Pollard Left Hanging

Prof. Sol Modell - Heritage - June 18, 1993

It is no secret to those who have followed the Jonathan Pollard case that the offensive former U.S. defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, who probably would [have] been sent to prison had he not been pardoned by former President George Bush, falsely asserted in his infamous letter to anti-Israel Judge Aubrey Robinson that Pollard was a traitor and should be hanged.

The fact that he referred to Pollard as a traitor demonstrated his ignorance of the constitutional definition of that term; the fact that he called for Pollard's execution reflected his prejudice and bitterness.

Since then, I have been informed by an editorial in the April 16 edition of the Jewish Press, published in Brooklyn, that in a lecture delivered at Town Hall in New York, William Buckley, publisher of the National Review, made the statement that "nobody was more shocked by what Jonathan Pollard did than the American Jewish community and many of them would not mind if he were executed."

I do not believe that America's Jews have ever been polled on this question, and I would suggest that Buckley may have made his statement to build support for what he might like done to Pollard. I do know that many hundreds of Jewish organizations throughout the United States, about 600 American rabbis, dozens of rabbis in other countries and tens of thousands of American citizens, Jews and non-Jews, have appealed to the president for commutation of Pollard's life sentence to time served.

I have no desire, because I have already done it several times, to review the details of he Pollard case. Rather, I shall concentrate on what I believe to be certain key questions.

The view I will express are mine alone; I attribute them to no one else.

First, there is the matter of the "crime" Pollard committed. It has been universally accepted as fact that he was guilty of spying against the United States. But that is untrue! Technically, Pollard violated a federal law. He was declared guilty, but he was convicted however, of only one offense: delivering classified intelligence information to a foreign power, not of spying against the United States.

But there is much more to this matter. According to constitutional law, an executive agreement entered into by the United States with Israel in 1983, providing for the exchange of intelligence information relating to the national security of each of the two countries, was equivalent to a national law. It was therefore, Defense Secretary Weinberger and his subordinates in Naval Intelligence who broke the law. They did this by ordering that a mass of intelligence information dealing with dangers threatening Israel not be transferred to the Jewish state.

As strange as it may seem, what Jonathan Pollard actually did when he took this information to the Israelis was to implement a law of the United States. Weinberger and his associates, rather than Pollard, should have been sent to prison.

But there is still the question of spying. The Walkers, to give one example among dozens that could be cited, stole over a period of almost 20 years enormous amounts of classified intelligence information dealing with American military secrets and turned them over to the Soviet Union, which at that time was an open, declared, cold-war enemy of the United States and for the benefit of an enemy of the United States. Their ringleader's sentence did not contain a recommendation against parole.

In contrast, Pollard gave to Israel information to which, as an employee of Naval Intelligence, he had legal access. Pollard knew that Israel had been designated, by presidential executive order, "a major non-NATO ally of the United States." He did not spy. He felt that he was giving to Israel what should have been sent to Israel. But he was committed to life in prison with a recommendation against parole.

What would you have done if you had been in Pollard's place?

You knew that the information you had seen, which dealt with the production of weapons of mass destruction by Israel's enemies, was being illegally withheld from Israel, and when you asked your superior why this was being done, he replied, with a smirk and sneer, referring to Auschwitz and the Holocaust, "You Jews are still too sensitive about gas."

Seriously, dear reader, what would you have done?

It may be that some Americans, perhaps including Jews, who have heard of this case have been led to believe that Pollard was guilty of treason, as had been charged by the obviously-ignorant Caspar Weinberger. But Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States defines treason very clearly. It declares that "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

It should therefore have been clear even to as biased and irresponsible an individual as Weinberger that Pollard did not commit an act of treason. He acted on behalf of a loyal friend and ally of the United States that was entitled by American law to have sent to it everything he delivered to it.

I might add that the information Israel received from Pollard gave the Israelis the time they needed to prepare for the Scud attacks by Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, and thus saved many hundreds of Jewish lives.

