When discussing the announcement of Jonathan’ Pollard’s parole with some friends last night (most of whom were Americans), I was surprised to hear that some of them felt that Pollard should eventually be greeted in Israel as a returning hero. My response (which surprised many of them) was he was not a hero and should be treated as a mercenary who sold out his country for money.
While Pollard served longer than any other person had ever been imprisoned for spying for a friendly country in my humble opinion he deserved a long time in jail, 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, and 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.
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, as both mentioned during the sentencing hearing.
Pollard believes that nothing he did hurts the United States. Not privy to the classified information associated with the case I can’t substantiate or eliminate that claim. What I can substantiate is that he betrayed the trust the American people put in him and passed along classified information and while that does 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, got himself integrated 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 America 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.
As the night was winding down, I was accused of being critical of Pollard because I wanted to avoid being accused of a dual loyalty–not true.
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 my great-grandparents and their children they arrived in Galveston much later 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 (legally) when they needed a refuge and treated us 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 and why I could never consider him a hero.