Hillary And The Jonathan Pollard Case

Jewish Journal South Palm Beach - December 21, 1999 - William Katzberg

A persistent story sticks in my craw, embitters my memory. It has the ring of authenticity. At last years "peace conference" at Wye, Maryland,

Bill Clinton promised the then Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to release Jonathan Pollard "for time served." Moreover, the release would be the quid pro quo for Israels promised release of Palestinian terrorists held by the Jewish state. It's called "negotiations."

Just hours before the conference wrapped up, President Clinton (so the story goes) called Bibi Netanyahu aside and said that he could not fulfill the release of Pollard because "all of my security establishment people had strongly advised against release." Given the 11th hour back-off from a promise, Bibi was left without a diplomatic way out. Oh yes... the Palestinian prisoners were timely released. End of story.

Now that Hillary Clinton is running for the U.S. Senate seat from New York and is understandably courting Jewish voters, the Jonathan Pollard Case presents her with a unique political opportunity. And I don't blanch from the word "political" because Hillary cannot rely upon the pro-forma Jewish "Democrat" vote. Not this time.

Her unequivocal support for Pollard's release is a chance to make up for her recent disastrous experience in the Middle East when she remained mute, mute to wild "blood libel" accusations against the Jewish State made by Suha Arafat and other Palestinian officials.

For Jews, support for Pollard's release would be evidence of tochlis rather than another empty promise of a politician. Yet, it will not be a favor - but justice at long last for Pollard!

No other person who passed classified information to a friendly nation has ever received a comparable sentence and Jonathan Pollard has already served 14 years. Although he is not without guilt, he was never charged with treason and has amply paid for his sin.

If Hillary and Bill Clinton can play crass politics with 15 Puerto Rican FALN terrorists, what's so truly un-American about releasing an American Jew who spied for a friendly nation, Israel? What is the distinction in sin? "Are there qualitative differences in their guilt?" is a question Hillary ought be asking husband Bill.

What sticks in my throat is the notion that vengeance not justice is being pursued in the Pollard Case. Why has the "security establishment" come down; so relentlessly about granting clemency for Pollard, yet offers not a peep about clemency for Puerto Rican terrorists? Or could it be that Jonathan Pollard knows too much?

In which case, Pollard could sit forever despite the fact that the U.S. Government had broken its plea agreement and denied him a trial because Caspar Weinberger is alleged to have sent a "killer note" to Judge Aubrey Robinson.

In a startling new development, the September 1999 issue of The Middle East Quarterly contains the revelation by author Weinberger that Judge Robinson himself "made a formal, official request to me to supply information." Well, well. Why has this information remained "secret" all these years?

Yet "the Weinberger memo" is still classified, unavailable to the Pollard defense while accuser Weinberger later became the beneficiary of a George Bush presidential pardon for alleged violation of (other) national security laws. "High irony," sez I as that deed gets buried in American history.

Consequently, Candidate Hillary Clinton has every reason (including my prayer) to whisper "release Pollard" into husband Bill's ear. For his part, Jonathan Pollard has already served a good part of his life in prison. He has offered remorse and contrition countless times over.... Enough already! Dear God....make it happen.

William Katzberg is a senior columnist for the Jewish Journal.

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