After three decades in prison, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was released from an American prison last week. To his supporters in the U.S. and Israel Pollard was a hero who only gave to Israel information it had already been promised by the American government.Pollard is not a hero and should be treated as a mercenary who sold out his country for money.
While Pollard served longer than some people who spied for enemy governments, and longer any other person had ever been imprisoned for spying for a friendly country, he deserved a long incarceration, perhaps not as long as 30 years but a significant amount of time based on his betrayal of America.
Many of the details of Pollard’s crimes are still under wraps but there are things we do know. While he took a plea deal and accepted guilt to passing American secrets to an ally, he was accused of doing much more.
Ron Olive, the NCIS investigator who investigated Pollard wrote that Pollard did not serve Israel solely, but admitted passing secrets to South Africa, and to shopping his access to Pakistan and other countries. He was also accused of using classified documents to unsuccessfully broker an arms deal with the governments of South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan.
According to the plea deal Pollard was to plead guilty to one count of “conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government,” cooperate fully with the government’s ongoing investigation. He also promised not to talk about his crimes, the info he passed along, or his case without first submitting to pre-clearance by the Director of Naval Intelligence. Pollard broke the non-disclose part of the deal.
Three weeks before Pollard’s sentencing, Wolf Blitzer, at the time a Jerusalem Post correspondent, conducted a jail-cell interview with Pollard and penned an article that ran in The Washington Post called, “Pollard: Not A Bumbler, but Israel’s Master Spy.” For the article Pollard gave Blitzer specific details of his crimes and the classified information he provide. This little bit of bragging was a direct violation of his plea agreement which angered the prosecution and did not help him with the Judge either, both of whom mentioned the violation during the sentencing hearing.
Pollard believes that nothing he did hurt the United States. Not privy to the classified information associated with the case I can’t substantiate or eliminate that claim, but I can substantiate the fact that it was not his decision to make. Based on the facts of the case we do know, Pollard betrayed the trust the American people put in him and passed along classified information. While his actions did not meet the legal definition of treason, it certainly was a treasonous act.
Pollard betrayed this country which gave him and his family so much. I don’t know what brought his family to America. Mine were escaping the Cossacks when they fled from Russia to Galveston Texas, which coincidentally is where Pollard was born. This country took his family (and mine) with open arms and deserved more loyalty than Pollard gave America. Other than spying the only thing he did for the United States is give credence to the Antisemitic canard that American Jews have a dual loyalty.
In the interview he gave Wolf Blitzer three weeks before his sentencing Pollard compared himself to Eli Cohen, the Israeli spy who went to Syria, integrated himself into the Syrian government and was able to pass on Syrian military positions and other information which helped Israel win the Six-Day War. Cohen was caught and executed in 1966.
Pollard was no Eli Cohen, he didn’t spy for Israel out of affinity for the Jewish State, he spied for Israel and other countries for money. He wasn’t a patriot for Israel or the United States he was simply a crass mercenary, a vendor who sold secrets. If I was an Israeli government official I would consider Pollard an embarrassment who should be swept under the rug as soon as possible. However because of the unusual length of his sentence Pollard’s case has become a political football in Israel.
A condition of his parole was he could not leave the country for five years, but he is looking to leave and go to Israel ASAP, but the Obama administration has shown no intention giving him the special dispensation he requested. This is one of the rare occasions where I agree with the president.
My father told me the story of how my great-grandparents ran across roofs in Odessa dragging and carrying their children trying to escape the Russian Cossacks. That was how the country where my family lived for generations treated Jews. But when my great-grandparents and their children arrived in Galveston they were greeted with open arms and given so many more opportunities than they ever had in Russia.
Despite the way our leaders have eroded our freedoms here in America, this is still the most free and welcoming country in the world. They took my family in when they came to this country (legally), when they needed a refuge, and we were treated very well. And for all of its faults I happen to love this country and believe that it is still the freest nation on the face of the earth. I also believe that others who live here should love America much as I do. THAT is why I criticize Pollard, a mercenary who sold out his country for cash, and why I could never consider him a hero.