Hamodia Editorial: That None Be Forgotten

Justice4JPnews - June 20, 2010

J4JP Prefacing Comment

The editorial below which recently ran in Hamodia is a deeply principled statement and a welcome change - albeit with one fatal flaw.

While we applaud the editorial's main thesis, it is both puzzling and galling to repeatedly be assailed with the canard so prevalent in the American Jewish Community, namely that there does not seem to be anything practical which can be done to help Jonathan Pollard.

It is puzzling because it simply is not true; and it is galling in light of the massive efforts and hyperbolic publicity that the American Jewish Community Leaders, their organizations and related media arms have invested in other recent cases. Never, in

25 years

, has the American Jewish leadership done anything remotely similar for Jonathan Pollard! What is more, the others were certainly not "the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim for one who was moser nefesh for Am Yisrael!"

The gross failure of the American Jewish leaders to advocate even minimally for Pollard was exposed when President Obama recently sat down with 31 Jewish Congressmen to find out what he might do to improve relations with Israel and the American Jewish Community. Imagine how simple it would have been for the Jewish Congressmen (or even just one or two of them) to say: "Mr. President, Jonathan Pollard's release would go a long way to reassuring Jews world-wide of your fairness and your concern for Israel. Please sign Pollard's commutation papers which are sitting on your desk and send him home to Israel. "

But the Jewish Congressmen had never heard from their Jewish constituents (aka the Jewish leaders) that Pollard is an issue to anyone, so they did not bring up Pollard's name at all when they sat with the President.

Intensive lobbying should have been on-going for months ever since the failed clemency bid when Bush left office, but it never started at all. Since January 21, 2010, the American Jewish leadership (which did precious little prior to the last clemency bid) has once again thrown Pollard under the bus and moved on, disingenuously claiming that there is nothing that can be done for Pollard. That has been their lame excuse for 25 years!

There is, in fact, plenty that can be done to help Pollard!

Just look at the intensive, endless, hyperbolic lobbying that the American Jewish leadership (most notably led by the Agudah and Chabad) have been doing for Shalom Rubashkin; or the hysterical campaign that was waged for the late Martin Grossman! The grossly disproportionate efforts that were made in these other cases put the lie to all the excuses! Don't tell us that there is nothing that can be done for Pollard! Do exactly as much for Pollard as is being done for Rubashkin and as was done for Grossman! In Pollard's case, it would be 25 years late in coming, but better late than continuing to recycle lame excuses ad infinitum!

Except for the repetition of the pernicious little white lie, that there does not seem to be anything that can be done in a practical mode to help Pollard, a recent Hamodia Editorial: "That None Be Forgotten" is a welcome change in a world that has gone all but silent on Pollard. It is a principled wake-up call to the Jewish People. It follows below.

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Editorial - Hamodia - June 8, 2010

"What's new?"

That question - in one form or another - is repeated probably millions of times a day in conversations around the globe. The overwhelming majority of human conversations - at least those with some substance - revolve around a new development of sorts.

News is of course the lifeblood of the media, with this publication being no exception. The same is true for the rest of the publishing industry. From historical features that appear in magazines to full-length books, all have to contain something new and noteworthy, or they could not sell.

The invention of a vast array of technological gadgets has made the global distribution of news a near-instantaneous affair and this, together with the advent of all-news-all-the-time 24-hour news reporting, has dramatically shortened the journey from front-page headline to the trash heap of history.

Even as certain stories continue to dominate much of the media's attention - for a current example, the BP oil spill - the focus is always on a new angle. Even the most relevant and important stories are, in the absence of a fresh development, pushed to the side like stale bread.

But as Jews, we have to stop every so often to ask ourselves if this approach to our conversations and mindset is the right one. Certainly we all have the power within us to find new meaning, a new sense of relevance, in something that is important - even if there are no new developments.

One example is the plight of Jonathan Pollard. As the Bush presidency drew to a close, there was a flurry of activity on his behalf. The White House was besieged with letters and calls pleading for his pardon, stressing the shocking injustice of his case. Countless tefillos were prayed on behalf of Yehonoson ben Malkah, a precious Yid who has spent the past 8,965 days - nearly 25 years - in prison because of his singular dedication to the safety of his brethren in Eretz Yisrael.

When to the chagrin and great disappointment of the Jewish community Bush left office without commuting the sentence, the Jewish media ran news articles and analysis pieces about it, and the story was on the tongues of people in shuls, in offices, and on street corners.

In the past seventeen months, with no breaking news, talk of Pollard's plight has all but disappeared. As the team of devoted askanim led by Rabbi Pesach Lerner continues to try to find new avenues of hishtadlus, the hearts and thoughts of most of the community have become focused elsewhere.

In the meantime, Jonathan Pollard continues to languish in his dreary cell in North Carolina, feeling alone and abandoned by all except his devoted wife and closest supporters.

What is unique about Pollard's case is not only the unfathomable travesty of his continued imprisonment, but the fact that at this point there doesn't seem to be any practical avenue of hishtadlus.

The tragic ongoing saga of Gilad ben Aviva Shalit is another example of a crucial story all too often ignored. In contrast to Pollard, who is being unfairly imprisoned in a country that is essentially a medinah shel chessed, Shalit is being held by ruthless Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Despite their vaunted reputation, neither the IDF nor the various Israeli intelligence agencies have been able to bring him home, and a series of intense negotiations with Hamas over his release has so far yielded nothing more than proof - in the form of a video - that he is still alive. As the world dallies, Gilad remains in the hands of some of the most heinous murderers of our era.

Numerous other cases come to mind, including the yeshivah bachurim who remain imprisoned in Japan after they unwittingly became couriers for another man's criminal enterprise. While their trials do receive considerable attention, in the long gaps before and after they are all but forgotten.

We at Hamodia have a particular challenge in this regard. As a media outlet, our main mission is to be your primary source for news. At the same time, it is our obligation to keep a spotlight on many of the crucial and important issues of the day, ranging from community-wide challenges to the tragic plight of individuals such as Gilad Shalit and Jonathan Pollard.

As maaminim bnei maaminim we know that the fate of all captives - like everything else in the world - is solely in the Hands of the Ribbono shel Olam. Only the Matir Assurim can free them, and regardless of the naysayers and the pundits, He certainly has the ability to do so at anytime.

As Torah Jews there is no limit to the depth of our compassion. We certainly have enough room in our hearts to care and daven for the many Jews in need of yeshuos, among them Gilad ben Aviva and Yehonoson ben Malkah.

Starting with this issue, we plan be"H to publish calls for tefillos on their behalf until that glorious day when we will be able to report their release.

As we pour out our hearts to Hashem on behalf of all His imprisoned children, we should also make an effort to let Jonathan Pollard know that he has not been forgotten. Though he is not permitted to respond to letters, he receives great chizuk from every piece of mail he gets.

The summer months are letter-writing season. Picking up our pens or plying our keyboards to write to family and friends, let us also write to:

Jonathan Pollard #09185-016 c/o FCI Butner P.O. Box 1000 Butner, NC U.S.A 27509-1000

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