Pollard: The Last Bastion of Jewish Insecurity
Jonathan Tobin - Jewish World Review - Janunary 14, 1999 /25 Teves, 5759
[Excerpted from: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Have American Jews finally arrived?"]
...But for all of our acceptance (as Jews in America), the Jonathan Pollard
story represents the last bastion of Jewish insecurity.
Pollard, the former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who spied for
Israel, and who has been behind bars since 1985, is being considered for
clemency again. And, predictably, the push to end his long prison
ordeal, and the reluctance of many Jews to join in appeals for his
release on humanitarian grounds, is once again stirring up strong
For some Jews, Pollard has always been seen as a hero of sorts. They see
his betrayal of his oath as trivial compared to the perfidy of American
refusals to share some vital intelligence with Israel. Other Jews see
Pollard as a special villain who undermines confidence in the loyalty of
American Jews to their country. Over the last decade, these camps have
slugged it out in Jewish forums. But the truth is, they are both wrong.
Pollard is no hero. At best, he can be considered a victim of
intelligence agents (and their government) who exploited his naive
sympathy for Zionism. His crimes were serious and deserved punishment.
But contrary to those Jews who would be happy if he rotted in jail for
the rest of his life, Pollard ought not to inspire any feelings of
insecurity on the part of American Jews. As Louis Brandeis said, there
is no contradiction between American patriotism and love for Zion.
The bottom line is, Pollard's life sentence was
disproportionate to his
crime of spying for an ally. And the special hostility that defense and
intelligence officials have for him has more to do with animosity for
Israel than the gravity of his offense, which they continue to
exaggerate in stories leaked to The New York Times.
The same people who have done their best to forestall any chance of
Pollard's release, such as former Defense Secretary Caspar
Weinberger, did far worse things than Pollard. It was they who helped
build up the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the same
time that Pollard was illegally leaking information on Iraq to Israel.
Though the spooks in the Pentagon insist that Israel betrayed American
secrets they learned from Pollard to the Soviets, they are carefully
forgetting to mention that the CIA official who did the official damage
assessment on Pollard's spying was none other than Soviet mole Aldrich
Though I believe that Pollard is more an Israeli responsibility than an
American Jewish one (and thus I think Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's
attempt to free Pollard at the recent peace talks was entirely
justified), his presence still lingers unhappily on the fringes of our
For all of our success, perhaps the day Jonathan Pollard is released --
thus finally ending the worry about dual loyalty -- we will have truly
May that day come soon, both for his sake and ours.