Why is Jonathan Pollard Still In Prison?

An OpEd by Esther Pollard
December 22, 1995 - Ma'ariv

In order to understand what is behind Jonathan Pollard's life sentence, it is necessary to compare the dramatically different responses to Pollard's arrest and the responses of the various American government bureaucracies and agencies for the arrest, two years later, of Abdul Khadar Helmy for spying for Egypt, and the arrest last May of Michael Schwartz for spying for the Saudis.

My husband's life sentence stands in glaring contrast to the four-year sentence given to Helmy. Helmy is an Egyptian-born American who was cleared for secret work at a weapons plant in California. In 1989, he illegally transmitted to Egypt the materials used in stealth aircraft, missiles and rockets. The materials transmitted by Helmy were to be used by Egypt in a joint weapon with, of all countries, Iraq, to extend the range and improve the accuracy of ballistic missiles, including Iraq's Scud-B missiles. Helmy's activities were co-ordinated by Egypt's defence minister.

Following Jonathan's arrest we heard a tremendous chorus of condemnation out of Washington about Israel's "arrogance" and "ingratitude" in running a spy in the United States. But following Helmy's arrest, we should have asked a very obvious question: given the fact that, since the Camp David Accords, U.S. aid to Egypt has been virtually on par with American aid to Israel, why didn't we hear any condemnation of Egypt expressed in Washington? On the contrary, although Helmy was originally charged with espionage, he was eventually indicted on a single count of smuggling, due to the Administration's concern about offending the Egyptians and upsetting relations with them.

And what of the arrest, last May, of Lt. Cmdr. Schwartz (a non-Jew) in the U.S. Navy who spied for the Saudis for two years while stationed in the Persian Gulf?

All of the above followed immediately upon Pollard's arrest.

Lt. Cmdr. Schwartz will never serve a day in prison. In consideration of Saudi Arabia's "sensitivities", the U.S. Navy has let him off with a reprimand and a less-than-honorable discharge.

Jonathan Pollard is currently serving his eleventh year of a life sentence for similar activities on behalf of Israel.

In light of the special consideration accorded to Saudi Arabia in the Schwartz case, not only does it appear that a double standard of justice exists for American Jews, but also a double standard of political relations has now been set for the Middle East.

Equally troubling: why hasn't Israel openly pressed the United States for a full accounting of the damage assessment? What, exactly, did Schwartz give the Saudis that compromised Israel's security? What perceived weaknesses on the Golan Heights were revealed in these reports? And, if the Saudis have this intelligence, why can't Israel? After all, Israel must now take remedial action for whatever vulnerabilities have been seen and exploited by the Saudis.

Most troubling of all, why is Jonathan Pollard still in prison?

Every day that Jonathan Pollard continues to languish in prison calls into question America's role as an honest broker and true partner with Israel in the peace process.

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