Are Jews Mad Enough About Pollard?
August 5, 1998 - William Katzberg - Broward Jewish Journal
All right - you are tired of hearing, reading about Jonathan Pollard.
And that fact, dear friends is part of our problem.
You're tired. You've read countless articles and nothing seems to matter, after literally millions of words. Is this - or is this not a
miscarriage of justice?
Who among us does not know that Jonathan Pollard got the rawest of deals
after accepting a plea agreement that was (later) not honored by the
government? Not honored? And that then Secretary of Defense Caspar
Weinberger, who had penned a poison letter regarding Pollard, was later
pardoned (for criminal activity) by President George Bush.
And here I am, an ardent supporter of William Jefferson Clinton who
reports to you that in April 1998, the same Bill Clinton turned down a
joint request for clemency by America's leading rabbinic leadership. The
religious leaders said, " Mr. President, we feel it wrong for American
justice to treat Jonathan Pollard, a contrite offender, as you would
those who have committed high treason against our nation."
Moreover, the White House refused to meet with the rabbinic leaders when
they wanted to present their letter. The official answer was: "Since
there is no commutation request on the table, it would be inappropriate
to discus the Pollard Case." Inappropriate? No commutation request?
This is a queasy, evasive answer from a White House that should be
seeking friends in the Jewish community at a time when its own existence
is under grave legal attack from another kind of prosecutor.
My conclusion: we Jews are simply not seen (publicly) as mad enough
about Pollard. We neither show our anger nor rage about this serious
miscarriage of justice. William Mehlman, in his article,
An Ugly Distortion of Justice,
"Perhaps the most disheartening discovery we (Jews) have made is our
virtual loss of the capacity for honest, righteous rage. Erich Remarque,
the brilliant diarist of the Hitler-driven generation of the 1940's
observed in his last book "SHADOWS IN PARADISE" that maybe Jews were
'too neurasthenic' for real anger. 'Because of that,' he wrote, 'their
hatred had no stamina; it soon gave way to resignation, and to preserve
their self-respect, to 'understanding the enemy.'"
Wow!... Those words conjure up sorry images of yesterday and today.
Reread that paragraph.
Not only have most of the Jewish Community been torn by doubts for
almost 14 years of Pollard's incarceration, they have not shown the
weight of righteous anger for a Jew who had thrown it all away, his
name, his freedom, all to warn Israel and the Jewish people of the
dangers threatening the Jewish State.
Of course, some 13 years ago, most of our American-Jewish organizations
were largely paranoid about the potential charge of "dual loyalty" and
wouldn't touch the Pollard Affair with a ten foot pole. Since then most
of these organizations have re-cast their public image about Pollard and
have become more sympathetic, although hardly "gung-ho".
No, this is not the Dreyfus Affair. Pollard is not an innocent person.
No way. But this does represent another kind of injustice that blots our
American sense of fair play. Pollard is being made a scapegoat for
reasons unrelated to what he did and punished far in excess of his
wrong-doing. Indeed, Jonathan Pollard remains the only person in the
history of the United States to receive a
life sentence for spying for
There is endless speculation why Pollard is not being released including
"causing irreparable damage to the US Intelligence community." These
are all allegations, dream-like scenarios, unfounded pulp fiction.
The fact is that Jonathan Pollard is still in prison despite the State
of Israel (finally and officially) owning up that Pollard was their
operative. Now then, this public act by the Israelis was supposed to
have cleared the way for Pollard's release to Israel.
Like you, I'm waiting for Bill Clinton.
Seemingly, democracy and justice mainly get spawned in the Tiananmen
Squares of the world. American Jewry has not taken to the streets
clamoring for release for Jonathan Pollard. However, we American Jews
are not without means or imagination to declare our hurt - even our
rage. I'd suggest two public declarations of our will:
1) A major rally in Madison Square Garden sponsored by a Who's Who
in Jewish organizational life.
2) A full page ad in the NEW YORK TIMES by the sponsoring Jewish
These are but only two basic steps to take at a time when an American
President proudly (I think) preached to the world about justice in
Tiananmen Square. It was only 8,000 or so miles away.
Ever Wonder "Why Pollard Never...?" Memo