Young Israel President Asks For Equal Justice For Israeli Spy

Viewpoint Magazine - NCYI - Fall 1997

A national Jewish leader has demanded that the American government explain why it is treating an American convicted of spying for Israel far more harshly than those convicted of spying for other friendly countries, and even those who spied for former enemies.

Chaim S. Kaminetzky, National President of the National Council of Young Israel, noted that "Robert Kim, a former US Naval Intelligence analyst, recently received a relatively lenient nine year jail sentence as a plea bargain for admitting to his spying activities for South Korea. By contrast, Jonathan Pollard, who also sought to enter a plea bargain agreement after he was caught spying for the State of Israel, has already been held in US prisons for twelve years."

Kaminetzky, who, with National Council of Young Israel Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner, recently visited Pollard at a federal penitentiary in North Carolina, objected to, "the most severe conditions to which Pollard has been subjected, including, in the early years of his imprisonment, solitary confinement and incarceration in a hospital for the criminally insane. By any standard of fairness, Pollard has already paid his debt to this country for his crime. Simple justice now demands that he not be punished more harshly than others convicted of inflicting far greater damage to U.S. national security."

The Young Israel president asked, "Why has no reason ever been given for the unusually harsh treatment that Pollard has received over the years? Why have President Clinton and his predecessors ignored the repeated pleas for clemency in Pollard's case issued by the heads of Israeli governments and concerned Jewish and non Jewish leaders around the world?"

Kaminetzky noted the suspicion voiced quietly by some within the Jewish community that, "Pollard has been singled out for particularly harsh treatment as the result of special hatred for Israel within some circles of the American security establishment. If so, then Pollard's suffering may be of more than humanitarian concern to the American Jewish community."

Kaminetzky asked President Clinton to "dispel those rumors of bias and follow the humanitarian precedent set earlier this year when, in response to American and Palestinian request, the Netanyahu government released those convicted of terrorist actions against the Jewish State. The release of Jonathan Pollard now would be a gesture of good will that would restore our faith in the American justice system and help to improve the atmosphere for reviving the Middle East peace process."