(photo credit: Courtesy)
Last week, screaming headlines were generated worldwide by breaking news in The Wall Street Journal that the US was preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years in prison. This announcement, predictably, unleashed a tidal wave of media coverage.
A subsequent announcement a few days later officially confirming imminent parole for Pollard added to the deluge of reports, which continue unabated.
There is something suspect in the timing of these news stories.
Jerusalem’s rejection of Pollard’s release as intended to mitigate Israel’s displeasure with the disastrous Iranian nuclear pact was predictable.
However, denials by US officials, claiming that Pollard’s release is unrelated to the Iranian deal were less predictable.
There were simply too many denials, at too high a level and employing too strident a tone to be credible.
Clearly, the media frenzy about Pollard occurs precisely when the Obama administration needs headlines diverted away from the Iranian deal. The public’s attention instead has become focused on a subject that many love to hate: Israel.
No one loves a spy. Everyone hates an Israeli spy. Pollard, who has been viciously bashed in the media for nearly three decades, is hated more than most.
News of his impending release on parole has revived the vilification of Pollard to levels which have not been seen since his arrest 30 years ago, and along with him, the vilification of Israel.
This, despite the now-documented record, bolstered by newly declassified materials and testimony by ranking American officials which show that Pollard’s life sentence was “excessive” and “unjust.”
Considering the injustice, one has to wonder why Pollard is being paroled after 30 years instead of being set free.
Parole is not freedom. It is, by definition, conditional release, which can be revoked at any time, for any number of very complex and often inscrutable reasons, including thinly veiled political motives.
The Jerusalem Post was the first to report that the life sentence that Pollard received after his arrest in 1985 is a 45-year sentence, not 30 years, as a life sentence is defined today.
That means that under the terms of his parole, Pollard will have the balance of a 45-year sentence hanging over his head. He can be rearrested and sent back to prison for another 15 years – with all the accompanying screaming headlines, at any time for the next decade and a half.
It would be naïve not to suspect that in a case so politically charged as this one, that the conditions of his parole may be set up to be so restrictive and so complex as to invite or even guarantee failure.
Given that the announcements of Pollard’s impending release on parole have generated such a media backlash, replete with Israel-bashing and Pollard-bashing, just imagine what a field day his return to prison would be for the world media.
No reason would have to be given for his rearrest. It could be done on any pretext for any number of undeclared and unsubstantiated reasons, at any time that the US decides to exert pressure on Israel. As the US has repeatedly demonstrated, Pollard is an easy means to foment world opinion against Israel.
Pollard is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.
In a recent interview, former CIA Chief James Woolsey again confirmed the excessiveness of Pollard’s punishment: “Spies from friendly countries, like the Philippines and Greece, normally stay in prison in the US for just a few years. Under 10 years. Keeping Pollard for 30 years was excessive.”
Woolsey said that Pollard should be free to return home to Israel, because he no longer poses any threat to the US.
“The reason one would keep a convicted spy in the United States is because [of] the information he had....” Woolsey stated unequivocally that Pollard’s 30-year-old knowledge poses no risk and that Israel is a friend of America.
US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said it all when she recently confirmed that Pollard has served his time in full.
Parole is just too convenient a tactic for continuing to keep Israel off balance while holding Pollard hostage for another 15 years.
Pollard does not deserve parole. He deserves to be set free.