Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard remains in an American prison due in part to anti-Semitism, former CIA director R. James Woolsey said last week.
Pollard has served more than 28 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel. Others convicted of spying for allies of the US have received sentences of no more than eight years.
British spy Samuel Morrison was sentenced to two years, South African Steven Baba was sentenced to two, Filipino spy Jean Baynes to three and a half, and Egyptian Abdelkader Helmy three years and 10 months. None of them served their entire sentence.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week, Woolsey reiterated statements alleging anti-Semitism that he made last year to the Post’s Caroline Glick.
“My view is that he should be treated like other intelligence assets of allies,” he said. “We spy on some allies and they have spied on us. Because they’re allies, usually they have only been in prison for a few years. What I said is that people shouldn’t be hung up on him being Jewish or Israeli. Pretend he’s Greek and release him.”
Asked why US President Barack Obama has not responded to an official request for clemency for Pollard, Woolsey said: “I don’t know. I can’t figure out Obama on most things. Over the years, I have shown I understand the behavior of dictators and terrorists better than I understand the behavior of democratically elected leaders, especially in the US.”
Woolsey specifically used the word anti-Semitism in a Channel 10 interview Saturday, saying, “I certainly don’t think that it is universally true, but in the case of some American individuals, I think there is anti-Semitism at work here.”
He said the time had come for Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said Woolsey’s comments amounted to a grave indictment of the American leadership.
He called upon Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry to prove Woolsey wrong by releasing Pollard immediately.
The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman , criticized Pollard’s continued incarceration last month, calling it “on the verge of anti-Semitism.”
He said he believed Pollard was being kept in prison to intimidate American Jews.
“It is an intimidation that can only be based on an anti-Semitic stereotype about the Jewish community,” he said, “one that we have seen confirmed in our public opinion polls over the years, the belief that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, the United States.”
New chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef met with US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro last week and urged him to push for Pollard’s release. A pro-Pollard demonstration will be held outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv in two weeks.