HaRav Aviner on Freeing Pollard for Murderers
Justice4JP Release - February 19, 2005 - Source: www.FreePollard.Org
The following is J4JP's translation of a response to a question posed to HaRav Shlomo Aviner on the morality of freeing Jonathan Pollard in return for the release of murderers and terrorists. HaRav Aviner is the Rav of Bet El and the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Question: Now, much to our sorrow, that they are about to free numerous terrorists, a demand comes from various quarters to use this to secure Jonathan Pollard's release, wouldn't doing so be a chillul HaShem (a moral affront to Heaven)?
HaRav Shlomo Aviner: Certainly, it is a chillul HaShem -- as if it were possible to compare a great Tzaddik, who sacrificed himself on behalf of the People of Israel, with terrorist murderers, enemies of Israel! If it were a question of offering to trade Pollard for another person who spied for the U.S. and was arrested in Israel, perhaps. But to liken him to murderers and terrorists, that is a chillul HaShem.
However, to leave him languishing in prison is an even bigger chillul HaShem! See here, we are not just talking about merely the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim, but of a much greater mitzvah, of inestimable value. When we are in exile, we are powerless, and so when a Jew is taken captive, we try to redeem him by buying his freedom for money. But now, we are a sovereign nation, and we can step forward and state our case.
We are not miserable beggars opposite the United States. We are a free nation. The Americans aren't doing us any favors out of the goodness of their hearts. They need us; and therefore we have a right to make demands.
Obviously, Jonathan, himself, is in no position to make such demands, being in captivity. It is up to us to make this demand and to do so with full force.
The original Hebrew text: