Jonathan Pollard

As the storm over Jonathan Pollard swirls about nervous Israeli and American Jewish heads and both look warily over their shoulders, the Israelis watching for Weinbergers and the American Jews for less famous though far more numerous, hostile types, the time has come for normal Jews to spread a normal view of the affair.

The time has come to put to an end both that acute manifestation of Jewish "AIDS" - guilt - and the despicable calling for Pollard's head by American Jewish leaders, whose fear of anti-Semitism makes them hope to deflect Jew-hatred by being more patriotic than the patriots, more American than all the rest. Let us get certain things clear:

1. I am convinced that high military and political circles in Israel knew of the affair and I wish that the Israeli government would stop treating both the Jews and Americans as if they were imbeciles. No such matters would ever be handled by lower echelon levels without consultation with top Israeli officials. Certainly, a disciplined military man like Aviem Sella would never have decided to run a "rogue" conspiracy. There is no one who believes the absurd protestation of the Israeli government, any more than Americans believe the initial nonsense spouted by the President and Administration officials in Washington over the Iranian affair.

2. Having said that, and calling on the Israelis to be frank and open, the more important point is that there is nothing for the Israelis to feel guilty about except an enormous, horrendous stupidity. All the guilt and hand-wringing and investigation and charges and counter charges are absolute madness. All countries spy and all countries spy against any country from which they feel it would be in their interest to get information. There have been a number of instances in which U.S. diplomatic personnel have been caught spying in Israel and the pity is that Israel, through fear of offending America (sic) - fear of the shtetl Baron - simply closed the book on the incident, quietly. Had Israel made the proper fuss and noise, the Pollard affair would have assumed a very different character.

And so, while Israel's action falls not one whit from those of other countries, what is different about the affair is the incredible stupidity of the Israeli decision to spy on a country that is, at the moment, its closest interest. (I make haste to point out the use of the word "interest," because in the real world of realpolitik there are neither real "allies" nor "friends.") What in the world could Israel have gotten through Pollard that was worth jeopardizing the present relationship between her and the U.S.? If there would be a tribunal of judgment for Israel, the Jewish state would be guilty, not of all the wild charges made by less-than-friendly American types, but of the most basic and most amazing form of crude stupidity.

But that is a form of political disease that the Americans, certainly at this particular stage of world affairs, would be well-advised not to raise. People who live in stupid glass houses of their own should certainly not throw rocks of the same inane, gross weight.

3. The overwhelming difference between Pollard and the whole host of recent spy revelations in the United States lies in the basic and fundamentally important fact that, while all the others spied for nations essentially hostile to America - states that are essentially enemies of the United States - Pollard spied for a country that is close to America, shares basically the same interests and that would never harm the U.S. in any substantial manner. In a word, the other spies that have been apprehended over the years were spying for the enemy and against the U.S.; Jonathan Pollard would never have dreamed of spying against America - his sole purpose was to aid Israel, a country he saw and sees as her ally.

Because of that, the life sentence and the orgy of vicious attacks on Pollard are outrageous. Of course, Pollard should have been given a jail sentence, and a harsh one. He is an American citizen and revealed his country's secrets to Israel. That is a crime in America and one that should be punished. But life imprisonment? For a man who never gave secrets to an enemy state? Who never intended to harm America? Whose primary motive was concern for Israel's security? Should those things not have been taken into consideration? And had they been, would Pollard have ever received the horrendous sentence that he did? Of course not.

5. And that leads, inevitably, to the next point. The entire Pollard affair is pregnant with hostility to Israel and with anti-Semitism. The news media comprising so many cultural anti-Semites of the Fifth Estate (whose aberration stems from a deep, seething jealousy of the number of Jews who are in the journalistic and literary world) saw in the Pollard affair - as in the Lebanon war - an opportunity to safely give vent to their hatred. There was not even a modicum of the same venom against those like the Walker family and others who spied for the Soviet Union and China. The reason is all too obvious.

6. Aviem Sella was given the job, ordered to work with Pollard. He is a soldier and a good one, who carried out the orders of his government. There is no conceivable way that his career should be ruined and he made scapegoat for the crudity and stupidity of the Israeli government. It is up to the Israeli government to admit to its mistake, to its stupidity; to regret that the action was ever taken and to regret that it was discovered. And then? And then, promote Sella, who is a good and brilliant soldier. America will be upset? Perhaps. But by the same token, Sella was never as dangerous to America as Weinberger is to Israel, and I have yet to hear Israel express its dismay at Weinberger's continued promotion.

7. And, finally, Jonathan Pollard spied for Israel and revealed American secrets. For that he should be punished, fairly and without malice. But he acted for Israel and on its behalf and out of support for the Jewish state. For that, Israel owes him something. That something is called loyalty. A state does not throw over and turn its back on someone who sought to help it and who, indeed, was guided and directed by it. Israel should have helped Pollard before this and it should not throw him to the sharks now, no matter how upset this may make American non-Jews or Jews of the Establishment persuasion. I happen to think that while Pollard behaved as a bad American - and for this he should be punished fairly - he acted out of motivations of a good Jew, no matter how misguided.

Indeed, I think he is a much better Jew than the impossible executive director of the impossible organization known as the American Jewish Congress. That gentleman, by the name of Henry Siegman, exploded in wild attacks on American Jews who seek to explain Pollard's side of the affair and, thus, mitigate the circumstances. Siegman (who, incidentally, is a
yarmulke wearer, Heaven help us) said, concerning this, that he was "disturbed." I could not have put it better.

By Rabbi Meir Kahane
March 20, 1987
The Jewish Press
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