March 24: Not so fast

I am very disturbed by the prospect of giving Jonathan Pollard a hero’s welcome in Israel. It seems to me that he is far from being a hero.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Not so fast
Sir, – While given the shorter prison stays of other convicted American spies I tend to feel it would be fair for Jonathan Pollard to be freed (“The buck stops here,” Editorial, March 21). Yet I am very disturbed by the prospect of giving him a hero’s welcome in Israel. It seems to me that he is far from being a hero.
While Pollard is often referred to as the “Israeli spy,” he was not an Israeli when he committed espionage. He was a Jewish American who exploited his access to US intelligence information to spy on his own country.
Moreover, rather than being motivated by some sort of pro- Israel idealism, he took money to pass on the information. For personal profit he apparently also passed classified documents to China, Australia and South Africa, and attempted to do the same for Pakistan.
As to his personal character, it wasn’t very heroic. Pollard was an admitted drug user, and according to his Wikipedia biography – which I urge all Israelis to read – he was a chronic screw-up, liar and boaster who managed to slip through the cracks of US Naval Intelligence. Some of those who had personal contact with him described him as a “kook” and “an unstable troublemaker.”
In 1998 Adm. Sumner Shapiro, himself Jewish, joined three other former directors of Naval Intelligence in addressing the talk of clemency and what they termed “the myths that have arisen from this clever public relations campaign...
aimed at transforming Pollard from a greedy, arrogant betrayer of the American national trust into Pollard, committed Israeli patriot.”
It would appear evident that Pollard is far from the kind of person of whom we Jews and Israelis should be proud.
Context, please
Sir, – Former American ambassador Edward Djerejian presents his argument for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and mentions that this is “a time of historic change in the Middle East.”
No other context regarding the maelstrom affecting almost all Arab countries is mentioned, nor is the fact that the Palestinian Authority is divorced from Gaza.
Then, there’s the fact that the leadership of the PA is no longer officially in power.
As to adopting the principle that “what has been agreed upon shall be implemented,” it will never happen so long as the inculcation of Jew-hatred is the Arab modus vivendi.
STEVE KRAMER Alfei Menashe
Wrong conclusion
Sir, – Perhaps because he applies his Jewish values to devout Muslims, Gary Ackerman (“Israel and the dignity of the Palestinians,” Comment & Features, March 21) draws a very wrong conclusion about suicide bomber terrorists.
Their suicides are not “a derivative of hopelessness, steeped in desperation,” as he claims. Organizations like Palestinian Media Watch monitor what Islamic leaders tell their people in Arabic (very different from what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says in English to his US counterpart, Barack Obama!) and report on daily teachings of Islamic religious and political leaders praising shahids (martyrs) who kill themselves for the sake of jihad or ribat (conflict to maintain control of Islamic lands).
Even innocent school children are indoctrinated to see this as a glorious goal to proudly achieve in adulthood.
If Ackerman would read such reports he would see that shahids like those who destroyed the World Trade Center, who attempt to blow up civilian airliners or have terrorized Israel, are not hopeless or desperate. They are fulfilling exalted and glorious acts, as their religious and political leaders have instructed them.
He is right, of course, when he says that dignity “is one of the prime motivations in most people’s lives.” If he learned enough about radical Islam, he might realize that it is precisely the immense dignity ascribed to suicide terror by extremist Islamic leaders all over the world that motivates a Palestinian mother to “celebrate her son simultaneously committing suicide and mass murder.” It is not what Ackerman chooses to see as hopelessness or desperation caused by Israel.
ZVI WOLFF Jerusalem Sir, – I always read with great interest – which then turns to annoyance, to say the least – articles such as the one written by Gary Ackerman. I really wonder how such people can make arguments for the Palestinian “peace” process without having lived here for even the shortest amount of time. A House of Representatives retiree does not an expert make.
Ackerman talks about Palestinian achievements and political culture (or lack thereof), and in the same breath compares those to their feelings of disrespect and contempt. Against whom, I ask, are the feelings of disrespect and contempt leveled? Not by Jews against the Palestinians, but the opposite.
How can he even equate suicide (homicide) bombings with feelings of hopelessness and despair, especially among Palestinian mothers? Those feelings are taught and nurtured at an early age, and mothers could have a much more positive influence on their children by teaching and nurturing hope and respect.
Golda Meir once said that when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews, there will be peace. And therein lies the crux of the problem.
The “clarity” for the “endgame” that Ackerman talks about should be the ability of the Palestinians to put aside their hatred, their pettiness and their quest for death to all Jews, and sit down with Israel and negotiate for peace. Period.
Sir, – Once again, Isi Leibler shows his stripes by attacking US President Barack Obama and his policies (“The Obama visit and American Jewry,” Candidly Speaking, March 21).
Everyone else is praising Obama for his obvious bows to Israel, but not Leibler. To him Obama can do nothing right.
He turns the president’s obvious love for Israel into some kind of hidden magic that will soon show us that he is our enemy and not our great friend.
Leibler also seems to believe that the appointment of Chuck Hagel as US secretary of defense was an out and out insult to the American Jewish community.
Perhaps Hagel was not the best choice, but he certainly is not the big, bad wolf the writer portrays.
In my opinion, Leibler should start taking some nice-nice pills.
He certainly needs them.
Palestinian propaganda
Sir, – I am bewildered as to why it was necessary for The Jerusalem Post to publish “It is not enough to listen to both sides” (Comment & Features, March 20) to coincide with the visit by US President Barack Obama.
As Obama was to visit both Ramallah and Bethlehem, the message from Salah Elayan could have been conveyed directly, and not through the pages of what is claimed to be a Zionist newspaper.
Has the Post lost all self-respect and pride that it has to publish Palestinian propaganda?
Forced beliefs
Sir, – Keren Sper-Hirschhorn (“Women off the Wall?” Comment & Features, March 19) unequivocally states: “Haredim do not own the wall but they certainly have earned the right to dictate what religious standards should be... in the holiest place of worship for all us Jews.”
Why? What has this small percentage of the population done to earn the right to force their beliefs on the majority of at the site that represents the destruction of the Temple due to the sin of baseless hatred? How have they earned the right to create an environment that leads to exclusion for so many among the Jewish people?