Jonathan Pollard Enters 22nd Year of Imprisonment

Arutz Sheva - - November 21, 2006 / 30 Cheshvan 5767

November 21, 2006 was the 21st anniversary of the imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. federal prison for actions he took on behalf of the State of Israel.

Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst working for the US Navy in the 1980s, was indicted by American authorities for having passed classified information to an ally - Israel - without intent to harm the United States. The life sentence handed down in the Pollard case was unprecedented in American history, with agents of friendly nations generally receiving 2-4 years in jail. Even many agents of nations hostile to the US have received lighter penalties. Currently serving his time in a medium-security federal penitentiary in Butner, North Carolina, Pollard spent seven years in solitary confinement in Marion Federal Prison in Illinois.

An official commission of investigation, appointed by Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir in 1987, concluded that an agency called the Scientific Liaison Unit "decided to recruit and handle Pollard without any check or consultation with the political echelon or receiving its direct or indirect approval." In November of 1995, the State of Israel granted Jonathan Pollard citizenship, and by May of 1998 Israel had acknowledged that Pollard was, in fact, acting as an Israeli agent during the 1980s.

Since his arrest, five of Israel's prime ministers have requested directly of their US counterparts to release Pollard, with no success.

In light of unclassified titles of documents used as evidence against him, published in a petition to Israel's High Court of Justice, the information Pollard passed to Israel appears to have concerned Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. American intelligence was withholding the said security information despite a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the United States committing her to share such data with Israel.

When Jonathan's activities on behalf of Israel were discovered in 1985, he and his then-wife sought refuge in the Israeli embassy in Washington. However, officials in the embassy ordered the couple ejected. The FBI then immediately apprehended them.

Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who has made the Pollard issue a central one in his public activities, has repeatedly offered himself to the US Justice Department and to the US president as a guarantor for Pollard if he were released.

In an interview Tuesday with Israel National Radio's Tovia Singer, Jonathan Pollard's wife Esther expressed her view that the current US Administration is generally in favor of Pollard's release; however, the US intelligence community is using negative publicity about the case to pressure the president. In addition, Esther charges the Israeli leadership and the American Jewish community leadership with walking away from the Pollard issue, rather than bringing their own public pressure to bear.