Recently, five years to the day, after Jonathon Pollard was paroled (with severe restrictions) from the federal penitentiary, the US Parole Commission issued a certificate terminating parole and removing the restrictions that were imposed on him. He had served an excessive thirty years, of his injust life sentence, for transmitting classified information to Israel (convicted of Espionage, not Treason), in helping a friendly state.
It’s been claimed that Pollard only turned over to the Israelis, intelligence information that the Americans were obligated to pass on to Israel, under their security and defense cooperation agreements, but were holding back.
As such, Jonathon Pollard is now, “free to travel anywhere, including Israel, for temporary or permanent residence, as he wishes,” said his lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman.
Details of his case, and the campaign to free Pollard, can be found at Justice for Johnathan Pollard.
But even with his release, the Americans and Israelis still have some Teshuva (repentance) to do, more on that later...
Lauer after the decision, told Israeli Channel 12 TV, that Pollard was “ecstatic” and determined to move to Israel but that it would take some time, because Pollard’s wife is undergoing medical treatment for cancer. Channel 12 TV speculated it could take several weeks.
Many public officials and personalities have expressed gratitude that this day of liberation has finally come. Some have even raised the issue of the cruel treatment, by the Americans, and betrayal by Israeli officials in the past.
The Women in Green movement, which struggled for Pollard’s release for years, welcomed the American decision not to extend Pollard’s restrictions.
Movement leaders, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, emphasized that the decision marks long years of injustice imposed on Pollard by the American legal system. “Every day that Pollard was imprisoned or confined was a day of grave injustice...The day Pollard comes to Israel will be a holiday for the entire Jewish people.”
“The entire State of Israel owes him a lot and it is doubtful whether it will be able to return to him a little of what it received from him, but it is its duty to do everything to give him all the best it has, they stated.”
That’s why I propose nominating Pollard for President of Israel. Elections by the Knesset members will be held in July 2021.
Katsover and Matar also said, “The State of Israel accepts Jonathan with great love...this slightly reduces the moral flaw, that clung to it, when it abandoned him and closed its gates to him.”
Former Defense Minister and Yamina Party Chairman Naftali Bennett welcomed the removal of restrictions on Jonathan Pollard. Bennett said, “V’Shavu Banim L’gvulam, ‘and the sons return to their borders.’ The State of Israel owes a deep debt to Jonathan Pollard who gave us over 30 years of his life, and we are waiting to welcome him and embrace him here, in the land of Israel which is his home, as soon as possible.”
So, I assume that Bennett would back a movement to draft Pollard for President of Israel.
Yamina Knesset Faction Chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked also spoke out, “In the 19th Knesset, I served as Chairwoman of the lobby for the return of Pollard and as Justice Minister, I continued my activities until his release and thereafter. I sincerely hope that in the near future he and Esther will establish their home in Israel.”
Petach Tikva’s mayor, Rami Greenberg, quickly promised to name a square in the city center, “Jonathan Pollard Square.” Greenberg also expressed gratitude to the Trump administration, for terminating the limitations of Pollard’s parole.
Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who visited Jonathan Pollard in prison in the United States over the years, told Kan Moreshet, “I think that American Jewry should perhaps ask him for forgiveness. In an attempt to be considered kosher Americans, they simply ignored him. They forget that we are each other’s guardians and it’s not possible that they would turn their backs on someone who gave so much of himself for the people of Israel, what a waste.”
It’s true, organized American Jewry, fearful of the duel-loyalty accusation, pretty much hid their heads in the sand, while Pollard rotted in prison.
Rabbi Eliyahu then added, “If it were not for the people in Israel who sold him to the Americans, he would not have sat in prison. All the evidence that indicted him and put him in prison for so many years, was given by people in Israel. I heard these things directly from him when I was with him...There are people who were ministers in the government, two of them, who committed this crime, which is why Pollard was in prison. He did everything he did for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel. We should have lain on the fence for him but people preferred to save their skin and sell him out, which is a very serious matter...I did not name names, we are now in a happy time, but there were two people who could have saved him and they did not,” he added.
I’m sure that Shaked and Rabbi Eliyahu would support a movement to make Pollard, President of Israel. That would be the real Teshuva, the State of Israel could do for him.
