Jonathan Pollard and Israel's Prognosis for the New Year 5767
HaRav Shlomo Aviner - September 17, 2006 - May be reprinted*
As the Jewish People prepare to usher in the New Year 5767 we all pray for a good, healthy, peaceful, prosperous and happy new year. For many of us, our prayers may include a request for the release of our brother, Jonathan Pollard, who will shortly enter his 22nd year of a life sentence for his activities on behalf of the security of Israel. Yet how many of us realize how significant Pollard's fate is to the fate of us all?
Our tradition teaches that the souls of all Israel are indelibly linked (chaverim kol Yisrael) and that we are all responsible for each other (kol Yisrael arevim zeh lih zeh.) Thus, whether one is aware of it or not, the plight of our brother, Jonathan, has a direct impact on our prognosis for the New Year 5767, both individually and as a nation. Ponder the following.
Did you know that Jonathan Pollard is in an American prison because he spied for the benefit of Israel, and is slowly bleeding to death before our very eyes, and no one knows how much time remains, and that every single day that he is there, we are, everyone of us, liable for the sin of
"Al ta'amod al dam re'eycha. Do not stand idly by your brother's blood."?
Did you know that Jonathan Pollard did not do damage to the United States, but rather gave us information about Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities - all being developed for use against Israel; and information on ballistic missile development by these countries; as well as information on up-coming terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilian targets. This was information which should have been supplied to Israel according to official US policy at the time, but which was being illegally withheld. Because Pollard relayed the information to us, he saved thousands of lives. Did you know that every single day that he remains in prison, we are liable for the sin of:
"If you refrain from rescuing those who are taken to death and those on the verge of being slain---and you will claim "But, we did not know about this."? (Mishlei [Proverbs] Ch 24: Vs 11)
Did you know that seventy members of Pollard's own family perished in the Holocaust, and he saw before his eyes the plans for the destruction of hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives in the Land of Israel, and that is why he worked in full cooperation with our intelligence agents, with the full knowledge of the Government of Israel? As his wife Esther, recently pointed out in an interview, "When the information provided by Jonathan was used by Israel to send pilots on daring bombing missions, such as the  bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunis, Israel's top officials certainly knew that the intelligence was reliable before risking their pilots' lives. There is no question that the prime minister, the defense minister and the head of military intelligence all approved these missions because they personally knew the source of the intelligence was their agent in Washington, Jonathan Pollard." But when he was caught, all the rest of the team, except Pollard, was quickly evacuated to Israel; but our Embassy refused to give him asylum, throwing him out into the street into the waiting arms of the FBI instead. Did you know that this makes us guilty every single day of the sin of,
"We are guilty on account of our brother, that we saw his suffering when he pleaded with us, but we did not listen."? (Bresheit [Genesis] Ch 42: Vs 21)
Did you know that that Pollard never had a trial? To spare Israel the embarrassment of public revelations, he agreed to a plea bargain, which he honored but the US violated. The Americans imposed a life sentence upon him with a recommendation that he never be released. This is a sentence which the US has never before and never since meted out for this kind of offense, the median sentence being 2 to 4 years. Did you know that we are sinning every single day that he remains in prison, guilty of abandoning a wounded soldier in the field, a soldier who was devoted to us and who was wounded in our service?
Did you know that only in 1998, thirteen years after he was arrested, the State of Israel recognized him as our agent? Until then the State ignored him as if he did not even exist. Yet, in spite of granting Pollard official recognition, the State of Israel has never acted upon it to secure his release, or to support and assist him and his wife. The Pollards are both ill, both without medical care and without any financial support whatsoever from the Government of Israel for the last 21 years. Did you know that every single day that this situation continues we are guilty the sin of,
"Tzion, hallo teeshalee et shlom assiraych? Tzion, won't you seek the welfare of your captives?"?
Did you know that Jonathan Pollard's health has deteriorated drastically and that his continued incarceration represents a life and death situation? Did you know that every additional day that he remains in prison is held against our own account in Heaven because of our continuing failure to act in accord with these verses from the Book of Samuel [Shmuel] Bk I Ch14:Vs 45):
" 'Shall Jonathan who has wrought this great salvation in Israel die? Far be it! As the Lord lives, not a hair on his head will be harmed for he has worked with G-d this day.' And the People redeemed Jonathan and he did not die."
Bio Note: HaRav Shlomo Aviner is the Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva of the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Rabbi of Bet-El.
*J4JP Note: A version of this article appeared previously in Hebrew in MAYANEI HAYISHUA, a weekly publication in Israel. It was rendered into English and updated by J4JP in cooperation with HaRav Aviner. It may be reprinted provided appropriate credit to the author is shown.