Justice4JP Responds to IsraelNationalNews Op-Ed: John, George or Judah?

J4JP Release - August 2, 2004

Re: "John, George or Judah?" by Ellen W. Horowitz IsraelNationalNews - Opinion - August 1, 2004

[Copy of Op-Ed follows below]

J4JP applauds the suggestion that those who live in America and who truly care about Israel ought to make Jonathan Pollard's continued incarceration an issue in the upcoming US presidential elections - but not for the reasons suggested in INN op-ed, "John, George or Judah?". Moreover, we strongly deplore the question that this op-ed poses about Jonathan, and the conclusions it draws.

We cringed reading the question, "Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?" and even more so when we read that any American Jew who thinks so, has by definition abandoned Israel; and any American Jew who thinks not, ought to immediately make Aliyah to live in Israel.

This cavalier and over-simplified approach to complex issues, no matter how well-intentioned, is erroneous and misleading. While we are certain that there was no intent to harm, the flip way that the question was posed, "Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?", and then responded to, simply increases public confusion around this issue. For that reason alone, it does a great disservice to both Jonathan Pollard and to Israel.

Firstly, let us set the record straight: Jonathan Pollard is not a traitor. To suggest, as this op-ed does, that he may be a traitor depending on one's world view, is simply not correct. If people are misinformed about Jonathan; or if they have been deliberately misled by the media, or by Jewish leaders; and even if some individuals prefer to believe convenient lies about Jonathan in order to excuse their own indifference to his plight for nearly two decades, that still does not make Jonathan Pollard a traitor.

A traitor, according to American law, is one who serves the enemy or who gives aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. Israel is not an enemy of the US and the two countries are not at war. Jonathan did not give aid and comfort to an enemy of the US. Nor was Jonathan ever accused, indicted or convicted of treason.

In a deliberate smear campaign against Jonathan that has gone on for years, anonymous US officials falsely accuse Jonathan of this and other crimes in the media, but never in a court of law where he could challenge them. While this has created a great deal of confusion about the case for the public at large, nevertheless, it is not the issue.

So what is?

The issue at the heart of the Pollard case is equal justice. The life sentence Jonathan received - the first and only time in US history that such a sentence was ever imposed for "friendly" espionage - was obtained unconstitutionally, without benefit of trial, and in complete violation of a plea agreement which Jonathan honored and the US abrogated. Jonathan was indicted for one offense (one count of espionage on behalf of an ally); but sentenced for a far more serious crime, one which he did not commit, and one that he was never charged with (treason). Jonathan is now in his 19th year of a life sentence, for an offense that usually carries a 2 to 4 year sentence. In recent years, there have been others convicted of virtually the same offense who have even received no jail time at all!

The indifference of the Israeli Government and the American Jewish leaders has allowed this case to fester for nearly 2 decades. They have never taken any serious steps to resolve the case; nor have they ever issued any meaningful protest regarding the grossly disproportionate sentence Jonathan received or the exceptionally harsh treatment he has been subjected to. Without any challenge from the Jewish leaders, the American Government has repeatedly subverted all attempts to bring the case back to court to resolve it.

What this op-ed has failed to articulate is this: the issue is not whether Jonathan Pollard is a traitor - he is not. But whether a Jewish American citizen can receive a grossly disproportionate sentence in an unjust legal process, and be subjected to extraordinarily harsh treatment, simply because he is a Jew. A further question is whether Israel, the country which ran Jonathan, should be so ill-treated in this matter, unlike all other American allies, just because it happens to be a Jewish state.

J4JP therefore begs to differ with the conclusion drawn in this op-ed. We feel strongly that it is not just those who care about Israel who ought to care about seeing this case resolved and Jonathan speedily released. Rather, anyone who cares about proportional justice, the equality of all citizens before the law, and the equal treatment of an ally, must take a strong interest in seeing that the Pollard case is expeditiously resolved. That is the only way to remove the blot that this case represents in US - Israel relations, and to restore the integrity of the American judicial system to ensure that all American citizens - even Jews - are treated equally before the law.

For further information visit the J4JP web site: jonathanpollard.org.

