Rosh HaShana 5770 Focus on Jonathan Pollard: Forgotten Hero

Baruch Cohen - The Jewish Tribune (Canada) - September 16, 2009

Jonathan Pollard has now served

24 years

in an American prison for serving American and Israeli interests. A limit must finally be put to this outrageous travesty and to the total indifference and silence: Free Jonathan Pollard.

In 1985, the year of Pollards arrest, the US defense intelligence establishment was suffering a wave of humiliations, as spies were uncovered in the intelligence community. FBI agents arrested Pollard, who was a US Navy intelligence analyst, on charges of selling classified material to Israel. Pollard initially agreed to a plea-bargain with the US Navy, in exchange for pleading guilty to passing classified information to an ally, Israel. In return, the government would supposedly not seek the maximum sentence, life imprisonment.

In a highly irregular move, then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger submitted a secret, personal, 46-page classified national security document describing the so-called damage Pollard supposedly caused to US national security and demanding he be sentenced to life.

The document put an end to any chance, any hope for Pollards ultimate liberation. Disregarding the plea-bargain, the judge sentenced Pollard to life in prison for espionage. Pollards genuine one and only concern was for the security of Israel, the strongest, most valuable and closest ally of the US.

The documents transferred by Pollard contained information about Syrian and Iraqi chemical weapons production and other matters of direct security concern, which had been withheld from Israel. None of this information endangered or jeopardized US interests.

There are numerous examples of American spies who have acted against their country and for hostile foreign powers. Yet despite the strong evidence against a number of these individuals, who knowingly betrayed their country, their terms were relatively short and were later either reduced or terminated for good conduct.

Today, there is a renewed hope for Pollards release. US President Barack Obama could indeed prove, by releasing Pollard, that he is a genuine friend of Israel. Pollard has been punished enough. Jonathan Pollard should be released and allowed to go home to Israel. After 24 years, he has been punished enough.

We must not forget Pollard, nor must we rest or keep silent: Jonathan Pollard should come home, now!

The author, Baruch Cohen, is Research Chairman of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.