Emanuel Rackman, a leading rabbi and chancellor of Bar-Ilan university in Israel, wrote in a recent article: "Pollard's sentence was harsh beyond measure and could have been motivated only by anti-Semitism even a child can fathom." Nevertheless, a few important Jewish organizations, to their shame, have refused to take a stand on this case. And they have continued to justify this abdication of responsibility on the ground that no Jewish interest has been involved.

But, besides their betrayal of what has definitely been a Jewish interest, which I shall shortly demonstrate, their position in itself is a confession of blatant hypocrisy, because if one were to review the records of these organizations, one would find these records to be replete with every conceivable kind of involvement in issues and causes which had nothing directly to do with Jewish interests.

But the question remains: Does the Pollard case involve Jewish interests? Let us see.

In the opinion of at least several million Jews, the most important Jewish interest in the contemporary world is the security and defense of Israel. What Pollard did was done to defend Israel and prevent the killing, by weapons of mass destruction, of countless numbers of Jewish men, women and children. No Jewish interest?

After the plea-bargaining agreement was violated by the United States government, Pollard's wife Anne was sentenced to five years in prison. She, of course, is Jewish and she is the first wife of a person found guilty of "spying" ever to be sent to jail. (Mrs. Walker, who was involved with her husband's treasonous spying activities for some 18 years, never spent a night in prison.) While in prison, Mrs. Pollard was refused adequate medical care and was deliberately mistreated simply because she was the wife of a Jew sentenced to life imprisonment. No Jewish interest?

Aubrey Robinson, a federal judge with a visceral hatred of the Jewish state, who is reported to have said that he would find guilty of contempt anyone who uttered the word "Israel" in his courtroom, accepted without question the libelous letter sent to him by Caspar Weinberger, and sentenced Pollard to life in prison. No Jewish interest?

In clear violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlaws, "cruel and unusual punishment," Pollard was first sent to a federal prison for the criminally insane, something never before done in our country in a case of this kind. Thee he spent a year under conditions so horrible they would have completely broken the mind and spirit of a weaker person. No Jewish interest?

Several times, Pollard was asked to name other American Jews who had been involved with him in transferring intelligence information to Israel Repeatedly, he assured them there were no such persons, but they persisted. They even threatened to make things even more painful for his wife unless he named names. He insisted that there were no such names. No Jewish interest?

Pollard has now been in the Marion maximum security prison for about six years. During this time, his guards frequently withheld his mail, gave him spoiled food, destroyed personal possessions relating to his Jewish faith, and generally made his life as miserable as possible. And, always, he has been confined to his cell 23 hours a day. No Jewish interest?

No person found guilty in the past of a similar "crime" has been given such a severe sentence. And, surely, no case of espionage in my lifetime, with the exception of the Jewish Rosenberg case has been so blown up by planned government leaks and propaganda against the individual involved (a Jew) and the country involved (the Jewish state). No Jewish interest?

Most interesting in this regard is a tiny article in the L.A. Times (June3), which reported that the Israeli Supreme Court, after a six-year ban, has finally permitted the press to make public the conviction of an Israeli army officer for spying on the Jewish state. Several more Israeli citizens are in jail for spying. While the country for which they spied was not named, it is an open secret that the United States was implicated. But, in contrast to the anti-Pollard and anti-Israel propaganda circus in America, these trials were never used as anti-American orgies.

The report added that at one point Israel offered to trade the army officer for Jonathan Pollard, but the offer was apparently rejected by the United States.

There is a Jewish sickness in this land, a fear of being accused of "dual loyalty," leading to the loss of self-respect and dignity, which leads Jews to struggle on behalf of other people, but almost never on behalf of their fellow Jews. So it is with the Pollard case.

It is to be hoped that President Clinton will listen not to them but the great majority who insist that mercy and justice together join in calling for the commutation of Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served.