J4JP Prefacing Note:
Over the years American Government officials and other enemies of the case have falsely accused Jonathan Pollard of treason, and have referred to him as a "traitor".
When challenged, they implausibly try to justify their use of this terminology by claiming that they intend the term "traitor" according to some sort of popular usage and not in a legal sense. But even the Courts reject this kind of spurious rationalization, and they categorically reject the Government's attempts to slip-slide on this issue. During the oral arguments of September 1991, the Courts forced the US Government to apologize to Jonathan for falsely identifying him as a traitor in the Weinberger memo and in other statements. The Court notes the Government's apology in its 1992 decision.
Unfortunately the Government's apology to Jonathan, in effect, made no difference to the case because the damage had already been done. Moreover, right to the present, very few people are even aware of the Government's apology.
Consequently, to this very day, Government officials and journalists alike keep repeating the big lie, falsely accusing Jonathan of treason and of being a traitor. Some even do so with 'good intentions'. A recent op-ed by Ellen W. Horowitz, "John, George or Judah?" is a case in point. The author asks readers if they think Jonathan Pollard is a traitor, and then expounds on the possible responses. Unfortunately she never makes it clear that Jonathan is not a traitor.
Raising the issue in this way - even if only as a literary device - is unfair and incorrect. It just compounds the damage to Jonathan and adds to the public's confusion.
Here is J4JP response to the Horowitz OpEd, as published by Israel National News, August 10, 2004:
Justice for Jonathan Pollard (J4JP) applauds the suggestion that those who live in America and who truly care about Israel ought to make Jonathan Pollard's continued incarceration an issue in the upcoming US presidential elections - but not for the reasons suggested in the August 1st op-ed "John, George or Judah?" by Ellen W. Horowitz. Moreover, we strongly deplore the question that this op-ed poses about Jonathan, and the conclusions it draws.
We cringed reading the question, "Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?" and even more so when we read that any American Jew who thinks so has, by definition, abandoned Israel; and any American Jew who thinks not, ought to immediately make Aliyah to live in Israel.
This cavalier and over-simplified approach to complex issues, no matter how well-intentioned, is erroneous and misleading. While we are certain that there was no intent to harm, the flip way that the question was posed, "Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?", and then responded to, simply increases public confusion around this issue. For that reason alone, it does a great disservice to both Jonathan Pollard and to Israel.
Firstly, let us set the record straight: Jonathan Pollard is not a traitor. To suggest, as this op-ed does, that he may be a traitor depending on one's worldview, is simply not correct. If people are misinformed about Jonathan; or if they have been deliberately misled by the media, or by Jewish leaders, and even if some individuals prefer to believe convenient lies about Jonathan in order to excuse their own indifference to his plight for nearly two decades, that still does not make Jonathan Pollard a traitor.
A traitor, according to American law, is one who serves the enemy or who gives aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. Israel is not an enemy of the US and the two countries are not at war. Jonathan did not give aid and comfort to an enemy of the US. Nor was Jonathan ever accused, indicted or convicted of treason.
In a deliberate smear campaign against Jonathan that has gone on for years, anonymous US officials falsely accuse Jonathan of this and other crimes in the media, but never in a court of law where he could challenge them. While this has created a great deal of confusion about the case for the public at large, nevertheless, it is not the issue.
So what is?
The issue at the heart of the Pollard case is equal justice. The life sentence Jonathan received - the first and only time in US history that such a sentence was ever imposed for "friendly" espionage - was obtained unconstitutionally, without benefit of trial and in complete violation of a plea agreement Jonathan honored and the US abrogated. Jonathan was indicted for one offense (one count of espionage on behalf of an ally), but sentenced for a far more serious crime, one which he did not commit and one that he was never charged with (treason). Jonathan is now in his 19th year of a life sentence for an offense that usually carries a 2- to 4-year sentence. In recent years, there have been others convicted of virtually the same offense who have even received no jail time at all.
The indifference of the Israeli government and American Jewish leaders has allowed this case to fester for nearly two decades. They have never taken any serious steps to resolve the case; nor have they ever issued any meaningful protest regarding the grossly disproportionate sentence Jonathan received or the exceptionally harsh treatment to which he has been subjected. Without any challenge from Jewish leaders, the American government has repeatedly subverted all attempts to bring the case back to court to resolve it.
What the Horowitz op-ed has failed to articulate is this: the issue is not whether Jonathan Pollard is a traitor - he is not - but whether a Jewish American citizen can receive a grossly disproportionate sentence in an unjust legal process, and be subjected to extraordinarily harsh treatment, simply because he is a Jew. A further question is whether Israel, the country that ran Jonathan, should be so ill-treated in this matter, unlike all other American allies, just because it happens to be a Jewish state.
J4JP therefore begs to differ with the conclusion drawn in the referenced op-ed. We feel strongly that it is not just those who care about Israel who ought to care about seeing this case resolved and Jonathan speedily released. Rather, anyone who cares about proportional justice, the equality of all citizens before the law, and the equal treatment of an ally, must take a strong interest in seeing that the Pollard case is expeditiously resolved. That is the only way to remove the blot that this case represents in US-Israel relations, and to restore the integrity of the American judicial system to ensure that all American citizens - even Jews - are treated equally before the law.