Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jonathan Pollard and the ‘Anti Semitism’ Card

Jonathan Pollard
Former Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson
Former Secretary of State George Shultz
Former FBI and CIA head, William Webster
Former Senator David Durenberger
Former Congressman Lee Hamilton
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb
Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane
Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini
Former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum
Former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann
Republican Senator John McCain
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer,
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Former Vice President Dan Quayle
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey

This is just a partial list of distinguished Americans that have supported releasing Jonathan Pollard after serving almost 30 years in prison for passing classified information to Israel.  Among the above were people who are privy to the details of his crime which have been kept secret allegedly for security reasons. People that were on intelligence committees in both the House and the Senate at the time of Pollard’s arrest!

My position on Pollard in the last few years is that he served enough time for his crime. But I had always reserved judgment on his imprisonment based on the fact that I did not know the details - and the fact that every single President since (and including) Ronald Reagan believed that his sentence was just and refused to grant him any form of clemency. The reasons had always boiled down to the fact that the massive amount of secret intelligence he passed to even an ally like Israel was compromised and put lives at risk.

Although there are many people who question it – saying that the lives in question were in danger because of other far more serious spies who were operative at the time of Pollard’s conviction, I nevertheless felt that since I do not have access to the actual data, that I had to take the government’s word for it that Pollard got what he deserved – in spite of the fact that he was promised a reduced sentence for his cooperation in a plea deal with the government. Which Pollard honored.

I never quite understood that part of it, though. If the officials who made the deal thought his crime was worthy of a reduced sentence, that should have been what Pollard got.  But Reagan's Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said that despite that promise, his crime was so devastating to the United States, that he should spend the rest of his life in prison. And the judge bought it!

And, because every President since that time – all of whom were very pro-Israel – felt he got what he deserved and refused to grant him clemency, I felt that there is just something we don’t know.

Aldrich Ames
But, after nearly thirty years in prison and with the support of his release by so many distinguished Americans many of whom did know every detail of his crime, I truly believe that justice would be more fully served if he was finally released. Any more time served, has no purpose beyond just being cruel. There is no reason that Pollard should be treated like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. Those two spies made what Pollard did look almost patriotic by comparison.

This does not condone in the slightest the crimes committed by Pollard. But I think there is major difference between Pollard’s crimes and those of Ames and Hanssen. And yet they are all being treated the same way. I understand that a message needs to be sent that espionage – even for a friendly country is a serious crime that can endanger American lives and American interests. But how about a sense of proportion?

Robert Hannsen
The one thing that does bother me about some of the more recent comments on this is that some prominent Jews are playing the ‘anti Semitism card’. Truth be told, I have no clue whether there has been any anti Semitism with respect to the way Pollard has been treated. But I especially protest bringing it up by anyone from our own community, as ADL head Abe Foxman and others recently did. There is absolutely no evidence of it, no matter how strongly one might suspect it.

Bringing it up now is a red herring and once again makes us look paranoid and foolish. While any citizen can speak his mind on any issue and express their desire for the government to act, there is no benefit in a Jew crying anti Semitism. Especially when there are so many distinguished non Jews who are clamoring for Pollard’s release.

If there truly is anti Semitism, I think it requires proof before it is brought up at all. Without which we ought to just shut up. And even if there is proof, it would be far better if non Jews brought it up. We don’t need to raise the ‘anti Semitism card’ in order to argue for Pollard’s release at this point in time. There is ample and justifiable argument for that without such accusations by prominent Jews. What is gained by it? Doing so in my view is not only counterproductive; it is an insult to the most philo Semitic country in the history of the world!  To quote a line I’ve seen written more than a few times by Joe Aaron, publisher of the Chicago Jewish News, ‘Jews have never had it so good!’ And we scream ‘anti Semitism’?! What is the matter with these people?!