Luchins' Latest Gambit - Editorial
Jewish Press (NY) - March 10, 2000
Blaming the Victim And Promoting the Red Herring of Parole
Our readers will recall, how recently, over a period of several weeks,
The Jewish Press took David Luchins, a Vice President of the Orthodox Union
and a Senior Aide to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to task for
the public positions he took on the issue of Jonathan Pollard.
As we noted, although
Mr. Pollard has consistently sought a review
of the judicial process which led to a particularly Draconian sentence
for spying for Israel, an ally of the U.S., Luchins forcefully argues that
Pollard should rather seek release on humanitarian grounds.
In the course of our observations, we noted that it was not so much
the justice versus humanitarianism issue Luchins raised which concerned
us - in the abstract, there are many thoughtful people who believe that
the humanitarian approach has much to commend itself.
But what concerned us was that Luchins very publicly took a position
that was contrary to what Pollard himself wanted to do. But equally
as important, in his presentations,
Luchins typically denigrated Pollard's
approach in an extraordinary way. This is not the time to retell the
painful story, but suffice it to say, that according to Luchins, there was
no way that a review of the judicial process would be availing simply because
the heinousness of Pollard's crimes doomed that approach. Thus, among other
things, Luchins spent the bulk of his presentation describing the CIA and
other governmental agency's contention that Pollard grievously damaged
American security and that because of his spying, American agents stationed
in the Soviet Union began "dropping like flies." To be sure, he prefaced
these claims and the rest of his litany with the observation that he didn't
really know if they were true, but this is what the government says. Luchins
had his deniability,
but the message to his listening audience and beyond
was that as a matter of justice, Pollard got what he deserved.
Of course, the flaw in Luchins' position is that Pollard was never charged
with any of this. Indeed, as if acknowledging this problem, Luchins took
to speaking of "fair inferences" that should logically be drawn even if
they were not proven in court or Pollard did not admit them - and held
He sounded totally oblivious to the criticism that
this is America and not the dark days of the Star Chamber or Stalin's Soviet
Interestingly, from a transcript of his most recent lecture at the OU's
Israel Center - within the last two weeks - it appears that Luchins has
modified his approach. Thus, though he did not intentionally set out to
address the Pollard issue, nevertheless, in the course of a question and
answer period, the Pollard issue came up.
Luchins began by saying that he has to be careful about what he says
because the Jewish Press will "beat up" on me. He then went
on to castigate Pollard for not applying for parole which he says, for
a variety of reasons, would be forthcoming.
And it is this refusal to
apply for parole that Luchins claims is key to Pollard's remaining in jail.
Extraordinary. Once again, Luchins points to the victim as the culprit.
But equally as important, we did some research and consulted the advice
of legal experts in the parole process. And what we got back as the overwhelming
consensus was that
the parole approach would not only be unsuccessful,
but would be counterproductive.
We were told that the Pollard file that the parole board would review
contains overwhelmingly negative statements from governmental officials
from President Clinton on down. For this and other reasons, he would be
sure to be turned down.
In addition, integral to the parole process is the "set aside." That
is, following an unsuccessful application for parole, there is a period
during which a new application may not be made. And in Pollard's case,
given the length of his sentence, the set aside period would be 15 years!
And, the experts say, their experience in these things tells them that
presidents and others would simply refuse to get involved, referring conveniently
to the decision of the parole board.
We call upon Luchins - who after all, is not a lawyer and who has never
represented anyone seeking parole - to come forward with the source of
the expert advice upon which he bases his belief that Pollard's salvation
lies in starting an entirely new process of parole with its own dynamic
of timetables and delays. [See Justice4JP Note below]*
It will also be recalled that The Jewish Press published a letter to
the editor from Irwin Katsof, the Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund
of Aish HaTorah, in which he chastises us for our criticism of David Luchins
on the Pollard matter. Rabbi Katsof said in his letter that Luchins' lectures
at Aish HaTorah belied our characterizations of him and invited us to listen
to the tapes of the lectures. Rabbi Katsof sent his letter December 30,
1999 and since that time we have been earnestly trying to get hold of the
tapes. We wrote to Rabbi Katsof several times - and although in a January
13, 2000 letter to us he said he would facilitate our securing the tapes,
we still have not received them. In truth, we have secured tapes of other
Luchin's lectures wherein he speaks of Pollard and his comments more than
support our criticisms and we plan to share summaries of them with our
readers. Certainly, in the interests of fairness we would like to have
at our disposal as many tapes as there are around. We hope Rabbi Katsof
soon comes through on his commitment.
David Luchins' most compelling argument for the parole process is that
such notables as Eli Wiesel, and Coretta Scott King would testify for Jonathan
at his parole hearing. Contrary to what Luchins claims, a parole hearing
is not a court hearing. As a rule, the parole board examines the prisoner's
file well in advance of the hearing, and their decision - based on
the contents of the file - has already been made before the hearing begins.
Jonathan Pollard's parole file contains nothing but negative recommendations
from those government agencies with vested interests in keeping him in
Transcript of David Luchins' Remarks at the Israel Center
David Luchins Page