases together "is a mean-spirited innuendo
reminiscent of McCarthyism."
Although the ADL maintained that Mr. Pollard had not shown
adequate remorse, his document confirmed the numerous letters and
affidavits of people who said he was filled with remorse for what he had done.
The "ADL's silence on Pollard is the loudest voice of all," said his document.