Asher Mivzari, an activist prominent in the movement to free Jonathan Pollard, also blamed the Americans, “On the one hand, there is great joy and we are thankful to God that he survived all these thirty difficult years in prison, and another five years under restrictions. On the other hand, it’s late, because he should have been released long ago, even in terms of simple justice. For what he did in the US, you usually get five years in prison, but here there was such a severe punishment, that was out of all proportion. Even American officials [including those involved with his case] have stated that he should have been released long ago in terms of American justice,” Mivzari pointed out.
That’s why I say America still has a day of reckoning to come...
Mivzari also noted, the frequent visits of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to Pollard, “The rabbi visited Pollard ten times and this is something that gave him a lot of strength to hold on and survive throughout all those years. All these years he also did not think only of himself, he was very concerned for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel, for people who were hurt, injured in terrorist attacks and other things. His thoughts were not only about himself. He knew the problems and failures that had happened, but mostly his thoughts were on how to help the people of Israel and the State of Israel and his dream was to come and join the people of Israel and contribute all he can with the rest of his strength and do everything he can.”
What a fine concerned and selfless example to young Israelis, Pollard would be, as President of Israel. But not everyone is even happy that Pollard was finally released from all restrictions.
Former PM Ehud Olmert blasted the US government’s decision to nullify Jonathan Pollard’s parole restrictions. He argued, “With all due respect, I would prefer that he not move to Israel. We don’t owe him anything. He was a spy who worked for a lot of money. He was not a Zionist volunteer who came and sacrificed his life."
Olmert is one to talk about taking money, the jailbird.
He continued, Pollard “was an American who loved Israel and worked for a lot of money, spying for Israel. His spying was beneficial [to Israel], but when taking a full account, the damage caused to Israel’s interests, as a result of revealing his involvement, was the harshest in the history of US-Israel relations.”
“The danger of increasing this damage has not ended. If the prime minister will act like he does and have a festive welcoming ceremony for Pollard, we will pay a heavy price when there will soon be a new administration in America, worried Olmert.”
This is a non sequitur, because an incoming Biden administration already is planning a tough time for Israel. Just take a peak at the likely appointments Biden’s going to make, many of them Clinton operatives. A moderate-Left Democrat administration, will return Israel to the tone of the Obama years, with new problems. For example, the Trump Plan’s vision of a Palestinian state, encapsulated in policy for the first time, and for the first time, formally agreed to, by the current Israeli government.
Yisrael Beitenu leader, Avigdor Liberman, has also criticized Pollard, in an interview with KAN Radio. He said that Israel should not have drafted Pollard as a spy, and that his moving to Israel should not be celebrated.
What has Lieberman ever done to promote Israeli security?
How far Lieberman has fallen, from his Hebrew University student days, as a campus activist for Rabbi Meir Kahane’s far-right pro-Jewish Kach Movement.
And, idiot, pardon my English accent, Yedioth Ahronoth columnist, Nahum Barnea, who seems to have learned nothing since the Oslo War (Second Intifada), even with losing a son in the war; wrote, “Pollard does not have the heroism of the Nili organization, not even that of Eli Cohen. Have some proportion.” He, also opposes making Pollard a “national hero.”
Well, I don’t agree with Olmert, Lieberman, and Barnea, so much so, that I believe Pollard should be elected President of Israel.
Recently in an interview with 103 Radio FM, former PM Ehud Barak commented on the possibility of Netanyahu trying to get elected as the country’s president, to avoid facing criminal charges, calling it a “black day in Israel’s democracy.” This idea has been bandied about for awhile already. Barak also accused Netanyahu of tending to his personal affairs, while the country found itself mired in the “worst crisis in its history.”
I can agree with Barak, that Netanyahu should step aside from the race. Netanyahu’s often been accused of being Machiavellian, and politically very self-serving, this is his chance to go beyond that. I suggest to Netanyahu, since he’s claimed for years, that he’s done all he could to free Jonathan Pollard, he take the bold and courageous step, to throw his weight behind Pollard for President of Israel.
The position is largely ceremonial, as head of state, Pollard would represent Israel at conferences, state festivities, etc. The most significant action the president can take, is to grant pardons to prisoners, similar to the American president. Its the perfect “non-partisan” position for him, within the Israeli political constellation.
Who could best empathize with the pain of prisoners and their families, to give them a fair shake, and possibly overturn an injustice, than someone who sat in prison unjustly for thirty years, for the security of the Jewish people, and State of Israel?
Pollard for President of Israel!
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5781 Pasko