Globes OpEd: Evil Government

Matti Golan - Globes [Business Magazine of Israel] - January 19, 2006

[Translated to English by Justice4JP]

"Israel's treatment of Jonathan Pollard is a blot on the state. It is not just about the abandonment of a wounded soldier; it is about murdering him. This is evil."

Matti Golan (former editor-in-chief of Haaretz and Globes.)

What's the problem with recognizing Jonathan Pollard as a Prisoner of Zion? The man spied for the State of Israel; he has been sitting in prison for the last

20 years

for his deeds. What more does the man have to do to deserve the title of Prisoner of Zion?

The High Court of Israel decided this morning (16 January 2006) that "it is not possible to rule that the espionage activity which Pollard carried out was a Zionist activity in the country where this activity was forbidden." Perhaps according to a strict legal matrix this judgment may be right. But is its author, Chief Justice Aaron Barak, right? In the past he has known how to come up with far more complex legal arguments in order to arrive at whatever conclusion he desired.

For example, it was equally possible to rule that espionage for the State of Israel falls within the definition "Zionist activity." In this instance there is no difference between the US and the former USSR. Both in the US and in the USSR espionage is forbidden, and if it is a Zionist activity, what's the problem? The law after all is not accurate science, like medical science, or other strict sciences. At the end of the day, the law provides for a wide variety of interpretation, and even for the expression of good will. If Chief Justice Barak had really wanted to, it would not have been too heavy a burden to rule that espionage on behalf of the State of Israel is a Zionist activity. This would have been a small thing for Aaron Barak to bear. So why not?

But the real criticism ought to be directed at the Government. Why did it have to go to court to fight Pollard's request for recognition as a Prisoner of Zion? One might have understood this opposition back in the days when any connection to Pollard was still being denied. But, today, after all, it is well known. We have already admitted that Pollard worked for us. We support him and even ask for him to be pardoned every now and then. Why? According to American law, Pollard was sentenced to a life sentence. Clemency is an act that tempers strict justice. By what right do we ask the Americans to act mercifully towards him, when we ourselves act mercilessly towards Pollard, holding him to the strictest letter of the law?

What is going on here? Why is it so important to the State of Israel that Pollard not be a Prisoner of Zion? Is it in order to avoid the paying the meager stipend that such a declaration would oblige? It is far less than is paid to retiring Members of Knesset, even to those who did nothing, or to those whose work only did damage. In any case, Pollard himself said he does not want any money, just the official status. Or is it fear of setting a precedent? But how many spies are caught every year in one country or another? Not to mention in the US?

Israel's treatment of Jonathan Pollard is a blot on the state as a whole. It is not just about the abandonment of a wounded soldier, it is about murdering him. This is evil.

The writer is the former editor-in-chief of Haaretz and Globes.

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