Copy of OpEd follows:

John, George or Judah? by Ellen W. Horowitz

Israel National News - August 1, 2004 / 14 Av 5764

"Judah, too, will battle against Jerusalem." (Zachariah 14:14)

I don't know about you, but I've been hitting the delete key a lot these past few weeks, as a flurry of election email appears to be competing with the usual spam.

It seems that the main concern among many Diaspora Jews and Israelis alike is which US presidential candidate is best (or worst) for Israel. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about - I haven't participated in an American election since making aliyah in 1986. The whole thing seems pretty cut and dried to me.

Americans should be concerned with which presidential candidate is best for America and American interests, whereas Israelis should concern themselves with which Israeli leader is best for the Jewish State. But there appears to be a real dilemma for some Israelis holding dual citizenship, and for those American Jews who pledge allegiance to the stars and stripes, but who have hearts that beat with Israel.

Dual loyalty issues are becoming more perplexing and stressful, because American foreign policy decisions are increasingly out-of-sync with Israel's best interests (I'll let you in on a secret - some of those decisions are not in America's best interests either).

America may be Israel's long-standing best friend, but the relationship that once placed mutual security interests at the top of the agenda is rapidly changing. We can all thrill to a joint Israeli-American Arrow missile project, but our hearts sink when we realize that Uncle Sam is up to his neck in an illicit affair with some of Israel's most formidable enemies - which translates into some inappropriate and harmful interference in Israel's internal affairs, in addition to some blatantly hypocritical foreign policy.

So, who's good for the Jews, John Kerry or George Bush? It doesn't much matter.

But what should be of concern are some of the boys behind the scenes, both Democrat and Republican, who are definitely bad for the Jews - and many of them are Jewish.

All the presidents' men, from the guys writing the speeches and handling the press conferences, to those advising and formulating policies, to the businessmen helping to bankroll the campaigns, to the diplomats and ambassadors, are the ones we Israelis should be wary of.

Abarbanel and other commentators felt that it is the descendants of Judah who, after the destruction of both the first and second Temples, continued to hold positions of leadership in the Diaspora Jewish communities, as well as wield great influence in the secular political and economic spheres. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah." (Genesis 49:10) One has to wonder where Israel would stand today if the lion's share of that Diaspora talent, manpower and brainpower had been primarily dedicated to the development of the Jewish State. The dedicated American (first) Jew always answers, "Where would Israel be without America?"

"Shemayah said: 'Love work; abhor taking high office; and do not seek intimacy with the ruling power.'" (Pirke Avot) But what if one's talents and skills are custom-made for leadership?

The Court Jew has traditionally provided an important service for both the Jewish community and their country of temporary residency. But when the geopolitical sands and winds start shifting, even the most well-intentioned and upstanding Jewish public servant or private sector entrepreneur can lose their way in the storm. It's difficult to let go of the good life, limelight, influence and seductive smooth talk. If one doesn't know when to bow out, one could find oneself pitted against one's own brethren. The same goes for any Jew walking the fine line of dual loyalties. (It is interesting to note that some commentaries claim that the spies gave a slanderous report about the Land of Israel because they feared losing their positions of power and leadership once they crossed over into Israel (Numbers13:3).)

I suggest that world Jewry step out of the fog and stop trying to rationalize and decipher the various shades of gray in the upcoming election. For the Jew concerned about the future of his or her people, things may be very black and white.

If you're an American Jew (Jewish American?) and confused with regards to where you truly stand, take "the Pollard Test". It's really quite simple and will make things remarkably clear.

Question: Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?

If you answered "no", then it's time to pack your bags and book your flight home. If you answered "yes", then you are undoubtedly American first and have consequently abandoned Israel. If you "don't know," then you have a lot to think about.

For those of you who aren't quite ready for aliyah yet, but who claim to remain fiercely dedicated to Israel, take the test one step further and make the matter of Jonathan Pollard's continued imprisonment your campaign issue. Think any of the lions of Judah will pick up that bone, or will they choose to keep it buried?

Who's good for the Jews? As you can see, the issue reaches far beyond choosing between the elephant or the donkey. I suggest that you look past the balloons and hoopla of America's partisan political arena and check out the den behind that stars and stripes curtain.

The on-going Diaspora (continued exile), and the Jew who promotes it and enjoys it, is most definitely bad for Israel.