Are Jews Mad Enough About Pollard?

August 5, 1998 - William Katzberg - Broward Jewish Journal

All right - you are tired of hearing, reading about Jonathan Pollard. And that fact, dear friends is part of our problem.

You're tired. You've read countless articles and nothing seems to matter, after literally millions of words. Is this - or is this not a miscarriage of justice?

Who among us does not know that Jonathan Pollard got the rawest of deals after accepting a plea agreement that was (later) not honored by the government? Not honored? And that then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who had penned a poison letter regarding Pollard, was later pardoned (for criminal activity) by President George Bush.

And here I am, an ardent supporter of William Jefferson Clinton who reports to you that in April 1998, the same Bill Clinton turned down a joint request for clemency by America's leading rabbinic leadership. The religious leaders said, " Mr. President, we feel it wrong for American justice to treat Jonathan Pollard, a contrite offender, as you would those who have committed high treason against our nation."

Moreover, the White House refused to meet with the rabbinic leaders when they wanted to present their letter. The official answer was: "Since there is no commutation request on the table, it would be inappropriate to discus the Pollard Case." Inappropriate? No commutation request?

This is a queasy, evasive answer from a White House that should be seeking friends in the Jewish community at a time when its own existence is under grave legal attack from another kind of prosecutor.

My conclusion: we Jews are simply not seen (publicly) as mad enough about Pollard. We neither show our anger nor rage about this serious miscarriage of justice. William Mehlman, in his article, An Ugly Distortion of Justice, wrote:

"Perhaps the most disheartening discovery we (Jews) have made is our virtual loss of the capacity for honest, righteous rage. Erich Remarque, the brilliant diarist of the Hitler-driven generation of the 1940's observed in his last book "SHADOWS IN PARADISE" that maybe Jews were 'too neurasthenic' for real anger. 'Because of that,' he wrote, 'their hatred had no stamina; it soon gave way to resignation, and to preserve their self-respect, to 'understanding the enemy.'"

Wow!... Those words conjure up sorry images of yesterday and today. Reread that paragraph.

Not only have most of the Jewish Community been torn by doubts for almost 14 years of Pollard's incarceration, they have not shown the weight of righteous anger for a Jew who had thrown it all away, his name, his freedom, all to warn Israel and the Jewish people of the dangers threatening the Jewish State.

Of course, some 13 years ago, most of our American-Jewish organizations were largely paranoid about the potential charge of "dual loyalty" and wouldn't touch the Pollard Affair with a ten foot pole. Since then most of these organizations have re-cast their public image about Pollard and have become more sympathetic, although hardly "gung-ho".

No, this is not the Dreyfus Affair. Pollard is not an innocent person. No way. But this does represent another kind of injustice that blots our American sense of fair play. Pollard is being made a scapegoat for reasons unrelated to what he did and punished far in excess of his wrong-doing. Indeed, Jonathan Pollard remains the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.

There is endless speculation why Pollard is not being released including "causing irreparable damage to the US Intelligence community." These are all allegations, dream-like scenarios, unfounded pulp fiction.

The fact is that Jonathan Pollard is still in prison despite the State of Israel (finally and officially) owning up that Pollard was their operative. Now then, this public act by the Israelis was supposed to have cleared the way for Pollard's release to Israel.

Like you, I'm waiting for Bill Clinton.

Seemingly, democracy and justice mainly get spawned in the Tiananmen Squares of the world. American Jewry has not taken to the streets clamoring for release for Jonathan Pollard. However, we American Jews are not without means or imagination to declare our hurt - even our rage. I'd suggest two public declarations of our will:

1) A major rally in Madison Square Garden sponsored by a Who's Who in Jewish organizational life.

2) A full page ad in the NEW YORK TIMES by the sponsoring Jewish organizations...

These are but only two basic steps to take at a time when an American President proudly (I think) preached to the world about justice in Tiananmen Square. It was only 8,000 or so miles away.

See also:
  • Ever Wonder "Why Pollard Never...?" Memo