It is disgraceful that the crank who lied his way into US Naval intelligence has come to be seen by so many people as a hero. It’s time to wake up and realize that Pollard was not a Zionist hero but a bumbling amateur looking for quick cash.
The Pollard affair damaged the relationship between Israel and the United States; even worse, it has consequences for any US Jews aspiring to a career in the world of intelligence. And from the moment Pollard claimed he had spied for Israel because he was a Jew everyone of the same faith working in intelligence would have become instantly suspect.
Now, recruiters to the CIA, Naval Intelligence and other US agencies will always ask themselves if the Jew sitting before them is going to end up being another Jonathan Pollard.
The commander of Naval Intelligence from 1978-82, Sumner Shapiro, summed up his frustrations, as a Jew, with the attitude taken by Jewish organizations towards Pollard:
We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are, and to have somebody screw it up… and then to have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me…
The truth is that men like Shapiro are the true heroes, both of the Jewish people and the United States. Shapiro was a professional who worked hard to protect his country from enemies foreign and domestic. Instead of selling secrets to a foreign power he did his job to the best of his ability.
He chose the path of honor.
I can’t begin to imagine his frustration, as an intelligence professional and as a Jew, when he watched a hero made out of a traitor. No country in the world (minus Israel) has been better to the Jews than the United States, and this is how he repaid that great country?
Pollard sold his country’s trusted secrets to a foreign power for cash and he got caught. He wasn’t a brave Jamesaleh Bondstein, and he wasn’t working for love of Israel.
Perhaps there are those who think that the small amount of information he passed on was worth risking our relationship with our best friend in the international community; perhaps those same people believe that it is still worth risking that relationship in order to free this sick old man from prison.
Those people are wrong.
Pollard’s intelligence handlers were wrong to recruit him, and they realized it the instant he turned up at the embassy, seeking asylum.
Spying is a dangerous game, and the stakes are always high. Pollard made his own bed, and it is not a comfortable one. But, then, the cost of betrayal is high. The trained agents of Israel’s security services are the ones protecting us in Israel; not those who see an opportunity to make money by selling national secrets to them.
Don’t feel bad for Pollard. He doesn’t deserve it.
Editor’s note: A response to this article by Yedidya Atlas can be found here.