The Jewish Establishment Could Learn From The Korean-Americans

October 1, 1996 - Rabbi Avi Weiss

To the Editor,

The circumstances surrounding the case of Korean-American Robert C. Kim accused of spying for South Korea serve to illustrate

the perversion and inequity of the sentence in the Jonathan Pollard case.

The cases are virtually identical.

Both Pollard and Kim were US Naval intelligence analysts at the Suitland, MD facility and were accused of passing classified information to US allies, yet

Kim is being released on $200,000 bail and Jonathan languishes in jail serving the 11th year of a life sentence.

The reaction of the Korean-American community contrasted with that of the America Jewish establishment [and] should surely raise some eyebrows. Rather than run from the case for fears of accusations of dual loyalty, Korean-Americans immediately rallied to Kim. The courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia was packed with Kim supporters who not only spoke on his behalf, but also pledged $1/2 million of their own home equity to secure his release.

The American Jewish defense agencies could learn a simple lesson from these Korean-Americans.

Don't be afraid. The argument that they have no responsibility to be involved with Pollard since the case is not a Jewish issue and does not evidence anti-Semitism is


. Korean Americans became involved with Kim despite the fact that there are no allegations of anti-Korean sentiment in Kim's accusations.

Someday books will be written on the Pollard case. Whatever one may think of Jonathan, the

excessiveness of his sentence is a terrible injustice and the silence of the American Jewish establishment points to the prevalence of cowardice and a shtetl mentality that is alive and well amongst leading American Jews and their organizations.

As I spoke to Jonathan last night informing him of the Kim release, I wondered whether maybe the Kim case would shake the Jewish establishment out of their lethargy.

Don't hold your breath.

Rabbi Avi Weiss is the National President of the AMCHA: The Coalition for Jewish Concerns of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
  • Return to Kim page