Editorial: A Plea for Pollard

Hamodia - June 15, 2011 [Print Edition]

Nine thousand, three hundred, and thirty-seven.

That's the number of days Jonathan Pollard has spent behind prison walls for passing classified information to Israel, a key U.S. ally.

As we have repeatedly noted in past editorials, the shocking facts of this travesty of justice speak for themselves.

Other Americans who spied for allies have received an average sentence of two to four years. Even Americans who spied for the enemy have served shorter terms than Mr. Pollard's.

But Yehonasan ben Malkah has already served more than twenty-five long and bitter years in a U.S. jail. As these words are being written, even his desperate pleas for a 24-hour humanitarian leave to visit his 95-year-old father on his deathbed are being ignored.

His story is a tragic tale of broken promises and betrayal.

Pollard was promised that if he pleaded guilty - sparing both the U.S. and Israel the uncomfortable, embarrassing potential spectacle of a public trial - he would not be given a life sentence.

Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty but the judge, based on a secret memorandum from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, went ahead and imposed a life sentence anyway.

For most of those years, few prominent politicians were willing to speak up about the gross injustice of Pollard's verdict. In the past months, the dam finally broke and a long list of prominent current and former U.S. government and elected officials have called on President Obama to commute Pollard's sentence.

In a letter to President Obama, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Lawrence Korb declared, "Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard's sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger."

For most of the past two and a half decades, the Israeli government betrayed their agent, doing little if anything to try to procure his release. But recently both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres have appealed personally to Obama on behalf of Pollard.

It is urgent to continue all efforts to convey to the Obama administration that this matter is of highest concern to the Jewish community and to all Americans who believe in fairness and justice.

Commuting Pollard's sentence isn't only a long overdue gesture of friendship to Israel; it is the moral and ethical thing to do.

See Also: Original copy of the above Op-Ed: Page 1 - Page 2