The Patriotic Voice of American Jewry

George Topas - The Jewish Press - November 19, 1993

The Jewish establishment and the Plight of Jonathan Pollard

I recently received the Convention/Fall Issue of the Jewish Veteran, the quarterly publication of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. and was infuriated to read of the action taken at their recent convention - an action which can only harm the sad situation of Jonathan Pollard. I felt compelled to write to them and wish to share my feelings with the readers of THE JEWISH PRESS in the hope you too will wish to react to this outrage.

The address is:
The Jewish Veteran
1811 R Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009

Here is my letter:

An Open Letter To The Jewish War Veterans Of The U.S.A.

I was appalled to read in the Fall 1993 issue of the Jewish Veteran about the way that the J.W.V. convention addressed the Pollard issue. The strongly worded statement unequivocally condemning him for spying completely ignores all mitigating circumstances - as it ignores the very fact that he was not charged with "treason" in his indictment, but of "passing classified information

to an ally

" - one of the lowest levels of espionage. The wording of the resolution, however, completely overlooked the fact that Pollard, at the request of Caspar Weinberger, the then Secretary of Defence, was slapped with the most severe sentence (life without parole for an offence for which, in similar instances, the offenders were given 2 to 4 year sentences).

Had a black individual been similarly railroaded, black community leaders would have organized a major protest and the J.W.V., good Samaritans that they are - when it comes to strangers - would have joined the ranks of the protesters. Pollard's misfortune is that he happens to be a Jew.

Just exactly what did Pollard do to have been so mercilessly punished? The fact of the matter is that Pollard passed information to Israel - information which the U.S. had an obligation to furnish but did not. In 1983, President Reagan signed an executive agreement with Israel in which the United States promised to relay all available intelligence vital to Israel's survival. But the Naval Intelligence selectively ignored their obligation to transfer material. Pollard broke the law by bypassing his superiors to avail the promised information to Israel, as it concerned such things as Syrian and Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear build-up and Scud Missile development and deployment. Who knows how many Jewish lives would have been lost during the Gulf War had it not been for this information.

The members of the J.W.V. National resolutions Committee and others should search their consciences and ask themselves these questions: "Would we have introduced a resolution of condemnation if the person in question was not a Jew?

By going to such an extreme are we not exhibiting a sense of insecurity and moral weakness, worrying as we do mainly about how our response to Pollard's plight reflects upon ourselves? We do not have to go too far back in history to se another example of this attitude. During World War II, American Jewish leaders of the day, by and large remained silent in the face of overwhelming evidence of the on-going Holocaust of the European Jews because they didn't want to stick their necks out and appear to be putting Jewish interests before their notion of patriotic duty.

Meanwhile Jonathan Pollard has been languishing in prison since 1985 without a review of his case or redress of the wrong done to him. Your article mentions that the "JWV has always supported and continues to support a review of Pollard's case" What action are you taking to see that this occurs?

I do not believe that your resolution reflects the sentiments of the majority of our members. In fact it does not even represent the sentiment of one of the judges who, during a September 10, 1991 hearing, asked the prosecutor: "How in G-d's name can you justify Weinberger's use of the word "treason?" The prosecutor admitted that the word "treason" in Weinberger's memorandum was "regrettable." Of the three judges of the Appellate Court which ruled on Jonathan's right to withdraw the guilty plea he had been hoodwinked into entering, the dissenting judge, Steven Williams, (the only gentile) stated that "there was a fundamental miscarriage of justice." This too is not reflected in your resolution.

I therefore urge my fellow veterans to write to the JWV executive to let them know how you feel. But what is more important - write to the President and your congressional representatives and urge that Pollard's sentence be commuted to the time already served.

George Topas
Member JWV Post 178

The above letter to he JWV is self-explanatory except for reflecting on the inequality of justice when it came to Pollard. One need only recall the notorious case of the Walker family. The members of this family were caught and convicted of spying for our then arch-enemy, the Soviet Union - for 17 years - for which they were paid millions, and yet they were given limited-term prison sentences.

Why was Pollard denied fair treatment? And most distressing of all, why the lack of solidarity and fear by some of the Jewish establishment to react to such an outrage?

Caspar Weinberger, the former Secretary of Defense, a Pan-Arabist and outspoken critic of the Jewish State, can claim much of [the] credit for the plight and suffering of Jonathan Pollard. For it was Weinberger's hand-delivered letter to the sentencing Judge, urging him to impose the "stiffest possible sentencecommensurate with the enduring quality of treason" (i.e. a false charge of treason) that doomed Pollard's fate. The leniency that had been promised to him for cooperation with the Government was totally denied in favor of Weinberger's harsh decree. It is most likely that Jonathan Pollard was 'legally" railroaded to impress the Arab potentates by the United State's "evenhandedness", by one who was obsessed with placating the Arabs at Israel's expense. This action by Weinberger exhibited not only his bias, but also his contempt of American Jewish leaders. For he knew that they would fear the label of dual-loyalty and would therefore not protest.

In fact, many either kept silent or demonstratively joined in the condemnation of the accused, in order to advertise their loyalty.

What the leaders of the Jewish War Veterans, and other Jewish "machers" have displayed is not so much a lack of compassion for a fellow Jew but a lack of pride, a lack of self-esteem and a sense of insecurity as to how their patriotism and loyalty would be perceived by the non-Jew. To go back to the time of World War II, this very weakness was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to deal with our people. Roosevelt, who knew that he had the Jewish vote in his hip-pocket warned the Jewish leaders against speaking out on the issue of the fate of the Jews in Europe, on the grounds that this would incite anti-Semitism here. Most complied.

Other ethnic groups have not and would not hesitate to protest and demonstrate if they felt that one of their people was discriminated against, and excessively punished for his offense - particularly if he acted for a compelling reason, as Pollard did, to alert his fellow Jews about an imminent threat to their survival -

without doing harm to his country.

If we remain silent, we are guilty of acquiescence, for as Solomon said: "Silence pacifies great offenses." I believe we have a moral obligation to protest and continue to protest Pollard's lengthy incarceration and petition for his release. Please take a moment to write to the President and our congressmen - even if you've done so before. And for my fellow JWV's, won't you write to our "leaders" there too.