Why This Hate?
Si Frumkin - Graffitti for Intellectuals - February 15, 1999 Edition
Why do they hate him so? Why is it that every time his name hits the
there is a storm of leaks, accusations, innuendos, half-truths, smears?
of them are unsubstantiated, no one presents any proof, but the media
eagerly pick it up, disseminate it and once again there is the image of
monster, this traitor, this turncoat who should never see the light of
And each time I ask the same question: why do they hate him so? I have
looked for the answer for almost 14 years. I haven't found it yet.
The first article I wrote about Jonathan Pollard was in 1990. I called
"I Really Didn't Believe It Could Happen Here". It isn't long, just 6
If you want a copy, let me know - what I wrote a decade ago still applies
today. This case is not just a case against Pollard - American justice
trial as well, and American justice has lost.
Here are just some of the peculiarities that I didn't believe could
The trial was a secret one - just a judge, no jury. Some of the
presented by the prosecution were not made available to Pollard's
- then or to this day. The government persuaded Pollard to plead guilty
thus make a secret non-jury trial possible by solemnly promising that
most lenient sentence would be asked for and imposed. The government
the charges were the lowest possible - not treason, just "giving
to a foreign power", but the sentence was the maximum that could be
The judge, who is black, was apparently told that Pollard spied for
Africa, and later, in a still secret letter from the then Defense
Caspar Weinberger, that Pollard was "a traitor", the "worst spy in
history", "deserving of the death penalty" and that he committed the
of "making Israel too strong." During the trial Judge Robinson even
compared, unfavorably, the policies of Israel in the West Bank with
the nazis during World War II!
Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility
parole, but he wasn't sent to prison. Instead, and still without an
explanation, he was sent to the psychiatric ward of the Springfield
Center for Federal Prisoners, a facility for the criminally insane.
Here is what it was like, in Pollard's own words.
"...The inhuman screams of the patients many of whom were suffering
AIDS-related dementia, sounded like something straight out of Dante's
'Inferno'. Although the local rabbi tried on numerous occasions to
simple pair of earplugs for me, he was repeatedly warned to 'mind his
business'...Can you even begin to imagine what it was like for me to
locked down in a 9'x6' cell for 23 1/2 hours a day? Apart from my lack
sleep, washing tended to be rather difficult. As most of the inmates
incontinent, the single shower available to us, generally had the
of a latrine by the time I was given permission to use it. Although I
enjoy smelling like an animal, it seemed preferable to stepping into
infected fecal matter...My commode would regularly back up inundating my
cell with organic material I can't even begin to describe. Since I was
understandably reluctant to handle the sewage without adequate
clothing, I was forced to wait 3-4 hours before a team dressed in
suits arrived to clean the place up..."
Pollard could have left this environment at any time. All he had to do
to put a few check marks on the lists of American Jews that his
interrogators kept presenting him with in the expectation that he would
implicate other Jewish "traitors". Although he passed lie detector tests
proved that he had no co-conspirators, the Justice Department persisted
demanding that he give them "someone".
After a year in this hell and Congressional intercession, he was
to a high security prison where he remained in solitary for 8 years.
Pollard is now in his
14th year of imprisonment. In the history of
jurisprudence there has never been a case of spy sentenced for "giving
information to a foreign power" who served more than 4 years.
Egyptian-born scientist, Abdelkader Helmy, passed extremely sensitive
ballistic missile information to Egypt. It enabled Iraq which conducted
joint missile program with Egypt, to modify its SCUD missiles. Helmy
less than two years. Spies for Great Britain and South Africa were out
less than 3 years. More recently a U.S. naval officer who sold secrets
Saudi Arabia for two years was punished only by dismissal from service
loss of pension.
Even genuine traitors, charged and convicted of treason,
were treated less harshly than Pollard - Sergeant Clayton Lonetree who
opened our Moscow embassy to Soviet spies and allowed to photograph
sensitive materials was given a 25-year sentence and released after just
So why do they hate him so? I thought that I had the answer in 1992 when
government leaks implied that the information Pollard had given Israel
contained hints at the identities of U.S. agents in the Soviet Union,
this somehow got into Soviet hands and that Pollard was thus responsible
the deaths of a dozen of our agents. I didn't believe it, but I thought
if the President was convinced of it, then this might be the
for denial of clemency for Pollard in 1993.
And then, 4 years ago, after
arrest of Aldrich Ames, the CIA counter-intelligence chief, that theory
proved wrong. Ames confessed that it was he who was responsible for the
betrayal of these agents and that it was he who fabricated the evidence
implicating Pollard. I thought then that this would be the end of
suffering and that he would be pardoned after serving the unprecedented
years for giving Israel materials to which it was anyway entitled under
US-Israel cooperation treaty.
It wasn't to be. Twice Clinton considered clemency and twice he was
persuaded not to act. Right now the storm of lies swirls around Pollard
again. Once again he is accused of having spied for South Africa,
China, others. Where is the proof? Who says so? We don't know. We do
however, that Pollard calls these charges "garbage".
Once again we are told that he transmitted materials that could fill
a room, two rooms or a pick-up truck. Really? How could he have taken
all that in a briefcase he carried under his arm, even if he took one
every week? It is absurd, yet it is being said again.
One article even accuses him of being a cocaine addict. This is a new
that has never been raised before. How come no one knew about this
Seymour Hersh published the article in New Yorker this January and the
"respectable" media picked it up without checking.
And again and again, we are told - he is a traitor, he is a traitor, he
traitor. Really? Why then was he not charged with treason? Why aren't
true charges against him revealed? And what could remain so sensitive
it might still harm the U.S. after 15 years?
And why do they hate him so much that the mail he sends from his North
Carolina prison takes 16, 18, 20 months to reach me in California? And
all the people who signed appeals for his release - the widow of Oskar
Schindler, the Archbishops of San Francisco and Boston, the European
Parliament, over 150 Jewish Federations and over 50 Boards of Rabbis,
hundreds of others - are they all dupes and ignoramuses who want to harm
U.S.? I don't think so.
One of these days we will find the answer to my question. In the
is still in prison, still hated.
Stale Snail Mail From Federal Jail