Let him go

Jonathan Pollard's passport. He was given Israeli citizenship in 1995. It's expired now, but it should be renewed -- and used.

Jonathan Pollard's passport. He was given Israeli citizenship in 1995. It's expired now, but it should be renewed -- and used.

So Israel will finally send an official letter asking the US to release Jonathan Pollard after 25 years.

I won’t go into the details of why he should be freed — how his sentence was disproportionate, how he was blamed for damage done to the US by spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, how he was offered a plea bargain and then hit with a life sentence, how he was treated in prison. I won’t discuss the speculation that he has been kept locked up because of what he knows about the US relationship with Saddam Hussein when he was our ‘ally’, or about the Iran-contra affair. You can find all of this and much more on the Justice for Jonathan Pollard site.

I’ll say that his release now, if it happens, may only mean that the gravely ill Pollard will die in Israel instead of the Federal Prison in Butner, NC. Wouldn’t that be ironic, considering that the Lockerbie Bomber, granted ‘compassionate release’ as a ‘dying man’ is alive and well in Libya a year and a half later!

This has been a dirty business ever since former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger submitted a secret memo to Judge Aubry E. Robinson Jr. that caused him to abrogate the plea agreement that Pollard would serve no more than 10 years, and to throw him in prison for life.

Several times Pollard’s freedom was mentioned as a bargaining point in various negotiations, including Wye River and Camp David. According to former Israeli diplomat Lenny Ben-David, he could have been released at the end of 2000:

…in my capacity as Israel’s number two diplomat in Washington, I drafted a confidential memo to Israel’s leadership early in 1999 presenting a comprehensive strategy for securing a presidential pardon for Pollard from the lame-duck president, Bill Clinton, during the three months of the American interregnum…

With a great sense of disappointment, I sensed that the strategies presented in my memorandum might have been redirected to securing the pardon of Marc Rich, an American financier who escaped to Switzerland in 1983 after being indicted for tax evasion, money laundering and illegal trading with Iran.

In the period leading up to the presidential interregnum, a major campaign was underway to secure Rich’s pardon. Israel’s prime minister at the time, Ehud Barak, interceded with Clinton on Rich’s behalf, according to congressional testimony by then White House chief of staff John Podesta. Former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova told “Meet the Press” in February 2001: “When the prime minister of Israel, one of our closest allies, communicates with the president of the United States about a pardon, I would say to you that the president has a pretty good idea of how important the case is. The prime minister of Israel became deeply involved in this case, and he recommended a pardon.”

Rich was pardoned; Pollard was not.

Marc Rich's glamorous ex-wife, Denise, led campaign for Rich's pardon.

Marc Rich's glamorous ex-wife, Denise, led campaign for Rich's pardon.

One can speculate that at this point the US has no other reason to keep Pollard in prison except as a bargaining chip. If that’s true, then we are no better than Hamas, who hold Gilad Shalit for the same reason.

Let him go.

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2 Responses to “Let him go”

  1. Robman says:

    No, Vic, he is not being held as a “bargaining chip”. That would be bad enough, but it is worse than that.

    He is being held as a kind of “shrunken head” to dangle in front of Jewish Americans in general, as a warning, as an “example”…as if to say to the rest of us:

    “See what happens if you get too cozy with Israel? Now you all be good little Jewboys and Jewgirls and distance yourself from any serious support of Israel..OR YOU MAY WIND UP LIKE THIS!”

    This is no different than the Soviet Union – and later Russia under Putin – disproportionately jailing Jews for “economic crimes”, as a reflection of the commonly accepted “fact” within Russian culture (among many others) of the “dishonest money-grubbing” nature of Jews. Here, Pollard is held up as a warning to Jews here and as a “reminder” to everyone else of the inherent “disloyalty” of Jews who are openly supportive of Israel.

    Here where I live, we have numerous ethnic festivals every year. We have a Greek-American festival, a German-American festival, and a Polish-American festival, among others. Local members of each community dress up in traditional national garb associated with these, which are replete with flags of the celebrated nationalities. No one questions the patriotism or loyalty of these sponsors, nor should they be questioned.

    But let a Jew wear an Israeli flag t-shirt, and while many or even most Americans may not object, a large minority will object. And our government, absolutely lousy with Arab influence and traditional blue-blood disdain for all things Jewish (unless COMPLETELY assimilated, as a tacit admission of the undesirability of being Jewish), will automatically mark such an individual as a potential spy or traitor.

    None of this is to justify the actions of Jonathon Pollard. He abused his security clearance and he broke the law, and deserved punishment…that would have fit the crime, which in this case, clearly did not happen.

    The travails of Z-Street also discussed on this blog – among others – is a reflection of the very same phenomenon.

    Sorry, Vic, but Mr. Pollard isn’t going to be bargained away for anything. Just like the broken plea agreement, even if the Israeli authorities make some kind of concession that they were assured would lead to Pollard’s release, you can bet anything that the U.S. government would renege at the last minute, just so as to add further insult to injury, in the most calculated manner. Pollard is far too valuable as a propaganda device to be released for any reason. When he dies, the U.S. government will sorely miss him…they’ll be aching to find a replacement.

    And they will, Vic, they will.

  2. Robman says:

    Oh, a small note of clarification:

    When I noted that the problems encountered by Z-Street ‘reflected the very same phenomenon’ as demonstrated by the Pollard case, I did not mean to imply that Z-Street was guilty of any crime. But the motivation behind the “exceptional” treatment of both Z-Street and Pollard by U.S. authorities is one and the same.

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