How Deep The Perfidy? - Editorial

David Luchins VS the Jewish Press and Jonathan Pollard

The Jewish Press (NY)


December 31, 1999

Several weeks ago in an editorial entitled "David Luchins, Moynihan Aide Goes Over the Line", we addressed the charge levelled in The Forward by David Luchins against The Jewish Press that the paper "wished for and welcomed Yitzhak Rabin's assassination." Because Luchins usually describes himself as a "Senior Aide" to United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and he serves as Vice President of the Orthodox Union, and as a professor at Touro College, we took this very seriously and offered a detailed reaction. Thus we noted that in the issue of The Jewish Press immediately following the murder of the Prime Minister, the front-page headline story, a front-page headlined by the publisher of The Jewish Press, Rabbi Shalom Klass, two editorials and 13 out of 13 Letters to the Editor on the assassination carried a uniform message of loss and sorrow. Despite this, the only letter of apology we received from Luchins lamented the fact that he spoke inelegantly, but not that he was wrong in accusing us of approving the killing of Mr. Rabin.

In any event, the following week we focused on what triggered his calumny against us. Thus, although Luchins did not object to the same characterization contained in a July editorial, Luchins told The Forward that he took exception to our having referred to him as an "advisor to Hillary Clinton in a more recent one. That description had come to him in our twice chiding Luchins for advising Mrs. Clinton in connection with her infamous response to Orthodox Union President Mandell Ganchrow's letter inquiring as to her view on the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, while at the same time serving as a Vice President of the Orthodox Union. As will be recalled, Mrs. Clinton made the bogus claim in her letter that she had broken with her husband on the issue. Yet, because of the forum that the Orthodox Union provided and their spin on her response, she was able to convey that she had indeed taken a different position.

As we noted in an editorial in our December 17th issue, Luchins reiterated to us that he had never served as an advisor to Mrs. Clinton and did not play any real role in Mrs. Clinton's response to Ganchrow. When we told him that our earlier editorials were based on reports from his colleagues at the Orthodox Union that he had boasted of his major role, he responded that "that would be very interesting." He went on to say that in a meeting that he had with Mrs. Clinton, which was mentioned in The Forward, he might have told her things about the Middle East which she may or may not have adopted, but he was not sure.

In the December 17th editorial, we also noted that Luchins was reported in the July 16th issue of The Jewish Week (NY) to have said that he detailed Senator Moynihan's position on Jerusalem to the First Lady and that he was told that it was similar to hers. Luchins was also reported to have said that he "previewed" Mrs. Clinton's letter to Dr. Ganchrow, and proclaimed it "superb". However, as we pointed out, Senator Moynihan went on record, in a letter to The Jewish Press as advocating prompt relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem - while Mrs. Clinton's letter to the OU speaks of a time in the future when it would not disturb the "peace process," which is her husband's position.

Our December 17th editorial went on to conclude that Luchins typically cannot abide disagreement with his views. Thus we said that Luchins "has been a forceful advocate of the peace process and we have taken a leadership role in opposing it, and for Luchins this means that we bore personal animosity towards Yitzhak Rabin, even to the point of taking joy in his murder." We also referred to Luchins' extraordinary comment that those of us who argued that the Israel Day Parade two years ago that coincided with Israel's 50th birthday should have been one theme and not be joined with any other group was - because the proposed partners were a black veteran's group - motivated by anti-black animus. "Some Jews," Luchins had said, "hate blacks more than they love Israel." Finally, given Luchins' insistence that Jonathan Pollard ask for "rachmanut" rather than pursue his claim that he was unfairly treated by the US Government, we concluded that "because of [Luchin's] prominence in the Jewish community and his having the ear of many in government , he is widely believed to be an important stumbling block to Pollard's sentence being seriously reviewed."

Here is Luchins response to the December 17th editorial which was received within days of its appearance in print:

To the Editor:

The Jewish Press takes me to task for not promptly writing in July to correct your perception of my role in the Orthodox Union's exchange of letters with Mrs. Clinton. This point is well-taken and in that spirit I write to quickly correct two serious misrepresentations of my views that appear in the very editorial chastising me for not doing so in July.

Your editorial reports that I have been a "

forceful advocate of the peace process

" and

a vociferous [opponent of] clemency for Jonathan Pollard

. Both statements simply are not true.

Al Rishon, Rishon, I have always believed that American Jews who what to take public positions on questions affecting the security and survival of the State of Israel are well advised to make Aliyah. I have always believed that the democratically elected government of Israel must be the sole and final arbiter (sic) of her national security and that democracies are entitled to make their own mistakes. Now, my reluctance to take sides does not please domestic "partisans" on this issue, but it certainly does not make me an "advocate" (particularly when the most grief I have had through the years on this issue has come from Orthodox-bashing leftists who resented my refusal to criticize Prime Ministers Begin a"h, Shamir and Netanyahu.

