Friday’s powerful opinion piece by Jonathan Pollard in The Jerusalem Post
(“Restoring Israel to greatness”) caused quite a sensation.
personal cost, Pollard penned the piece out of love for Israel and a genuine
concern for its future. His words, whether you agree with them or not, were
intended to sound a clarion call for an end to moral ambiguity and a restoration
of sound values.
He writes, “No political process devoid of these
fundamental values will ever end the agony or the fear for the State of Israel.
It is clearly time for an historic restoration.”
Pollard enumerates with
striking clarity a continuum of morally bereft decisions taken by successive
governments of Israel out of “political expedience,” which have earned the
country a series of “unenviable world records.”
Among them, writes
Pollard, Israel is the first and only country in the world to expel its
citizens, destroy their homes and uproot graves in order to hand the land over
to its enemies.
Pollard also gives examples of the world records held by
Israel for betraying those who have served the state, including his own
He summarizes the Jewish state’s record of “firsts,” declaring that
“Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world so
befuddled by moral ambiguity that it is willing to dishonor its dead, betray its
bereaved and disgrace its citizens for the sake of political
Pollard’s thesis is that these kinds of actions, which no
other country has ever taken against its own citizens, have led Israel down a
morally slippery slope to last week’s unconscionable release of the first 26 of
104 Palestinian murderers and terrorists. He fears where this will lead to
He deftly cuts through all of the arguments for and against the
prisoner release, declaring “No Israeli official has advanced a single
compelling reason in support of the wholesale release of these murderers and
terrorists. The claim that it ‘serves national interests’ is
spurious. There is no national interest that supersedes
But he ends on a hopeful note by spelling out what is needed.
“Only a reawakening of national resolve and a rebirth of ethical politics rooted
in national self-respect, moral rectitude and courage of conviction can
guarantee the future,” he writes.
Pollard, a US intelligence analyst, was
arrested in 1985 and sentenced to an unprecedented life sentence in 1987 for
providing classified information to an ally, Israel.
In 1998, after years
of implausible denial, the government of Israel admitted that Pollard was a bona
fide Israeli agent and accepted responsibility for him.
officials, including those who know the case first-hand, have for some time been
urging US President Barack Obama to release Pollard because his sentence is
“grossly disproportionate.” Similarly, Israel has made repeated official
requests for his release on humanitarian grounds.
Obama has dismissed all
requests to free Pollard, intimating that Pollard should wait another two years
to apply for parole in 2015.
Suggesting parole as a solution to this
travesty of justice is as disingenuous as it is unjust.
Parole – even if the US
government decides not to fight it in 2015, which is unlikely – would leave the
balance of Pollard’s 45-year life sentence intact, and would not set him
On the contrary, parole would mean that for another 15 years (the
balance of his sentence) the US would severely restrict his freedom of movement,
travel, speech, employment and even domicile. He certainly would not be free to
come home to Israel, the country to which he has devoted his life.
solution that does not free Pollard immediately, without restrictions, and allow
him to come home to Israel only compounds the injustice and is a severe affront to
The only legal remedy that can address the unjust life sentence
Pollard is serving is presidential commutation, the exclusive privilege of the
president of the United States. Only the president, not the parole board, can
commute a sentence to time-served.
Pollard’s commutation papers have been
sitting on the president’s desk since October 2010. It is time for President
Obama to sign them and send Pollard home in time for the High Holy Days. Whether
as a confidence-building measure for Israel or a gesture to its citizens,
Pollard’s return to Israel is long overdue.