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Jonathan Pollard
by Lynn Handelman

I'd rather be rotting in prison than sitting "Shiva" for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who could have died because of my cowardice." A statement by Jonathan Pollard when asked why he gave information to Israel. "The reasons that I did what I did in April of 1985 were personal, banal and amounted really to a kind of greed and folly."

A statement in an interview in March of 1998 by convicted spy, Aldrich Ames - former CIA Chief of Counter-Intelligence in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union Ames received a life sentence. He had spied for the Soviet Union for nine years and received millions of dollars for his activities. During that time (the Cold War was still in full swing) he betrayed intelligence operations and agents and was charged "with intent and reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States. . .information relating to the national defense of the United States, to wit: classified CIA operations and classified CIA human assets." The importance of Aldrich Ames is his connection to the Pollard case - he helped conduct and put together the case against Jonathan Pollard. What he did, and for a long time succeeded at it, was to use Jonathan Pollard as a scape-goat to cover himself.

Please note that Jonathan Pollard actually received a harsher sentence than Ames - life in prison with the recommendation against parole. Also be aware that there was no monetary fine against Jonathan. This should be recognized as a statement of fact that there was no profit made out of his actions.

For those who don't know - Jonathan Pollard worked as a civilian NAVY intelligence officer. What precisely was Jonathan Pollard charged with? One count of passing classified information to a foreign country. At maximum, a 5-year sentence. Perhaps there is something to what Rabbi Avraham Weiss (a Jewish activist) wrote in an article in 1992 about the Pollard case -" Arrested as an American, sentenced as a Jew". Right before sentencing in March of 1987, Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, gave Judge Robinson a memo and stated "It is difficult to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by . . . Pollard's treasonous behavior." Jonathan Pollard was NEVER accused of treason. Another irony - In 1992, Casper Weinberger was indicted for four counts of Perjury and Obstruction of Justice in the Iran-Contra Affair. Before going to trial, President George (the first) Bush pardoned him.

I
n 1993, Casper Weinberger released a statement that he wouldn't oppose Jonathan Pollard's freedom as he didn't represent a danger for national security any longer. (How generous of Casper Weinberger- L.H.)  In a letter dated September 12, 1994, Jonathan wrote to President Clinton "...I realize and deeply regret that I did not find a legal means to transmit, what I thought to be, life saving information to Israel. I have always understood I am not above the law and had to be punished for what I did..." Jonathan Pollard has shown his regret and it is time for forgiveness. In 1988, the International Association of Jewish Lawyer and Jurists issued a statement condemning the severity of the punishment

"...to reduce Jonathan Pollard's sentence to one proportionate to those others convicted of similar activities and provide full protection of his constitutional rights as a prisoner, including confidential access to his attorney. " Jonathan spent six and a half years in solitary confinement in an underground cell in Marion State Penitentiary until he was moved to North Carolina. The indignities and civil rights abuses suffered by Jonathan throughout his incarceration are well documented. In the 1990's, Jonathan started to receive well-known visitors including Yuli Edelstein, an Israel cabinet minister and former Prisoner of Zion. In 1993, the European Parliament voted almost unanimously for a resolution calling for the immediate release of Jonathan. Also, beginning in 1993, the calls for clemency for Jonathan began by Israeli Prime Ministers. How strongly they really have asked is another question. In 1996, Jonathan received Israeli citizenship and in 1998 the Israeli government, for the first time, publicly stated that Jonathan Pollard had been working as an Israeli agent. How can you help. First of all, get the facts. Educate yourself so you can educate others.

The Internet and bookstores have an overwhelming amount of information. Write the President and your representatives in congress. And tell the Prime Minister of Israel what his responsibilities are toward Jonathan Pollard. There have been numerous incidents where Israel has caught Americans carrying out espionage against Israel. They are simply sent back to the U.S. and told not to return. Surely, Israel has earned the right to demand Pollard. Remember - Jonathan Pollard did not "spy" against the United States. He gave Israel information that according to a document called a "Convention of Reciprocity" between the United States and Israel, was to have been openly shared with Israel, and was  not. And last but not least, write to Jonathan. Let him know that he and his family are not alone.