life sentence hanging over her head as well.
CJN: Can you clear up what Jonathan was charged with and convicted of?
Pollard: Jonathan was convicted of one count, and one count only, of passing classified information to an ally.
He was never charged with treason. He couldn't be, because treason means you give aid and comfort to an enemy, and Israel is not an enemy.
He was never charged with harming the United States. Harming the U.S. is a charge that stands on its own, separate and apart. This is important because President Clinton used that as the excuse to deny clemency to Jonathan, and it's a false charge.
After nine months of polygraph testing, the CIA concluded that Jonathan was an ideologue and that he had done what he did for ideological reasons. Moreover, in the United States, when a person is found to have benefited financially from espionage, the courts routinely fine them. Jonathan was never fined. He was never charged with having benefited financially, yet that has been the major myth.
CJN: Almost all accounts of the case state that Israeli payments to Jonathan were made, whether it was Israel persuading him to take money or whether it was an unwritten rule that anyone providing this sort of information had to be paid.
Pollard: Israel did try to insist [that Pollard be paid] and actually set up a false bank account to which Jonathan never had access. These things were investigated in minute detail and there were nine months of polygraphing that satisfied the CIA.
As Alan Dershowitz points out, if Jonathan were to spy for money,
major money could have been made by passing the information to enemies of Israel. A minor amount of money was recorded to have passed hands - something like $50,000 - every cent of which was accounted for to the courts, to their satisfaction that it was not for Jonathan's benefit. That did not even cover operational expenses he incurred on behalf of Israel.
CJN: You have said that his case has resulted in a de facto legal redefinition of Israel. What do you mean by that?
Pollard: When you have an ally - Israel - and an agent working to pass information to that ally, and yet when that agent is sentenced to a term consistent with one given to a hostile agent, what does that tell us about what they are trying to say about that ally? Again and again, we keep finding this mischaracterization.
CJN: What has been the punishment been for others who have spied for an ally?
two to four years. What's also been mind-boggling is the case of Albert Sombolay. He was an American soldier during Operation Desert Storm. He shared the U.S. plans for Desert Storm with Iraq and Jordan. He was originally sentenced to 35 years. This was the highest treason possible! After the first appeal, it was reduced to 19 years, and it's been reduced since then.
Prime Minister Rabin made a personal appeal to President Clinton [for Pollard's release.] One head of state generally doesn't approach another head of state publicly about such a request unless he has some pretty good assurances in advance that his request will be favorably received. There's no reason to invite public humiliation and rejection otherwise.
President Clinton turned down Prime Minister Rabin's request in the most arrogant, high-handed manner, which showed absolutely no respect for Mr. Rabin. President Clinton could have made a gesture. He could have shown that he at least considered the plea of an ally from its head of state.
CJN: Is a presidential commutation, from this or a future president, still possible?
Pollard: Absolutely. And we've got to press for it now. President Clinton is free to change his mind at any moment. He is free to review the case today, and tomorrow sign Jonathan's release. Frankly, that is the only morally decent and acceptable solution. Jonathan has already served twice as long as anyone else in the history of the United States who was charged with a similar offence.
CJN: What information did Jonathan pass to Israel?
Pollard: He passed the kind of information Israel was owed according to a 1983 treaty agreement, which dealt specifically with Israel's security needs. He did come under pressure at various points during his operation to hand over information to Israel concerning the United States, and he categorically refused.
He did not pass Israel any information to which she was not entitled. He handed over information concerning Iraq's nuclear capabilities; the building up of non-conventional weapons in places like Iraq, Syria and Egypt - things that directly concerned Israel.
During the Gulf War, Israelis called Jonathan The sealed rooms existed because of the warnings Jonathan had given Israel. Moreover, information Jonathan gave Israel prior to the Gulf War allowed Israel not only to prepare itself, but also to feed information to America.
CJN: How often do you communicate with Jonathan?
Pollard: We speak every day, and that's not easy because the authorities can and do interfere with his privileges. Jonathan writes me every day. I have not received
any of his letters since 1990. His letters to me are routinely confiscated and that's a direct contravention of American law.
All his mail goes to Washington, where it's supposed to be vetted, not stolen. As long as the people who vet it are satisfied that it doesn't contain classified information, they are supposed to send it on to its rightful address. Roughly 70 percent of his mail doesn't make it to its destination. I want to emphasize that this is
CJN: Why hasn't Jonathan's plight caught the imagination of the majority of the North American Jewish public?
Pollard: I don't necessarily agree with you. I think the energy is there in the American community. Once they have been made aware of the issues, they're a good community and they do respond. The energy has to be harnessed and focused. I think this is the task of the Jewish leadership. There has been perhaps less directness from the leadership than is desirable. For various reasons, they were slow to respond. An example: Why is that someone like [Canadian Jewish Congress president] Irving Abella has no difficulty saying that anti-Semitism is behind Pollard's fate, and yet his American counterpart waffles for years?
What has happened is that constituent organizations have broken away from the leadership and begun issuing their own calls for commutation. And it's sad that the leadership had to wait for the constituent organizations to act.
CJN: How did you become involved in this?
Pollard: It was the summer of 1990, and I was in Israel working at the Ministry of Justice and teaching English at Hebrew University. I had been in touch with Shifra Hoffman, who founded Victims of Arab Terror, and she suggested I write to Jonathan, which I did.
I received two envelopes in reply. One was full of information; the other was a personal letter. I had opened the information first, and read it. And then I read the letter. I expected the person who wrote it to be angry and bitter. Instead, his letter was full of love for the land and people of Israel. It was such an overwhelmingly human, patriotic, compassionate tone, that I was very touched. Thus began the beginning of our communication.
At the same time, I was shocked beyond words at what I'd read, because I'd honestly believed that America was the land of justice and democracy. I didn't believe something like that could happen in America. There was a moral imperative; you just had to get involved.
I can honestly say that my personal feelings for my husband aside, this is the kind of issue I feel very strongly concerns every Jew and every decent, law-abiding citizen in a democracy. The issues are much bigger than Jonathan and myself. They affect every citizen, and, like it or not, we are writing a page of Jewish history.