As for Jonathan Pollard, I have strongly advocated either his parole or release on humanitarian grounds for many years. I regret that those who demand "justice for Pollard" sometimes feel the need to attack those of us who seek a "writ of rachmanut" for Pollard. My position on this issue has long been crystal clear and The Washington Post highlighted my role last summer (July 3, 1998) as having "worked for several years to try to free Pollard."

I am most perplexed by the assertion that my "prominence in the Jewish community and [my] having the ear of many in widely believed to be a stumbling block to Pollard's sentence being seriously reviewed."

As you know, I have advised Senator Moynihan for 19 years and Senator Moynihan was the very first senator to try to help Jonathan Pollard, arranging for Rabbi Aaron Soleveitchik's historic visit to Mr. Pollard's prison cell in 1993 and commending to President Clinton the letter of remorse that Mr. Pollard signed at that time. I have held numerous cordial meetings with members of Jonathan Pollard's family, his supporters and his various attorneys. Most recently Senator Moynihan refused to sign the January 1999 letter to President Clinton in which over sixty senators opposed Mr. Pollard's release.

I should also note that I represented the Orthodox Union in the successful efforts to secure passage by the JCPA (formerly NJCRAC) of the first community-wide resolution (which I helped to draft) calling for Jonathan Pollard's release. Most recently, I was the primary drafter of the 1998 Orthodox Union resolution which made a strong similar demand on President Clinton.

I hope you will print this letter, if for no other reason than to repudiate the suggestion that anyone of alleged "prominence" (your word, not mine) in our community wants to see Jonathan Pollard stay in prison.

David Luchins
Senior Advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Plainly, Luchins' letter is revealing not only for what it says, but for what it doesn't say. He does not challenge our information that he boasted of playing a key role in advising Mrs. Clinton on how to respond to Dr. Ganchrow's letter, which tends to confirm our notion of conflict of interest between his role at the Orthodox Union and his Clinton advisory role. Nor does he attempt to explain the apparent conflict between his role as "Senior Advisor" to Senator Moynihan, who has publicly stated his position on the issue and the seemingly contrary advice that Luchins gave Mrs. Clinton. Luchins also did not address our report of his hysterical attack against all those who argued for an independent Israel Day Parade two years ago.

Yet besides what we may fairly infer from his omissions, what he actually said is equally damning. When our editorial referred to him as a "forceful advocate of the peace process" we in no way criticized that substantive position. We were plainly making the point that we took a position different from his, but that he could not abide any disagreement and could only perceive our point of view as sanctioning murder! Indeed, Luchins' response to that point is only to defend his substantive position.

But the most troubling aspect to all of this is what he says about Jonathan Pollard. Our comments about his role were based on countless reports from people who have heard him speak about the matter. Yes, they report, Luchins invariably speaks about "rachmanut" (mercy) - as opposed to justice - for the hapless Pollard, but this generally comes in the final few moments of his presentation which invariably follows a long peroration against Pollard, short on facts but replete with innuendo as to how bad a person Pollard is and how much harm he supposedly caused. Luchins typically rolls his eyes and says that because of his position with Senator Moynihan, he has information that he is not able to make public, but that the audience should take his word for it. And then, after damning Pollard and saying that his life sentence was not unjustified, he says that Pollard should be shown "rachmanut". We have yet to hear from anyone who has heard Luchins speak on Pollard not to walk away with a negative view of Pollard.

Luchins has, indeed, gotten favorable reviews from some quarters - like The Washington Post - with his confusing "rachmanut" approach.

Of course asking for mercy can be positive but not as a seeming afterthought to a a full-scale assault!

Indeed Pollard's lawyers have written to Luchins asking him to cease and desist. Yet Luchins persists in attacking Pollard and undercutting his efforts to seek a review of his life sentence.

Here is what Jonathan Pollard himself has recently said of Luchins:

"The most damaging thing that [the Orthodox Union] has done over the years is to give aid and comfort to David Luchins who has waged a relentless campaign of slander and vicious lies against me whenever and wherever he has the opportunity to do so... A recent letter from Luchins to me is full of lies and untruths concerning his efforts on my behalf that it should be used as an example of how shameless a man like Luchins can be."

So despite Luchins' protestations, we stand by our observation that "he is widely believed to be an important stumbling block to Pollard's sentence being seriously reviewed."

Next week we will publish two letters that Pollard and his wife Esther have recently published on the Internet. They cite chapter and verses as to the problem Luchins has posed to their effort.

See Also:
  • David Luchins and Jonathan Pollard
  • David Luchins, The CIA, and Jonathan Pollard
  • What Motivates David Luchins?
  • New "Solutions" Certain To Subvert Justice For Pollard