Free Jonathan Pollard

Morris Pollard (Jonathan’s father) and David Kirshenbaum argue that Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel in 1985, should be freed. The key passage:

Jonathan was never accused of intending to, or even of having reason to believe that the information he transmitted to Israel could cause injury to America. Indeed, 22 years after Jonathan’s arrest, no evidence has ever been presented of any damage caused to America by his actions, or any consequence that would even begin to justify his life sentence or his continued imprisonment.

I’ve always thought that prosecuting Pollard was the moral equivalent of prosecuting someone for spying for Indiana.

5 thoughts on “Free Jonathan Pollard

  1. Dr. Philo: May I gently suggest the analogy between Israel and a U.S. state does not quite obtain.
    Indiana does not play, so far as I know, a significant role in the development and sale of armaments of every sort, on the international market. (I say this fully cognizant of the nuclear implosion in South Bend, this past football season.) And while I think the U.S. should be more (yes, more) supportive of Israel generally, I think that we should prosecute and punish those who spy on us, even if that spying is done on behalf of an ally. It is not difficult to imagine that a U.S. citizen could, motivated by a desire to help Israel, give them secrets regarding electronic warfare. Those secrets could be stolen, in turn, by a spy working in Israel, say, on the development of electonic warfare weapons. Those secrets could then end up in military hardware sold to a nation; e.g. China, entirely opposed to U.S. and democratic intersts. (Israel sells armaments of various sorts, to China already.) You also assume that Israel will remain a stable, democratic regime for the next 50 years, for example, so that any military secrets they get from us would always remain in the hands of allies. But, if current world political pressures continue to mount against Israel, it is easy to see that that country could succumb, either by military or political pressures, to dissolving itself politically, as we know it. (Suppose that Israel is required, by international political and economic pressures, to allow anyone of any middle-Eastern national origin, to become a citizen.) If that should happen, then its military technology would be offered on the open market, in a rather short time.
    These latter points are controversial, to be certain. My original point is about the Idiananalogy.

    And speaking of implosions? The Steelers????

  2. I agree with all your points. I think what Pollard passed on, however, was information about the defense systems of various Arab nations. That’s information that becomes outdated fairly quickly, and can’t easily be passed on from Israel to some third party in a way that injures the interests of the United States. It’s only in that respect that I wanted to compare his spying to spying for Indiana. You’re right that spying shouldn’t be condoned, but his punishment seems disproportionate. In fact, I think the New York Times has done far more to injure the national security interests of the United States in the past two years than Pollard did.

    As for the Steelers—sigh—yeah.

  3. Dr Phi:
    I see, now, your point: the gravity of Pollard’s crime is, indeed, quite different. I was thinking his spying was nuclear-level; cf., your other post about selling nuclear secrets for 15k. In that post, I believe the linked article mentioned that Israel was among the buyers of secrets.

    On a different topic:
    Do you have any speculation as to why so many nations should be so unsympathetic to Israel’s current plight? Why is it that so few seem to see that there is an obvious and concerted effort to see that country “disappear”? Why do so few people identify with Israel’s democratic values, as over against, for example, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Hamas, Fatah, etc. etc., such that they do not care to see Israel’s political values protected and flourish, in perpetuity? Do people simply not care if Israel becomes a Gaza/West Bank sort of criminal “state,” over-run by persons united simply by a hatred for Jews?

  4. Pauly,

    Great question. Back in the 1960s Democrats were solid in their support of Israel. Today, many on the left seem to sympathesize with the Palestinians instead. I’ve asked people on the left why, and the responses I’ve received reveal something interesting about the oppressors/victims distinction that so many on the left take as fundamental. These leftists champion the victim, and the Palestinians have seized that mantle. I find it all baffling.

    A good example is the fuss over Israel’s construction of the Wall. It has done a good job of reducing terrorist attacks, even though it’s only 60% complete. Undoubtedly it inconveniences, even harms, many Palestinians who are entirely innocent. In fact, you can probably make a reasonable case that, for that reason, it’s unfair. So, the left uses this as evidence that Israel is the aggressor and the Palestinians are victims. But it strikes me as crazy to say that Israel has to allow itself to suffer frequent terror attacks. Making innocent people line up at checkpoints is unfortunate, but blowing up families in pizza parlors seems far worse.

    You raise an excellent point: Israel is a democratic country dedicated to the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Its enemies aren’t; in fact, their values are antithetical to American values. I’ve asked people why they side with tyrants who crush their own people, export terror, and launch wars of aggression over a democracy that does its best to pursue just policies. They typically point to imperfections in Israeli policy; they mention Israel’s status as a Jewish state, which they take to be racist; and they excuse Arab tyranny as a response to colonialism. In short, if it’s not the fault of Israel, it’s the fault of Britain, or France, or the United States. None of that makes much historical sense, in my opinion, but that’s how many see it.

    In the US, I think opposition to Israel is still a minority view, though I see it shaping policy in various ways. In Europe, it seems to be a reigning orthodoxy.

  5. The Jonathan Pollard case is not a political issue, but a justice, or lack thereof, issue. As I wrote in my book, Miscarriage of Justice, the sentence handed to Pollard in excess of any ever given one who spied for an American ally. Now he has spent more than twenty-five years in prison. He should be released immediately.

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