Media Smear Campaign Hurts Pollard

"Inventive Journalists", "Dubious Sources" Vie for Shoddy Journalism Awards

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive V.P. Natl. Council of Young Israel and Meir Solomon, Editor, Viewpoint Magazine

January 29, 1999, The Jewish Press (New York)

Taking the approach that if you throw enough "stuff" against the wall something will stick, the national media is having a mudslinging contest over Jonathan Pollard. Newspaper and magazine articles contain wild fabrications and, using each other as reliable sources, substantiate these indefensible claims through incestuous cross-referencing. Sometimes it seems as if these articles were part of a gala Hollywood award evening, competing not for note and fame, but for notoriety and infamy in journalistic standards.

There was great competition for the coveted "Dubious Source" award. All articles about Jonathan Pollard were entered, but two were particularly noteworthy. The runner-up for this award would go to Seymour Hersh for his epic drama, "The Traitor" (The New Yorker Magazine January 18, 1999) in which he bases much of the article on the claims of journalist who was convicted and incarcerated for check fraud. This is nothing compared to the winner, the respected journalist Albert Hunt.

In a spectacular break from his characteristic standard, Hunt in "No Capitulation On Pollard," (WSJ op-ed 1/14/99), takes as fact the Hersh article, which, in turn, takes as fact the claims of a convicted felon. The only "fact" to be associated with this article is that it is built upon innuendo, a rehash of Hersh's diatribe, and statements from the dead.

The inaccuracies are numerous and diverse and to correct but a few of the most glaring: it was Pres. Clinton, not Prime Minister Netanyahu, who introduced Jonathan Pollard into the Wye Accord equation; there exists a significant difference between spying for a foe as opposed to spying for a friend: the former is treason; the latter, espionage; Jonathan has stated unequivocally countless times that what he did was wrong and for Hunt who has never visited with Jonathan, to condemn the sincerity of his remorse is not only presumptuous and offensive but contrary to the reports of all who when visiting him in the federal penitentiary have been moved by his contrition and the emotional and physical toll of his punishment.

Winning the category for "Creative Journalism, is Peter Beinart for, "The Odd Logic of a Spy's Defenders," op-ed, the New York Times (1/16/98). In place of even a cursory discussion of the affront by the US government against the integrity of the hallowed American legal system, the thrust of Beinart's attack is the venal "Dual Loyalty" claim which he insinuates through a strange double-talk of praise and intimidation. While applauding the American Jewish community for its traditional loyalty to America, Beinart exhorts American Jewry to prove its patriotism by abandoning Jonathan Pollard, or "be seen as essentially defending dual loyalty."

Mr. Beinart, either through ignorance or conscious disregard of the indisputable facts, is the winner on the grounds of conspicuous indifference. His award should be the charge of "dual loyalty," for preferring the foreign element of innuendo to the American way of Jurisprudence.

The case at this point is far less glamorous, yet more dramatic than the press would lead one to believe. Often lost in sleight-of-hand rhetoric meant to distract the jury of public opinion, is the real issue: the violation of the legal rights of a citizen of the United States.

Jonathan Pollard had his government tendered plea bargain agreement rescinded after he fully complied with his end of the bargain; he has been denied legal due process by not having the opportunity to confront his accusers and their ever-more fantastic accusations; and he has been outside the privileged cabal which has read the last-second secret "fact filled" memo from then Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the presiding judge.

This case should not be considered merely through the parochial prism of a "Jewish Issue," but rather argued as an historic violation of legal rights. It would be no less repugnant if this epic abrogation of civil liberties were perpetrated against


American citizen and still demand the attention of


American citizen.

Admittedly, articles with the spin of those of Messrs. Hersh, Hunt, Beinart, and their cronies would make a more exciting and lurid Hollywood script, worthy of the above "Awards Ceremony." No need to worry about accuracy or journalistic standards--it's a sure fire blockbuster. The writers would get rich and after two hours of non-stop action and tension, everyone would get to go home. Everyone, except Jonathan.