Pollard and his admirers

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I don’t know why – I’ve been doing this for a long time, after all – but I still react with surprise to each new indication that Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy who wants out of the prison he now shares with Ponzi king Bernie Madoff, is his own worst enemy.

Case in point: a new posting on the “official” Justice for Jonathan Pollard Web site by an Israeli rabbi, who just can’t contain his admiration for Jonathan.

Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv, a “well-known Torah scholar, author, poet and expert on Torah Codes” and  chief Rabbi of Givat Shmuel, according to the Pollard Website,  writes this to Jonathan:

“I look upon you as a giant of a man, a hero who brought redemption to our Nation from the threat of Saddam Hussein, the cancer of Satan. Every adult and child in Israel and throughout the Jewish world recognizes and appreciates your selfless courage. Your virtue is enormous. Other leaders may rise and fall, but remembrance of your deeds shall endure forever in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people, from generation to generation, until coming of the final Redeemer.”

And, Yaniv adds, Pollard “should have received the Nobel Peace Prize” for his efforts. (Read the entire letter here).

No doubt all that praise warms Jonathan’s heart, chilled from 24 years in  prison. The only problem is, such sentiments can only prolong his ordeal.

These are the facts:  the only way Pollard is going to get out of jail is through parole – which he refuses to seek – or a presidential commutation. Either way, he’s going to have to make it clear he regrets his crime, consistently and unambiguously.  Every time he disseminates the praise of those who say he is a hero of Zion, he undercuts his claim to repentance.

I ask you: what president is going to take the political risk of releasing an American who spied for another country, and at least implies that what he did was justified?

It’s not gonna happen; each recitation of his heroic deeds by supporters, trumpeted on his Web site, only adds to the time he will stay in jail.

(There’s one other way he might get out: as part of a U.S.-Israel deal involving elements of the peace process.  But that requires an Israeli leader making his release a priority – something that seems increasingly unlikely in light of Pollard’s bitter criticism of an Israeli leadership he believes – not without justification – abandoned him)

Pollard complains that American Jewish leaders, too,  have largely ignored his appeals for help.

Early in his imprisonment, I think his complaints had some merit; after all, he was a very young and naïve man who was badly misused by an Israeli government that should have known better.

But now, what mainstream Jewish leader is going to really go out on a limb for a spy whose supporters glorify his actions – a glorification Pollard seems to welcome?

Personally, I can’t see how keeping Pollard in jail serves justice or national security interests after all these years. It just doesn’t make sense.

But even a president who recognized that fact is going to have a hard time releasing a spy whose supporters say outright that what he did wasn’t just justified, but heroic.

Pollard seems to think that if he keeps quiet, his case will be forgotten and he’ll die in jail. I would suggest the opposite; the more he talks and allows his supporters to talk, the less likely it is any president will let him out.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.