Baker, Olson, Kroloff and the ACLU

New Jersey Jewish News - Editorial - December 14, 2000

When the George W. Bush campaign sent family consigliere James Baker to Florida to head up the legal effort to secure a victory, many American Jews saw black. Baker reminded them of a time of great strain between the Bush (the father) administration and Israel and the American Jewish community. Watching Baker on the screen has allowed Jewish Democrats to sound alarms about the dangers facing Jews should "Dubya" prevail.

No one thus far has remarked on the presence of Ted Olson as a key player on the Bush legal team. Olson is the GOP-linked Washington, DC, attorney who once served as Jonathan Pollard's legal representative.

If Baker makes Dubya bad for the Jews, does Olson's signal a pro-Pollard position? Wrong both times - there are no "Jewish" conclusions to be drawn from the lawyers on the Bush team. Meanwhile, joining a chorus of Jewish leaders asking President Clinton to end Pollard's sentence is Rabbi Charles Kroloff of Westfield's Temple Emanu-El. As president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Kroloff is a leading voice of liberal Judaism.

As to the American Civil Liberties Union, on Dec. 5 it filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia supporting a new motion by Jonathan Pllard's attorneys to gain access to the sealed portions of the Pollard record. The struggle to limit the government's use of secret evidence in trials has created some strange bedfellows: civil liberties types, Pollard and Arab-American defense groups all opposing the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI and the intelligence community. Stuck in the middle are Jewish groups trying to reconcile their pro-Israel commitments with their civil rights commitments.