No Jews of Silence

Editorial - The Jewish Western Bulletin (Vancouver) - March 11, 1993

"The unusual elements in this (Pollard) case, especially when evaluated against the background of his unprecedented life sentence of spying for a trusted ally, raise important questions of concern to the Jewish community. Foremost among them is the unsettling question whether the sentence in this case would have been as harshly disparate for other comparable defendants if Pollard had not been Jewish and the nation he spied for had not been Israel."

     Prof. Alan Dershowitz, writing on the Pollard Case

"If anti-Semitism is not the cause (of Pollard's sentence), I don't know what else is. There is no other explanation and I will not be satisfied until I hear another explanation for the sentence he received."

     Prof. Irving Abella, (JWB interview Dec. 17, 1992)

Are prominent civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz and respected historian Irving Abella who is president of Canadian Jewish Congress, living on some other planet and commenting in the foregoing quotes on some Pollard case other than the one voted on recently by both the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) and the National Joint Community Relations Committee (NJCRAC)?

It would seem so in view of the reason cited by both the NJCRAC and ADK for their recent decisions not to pass resolutions calling on President Clinton for commutation for Jonathan Pollard. Both organizations claim that Pollard's sentence does not reflect any anti-Semitism and is not therefore a matter for Jewish communal concern.

Unfortunately space does not permit the inclusion of numerous other quotations similar to the two above by many well known Jews, which also leave no doubt about their firm conviction that Jonathan Pollard was and remains, a victim of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments.

But the callous statements made by some individuals while rationalizing doing nothing or speaking viciously against Pollard at the NJCRAC conference are equally as sickening and disheartening as the incredible conclusion that anti-Semitism does not factor into the Pollard case.

What happened to some Jewish leaders today in the United States who have forgotten the meaning for Jews of compassion? Or never learned about the sacred trust of the mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim (redemption of a captive)? Or are unaware of the mitzvah that supercedes all other mitzvoth in Judaism - Pikuach Nefesh, the saving of a life?

Pidyan Shvuyim and Pikuach Nefesh are sacred mitzvoth incumbent equally on us all.

We not only are permitted but also are compelled to set aside all other mitzvoth in order to try to save a life. That was in fact the terrible crime of Jonathan Pollard when he turned over intelligence on Iraq, Syria and Libya, poison gas warfare, and nuclear potential threats deliberately being withheld, despite the existence of an exchange of information with Israel.

The NJCRAC vote was 162 against a pro-Pollard resolution, 147 in favor, with 41 absentions. Can it truly be that some Jewish leaders today have never learned the gruesome lessons of history taught through the silence of an earlier generation of Jewish leadership? The Jews of Europe were abandoned to the Shoah (Holocaust) by North American Jews who failed to speak out, rally and protest vociferously to save the lives of their fellow Jews.

What bleak conclusions. How ineffably sad.

But rather with typical Jewish optimism, let us count instead the 147 in favor plus almost 200 organizations and groups representing some five million Jews and Christians in Canada and the U.S. - including 550 rabbis - who have already sent resolutions and letters seeking commutation of Jonathan Pollard's sentence to the seven years-plus in solitary confinement that he has already served to pay for his guilt.

What can we do? Write, phone and fax everyone possible. If you wrote before - now is the time to write again. Especially to President Clinton (or mail him a printed postcard available at The Bulletin and Shalom Books) and fax him and phone the President's Comment Line.

For the sake of Heaven, if you have not already done so, let there be no more Jews of silence as we head towards Pesach, the seminal celebration of Jewish freedom.