Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Lack of Humanity

I am not one of those knee-jerk advocates for Jonathan Pollard. As a trusted naval analyst with high security clearance he committed a serious crime - espionage - against his country. While his motives may have been in part altruistic he was paid money for that information. Giving sensitive secret information to Israel which he may have felt was vital to their cause was nonetheless wrong and not his call.

It seems pretty clear based on both the testimony at the trial and the continual attitude over the years by members Central Intelligence Agency that serious damage was done to national security at that time. Damage that may have endangered the lives covert CIA operatives.

On the other hand I also believe that based upon everything we know which includes clemency requests by numerous government officials - both past and present - that he has already been punished enough and ought to be released at this time.

However unlike many of those lobbying for his release right now, I do not think we ought to be spending any political capital on this because he is due for release in any event in a couple of years. That said, I still think he ought to be released now as a matter of both principle and humanitarian concern.

I bring all this up because of the recent death of Jonathan Pollard’s father, a man who stood by his son and tried to obtain his release over all these years. Jonathan’s attorneys asked that he be allowed to attend his father’s funeral. The request was denied.

I am frankly appalled at this lack of humanitarian concern for a human being who has been rotting in prison for decades. How in Heaven’s name can anyone justify not giving a man - who has never been given any furlough for any reason and has spent the last 25 years in a federal prison - permission to attend his father’s funeral? It is beyond my comprehension that his prison-keepers could be so cruel. How many fathers does this man have? Especially one who was so dedicated to his son? Could they not have allowed this one time release for the most basic of humanitarian reasons?

This is not what I have come to expect from this great Medinah Shel Chesed. I have no clue whose responsibility it is to grant requests such as these to federal prisoners, but whoever it is, I think he, she, or they failed miserably as human beings.