Jonathan Pollard: Spy For Life?

Jewish Israeli Magazine (Florida) - June 9, 2000 - Joe Kaufman, Editor

Mariano Faget, a U.S. immigration official, has been found guilty of espionage by a federal jury. His crime: he has divulged secret information about a Cuban spy to a friend and business partner who has ties to Cuba, directly after receiving it from the head of the FBI in Miami. At the time, Faget was an acting deputy director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. He also was convicted of a series of charges, including: converting government property in the form of secret information to his own use, lying on a national security form by saying he had no foreign business ties, and lying about his contacts with a Cuban official. The charges carry up to ten years in prison. He will probably get six.

All this talk about someone from the U.S. government spying for another country leads one to think about another spy one that is much "closer to home" and unlike Faget, one that has been sentenced to prison

for life

. His name is Jonathan Pollard, and he sits patiently (as if he actually has a choice) in jail, waiting for his country to free him. What's his country, you ask? Well, that's a very good question, because both that are involved have ignored his and his supporters' pleas.

Jonathan Pollard was a civilian Navy intelligence officer, who had access to much classified information concerning the activities of certain Arab countries and terrorist groups openly hostile to both Israel and the United States. This included information about: Iraqi chemical manufacturing plants, terrorist projects against Israel, satellite pictures of hostile neighboring countries, and technical information about Soviet armament sold to these same countries. He gave this information over to Israel.

Now, it should be stated that, under the Convention of Reciprocity that was signed between Israel and the U.S. in 1983, this information should have been shared with Israel. But for whatever reason, it wasn't, so Pollard felt the need to give it. When he was caught, though, Israel played dumb, denying knowledge of any activities concerning Pollard (which was later recanted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), and let him take the rap. The American Jewish community turned its back on him, as well. So Jonathan Pollard was on his own, facing a group of people hostile towards him, including then Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, who went as far as to press for the death penalty. To his chagrin, Pollard only received life.

Which leads to the big question If Jonathan Pollard was spying for a country which was deemed a substantial ally to the U.S., and he gave secrets away that, for the most part, were supposed to be given in the first place, should he have received such a harsh sentence especially in light of much smaller sentences given to those who have committed similar crimes? Millions of people, including myself, do not believe so. This is not to say that what Jonathan Pollard did was right. No, to the contrary, it was a very serious matter that might very well have severely jeopardized U.S./Israeli relations. But that being aside, the sentence does not fit the crime. In fact, those that spy for our nation's enemies do significantly less time! Just ask our friend, Mr. Faget.

But even with the fact that Jonathan Pollard gave secrets to an ally of the United States, the word "traitor" still gets bandied about. Let us all remember that Mr. Pollard was never accused of treason against America. He was only convicted of one count of espionage, much like the Cuban. Except, of course, that Cuba is a sworn enemy of our country. And also remember that there was never a trial, only a plea agreement a plea agreement that, in the end, was totally disregarded, due to government pressure and a prejudiced judge.

The question of money also arises, from time to time whether or not Pollard was profiting off of this giving of information to Israel. But this too has been debunked, as it has been found that Pollard had received finances needed only for operational expenses.

Again, I say that what Jonathan Pollard did was wrong. No matter how many Israeli (and American) lives he saved by giving over this information, he put both America and Israel in a very dangerous and precarious situation. And given the fact that there was a history of Jewish spies in the United States, this case was certainly exacerbated. But right now, that's neither here nor there. What's important to know is that Jonathan Pollard currently sits behind bars, suffering years of punishment, remorseful for what he has done, awaiting word from outside that his freedom has finally come. Let's hope the wait is not much longer.

Joe Kaufman is the chairman of Citizens Against Hate and the vice-chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition of South Florida.