Rabbi Ben Packer - JewishPress.com - November 25, 2020
Jonathan Pollard is Free!
The big news in Israel this week is the freedom of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Of course, I'm not going to write all the details of the case here. You can find those online. Just keep in mind that, unlike in this news update, there is a lot of fake news out there, so be careful what you read and believe.
After serving 30 years in prison and enduring another five years of severe parole restrictions, the U.S. government decided not to further extend Pollard's parole, making him a free man and allowing him to leave New York City and even to make aliyah to Israel, which he is expected to do.
Pollard's wife, Esther, is currently receiving medical treatment in the U.S. for cancer and the couple has indicated that once she is well enough to travel, they will be coming to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu recently spoke to the Pollards by phone and encouraged them to come to Israel as soon as possible.
Here's how support for Pollard breaks down demographically:
- American religious Jews consistently supported Pollard's appeals for clemency and fairness. There was a broad consensus within the community that his sentence and overall treatment by the U.S. justice system was radically disproportionate and likely motivated at least in part by anti-Semitism.
- American secular/reform/conservative Jews hate Pollard and did nothing for him. One relative of mine said he should get the death penalty even though he is personally against the death penalty. He also doesn't seem to think any other spies should get the death penalty - just the Jewish one who spied for Israel.
This is not an uncommon sentiment in the American Jewish community. No wonder all the psychologists always have tons of work.
- Right-wing/religious/traditional Israeli Jews regard Pollard as a hero and will celebrate his arrival in Israel.
- Left-wing Israelis hate everything that right-wing Israeli Jews love - the Land of Israel, Judaism, and Pollard.
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