Pollard: The Time Has Come to Release Him

Emunah Elon - Yisrael HaYom - November 7, 2010

Translated to English by J4JP

Pollard is being held as a political hostage and Israel along with him.

To make an offer to the Americans that Israel will freeze building in the settlements in return for the release of Jonathan Pollard is like offering candy to a child in return for completing his homework.

A child must do his homework even if he does not get candy; and the USA must free Jonathan Pollard even if it does not get a settlement freeze.

This analogy is far from perfect. While the candy poses a danger to the teeth of the child who receives it, a building freezes does not hurt the US, only Israel, which may be willing, for some strange reason, to make a deal.

Nevertheless, no matter what there should not be any connection between Israel's willingness to surrender to the demands of a lame-duck president, and the compelling and justified demand that an end be put to the intolerable, long-standing injustice perpetrated upon an Israeli citizen, who days from now will be completing his 25th year in American captivity.

"Pollard must be released," wrote the former US deputy minister of defense, Lawrence Korb, a few days ago. "The former Naval intelligence officer [Pollard] has now served a much longer sentence than he deserved to for the offense of passing classified information to Israel." Korb revealed that Pollard's life sentence was the result of misinformation and false charges, and what is more, the usual sentence in the US for the offense of passing information to an ally is about 7 years, with most offenders serving no more than 4 years of actual jail time. Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to an unlimited life sentence and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations immediately decided that the grossly disproportionate sentence had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. [J4JP See: FOIA Doc and related FOIA Doc.]

From that time, until this very day, it has been easy for the American Jewish community to ignore Jonathan Pollard and to denounce him out of fear of being infected by the charge of dual loyalty. His activities may have been intended to save the State of Israel from specific threats to its very existence, but that did not make American Jews behave any more kindly towards him, not when their own security clearances were questioned and their livelihood might be affected.

I, unlike American Jewry, would have taken offense if my government were to insist that I have to prove my loyalty because of the actions of another Jew. But how can we criticize American Jewry, when the State of Israel, for whom Jonathan Pollard sacrificed himself, has from the outset of the affair consistently disowned him and denied any responsibility, except perhaps for apologizing for the way the affair has undermined Israel's credibility with our "best ally"?

Prime Ministers of Israel may have asked American Presidents to release Pollard, but never dared to make a demand, for fear of perhaps offending the sensitivities of our great ally. Former president Bill Clinton knew, as his did his Special Envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross who wrote about it in his book, that "Pollard is considered a soldier and in Israel, there is an ethos that you do not leave a soldier behind on the field of battle."

Even though Ross himself admitted that Pollard's sentence was unjust, and he opined that Pollard deserved to go free unconditionally (this was in 1998 at the Wye Summit), he nevertheless advised Clinton not to free Pollard, "until the final status agreements between Israel and the Palestinians have been achieved." In other words, the US should continue to hold Pollard as a political hostage and as a perpetual reminder of what happens if you dare to defy America. (See Excerpts from The Missing Peace by Dennis Ross.)

Over the passage of time, this soldier was cast off and abandoned to the margins of public awareness in Israel. He received even worse treatment after his cause was taken up by a few righteous souls who were perceived as "extreme right-wing".

Armed with the objective testimony of a senior American official in the person of Lawrence Korb; and with a letter signed by 109 Members of Knesset from most every house faction; and with an abundance of justice and logical claim, Prime Minister Netanyahu can demand during his contacts with the Americans this week, that along with Pollard, the State of Israel be released from this disgrace.

The author, Emunah Elon, is a political analyst and commentator for various Israeli newspapers. She is the author of a novel, "If you Awaken Love" and is the wife of former long-time Member of Knesset Benny Elon.

View original Hebrew article.