Marking the 21st anniversary of Jonathan Pollard's incarceration

Nissan Ganor, The Jerusalem Post - November 22, 2006

On November 21, 2006 Jonathan Pollard entered his 22nd year of a life sentence for providing classified information to Israel.

Ever since Pollard was able to obtain the unclassified titles of the documents that were used as evidence against him, and these titles were published in a petition to Israel's High Court of Justice, there can be no doubt that the information Pollard passed to Israel concerned Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities - all being developed for use against Israel.

It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. The US was deliberately withholding this vital information, despite a legal commitment to share this data with its ally, Israel.

Even a glimpse at the record shows that Pollard, who spied for an ally of the US, was sentenced far more severely than the most notorious spies for enemy states - all of whom are free today. A few examples:

  • Michael Walker, part of the infamous Walker spy ring, was arrested in 1985, the same year as Pollard. The ring operated for 17 years, selling sensitive US military secrets to the Soviet Union, causing what authorities described as extensive damage to national security. He was sentenced to 25 years. Walker is a free man today.

  • Clayton Lonetree, a marine sergeant guarding the US Embassy in Moscow, spied for the KGB and was sentenced in 1987 to 30 years. He gave the Russians the floor plans of the US embassies in Moscow and Vienna. His sentence was reduced three times. Lonetree is a free man today.

  • Richard Miller is the first FBI agent ever tried for espionage. He turned over secrets, including a counterintelligence manual, to the Soviets. He was sentenced to 20 years. Miller is a free man today.

  • Abdelkader Helmy, a missile researcher, was sentenced in 1989 for selling technology related to the Condor Missile project to Egypt which found its way to Iraq. He got 48 months and served considerably less. Helmy is a free man today.

  • Samuel Morison, a US Navy analyst, removed scores of confidential material, including photos he sold that were printed in Jane's Defense Weekly. The photos were classified SCI; exposing such sensitive material carries a mandatory life sentence.

    The grandson of an illustrious naval historian, his family ties are the only way to explain why in 1985 he was sentenced to only two years, and served only three months. What is more, in spite of extreme opposition by the CIA to clemency, Morison received a full pardon from former president Bill Clinton in January 2001. Morison is a free man today.

  • Ronald Montaperto, a former pentagon analyst, gave highly classified information to the Chinese for more than a decade. This seriously damaged US national security by hampering efforts to track China's covert arms sales to nations sponsoring terrorism. Montaperto was recently sentenced to three months in prison.

Unlike the above-mentioned, Pollard was never convicted of treason. Nor was he ever accused of damage to the United States in a formal indictment - only in the media, where he could not respond to his accusers. The only offense Pollard was ever indicted for was one count of passing classified information to an ally.

IN 1998, ending years of denial, the Israeli government admitted that Pollard was its agent and granted him formal recognition. By definition, an agent works out of commitment to a country, not for profit. Once he was recognized as a bona fide Israeli agent, any speculation about Pollard's motive was put to the lie.

Pollard never had a trial. He was coerced into a plea-bargain agreement, which he honored and the US abrogated. In spite of the fact that he pled guilty and cooperated fully with the prosecution, at the last minute the sentencing judge ignored the plea deal and sentenced Pollard to life.

Twenty-two years into a life sentence, Jonathan Pollard continues to be publicly pilloried and excoriated at every possible opportunity by the American intelligence community and its willing henchmen in the media.

Why is such vitriol poured out on the Jewish spy? What possible reason can there be to continue to heap new, unsubstantiated charges on Israel's spy?

THERE IS an old adage that says when you blacken a spy, you blacken the country he serves. It is obvious that the invective and false charges against Pollard have more to do with Israel, the country he served, than with Pollard himself.

What is more, the hatred directed against Pollard personally is simply too big to be credible. The latest charges against Pollard - that he spied for up to 10 countries, was an arms dealer and a drug user, and a hundred and one other things are absurd.

Even superman could not have served so many countries, pulled off such dazzling weapons deals. How gullible does the US intelligence community think the public is? How foolish are the media that repeat these lies without question!

More to the point, if any of these accusations were true, why was Pollard never formally accused, indicted and tried for them?
The US intelligence community has neither fear nor limits in bashing Pollard beyond any credulity because there is not a single voice in Israeli officialdom, in the American Jewish leadership or in the media protesting this savaging. On the contrary, even the Israeli media have joined the fray, heaping invective upon Pollard and rewriting history to make him some sort of bogey man in the minds of the public.

Where is the prime minister of Israel, who claims to care so much about Pollard and to be seeking his release? Why is there no statement from Ehud Olmert's office defending Israel's longest-held captive and expressing unequivocal support?

Where are the Knesset Members who routinely exploit Pollard's name to get elected or to gain publicity? Where are they now that he is being raked over the coals publicly?

Where are the American Jewish leaders?

Where is the average person? Jewish silence does not behoove us in the face of such outright anti-Semitic targeting? It is incumbent upon all honest persons of every faith to stand up and be counted. Prayers are not enough. Your voice is needed in calling leaders both here in Israel and the US to take responsibility.

The feeding frenzy that now engulfs the case of Jonathan Pollard must be stopped. Pollard must go free. Israel's honor as a nation and our integrity as individuals depends upon it.

The writer is the head of the Jerusalem-based Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home.

  • See Also: *Hebrew Text: Bashing Pollard Does Not Comport with The Facts: [Marking the 21st anniversary of Pollard's incarceration]: Nissan Ganor (PDF file)